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Writing Comedy In A Musical

Comedy comes from context.

Yeah so?

It's based on the situation...

That doesn't help at all.

I recently put down a project that I've spent the last 6 years working on... I had to put it down. Even though I had a good grip on the story, I couldn't get the piece to "say" what I wanted it to say -- and to make it worse, it wasn't very funny.

I got really down on myself, as most writers do when something isn't working. I blamed myself for all of it, saying "you're just not a good comedy writer" and "maybe you should explore another line of work".

But then something magical happened.

As I said, I put down the 6 year project and picked up a project that had only existed in notes form about 3 weeks ago. Within 2 days I had an outline and started writing...

And it was funny!

Let me clarify my sense of humor. I see the irony in everything, but it doesn't make me laugh, instead it makes me weary for the world. Very few things make me chuckle or laugh out loud.

But during a reading to myself, I was actually laughing out loud.

How could this be? How could I be making myself laugh this early into a project, but was so frustrated with the 6 year piece?

Comedy comes from context.

I am able to gleam two observations from my experience writing comedy in musicals now...

First, my 6 year piece was never visualized as a musical comedy, instead it was more of a musical drama like Les Miserables or West Side Story.

Second, maybe that 6 year piece isn't a topic that SHOULD be musicalized.

Writing on the new project has been a breeze, like piece of cake breeze... And it's funny. But I always visualized the piece as pure musical comedy (with heart). So could it be that the success of your comedy writing is based on the early decisions you make about your project?

I believe so...

Alan Saunders,

Friends told me I was late to the game for writing musicals, even though I've been writing them almost my entire life. so this blog is my journey into writing professionally for the stage.

Check out for how-to articles and resources for writing your own musical for the stage!

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