Episode 228 – Steve Kaplan (The Comic Hero’s Journey)
Steve Kaplan has been the industry’s most sought-after expert on comedy. In addition to having taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale and other top universities, Steve created the HBO Workspace, the HBO New Writers Program and was co-founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Punch Line Theatre. He has consulted and taught workshops at companies such as HBO, DreamWorks, Disney, Aardman Animation, Sony Pictures Network India, Globo Brazil, and others. Steve’s first book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy, is a international best seller.
Steve’s new book, The Comic Hero’s Journey is on sale now.
Pre Show Notes
— Shop at your favorites sites AND Support the Podcast!
— I was featured on No Film School for my Tarantino screenwriting video. Thanks to Jason Hellerman for the write up!
— Show Start [00:02:45]
— Steve Kaplan’s interviews with Film Courage [00:05:16]
— Character Development [00:09:36.]
— The best comedies nowadays [00:13:58]
— Creating a comedy which is telling the truth [00:16:50]
— Groundhog’s Day – Theme and Character [00:18:31]
— Judd Apatow Comedies [00:21:59]
— Dumb and Dumber [00:27:35]
— Empathy vs Sympathy [00:29:45]
“Somebody once said. That all fiction is autobiography. Every piece of fiction is that it’s actually telling you more about the person who’s writing it than about the characters who are in it. And I think that’s true”
— The Comic Hero’s Journey [00:41:31]
“A comic hero or heroine also goes on a journey, but for the comic hero, it’s often quite, quite different. The hero decides to go on the adventure; the comic hero often has no choice. The hero has a wise old man; the comic hero often meets an idiot who inadvertently says something that can teach him a thing or two. Steve Kaplan will show you the diverse paths that comedy takes in The Comic Hero’s Journey.”
— The Hero’s Journey [00:43:13]
In narratology and comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero’s journey, is the common template of a broad category of tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.
The study of hero myth narratives started in 1871 with anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor’s observations of common patterns in plots of heroes’ journeys. Later on, others introduced various theories on hero myth narratives such as Otto Rank and his Freudian psychoanalytic approach to myth, Lord Raglan’s unification of myth and rituals, and eventually hero myth pattern studies were popularized by Joseph Campbell, who was influenced by Carl Jung’s view of myth. In his 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell described the basic narrative pattern as follows:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, describe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ in terms of the monomyth. While others, such as Otto Rank and Lord Raglan, describe hero narrative patterns in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis and ritualistic senses. Critics argue that the concept is too broad or general to be of much usefulness in comparative mythology. Others say that the hero’s journey is only a part of the monomyth; the other part is a sort of different form, or color, of the hero’s journey.
“There’s a comedy story everywhere. That’s that’s the whole point. Our lives are comedies and we just have to be brave enough to tell them.”
— Parting Thoughts [00:51:30]