Writing the Comedy Blockbuster: The Inappropriate Goal

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  • Copyright: 2012-02-01
  • Publisher: Ingram Pub Services
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Dying is easy, comedy is hard. So keep your comedy blockbuster alive and well and buy this book. Comedy has always been the backbone of the film business. In an age of sequels and brand-name movies based on established properties, the original comedy screenplay still delivers high profits. Writing the Comedy Blockbusterguides the writer as they learn what goes into writing the next comedy classic.

Author Biography

Keith Giglio has been hired and fired by most studios in his eighteen years as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. He has received credit on seven-and-a-half movies and has written and sold over twenty screenplays. He taught screenwriting at the Writers Program at UCLA Extension, where was he named Instructor of the Year in 2009, and is now a screenwriting professor at Syracuse University's renowned Newhouse School.

Table of Contents

Dedication and Thank Yousp. xi
Introductionp. xii
Foreplay, Or How Tina Fey Can Kick Bruce Willis' Assp. xvi
How to Use this Book
How to Bust a Gut
Or Comedy College 101p. 1
A Criminally Brief History of Film Comedyp. 4
Yes, But What Kind of Comedy?p. 15
Exercise: Beg, Steal, or Borrowp. 26
The Comedic Idea
A.K.A. The Importance of Being Inappropriate A.K.A. The Blues Brothers are Not Role Modelsp. 27
The Inappropriate Goalp. 28
The Comedic Logline A.K.A. The Pitchp. 31
Uniquely Familiarp. 37
Exercise: Twenty Uniquely Familiar Ideasp. 39
The Fill-in-the Blanks Elevator Pitchp. 42
Exercise: The Posterp. 43
Plot Vs. Character: Who Will Win?
Comedic Character
A.K.A. A Fool's Journey A.K.A. I Know A Guy Just Like Thatp. 47
The Importance of Characterp. 47
A Fool's Journeyp. 48
Take Your Silliness Seriouslyp. 49
Characters Changep. 51
The Rock and Roll School of Screenwritingp. 54
Plot vs. Characterp. 56
Building the Comic Characterp. 57
Exercise: The Comedic Character Worksheetp. 59
What I Really Want To Do Is Directp. 66
Comic Visionp. 69
Inappropriate Behaviorp. 70
Inappropriate Dialoguep. 71
Unity of Oppositesp. 72
Rowing a Sinking Boatp. 74
Funny Peoplep. 74
Exercise: Character Workp. 81
Hilarity and Heart
A.K.A. It's All About the Wolf Packp. 83
The "Classic" and Still Modern Three-Act Structurep. 86
Exercise: Question Everythingp. 87
The Comedic Sequence Approachp. 88
Scene Studyp. 90
Putting Scenes to Work in Eventsp. 98
Exercise: Funny Scenesp. 99
The Secret Ingredients of Comedic Scenesp. 100
The Comedic Roadmap - The Eight Comic Sequences
Comic Sequence (A)
A.K.A. The Comedic World
A.K.A. Well Begun is Half Donep. 107
Setting Up the Comedic Worldp. 109
Exercise: Comedy Calisthenicsp. 111
What is the Tone of Your Story?p. 112
The Prestoryp. 113
Open With a Hook - First Impressionsp. 115
Denning Actionp. 120
Status Quo-Something's Missingp. 122
Expositionp. 124
Point of Attack - Opportunity Knocksp. 125
Exercise: Rewrite Your Favorite Moviep. 127
Comic Sequence (B)
Setting up the Inappropriate Goal A.K.A. "You're Going to Do What?" or Why Crashing A Wedding is a Good Ideap. 128
What the Hell Happened to Me?p. 130
The Buddyp. 131
Meet the Bad Guy A.K.A. The Dickp. 132
The Dramatic Question - Oh, That's What it's Aboutp. 134
End of the First Act - Protagonist and Objectivep. 136
Exercise: Change the Point of Viewp. 138
Act Two!
A.K.A. Where Scripts Go to Die
Comic Sequence (C)
The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World A.K.A. Sometimes Girls Throw up on Youp. 139
Oh Yes, Oh No!p. 140
Start Small and Go Bigp. 141
The Promise of the Premisep. 142
The Main Events of Sequence Cp. 142
The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Worldp. 142
Establish the Initial Goalp. 145
Learning New Rules / Taking on Appearancesp. 146
Friends and Enemiesp. 147
Subplotsp. 149
Subplots and Themesp. 151
First Attempt Fails - Maybep. 152
Exercise in Conflict: The Agitatorp. 153
Comic Sequence (D)
It Just Keeps Getting Worse a.k.a. How Much Pain Can Ben Stiller Take?p. 154
Five Events to the Midpointp. 156
Anticipation and Reaction Scenesp. 156
Reaction Scenesp. 157
Ramping Upp. 157
Backward from the Midpointp. 158
The Midpoint Hints at the Endingp. 158
Importance of Locationp. 160
Comic Sequence (E)
Love in the Air A.K.A. Why Andy Chooses Love over Sexp. 162
Reaction to the Midpointp. 163
Major Character Shiftp. 164
Develop the Themep. 165
Upping the Stakesp. 166
The Joltp. 167
Comic Exercise: The Soundtrackp. 168
Comic Sequence (F)
What Was I Thinking? a.k.a. Yes, I'm a Liar Butp. 170
A Final Pushp. 171
Good Times Never Lastp. 171
Expose the Character's Weaknessp. 172
The Calm Before the Stormp. 173
End of Act Two: Bad Things Happenp. 173
Other Ways to End Act Twop. 175
Act Three
Comic Sequence (G)
Time to Grow Up A.K.A. Why Are Ashton and Natalie So Sad Even Though They Said No Strings Attached?p. 177
So What Is Act Three?p. 179
What Else Should Happen In My Act Three?p. 179
Singing the Bluesp. 181
Who Am I?p. 182
Help from the Mentorp. 183
The Last Great Decisionp. 183
Comic Sequence (H)
The New Me A.K.A. Why Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Hugh Grant, Natalie Portman are Running at the End of the Moviep. 185
The Battlep. 185
Convergencep. 186
Sacrificep. 187
Resurrectionp. 187
Epiphanyp. 188
The Final Racep. 189
The New Mep. 190
Take a Breath at the Endp. l90
A Word About Satisfying Endingsp. 191
Writing the Screenplay
Writing the Screenplayp. 192
Turning the Scriptment into the Scriptp. 193
Why Do Screenplays Fail?p. 193
The Writing Beginsp. 196
Some Words about Dialoguep. 197
Trust the Work You Have Donep. 198
How Do I Know when It's Done?p. 199
The Business of Writingp. 199
Funny Is Moneyp. 201
Filmographyp. 203
About the Authorp. 214
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