Home » Archives » June 2006 » braaaaains
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Even after I got work on sitcoms, and got too busy to pitch at Star Trek:TNG and its other incarnations, I used to go haunt the halls of the Hart building every time I happened to be on the Paramount lot, just to get that great I'm-almost-on-the-Enterprise feeling. Oh! I was so envious -- still am, a bit. One of the offices had a name on it in those years: Lisa Klink. I never got to meet her, but there weren't many girls on the spaceship in those days, and I remembered the name.
Well, guess what came in the mail? Yessir, that's right, a note from Lisa Klink! She reads this humble blog. I'm absolutely tickled!
And she brought treats for the class. She submits for discussion another example of funny from the world of hour drama. This is her reconstruction, from memory, of an exchange on Bones:
We don't believe in things like witch doctors and zombies.
Didn't Jesus rise from the dead?
Jesus was not a zombie!
I love this! Although I have to say I disapprove of having two major characters whose names look so similar on the page. Doesn't that look confusing to you?
Lisa points out that it's the mixture of the silly and the sacred that gives it its comedic power. Absolutely. And it's also a great example of using humor to expose character. You can tell a lot about these characters just from this exchange.
This is what we call a "soft joke," as opposed to the "hard" jokes of sitcoms. A funny exchange without a bing-bang punchline. It's also very restrained. Personally I would've been tempted to extend the exchange. Continuing from where we left off:
He rose from the dead and walked around. How isn't that a zombie?
That's sacrilegious! That's horrible!
Booth gives Bones a swat.
Ow! Heal me, Zombie Jesus!
Yep. That's what I would've written. And then I would've cut it back again. The shorter version has all the comedy value without getting too broad. It's more disciplined, it's more real and it takes up less space. Also, I was working very hard to justify the phrase "zombie jesus," but a quick Google search reveals a lot of instances of that phrase, so it's probably not worth doing. This is a classic case of a light touch yielding the better result. It was worth trying the longer version, but then it's important to know when less is more.
Not every joke worth doing is worth driving into the ground. This is one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn.
Thanks again to our guest star, Lisa Klink, for providing today's show-and-tell!
Lunch: chicken with barbeque sauce made according to the South Beach Cookbook recipe. It was only okay.