STRIVE FOR A TONE OF NATURALISM
In anticipation of his Comedy Knowledge Drop, we asked writer/show runner/producer Brent Forrester to recount some lessons learned from working for over twenty years on some of television's most iconic programs, including The Simpsons, The Office, King of The Hill, Late Night With Conan O' Brien, and more.
Brent Forrester: Greg created the American “Office,” and co-created “King of the Hill” with Mike Judge. But long before that, we writers together on The Simpsons. Early on, I was
impressed by Greg’s attraction to observational comedy, and “naturalism” even
when writing for animation. I first noticed it in his classic Simpsons episode, “Bart
Sells His Soul” which was based on a funny true story Greg told about some friends
from college. On “King of the Hill” he took these observational instincts even farther.
Greg gave “reporters pads” to all the writers, slim notebooks that we could carry in a
back pocket, for making notes about of things we observed. This love of
observational, naturalistic comedy peaked at “The Office,” where Greg set a new
standard for realism in American network TV. One way he achieved this was by
occasionally inserting deliberately un-comedic footage, like a Xerox machine slowly
churning out copies, as a way of undercutting the artificial “comic” tone. The
“mockmentary” form was helpful to Greg in creating the naturalistic tone he loved.
The documentary says “real life” and helps re-enforce that realistic tone.
Join us at Dynasty Typewriter on Sunday May 20th where Brent will be sharing more stories and tips from his time behind the frontlines of comedy. Tickets available here.