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Home » Archives » February 2008 » English People Don't Actually Say Po-tah-to
[Previous entry: "Sweet Onion"] [Next entry: "Maybe She'll Get A Free Copier, Though?"]

02/19/2008: English People Don't Actually Say Po-tah-to

I'm not done yet with that two-part joke from The Onion that I mentioned in my last post. I think I need to talk a bit now about the joke's content as opposed to its construction. The joke is based, obviously, on the idea that two participants can have very different views of the same situation. We might call it a mini-Rashomon.

I was trying to think of examples in which this joke has been used in scripts. The most famous example, I suspect, is this instance from Annie Hall in which Alvy and Annie are talking to their therapists at the same time on a split screen. Both therapists ask about their client's sex life, and the answers come back:

Alvy Singer: Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall: Constantly. I'd say three times a week.

Often this joke is done with two characters speaking at once. Someone asks "how did it go?" and someone says "it was fantastic" at the same time that someone else says "it was hellish."

By the way, this joke has a tendency to feel a little written. So you might want to make it a little less precise... make the characters explicitly react to each other, perhaps, instead of speaking exactly simultaneously.

Despite this one reservation, however, I think that in general this is a very good type of joke since it comes out of character. In fact, it comes out of two characters, revealing a lot about both of themselves in one economical package. If you've got characters with contrasting views of the world (and I bet you do), see if you can't mine humor out of their first-blush reactions to different situations.

Lunch: penne alfredo with spinach and extra parmesan


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