And Don't Call Me Shirley

The Zucker brothers made some of the most classic comedy films of the 1980s, like Airplane and The Naked Gun. It seems like everyone, to this day, has tried copping their style, usually to disastrously unfunny results.

When asked in 1991 about why their comedies were so much better than their contemporaries, David Zucker let loose their top secret (later re-written for Entertainment Weekly):

“Two jokes at the same time cancel each other out. When an actor delivers a punchline, it should be done seriously. It dilutes the comedy to try to be funny on top of it. Likewise, if there is something silly going on in the background, the foreground action must be free of jokes and vice-versa.”

Providing a simple background (or foreground) to your subject helps the viewer zero in on what’s really important in a scene. Photographers may differ on the technical aspects of such advice, but I’ve always appreciated a good story more than a technically perfect photo.