About Writing: How To Make ANY Scene Funny

We don’t like to admit it, but us comedy writers have a secret technique for making ANY scene in anything funny. It’s a well-kept secret* because we have to protect it and earn a crust. We’re like the Masons or something.

But I’m breaking the code of silence, like that magician who pretended he spoke like Mitch Pileggi. Or Penn & Teller.

Here’s a really tense and dramatic scene from A Few Good Men. Anyone can write drama, it’s really easy, but I’ve used the secret trick here to make the scene FUNNY! See if you can spot what I did.

*Only TV critics know about it.


Is this funny, sir?


No, it isn’t. It’s tragic.


Do you have an answer to the question, Colonel?


Absolutely. My answer is I don’t have the first damn clue.

(Audience laughs)

Maybe he was an early riser and liked to pack in the morning.

(Audience laughs)

And maybe he didn’t have any friends.

(Audience laughs)

I’m an educated man, but I’m afraid I can’t speak intelligently about the travel habits of William Santiago. What I do know is that he was set to leave the base at 0600. Now, are these the questions I was really called here to answer? Phone calls and foot lockers?

(Audience laughs)

Please tell me that you have something more, Lieutenant. These two Marines are on trial for their lives. Please tell me their lawyer hasn’t pinned their hopes to a phone bill.

Audience laughs even harder than before, and does a round of applause.

Note to editor: Please add canned laughter.

Truth 'andles. 'Andles for truths.
Truth ‘andles. ‘Andles for truths.
Buy My Books
  • Proctology: A Bottom Examination
    Proctology: A Bottom Examination

    For a long time now I’ve been wanting to write an old-fashioned programme guide. One you can hold in your hand and thumb through, make notes on, spill coffee on. So I did. Proctology: A Bottom Examination is my deep dive into Bottom, the hit BBC Two sitcom starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson. That’s…

Most Read
  • Re-Casting Keanu
    Re-Casting Keanu

    Keanu Reeves is 56. That makes him eight years older than Clive Dunn was when he was first cast in Dad’s Army. But don’t panic, Clive Dunn was always playing much older characters than his own age. Keanu Reeves is 56. That makes him seven years older than Stephanie Cole was when she was first…

From The Archive

Sign up for my FREE newsletter