Tips for action comedy

I have found some YouTube videos with some great insights to creating action comedy.

This first video isn’t specifically directed toward action comedy, but it uses a comedic scene as an example.  In How to Make a Perfect Action Scene, Patrick H Willems explains why action scenes can’t simply be a series of exciting events.  There should be either clear causation or surprising turns.  He uses the term “therefore” when one event causes another event, and “but” for when there is an unexpected change.  A video of animators Matt and Trey Parker speaking at NYU is his source for these terms.

After watching the video, I realized this is why the action scenes in the Indiana Jones movies work so well.  They have both a logical progression and unexpected changes of direction.  Rewatch the Club Obiwan scene that opens Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for a great example.

The next video is from YouTuber BigStinkyMoose.  His bio says he is a Canadian fight choreographer.  His video Jackie Chan Famous Ladder Fight Scene Analysis does an excellent job of illustrating how Jackie Chan foreshadows the use of props in his fight scenes. Basically, Chan makes sure the props he uses are clearly visible in the shots before he puts them to use.  I believe that helps the audience follow the fast action.  It only serves to reinforce Chan’s reputation as a great filmmaker.   Again, this involves comedy.

While that video is enough to explain the method, I recommend watching his follow-up video, below, that shows what happens when an action scene is shot without the same attention to detail.  I especially like his use of clips from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.  In the famous fight scene, the TV anchormen meet in an alley for a rumble, and they all produce frightening weapons from inside their suit jackets.  That reminds me of how cartoon characters can suddenly pull out a giant hammer or bundle of dynamite.

Wolf pulls hammer

It is curious that a “serious” fight scene can rely on almost cartoonish techniques, but Jackie Chan carefully prepares the props beforehand to make it believable. For more on Jackie, read my other post.




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