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  • Mat Schramm

Setting the Tone in Comedy - Knowing when to push.

Comedy is like a Swiss Army knife – versatile and multifunctional, but sometimes you'll accidentally poke yourself with the corkscrew when all you wanted was the bottle opener. In filmmaking and commercials, it can be used to grab attention, entertain, and create a memorable brand image. However, setting the right tone can be a delicate balance, especially when it comes to keeping the client and agency happy on commercials.

When it comes to comedy, tone depends on many factors, the creative concept, directing, script, casting, editing, and music. You can think of it like assembling IKEA furniture – you need all the right pieces and instructions, or else you'll end up with a lopsided, unusable mess. To set the right tone, you need to understand the brand's personality, audience, and objectives. This will help you create a concept that is in line with their expectations and delivers the desired impact, or at least doesn't make anyone cringe.

parrot on a mens shoulder

As a production house, our main objective is to hire a director that suits the style of the brief – sort of like finding the perfect pair of pants that fit just right, are stylish, and don't ride up. Then we create a piece of work that is artistically satisfying, technically sound, and aligns with the client and agency’s vision. The trick is to balance the director's vision with the client's vision and the agency's brief.

Setting the Tone in Comedy

Typically the funnier the film or commercial is, the more shares it gets, which equals exposure. On a recent production, as the production house, we shared the director’s view that we could dial up the comedy and use more quirky characters, but the client felt it did not altogether fit their brand tone. Here it's important to have open and honest communication with the client and agency and try to find a compromise that meets everyone's needs. And let's not forget the budget! If it dials up the humour, we’ll often make concessions on budget and spend on making it funnier. Our film was for Ramadan, so we leveled off the comedy a little, while fighting to keep in what we thought would keep a smile on the viewers face. A happy client is a happy agency – like a good comedian, you’ve got to know when to push the envelope and when to pull back.

The agency’s role is to bridge the gap between the client and the production house, like a good therapist who helps you see things from a different perspective. It’s key for the agency to have a deep understanding of the client's brand personality, target audience, and market positioning. This will help the agency craft a brief that is clear and concise and communicates the desired comedic tone effectively.

Talking with a parrot

Establishing the right tone in comedy is like walking a tightrope – you can toy with the nuances while keeping the humor alive, and still have clients eager for a repeat collaboration. Dare to champion the elements you believe will captivate a wider audience, but be mindful of when it's time to rein it in.

As you explore the enigmatic jungle of comedy in filmmaking and commercials, keep in mind Louis CK's astute observation: "The meal isn't over when I'm full; the meal is over when I hate myself." With that inspiration, let's dedicate ourselves to producing content that evokes laughter, fosters reflection, and adds a touch of joy to the everyday grind. Who knows, we might just stumble upon the perfect harmony of humor that resonates with audiences far and wide.

Setting the Tone in Comedy


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