Wednesday, February 25, 2009

what would the world be like without writers?

When someone walks out of a movie theatre, they will most likely applaud the actor's performance, an innovative digital technique, or a beautiful set. These are, undoubtedly, wonderful aspects of a film that empower its message and purpose. Rarely, however, do you hear someone comment on the actual screenplay. When was the last time you said to your friend, "wow, that is a solid screenplay. So well-written. The words were loaded with so much meaning, I'll have to watch it again."

The actual writing of the film is one of the most under-rated aspects of cinematic art. What do people get most excited about when they watch the Oscars? Three things: best actor in a leading role, best actress in a leading role, and best picture.

There are definitely those that study the script when they watch films. Those are probably the same people that get goosebumps when the best screenplay winner is announced. Those people are probably writers, or people that have a deep interest in the literary field.

Let's stop and think for a moment here. What would the world be like without writers? No advertisements, no television, no films, no news, no books, no magazines, no instruction manuals, no menus...

Words are everywhere. On your cereal boxes, your aspirin bottles, your morning paper, your greeting cards. Someone had to get those words on there. The world needs writers for several reasons--to educate, inspire, and entertain.

So, this is my little tribute to all writers. Whether you're an advertising copywriter, a reporter, a magazine editor, a screenwriter, an SEO copywriter, or a novelist, you have an opportunity to communicate important ideas and messages to your audiences. The world needs you and your words. Happy writing!

Friday, February 6, 2009

funny words

Last night I went to The Great Canadian Laugh-Off where a good friend of mine was competing for a chance to win semi-finalist status, and then compete for the grand prize of $25,000. There were six comics in total and each had eight minutes to deliver a performance good enough to get them into semi-finals.

Each comic succeeded in eliciting laughter from the audience. All were different, projected different voices, and revealed different styles for one result: make 'em laugh. I sat near the back, sipping a gin and tonic, thinking about how solid comic writing can change someone's emotion, transform a shitty day into a great one, and temporarily allow someone to forget about their troubles. Laughing is powerful, but not as influential as its cause: those words that a comic pens and delivers on stage.

Where do hilarious stand-up comics get their inspiration from? Where do they find those ideas that are turned into situations and characters so funny, that people are able to forget their "bad day" and enjoy the present?

I did some research and found that most comedians find their inspiration in people. Many of them carry a notepad and pen or BlackBerry that they use to record funny or awkward situations and conversations fueled by family, friends, or strangers. A lot of behaviour observation occurs in the comic's life, as they are sensitive to details, interaction, and socialization, deepening their understanding of the human core. This makes me think that those with a natural talent of making others laugh are actually quite the introverts, watching all of us intently.

Here are some quotes from a few of my favourite comics that are (funnily enough) about people and human relations:

"Behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes."
- Jim Carrey

"Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist."
- George Carlin

"Sometimes you can't see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others."
- Ellen DeGeneres

"There's very little advice in men's magazines, because men don't think there's a lot they don't know. Women do. Women want to learn. Men think, "I know what I'm doing, just show me somebody naked."
- Jerry Seinfeld