Friday, February 16, 2007

Just punch the keyboard and see what happens

Don't think. Do or do not. There is no think. Isn't that how it goes?

At the gym I think too much. I plan my punches. I reach for the bag and hesitate, thinking Okay... I should throw a hook. I haven't thrown a hook in a while. And then I'll throw an elbow, follow it up with a block and then a roundhouse....

And Trainer can tell. I telegraph my thoughts with every muscle twitch in my face and arms.

"Kick that bitch's ass!" He yells. "Stop thinking! Just punch! Stop thinking about it, dammit! Fuck her up!"

It helps. I go, "Okay, okay!" and started whacking the crap out of the bag, my little girl-esque pigtails flying. The jabs, the hooks, the kicks, they come on their own when I stop thinking.

It's a danger of scripts too. Planning is important when you're telling a story. Backstory is important. Character motivation is important. You do need an actual plot.

But the stuff in the middle? The little twists and turns your characters took when you weren't looking. You have to let it go.

I love Noises Off. It's my favorite kind of comedy - the constant dialogue, characters talking over each other and running in and out of the room at the exact moment that makes it funny. The entire play is based on "miscues" that if the actors actually miss the whole play crumbles into a crapfest. I love any comedy based on witty timing. I don't usually write comedy, but I find that comic moments based on lots of people having different conversations in the same room can add a lot of comic relief to an otherwise gloomy script because it's easy to keep it funny without moving away from the dark tone of the script.

I really wanted a moment like that in my current short script, Spaghetti Meat. I meant it to be a comedy but the subject matter is so serious that I'm finding it difficult to fill the script with jokes. I was thinking too hard. I just needed to kick through.

I wrote a comment for one of my characters where she lists an order of operations for what she and her date are going to do that day, but I accidentally left something off the list. As I sat, finger poised over the arrow key so I could go back and fix it, I realized that this was the opportunity for my comedic miscommunication moment. So I had a conversation with myself which is very easy for me since I'm a Gemini, or possibly just crazy, and I let the conversation flow. I believe I may also have been channeling Eddie Izzard a tiny bit.

It needs a little work to make it funnier, although it's supposed to be more amusing than hilarious, but here is the first draft of what I wrote:

So I want to shower and change and rifle through your cabinets and then I'll make spaghetti and meatballs and then you'll take me home.

Do I get to eat the spaghetti?

Of course you get to eat the-

Because you skipped that part. You said you'd make the spaghetti and then I'd take you home, but you didn't say-

No, we both get to eat the spaghetti. I'll make it then we'll eat it then you'll take me home.

Okay because if I wait 'till I get back from taking you home it will be cold.

That's why we'll eat it first.

Good. That's better than eating it later.

Do you have any clothes I can wear?


  1. Hey, did you see, your boy Joss directed the latest Office.

  2. Yes I watched it. It had vampires and bats and some nice subtle acting, as The Office always does. Brilliant, as usual.


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