Writing jokes is easy. I could come up with 50 before you’re ﬁnished reading this.
Writing good jokes is a lot harder, but people still do it quite a bit.
Writing the joke you need, that joke that ﬁts a situation perfectly, is almost impossible. But when it happens, there’s nothing better.
I’ve read a lot of interviews with comedy writers who talk about the feeling of writing a joke that they know will work. They spend most of their days pitching jokes that aren’t funny, then they tell one that just lands immediately. You can tell when it’s coming out of your mouth. It’s so perfect, and the reaction in the room is so tangible. It’s not a question of “this could probably work in the script.” It’s “this is the only possible thing we could have put here, and I can’t wait to show it to everyone I know.” You can feel everything clicking into place, and for a moment, everything in your creative life is perfect.
This is a great feeling, but it does not happen very often. I’ve written (and sometimes ﬁlmed) a lot of scripts that have one or two great jokes in the whole thing. I’ve been realizing that I used to be a serial settler. I’d write scripts that are pretty good, but I didn’t lose sleep over making every scene insanely great.
I’m currently in preproduction on a new webseries that was just picked up by my favorite student-run TV network. It’s a wild concept and a huge departure for me, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. But I was looking at the scripts last night, and I realized that of the four episodes, only one of them was off-the-charts great. They were all nice, and had their share of chuckles. But when people ask me about the show, I ALWAYS tell them about the good episode ﬁrst.
I’m almost out of college and in the real world, and I had a moment where I said to myself “it’s time to stop settling.” I can’t keep writing pretty good scripts. I can’t ﬁlm something where one episode is overwhelmingly better than the other three. So my partner and I stayed up very late and rewrote two of the episodes, and they absolutely clicked. Once we pushed ourselves, going the extra mile wasn’t that hard. And the payoff was so sweet that I guarantee you I won’t be settling for mediocrity again anytime soon.
Former Settler, Current Writer