How to parody but still keep the audience interested?


#1

So in my current WiP, many things are meant to be a parody of tropes and plot devices I’ve seen a bunch. The biggest example would be the story’s format, who has a very long “introduction” to only 2 of the 5 NPCs (the later 3 coming in Part II of Act I), which is meant to parody the excessively long time it takes to introduce characters and set up the story in Visual Novels. However, is this even a good idea? Would people get bored of the antics and casual chatter in the first part and not even go on to Part II, where things finally get going?

I write to entertain people, so I don’t wanna bore anyone. Especially since my writing style isn’t the best at the moment and it’s very fluffy.


#2

You never know until you do it. Write what you like and invite people to come along.


#3

That said, would YOU enjoy reading these exceptionally introductions? :slightly_smiling:
If you can make it interesting, by all means, go for it! If you’re not sure, then there are many other tropes to parody.


#4

I agree with what was said above, as long as you enjoy your own comedy then its good. if you start stressing about what others think about it you limit your creativity.


#5

Yep, what they all said - go with what you think is fun, it’s the only way to do it without making it forced. If you re-read it and still think it’s fun to you, then go with it. :relaxed:


#6

Hm, that’s in interesting question. Okay, here’s some things that jump to mind (in no particular order, just throwing thoughts at the wall).

  1. What you’re parodying really makes a difference in what you can do with your parody, and that’s something to really consider. E.g. Team 4 Star’s parody of Hellsing Ultimate (which I literally was just watching a few minutes ago) can do and say a lot more, and still come across as coherent, than a parody of The Sound of Music (at least without devolving into just random sketch with parodies thrown in, ala Family Guy).

  2. Parody (and I mean stories that are predominantly parody, not just have parody as part of their structure), tend to be significantly shorter than the works they are parodying. There’s a good reason for this (beyond good parody being pretty hard to pull of). Parody tends to build on what is already present, pulling things from the audience’s mind and turning/playing with them. Therefore less set up is naturally involved, and set up tends to be one of the easiest places to lose and audience.

E.g. You mentioned VNs, so lets take a very typical structure of a VN, the ‘harem comedy’, where a geeky guy (player stand-in at best, author at worst), meets typically five heroines. If we introduce the ‘tomboy’ character in a harem comedy, in a normal story, we show personality, mention interests, have complex interactions, ect. With a parody, we do one of those first two things, (generally the second) and that’s it. That character is now your tomboy character, no more or less.

If you start building a lot of character and complexity, that character stops being your ‘tomboy’ stand-in, and starts taking on a personality of their own. For a normal story, that’s good, but for a parody it can be bad. When that character does something, it’s now less ‘tomboy stand in does x’ and more ‘this character does x’. Hence parodies tend to just jump to the next scene, skimping on the buildup and structure of other stories.

  1. Parodying ‘tropes’ is pretty vague, so I’d recommend focusing in a bit. That said, parodying outside a source media can likewise be difficult, and IF isn’t really monolithic enough to have enough to parody on it’s face, without delving into the obscure. On the other hand there’s cultural parody (ala Watamote for Otaku culture and Sayonara Zetsubou for Japanese/World culture), but that’s, well, that’s really area dependent and can be pretty hit or miss.

#7

Parody is something that has escalated a lot lately, starting with Scary Movie most likely. And it’s kind of a thin line between parody and just poorly written stuff. Personally, I’m more of a show than a tell kind of person. I don’t like long sections of text without any action thrown in. Conversely I don’t like having to choose ten thousand little details that don’t at all matter either.

The beginning is very important like @Reaperoa said , it’s something you should play through several times to make sure that it flows properly and doesn’t feel like a trog. For instance in One Punch Man, Geno does one of these long winded introductions where he even repeats himself several times. It was annoying, and wasn’t all that funny to me, although you could really feel Saitama’s pain towards the end there. Saitama being the so called straight man to the joke.

So IMO; there are better tropes to parody, but if by some exceptional skill you can make it work, sure.


#8

Another thought: don’t get so hung up in the parody that you don’t include an actual story that is augmented by the funny stuff and not just an empty vehicle to deliver it.


#9

Keep the story original and includes only HINTS of parody should be the way.
No one likes a blatant copycat.


#10

There are basically three types of parody, and that guides what you do with a parodical story.

  1. You are closely parodying a well-known story or beloved fandom.
    This is where you try to write a story about “Star Battles” or “Baconlet”, and most of the humor comes from adding twists to the known structure of the story. This easily falls flat. People have to have read or experienced what you are talking about to get the joke, have to appreciate your re-telling of the story, and have to not get bored with your single-minded subject matter. It’s possible to do this well, but it helps to avoid cliches and include as much variety about the setting/fandom/genre as possible to break up jokes based on the single story.
  2. You are parodying a well-known genre/fandom and its tropes.
    This is where you write a self-aware horror story, dating sim, or game about geeks that makes fun of itself. While easier to make accessible and funny, it’s prone to in-jokes, obscure references, and lacking a coherent plot apart from its sarcastic goal. For a great example of how to do this right, go play the demo of Don’t Wake Me Up, which is full of nerd references and more generally makes fun of video games.
  3. You are making fun of something that exists in the real world.
    This is more accurately called “satire”. It’s the least “niche” of these types of parody, accessible to the most readers, and is more like a comedy sketch. It takes a social norm or a commonly held idea and turns it on its head. Most writers can get away with this kind of comedy, so it isn’t as rare. To pull it off, you must avoid copying people (using cliches), say something reasonably insightful, and being excessively cruel or sarcastic will lose you some of your audience.

Hope that helps.


#11

Thanks for the praise, @Sashira, I aim to be the snarkiest, just as you’ve said.


#12

A mistake a lot of comedies make is trying to focus on laughs the whole time and ruining everything else. A number of times they even screw up at humor.

There’s a style I’ve seen a few times where they take tropes and show how wrong they can go instead of making a joke (not even having the trope going wrong being the joke like some indie RPGs seem to be doing lately). Does that still count as parody?