Robert hasn’t got the million-dollar answer either. But he knows when a commercial’s heading in the wrong direction. “When you’re on the set and you’re shooting a supposedly funny scene and everybody starts laughing on the set, that’s when it turns out shit,” he says. Maybe that’s part of it – recognising that it’s all about context. “On the set it’s theatre,” he muses. But nobody’s laughing when you’re in the editing room watching the jokes flop.
The problem is you don’t know what will be funny until you see it executed. A script can be hilarious, but without the right director, it won’t get a laugh. Axel talks about getting a good script: “The first goal is to get there – to that vision, idea or feeling or something and I think the way Robert and I work is you hope something more is going to happen. If you just do what you thought was going to happen then that’s OK, but if it feels like that extra magic didn’t happen. I feel like our job is not only to invite everybody to the party. Everybody has food and they’re sitting next to each other and all having a good time, but it’s got to be more than that.
“It’s like ‘Yeah, it’s all there. He came into the room and he fell on the banana peel and hit his head and then he held up the product.’ OK. That’s what the storyboard said. But was that funny?”
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