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20 best comedy scripts to read and download for free.
Here are twenty of the best comedy scripts that you can download and read to help make writing a comedy script that much easier. Study these funny scripts and learn how to amp up the funny in your own screenplay.
We’ve tried to cater to most tastes by including a variety of styles and genres, from independent comedy drama scripts to buddy action comedies. But even if, say, a funny drama script isn’t really your “thing,” read it anyway.
If you want to improve as a comedy writer it’s essential that you read as many comedy scripts as possible. And every one of these comedy scripts is well worth your time. Enjoy!
1. 21 Jump Street.
The 21 Jump Street script puts a new spin on the buddy action movie genre by giving just as much weight to comedy as to the action. It takes the premise of the original TV show but twists the tone from straight action into out-and-out comedy. Always think “How can I subvert genres? How can I mix genres and create something new?”
Overall, the script works because buddy movies are an important part of cinema history—although also a particularly American phenomenon. Indeed, as film historian David Thompson notes, “You just wouldn’t see three Englishmen behave the way American men do, who are truly happiest when they are together with other men.”
2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Selling comedy scripts in Hollywood is a tough business. But a sure-fire way to make it that much easier is to give us a protagonist who leaps off the page. Make him or her someone unique, memorable and most of all, funny.
Ron Burgundy is just that guy. And not only that but the writers, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, also use the trick of showing us a world in a different way. Now, of course, writing a comedy script that satirizes the 1970s world of mainstream media wouldn’t be fresh. But back in the early 2000s, it hadn’t been done before. So look for those opportunities in your comedy scripts.
3. The Big Lebowski.
A great way of putting a new twist on a genre is to combine it with another. This is exactly what the Coen brothers did when they created this Raymond Chandler-esque crime story and infused it with a strong dose of surreal dope-infused humor.
The brothers only wrote forty pages of a first draft, before hitting a roadblock in the story. So they decided to sit on it for a while and work on other projects, before coming back to it. Apparently, this is a method they often use and find when they return to a script after some time, they’re full of fresh ideas and eager to dive back in. In other words, there’s no “one correct way” to write a comedy script.
4. The Big Sick.
The script, by actors Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, is semi-autobiographical. The main storyline is based on their actual courtship before they got married, and many of the events actually happened in one form or another.
Mining your own life for material for a comedy screenplay can be a good way into finding an idea. It means you’ll be writing from a point of personal pain so the story will feel more “real.” However, it’s also important to make it funnier than real life.
While this script spawned a big hit at the box office, many felt the movie lacked conflict and real laughs. And this is probably because the writers relied so much on their real-life experiences.
5. Crazy Rich Asians.
The movie that proved romantic comedies can still be huge worldwide hits was based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan. His book was also inspired by events in his personal life and he began writing it after his father died as a way to cope with his grief.
Due to the current state of an industry that loves scripts based on existing popular works, publishing a novel first is always an option for aspiring screenwriters. Especially if you’re based in another state or another country altogether.
6. Easy A.
This is a smart high school teen comedy that writer Bert V. Royal claims to have written in five days. (Apart from the climax.) Maybe part of the reason for such a speedy genesis is the fact the story’s essentially an update on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850.
In any event, it’s a great comedy screenplay to study if you’re writing a high school comedy. It’s worth paying particular attention to the dramatic use of theme to highlight Olive Penderghast’s character arc.
7. The Edge of Seventeen.
How this wonderful comedy drama script got made is a fine example of a writer punching above their weight. If you have a great comedy screenplay and a favorite producer or director, there’s nothing to stop you sending it to them and seeing what happens.
This is exactly what fairly new screenwriter Kelly Fremon Craig did when she sent a copy of the script to James L. Brooks and he ended up becoming her mentor. As she says, “He was the crazy longshot I took in the beginning! And one I never thought would actually work. But I sent him the script and he ended up taking on the project.”
What drew him in was Craig’s unique “voice” on the page. Read the script and you’ll see why.
8. Game Night.
The Game Night script is one of the best comedy scripts of recent years. Again, it’s one that skillfully mixes genres—this time black comedy and thriller. Its writer is Mark Perez who co-wrote the underrated 2006 comedy screenplay Accepted, starring Justin Long and Jonah Hill.
Asked by the film’s producer John Fox for story ideas, Perez drew inspiration from the classic 80s comedy The Three Amigos and pitched him the idea about a game night among friends that goes wrong. Fox, Jason Bateman and New Line Cinema loved it, and the rest is history.
9. Girls Trip.
Much like Amy Poehler’s recent movie, Wine Country, this is one of those comedy scripts you should read if you’re writing multi-protagonists. It’s also a great screenplay to read to learn how to write that essential element in a modern comedy movie: the set piece.
Karen McCullah who co-wrote Legally Blonde (which is coming up) and 10 Things I Hate About You (which isn’t) was brought in specifically to help write the big set pieces in the script.
“They brought me on to be outrageous,” she notes. If you’re writing an R-rated comedy script, your writing needs to be too. Take a leaf out of Girls Trip to see how it’s done.
10. Horrible Bosses.
Written by three writers—Michael Markowitz, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley—this is one of the best comedy scripts to read if you have three protagonists. Note how it’s not until page 35 in the script that we find the end of Act 1 with Nick’s line “I’m in.” He finally commits to the plan for them to kill their bosses and we have a goal for Act 2.
Now, most screenwriting books and gurus will say this is too late for the push into Act 2. But here it works perfectly. We’ve had so much fun seeing Nick, Dale and Kurt getting badly treated by their bosses, that we don’t even notice how late the act break arrives. In fact, we needed that much time to get to know our three protagonists.
