Friday, May 2, 2014

Serious Look at Comedy, Part X

Part X
Steer Truck: Into Dorkness

Sorry for being a little late, but when I started on this project, I did initially say Thursday or Friday. Hopefully, not too many of you lost sleep as you anxiously awaited this installment. Once you read it, you are welcome to take a nap.

This week, we'll talk a little more about setting. What are some other good ways to create a humorous world to put our intrepid main characters in? We can try spoofs, parodies, and satires. Some of the already aforementioned worlds of Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide) and Terry Pratchett (Disc World) fit into one or more of these categories.

Spoofs: are a lighthearted imitation of something in order to make fun of them. The movie Galaxy Quest is a good example of this. Even the title is a play on words for Star Trek. All through the movie are subtly hidden spoofs of the original Star Trek series, like Tim Allen managing to get his shirt ripped off. In fact, there is so much we could discuss about this movie that I'll save that for it's own installment.

I've done this in my Tales of Myrick the (Not So) Magnificent by creating a fantasy world that pokes some fun at traditional swords and sorcery. I also threw in characters that spoof classic heroes like Conan and Elric of Melnibone.

Parodies: are pretty similar to spoofs, and are often considered the same, but I would differentiate them as something making fun of a more serious source material. For instance, in 1969 the Harvard Lampoon produced a book called Bored of the Rings that hilariously mocks the names, situations, and characters from Tolkien. They did another one called Doon based on Frank Herbert's classic with a similar sounding name.

Satires: have been with us since at least the Greeks. They tend to expose human or society foibles in such a way as to ridicule them. This is the source of a lot of the humor from Adams and Pratchett as they bring up aspects of English society in their sci-fi or fantasy worlds and make them look ridiculous.

There are all sorts of levels for these categories from subtle to outrageous. It's up to you to decide to what degree you want to show these elements, but be careful of how weird you get or you might lose some of your audience.

Next week, I'll see if I can do a scene-by-scene breakdown of Galaxy Quest, but no promises.

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