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Friday, June 24, 2011

Community 1x01

"I'm not magical, I'm underpaid.  You racist Jackass."

The funniest, and most honest, line of dialogue in the whole script belongs to a tertiary side character.  I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Moving on...

What we have here is a 33 page script written by Dan Harmon, dated January 28th, 2009 (download here).  The show itself has a Cold Open and three acts, breaking down as follows: (5/10/8/10).

Simply put: This is a show that revolves around the theme of Brutal Honesty and when it comes to the comedy, this is especially true.

Now, I've gone to the Toronto Screenwriting Conference for the last couple of years in a row -- both times I went there to see Sheldon Bull in action.  The man's a fount of information and insight, but the biggest pearl I've ever had dropped at my feet from him was this (sorry, this is from memory):

'Don't worry about jokes.  Jokes are the easiest part.  All you do is take your characters and make them honest.  Remove the filters.  The things that we would never say, that society says we can't say -- that's what they say.  And it's funny!'

And, you know, that's this script to a T.

Jeff, a smooth-talking, slightly skeevy lawyer/bullshit artist gets forced to go back to college because it's revealed that his Diploma from Columbia turns out to be from Columbia (the country).  Thus he needs to go back to college and earn his degree.

First thing we see him do?  Try to find a way into a hot girl's pants.

Second thing we see him do?  Go to a Psych professor/former client and try to manipulate him into getting the test answers for the whole semester.

But it's FUNNY.  Because, for a liar, he's just so damned honest.  He doesn't want to be here.  Doesn't care about being here and wants to goof off and get laid if possible.

Honesty.

Hell, Mr. Harmon practically builds a shrine to it in the second act.  The second act in which we have the whole cast seated around a table... revealing and reacting to the most sordid or painful secrets they can share with one another, allowing themselves to be vulnerable.  And it's... pretty funny.

But once you're onto it, it's predictable.  I found myself waiting for that 'honest turn' that would take a borderline clich√© moment and make it 'fresh'.  Also, I started to wonder when I became such a cynical bastard.

See?! HONESTY!

JEFF
Pierce, let’s discuss this
creepiness.

PIERCE
I beg your pardon?

JEFF
Are you unaware Shirley finds your
advances inappropriate?

PIERCE
What advances?

SHIRLEY
You have been sexually harassing me
since the first day of class!

PIERCE
“Sexually harassing?” That doesn’t
make sense, why would I “harass”
someone that turns me on?

TROY
Saying she turns you on is the
harrassment, buddy.
And so it goes.

All that said, this is not a bad script, not in the least.  The characters are briefly described in one sentence and then left for you to figure them out by their actions (yay!), the pacing is pretty spot on, never really lagging for too long.

I just... I didn't care.  The only character I like on this entire show, based off this script, is the OLD BLACK WOMAN whom Jeff admits to thinking that she is a 'mystical Black person who gives free advice'.  He got used to expecting that sort of thing thanks to watching a lot of TV (so he says).

Cute.

But this woman, who has, I think, four lines in the whole episode is incredibly well crafted. Seemingly always there at that perfect moment, yet just that absolute pitch-perfect amount of disgust that, no matter what, Jeff keeps thinking she's going to provide him some sort of 'magical black person' life-saving advice.

"I'm not magical, I'm underpaid. You racist jackass."

I actually laughed out loud when I read that line.

All-in-all, I'm still not convinced that this show is my cup of tea, it's cute but, for all the Honesty here,  I found no connection to the characters.  I didn't like them.

That said, I saw their now-famous D&D episode not too long ago because a friend basically said 'you must watch this' and I quite enjoyed myself.

Shows grow and change, becoming -- if they're lucky -- more than the sum of their pilot.  I'll probably start watching Community... once I get through all the other stuff I've got on my plate.

Tomorrow I'll be checking out: Justified 1x01.

I LOVE THIS SHOW.

So... uh, yeah.  +1 for Honesty!!

Cheers,
Brandon

PS:  I don't know if you're watching this show or not, but if you've got even a moderate amount of Geek/Nerd in you -- or enjoy the activity known as 'Laughing' I highly recommend checking out the show ALMOST HEROES.

Seriously, it's really funny.  Sometimes Sad-Funny (as in, awww I feel bad that I'm laughing at this) but generally, actually and truly funny.

BONUS: Showcase.ca has all 4 eps (so far) up on their site for you to watch for FREE.  Crazy.

Even crazier?  Somehow they managed to get Porsche to pay for web advertisements in between segments of the show.  It's incredibly jarring and yet I can't help but commend Showcase for landing that kind of big fish.  Way to aim high, people!

Anyways, go! Watch! Enjoy the funny!

(also, *cough* I went to high school with Lauren Ash *cough*)

Ahh yes, my 15 microsecond brush with fame is almost complete.

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