11. Ingrid Goes West.
A troubled young woman moves to LA in order to stalk and hopefully befriend her idol—an Instagram star. It’s this simple high concept idea that makes you want to see the movie. But it’s the execution of the idea that makes it one of the best comedy scripts in recent years.
It was also Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith’s first produced comedy screenplay and there is some good advice to be gleaned from their co-writing process.
“We would meet for upwards of five hours. We had set goals to make this, and held ourselves accountable during the writing process. We also wrote according to what we could produce. A lot of scenes were written to be shot at friend’s places, Joshua Tree, etc.”
Every pro screenwriter has a slightly different story to tell of how they broke into the industry. The Juno script was Diablo Cody’s ticket and was a typically circuitous route. First, she had a blog about being a stripper. This landed her a book deal, which led to being asked to write a script based on the book. But first, she needed a writing sample to show studios…
Having decided she wanted the writing sample that would become Juno to be about adoption, she began the research process. Far too many aspiring screenwriters skip this part but don’t be one of them. Collect real-life stories about your subject matter, draw inspiration from your own life and ground the story and humor in something real.
13. Legally Blonde.
One of the older funny scripts on the list, but still one all aspiring comedy writers should read. The screenplay was adapted from a novel based on the author’s real-life experiences. Amanda Brown, just like the story’s protagonist, Elle Woods, was a blonde fashionista at a top law school.
Screenwriters, Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith, joined Brown to help exaggerate the conflict the author endured at Stanford and turn Elle Woods into one of the most memorable characters in comedy. As the film’s producer Marc Platt notes, “She’s truly an irrepressible modern heroine.”
14. Little Miss Sunshine.
As we wrote in our post on how to become a screenwriter, Michael Arndt quit his day job as Matthew Broderick’s assistant to spend a year writing. The result was seven spec scripts, one of which was Little Miss Sunshine.
Arndt started the script on May 23, 2000, and three days later had completed a rough draft. He later sold it to one of the film’s producers, Marc Turtletaub, for $250,000. Not bad for a first-time screenwriter. This is a great example of how a newbie screenwriter can break into the industry through sheer hard work. And, of course, more than a little talent.
15. Midnight in Paris.
This screenplay, like most Woody Allen comedy scripts, is a great one to study in order to understand how to implement a strong theme. The idea of a nostalgic screenwriter, Gil, in Paris with his fiancé who finds himself being transported back to the 1920s every night, probably came to Allen off-the-cuff.
But imagine if the script he then wrote just had Gil getting into a meaningless adventure in 1920s Paris. Imagine the script had nothing to say about the nature of nostalgia and learning how to live in the present.
And imagine Gil doesn’t learn this theme through the stakes character, Adriana, who is herself nostalgic for the La Belle Époque of the 1890s. Always remember a strong theme will really make your comedy screenplay resonate and elevate it above the competition.
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Ratatouille is not only one of the best animated scripts ever made but one of the best comedy scripts ever written—whether animated or live action. Unlike, many Pixar movies that are often action/adventure-based, this tale about a master chef rat is pure comedy.
In fact, this is what persuaded writer/director, Brad Bird, to come on board. He was taken in, not only by the high concept of a rat who fears kitchens yet longs to work in one but also by the potential for so much physical comedy. A must-read for all budding comedy writers.
17. School of Rock.
Mike White, writer of great comedy scripts such as The Good Girl and Year of the Dog, etc. is maybe best known for this 2003 movie, School of Rock. The version included here is from June 7, 2002 and has a completely different opening to the shooting draft.
The 2002 draft opens on a seven-year-old Dewey being reprimanded by his parents for slacking at school. We then see him transfixed by AC/DC on TV. Then at school, smashing a plastic guitar on the floor. This is all good stuff, but note how much more hard-hitting the opening is in the shooting draft.
Dewey is an adult, playing guitar in a rock band and stage-diving onto an empty floor. That’s who he is in the movie and that’s what White gets across much more effectively in the shooting draft.
18. Step Brothers.
Two middle-aged losers still living at home with their single parents are forced to become roommates when their parents marry. This is a great idea for a comedy script, but how did the writers come up with it?
Bunk beds… Adam McKay was kicking around new story ideas with some fellow writers and someone said “bunk beds.” McKay then had the idea, why can’t they have bunk beds for grown-ups? And the idea for step-brothers being forced to share a room grew from there.
This simple story about two high school seniors trying to impress some girls by throwing a mammoth house party could easily have wound up feeling empty. (Like so many other high school movies.) What places the Superbad script above the pack, however, is its heart.
The fact Seth and Evan are two co-dependent friends who suffer from separation anxiety is what gives this comedy screenplay its heart. Always look for this level of depth in your characters’ relationships and you can make even the simplest of stories shine.
Interestingly, Seth MacFarlane originally conceived of Ted as another animated TV show in the vein of Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad. However, he changed his mind and brought on fellow Family Guy writers, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, to create this R-rated comedy about a slacker who lives with his talking teddy bear.
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As you read the script, note how thick and fast the jokes come. If you want to be a Hollywood comedy writer, you can’t afford to just have a joke here and there. They need to permeate every scene as they do in Ted.
Also note, how despite the R-rated humor, practically every scene relates back to the core conflict surrounding John’s flaw. Will he remain a slacker pothead who hangs out with teddy bear? Or will he grow up, marry his girlfriend and finally become a man?
Best comedy scripts to read.
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What do you think of our list of the best comedy scripts to read? Have we left any out? Don’t forget you can also find more comedy movie scripts, such as Bridesmaids and The Hangover in the links below.
If you want to get into comedy screenwriting, you must make reading funny scripts part of your weekly routine. Absorb as much as you can and put it into your own comedy screenplay. Good luck.
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Enjoyed these 20 best comedy scripts? Read more by following the links below…
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