As a comedy writer, I voraciously watch any sort of comedy, dramedy, or cartoon to inform my comedic mind. Most of the time, I just notice basic trends in episodic sitcoms (i.e. Holiday Episodes, Weddings in May, Character caricatures). Most of the time I’m just focusing on what makes me laugh. Sometimes, like the other day, I come to important revelations about writing long-form comedy.
People will watch straight up, 6 jokes a minute, entendre-filled 22 minute episodes of television regardless. The lifespan of these series, however, tend to fall out without a strong, emotional response by the viewer. People will come for the laughs, but stay for the feels.
Besides the few memorable moments from the TV show FRIENDS, what I most remember is the Rachel-Ross storyline, babies being born, memories from Weddings, and the emotionally raw and serious moments in the show. I don’t mind sitting around watching a sitcom that relies on overused jokes and histrionic responses, but I do mind a show that can’t get you to root for the character. Even with villains, you can root for them if you understand the emotional journey they are going through.
I want to write characters that you fall in love with, regardless of morals. Yes, I want it to be funny. Yes, I want it to be intelligent. But I really want to write the Lemons, the Knopes, the Michael Scotts, the characters where you just want to root for them no matter what they are doing, no matter if they mess up. I want the flaws to make them real, their triumphs to feel just as good to the viewers, and their love and passions to translate into visceral viewer responses. They don’t have to be loved, I just want them to be understood