I didn’t make a lot of notes at Ricky Gervais’s talk at Banff. Gervais is a very funny man to listen to, but he wasn’t talking much about craft. I did learn that his name is pronounced "Gervaise. I had a great time at William Shatner’s panel moderated by Bill Prady too, but I can’t say I learned much beyond the importance of doing Shakespeare.
Towards the end of his talk, though, he mentioned having a list of do’s and don’t’s for THE OFFICE. He mentioned some of them:
“No exposition. ‘You know your brother who just came back from the Yucatan.’ ‘Yeah... he’s my brother, of course I know him.’
"No people entering just to do the important thing.
"No Eye of God camera coming between two people dancing. I mean, whose point of view is that?
"No director’s jokes. Nothing the character wouldn’t say just because it’s funny. We cut out half the jokes that were too smartass for the character. For example, Tim and Dawn weren’t supposed to be having a good time if they’re not together. Tim was supposed to be Norm from Cheers. But he was too smart. And the audience would think, if he’s that smart and happy, I don’t care. So what we did was no one laughs at his jokes. Only Dawn laughs at his jokes. That meant more than getting the laugh.
"Also, jokes sometimes ended with an embarrassing silence. That excited us as well.
"The reality of the piece excited us. The realer it was, the more it would resonate.
"It was about a man in free fall, who confused respect with popularity.
"Oh, and we knew we had to keep reminding people it was a fake documentary. Otherwise all we had was a slow sitcom without enough jokes.”
Labels: Banff, interviews, showrunner