How to Nail Visual Comedy in your Movies

Perhaps the most difficult genre to depict on the screen is the comedy genre. In the cinema world it is a well known fact that it is more difficult to make people laugh than to make them think or cry. Comedy has always been an integral part of cinema right since its invention. Initially it was the slap stick comedy that tickled the viewers, but no more. The viewers today are very demanding and nothing but original and innovative content can bring out the chuckle. Enter, visual comedy.

The picture and sound used today to deliver jokes is very mundane and boring. Most jokes today are delivered verbally as a dialogue and with minimum use of visuals and range of sounds. It is masters like Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarantino or Tom Kuntz and the likes that have the ability to find humor in the most unexpected scenes and convert a mundane scene into a hilarious one. They employ all camera movements like the pan, zoom, crane or the pop-up to give it a humorous touch. But unfortunately, the potential of this form of expression is not being exploited to the fullest.

Undisputedly, Edgar Wright can be named as the Lord of comedy, as his unique and distinct style of depicting comedy through framing, camera movement, editing, sound effects and music is very uncommon. His knack of finding comedy in places where others do not even think of rightly earn him the accolades.

Every Frame a Painting

This video edited and narrated by Tony Zhou (check out his amazing channel on YouTube here) is a compilation of a few of the most creative and well done comedy shots. The slick editing of the video clearly demarcates the do’s and don’ts that should be followed for effective visual comedy. The freshness and creative ways of the directors while tackling the scenes sets them in a league apart from the run of the mill comedy shots and will help film buffs in creating inventive comedy shots. The tips provided in the video aim at using the full range that is possible to make a situation as hilarious as possible. 8 techniques used by Edgar Wright to create visually humorous scenes are as follows:

  • Entering the frame in a funny way.
  • Exiting the frame in a funny way.
  • Leaving the frame and back again shot.
  • Matching scene transitions.
  • Perfectly timed sound effects.
  • Action synchronized with music.
  • Super dramatic lighting cues.
  • Let confident suggestions go haywire.

The narrator also suggests using mock action scenes perfectly synchronized with background music and lighting as an additional way to attain a comical effect. It is imperative to understand that great comedy is not just dependent on camera movements and dialogues but equal emphasis should be paid to every aspect of filming. Cinematography, editing, sound and light effects, perfect timing of entry/exit and dialogues too contribute significantly towards effectual visual comedy.