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How To Write Satire; Tips For Writing Dark Comedy

Dark Comedy is a sub-genre of Comedy where the most uncomfortable topics and stories are presented with a dose of humor. Subjects that are taboo in society or usually found disturbing and uncomfortable for an open discussion, find their place in Dark Comedy. Politics, drugs, gender biases, sexual preferences, abuse, assault, rape, terrorism are commonly used topics for writing Satire.

Screenwriting in itself is an art, and you can learn more about the various forms of writing and effective writing through our Certificate Program in Screenwriting from WWI Virtual Academy.


Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when writing Satire:


1. Start From Honesty
For Dark Comedy your subject must be real and honest. The subject may be as strange and uncomfortable as you wish for them to be, but it needs to be approached with all truthfulness. That is the only thing that would enable the audience to resonate with it. Dark Comedy needs to bring about a subject that most people would be concerned or uncomfortable about, but surely know of its existence. ‘Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani’ showcased the harsh reality of media houses and how news is regularly fabricated. In the film, two rival Reporters go to great extents to out-do each other, and in a comical way showcase what happens behind the scenes. The candid truth in the script is what makes the film relatable even after 2 decades.


2. Explore The Shades Of Grey
Most storylines show the characters in either black or white, and good versus evil forms. Dark Comedy allows one to explore the grey area. Since Dark Comedy explores stories that are more real and practical, the shades of grey help the characters seem more relatable. ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’ is a classic example where the hero of the film doesn’t fall in the black or white category. There are many situations in the film when his character stoops down to a grey area to guard his interests, and that’s where humor appears to create a sense of balance.


3. Fatalism Is Unavoidable
The more your story and characters believe in fatalism, the better the chances of it being ironically humorous. Yet again, like real life, where we don’t have control over every situation that life throws at us and the challenges with which we overcome it all, films based on fatalism provide a great opportunity for dark humor. ‘Kalakandi’, for instance, showcased how the unfolding of different events that one doesn’t have control over changes the lives of the characters, thus leaving the audience with a good dose of dark comedy.


4. Clear Ending
When writing dark comedy, you may push your boundaries and create multiple twists and turns in your plot, but you need to know your ending. ‘Jane Bhi Do Yaaro’ is considered a cult film in this category and beautifully showcases a clear ending as the form of scriptwriting. The characters of the film and their various scenarios are what keeps the audience in splits at all times, but the dark satire based on political corruption had a great ending too. In the final scene, the main characters played by Naseeruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani are shown several months later released from prison, still in their prison clothes. They turn to the camera and make a symbolic cut-throat gesture, signifying the death of justice and truth. While it’s the climax set on stage dramatization of Mahabharata, where the chaos of the film reaches its peak, making the audience laugh at almost every dialogue, it’s this clear ending that justifies the rampant corruption in Indian politics, bureaucracy, news media, and business, with the common man falling in their trap.


Satire relies heavily on your creativity and wit to find humour in dark subjects, and make them memorable. It requires a mix of understanding your skills and learning through the right channels to hone them. With the Certificate Course In Screenwriting at WWI Virtual Academy, our Expert Faculty share industry experiences to help you improve your screenwriting skills. For those who aspire to learn about filmmaking, you can enrol in the Advanced Certificate Program in Filmmaking.