by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
I just wanted to [work in the documentary format] to see what it was like. You know, to take those weights off our ankles. I feel like 30 Rock and Community never get an award for doing a format that’s twice as hard. Because it really is twice as hard. Not only can you not lay in a voiceover, sort of explaining what people are doing and how they feel, but on top of that, you are combining all of the crutches that come from flashbacks and jumping around in time and multiple points of view. I wanted to do it and verify that it actually is easier to make an episode funnier using that format. And the answer is, yeah, it is. I mean, there were a lot of jokes in the episode, and it just seemed faster, like we were able to fire off more and pack more into it.
Dan Harmon on “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking”
Drew: I regret that this quote is so critical of the documentary format, since my takeaway isn’t that it’s “easy” to be funny using that format, but that the format itself is well-suited to comedy. (Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine caring about how easy or difficult a joke is to tell — I just care if it’s funny.) Indeed, I’d argue that selecting the format that best tells the story is of the upmost importance, and a format that is funnier and faster is ideal for a series like West Coast Avengers. In many ways, the documentary format itself — represented in this issue by the confessional sequences delivered directly to camera — sets the pacing for this issue, establishing six square panels as a kind of heartbeat for each page. Continue reading