Selling Tragedy vs. Comedy

I am bewildered on a seemingly simple decision that I believe is common to any writers or creators. Tragedy vs. Comedy; which to create? There was a related article I just read (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/11/ew.movies.adults/index.html) that says it’s much more difficult to sell a movie aimed at adults vs. a fun kid’s movie. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Audiences don’t want to be reminded of the darkness in the world,” he says. “They want to laugh, get taken to space, watch things in a museum come to life.”


And this is something I have been thinking on for quite some time. I have a project I want to do. It’s a performance piece. I have two ideas that are “dark” and one idea that is silly. My personal opinion is that it’s much easier to create something dark. It’s difficult to be funny. Also, I think it’s easier to write a good sounding song in a minor key than it is to write a song in a major key. Why? I’m not sure.

It’s easy to be funny impromptu and off the cuff – but to be funny within a set framework, very difficult. Like writing weekly screenplays for a comedy tv show – I think that must be very difficult. 

So my ideas for a theater piece that are dark I can see very clearly and think I could follow through well. But would anyone want to see it? When I think of the performances I have been part of the last several years, the most successful ones box-office-wise were the upbeat ones, funny and silly. 

Stephen Sondheim says he doesn’t worry about whether an audience will “like” what he does, he only is concerned with their understanding of what’s happening. The most important thing: that the audience understand and is with you at all times. Whether they like it or not, you can’t control. (I THINK that is what he was saying).

If you have any input on this I would love to hear from you. Please leave a note.

Categories: Art

One thought on “Selling Tragedy vs. Comedy

  1. Hmmm…I don’t know that this will help much, but I prefer to
    watch comedy rather than read it, and read drama rather than watch it.

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