"Storytelling ... is joke-telling. It's knowing your punchline, your ending, knowing that everything you're saying, from the first sentence to the last, is leading to a singular goal, and ideally confirming some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings."
That's a line from a famous 2012 TED Talk by Andrew Stanton (Pixar writer and director who worked on hits like Finding Nemo, Wall-E, the Toy Story series).
Devaiah Bopanna, ex-Head writer of the comedy collective, All India Bakchod and creator extraordinaire, agrees.
In my podcast conversation, Devaiah shares some powerful nuggets about the craft of storytelling.
Here are my top 3 lessons from the episode:
1. Start strong - put extra effort into your opening
Here's Devaiah: "The scene before the title comes in is the ‘cold open’; and the cold open is the most important part of anything that you do on YouTube, because YouTube is just unforgiving. You're competing with an algorithm that has no emotions. So basically, if your first 30 seconds are weak, the viewer will automatically shut the video and go somewhere else."
2. Humour is nothing but surprise
Devaiah: "Tanmay (Bhat) keeps saying this in the most amazing way, that 'humour is nothing but surprise.' A joke is a surprise; you laugh only because you don't see it coming. It's totally unpredictable when it hits you. The whole science of joke writing or storytelling, I mean of writing humour, is that you just try to keep hitting people with a funny thought when they least see it coming. You have to keep building smart decoys, and smart ways to conceal your joke and then lead people down a (certain) way and then hit them with the joke."
3. You need to be brutally honest when giving feedback and thick-skinned when receiving it
Devaiah: "One thing is that you need to be very self-critical, because I see a lot of people that are in love with their ideas, they get married to their ideas, and that is doomsday for you. Because a lot of people can't get over the fact that their idea is sh*t. You need to be at least (a little self-critical); I think we all are trained to be very, super self-critical in the first place. And we are, ourselves, unsure."
For the entire conversation, you can explore the links in the first comment.
And for my #SOTD, I found many storytelling principles being mentioned by Dev in the conversation! I've highlighted them in the framework (which has progressed to Version 1.3 now!)
(#SOTD or Story of the Day is my initiative to highlight one storytelling technique a day in any content published online).