Yves Lavandier’s book Writing Drama currently rates as the absolute favorite of our book reviewer Jack Brislee.
To give you the opportunity to delve into Lavandier’s amazing knowledge and insight, we will be publishing a weekly excerpt from the book.
Comedy is Therapy
Laughter, it hardly needs pointing out, is beneficial to mankind, and has long been suspected of having therapeutic effects.
In his article on humour, Freud  explains that a humourous attitude is a refusal of pain, a proclamation of the invincibility of the self, an affirmation of the pleasure principle which has the immense advantage of allowing us to maintain our psychic well-being, unlike other forms of defence against pain such as neurosis, madness, drunkenness, ecstasy or withdrawal into oneself. This view is shared by Boris Cyrulnik , who states that “humour is a valuable factor of resilience.”
Numerous research programmes have shown how the act of laughing improves mental and psychic health, reducing stress, increasing longevity and reinforcing the immune system. In the 1960s, an American journalist, Norman Cousins  learned that he was suffering from a very serious disease, ankylosing spondylarthritis.
Numerous research programmes have shown
how the act of laughing improves mental and psychic health.
One day he saw a film that set him laughing fit to burst. In the hours that followed, he found that his pain had gone. He decided that he would take a laughter cure. He spent day after day watching comedy films, reading funny stories, finding every possible way of creasing up with laughter. And at the end of it all he was cured.
This is a true story, and many clowns are now employed in hospitals which provide gelotherapy, the technical term for laughter therapy.
Comedy has another psychosomatic characteristic: it disconnects the brain’s left hemisphere and lowers the receptor’s guard by bypassing his mental faculties. Humour is a form of hypnosis. It is used in this way in psychotherapy or in Buddhist teaching, and is very useful as a means of imprinting the content of a particular message as deeply as possible. A spectator who is laughing is more receptive and understands better what he is being told.
A spectator who is laughing is more receptive
and understands better what he is being told.
The Bosnian director Danis Tanović  recalls that after seeing how his short movie Dawn—not a particularly uplifting story—was received, he understood that what he needed in his full-length movie No Man’s Land, if the public was to listen to what he was saying about war, was humour.
Hiner Saleem, preparing a film about the fate of the Kurds, reached a similar conclusion and came up with a comedy, Vive la Mariée… et la Libération du Kurdistan, to the discontent of Kurdish militants who had been hoping for a serious, committed drama.
If this excerpt has whetted your appetite and you would like to own this book, don’t fork out the $150 or so Amazon is charging.
Instead, send an email to the publisher email@example.com with subject ‘the story department referral’ and you will be eligible for the super-discounted price of 30 Euros (i.e. only $37 at the time of writing). This saves you $113 (or 75%) off the Amazon cost.
Karel Segers wrote his first produced screenplay at age 17. Today he is a story analyst with experience in acquisition, development and production. He has trained students worldwide, and worked with half a dozen Academy Award nominees. Karel speaks more European languages than you have fingers on your left hand, which he is still trying to find a use for in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. The languages, not the fingers.
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2 thoughts on “Writing Drama (3)”
I’m so happy to you reviewing the book here, Karel. It’s one of my favorite writing books–I recommend it at The Black Board all the time. I’m shocked how few people in North America have ever heard of it. It’s clearly one of Europe’s best kept secrets. I purchased my copy direct from the publisher as well and found the staff delightful to deal with. I hope your series of excerpts helps connect writers with an outstanding book. I’d selfishly love more people to read it so I have someone to discuss it with!
Great, Shaula. Let’s keep plugging the book! :)