10 Commandments for Comedy (1947)

10 Commandments for Comedy

From Sponsor magazine, 1947.

What strikes me most about Ernest Walker’s “Ten Commandments” is the strict division between “characterization, situation, and gags,” which he warns against mixing.

To my way of thinking, characterization and situation are both part of narrative, which can be interrupted by gags–much as musical numbers or sex scenes can delay the progression of narrative in film.

I’m also intrigued by the specific timing Walker demands for laughs: 12 seconds between gags and 22 seconds between “situation laughs.” This is something I’m exploring statistically with Laugh Logger, a new site designed to measure the time between laughs on TV laugh tracks.