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How to… parody films and books for the stage

Daniel Clarkson. Photo: Chris Mann Daniel Clarkson. Photo: Chris Mann
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1. Pick your material carefully

This is a very important one. Your job is to take someone else’s hard work, shorten it, add some jokes and make it your own. Picking the right source material is crucial. I have managed to choose real masterpieces over the years (Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, and now King Kong) and their ripeness for parody and satire has made me look great.

2. Love your material

It is imperative that you adore every last word or scene of your chosen story. Writing a good parody has to come from a place of pure heartfelt affection, creating a loving homage. Otherwise you find that your jokes can just become bitter and nasty, and you tend to be taunting rather than having fun with the material. Hopefully, many of your audience will be fans of the original work – so they won’t appreciate an hour of you telling them how bad it is and how wrong they are for liking it. This is why I have never done a Twilight parody. It is bad and those who like it are wrong.

3. Know your material inside out

This step shouldn’t be too difficult. By now you have chosen your perfect masterpiece, you feel it is ripe for parody and you are head over heels in love with it. So all you have left is the joyously ‘arduous’ task of reading and/or watching it over and over again. Digesting every little word and plot point. Knowing the dialogue back to front and inside out. Once you know your material every which way but loose, congratulate yourself on a job well done, have a rewarding cup of tea and settle back in the knowledge that you have done well. You are now ready to write the perfect parody ready for the stage.

Daniel Clarkson’s latest parody, King Kong (A Comedy), runs at the Vaults in London until August 27, 2017. He was talking to John Byrne

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