The Trailers for Ghostbusters (2016) and the Art of Editing Comedy

(L to R) Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones

HOW DO YOU EDIT A JOKE?

1) Setting Up the Joke

“A lot of comedians have great jokes and they’re like… well why isn’t this working? It’s not working because the audience does not understand the premise [of the joke]. So I’m going to make sure… if I set this premise up right, this joke will always work.”

2) Giving the Set-Up the Right Tone

3) The Timing of the Punchline

“The difference between a laugh and no laugh can be as little as one frame.”

Eleven frames at the end of the shot (U.S. trailer #2)
Compare how far away Kristen Wiig (standing far right) is placed from the composition’s center

4) The Editor is Responsible for the Jokes

“Comedy is hard. Comic structure is simply dramatic structure but MORE SO: neater, shorter, faster.”

5) But no Editor is 100% Responsible for the Trailer

6) In Conclusion

7) A Footnote

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Creator/Editor/Narrator: Every Frame a Painting

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Tony Zhou

Tony Zhou

Creator/Editor/Narrator: Every Frame a Painting

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