This is not the final word on comedy editing. It is merely a starting point. We want YOU to submit your techniques, tricks and suggestions when it comes to editing a comedy sequence.
Created by: David Lean (March 25, 1908 - April 16, 1991)
British Film Institute Entry
Lean states that there are three components to a site gag that if executed correctly will result in a big laugh from the audience. The rule is as follows:
3)Tell them you've done it.
In the first few seconds you'll notice that the butler enters in an MS shot carrying a large cake with two hands. In the background we hear Moe pretending to be a dignified character. The next shot shows Moe talking to two woman, we cut back to the butler who moves the cake to one hand and begins to move towards the three characters. This is the director telling us what is going to happen. Someone is going to be hit with that cake that is too large for one hand. Next the butler trips and smashes the cake into Moe's face in a WS. This is number two, they did it. Finally we cut to a MS of Moe with his face covered in the cake. This is the editor telling us he did it.
Interestingly with shows such as Family Guy we're seeing a variation on this technique. No longer are we seeing "tell them what your going to do, do it tell them you did it". We now see: "Do it,tell them you did it, tell them you did it again" (Repeat till audience stops laughing and then laughs again due to awkward pause).
Just make it funny!
Created by: Unknown
This is a simple concept. It's okay to break editing rules as long as you get a laugh. Your goal as the editor is to get the biggest laugh from your audience and if that means breaking continuity, crossing the axis etc., then so be it.
Below is a scene from the Disorderly Orderly, Starring Jerry Lewis. In it typical editing rules are broken. The scene is edited between two shots with very little difference between them. One slightly wider than the other. It could be argued that this is a jump cut and in a typical situation wouldn't be acceptable. But with this scene we see it works to great comedic effect. Also, the nurse looks at the camera, but this is intentional and adds to the humour.