The Phrase That (Doesn’t) Pay

Hey guys! Flobo here. Question, do you know what a “groaner” is?

As a part time stand up comedian, I come across these all the time. They are jokes that fall just short of being funny. The reason could be faulty delivery, expectations of the audience, or the joke itself having extra cheese, but for whatever reason instead of laughs there’s a collective groan followed by things like.

“Oh, I get it.”

“I see what you did there.”

You get it.

As a writer, I think there’s times when we come across something similar. Not necessarily “bad jokes” per se, but rather patches of prose and dialog that makes the audience roll their eyes. The result isn’t so much a “groan” but the audiences says something like:

“Wow, that wasn’t smooth at all.” Or my personal favorite:

Jeez, what else is on TV? This show is terrible
Jeez, what else is on TV? This show is terrible

Like a groaner joke, different audiences have different expectations. For example, a couple of weeks ago my lady and I were watching a (recently canceled, thank goodness) television show on one of those streaming sites. Besides having a plot that was overly complicated, there were rough spots in the dialog that increasingly became annoying over time. (Perhaps our media binging culture is to blame for that one). Things like:

One character learns something bad has happened to them. Another character looks on and says, “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this.”

Ugh. Sounds like placeholder dialog to me.

When two characters are talking about something already discussed in a previous scene, one character turns to the other and says. “Like I said before…”

Then why say it again?

A character who is obviously angry tells another character. “I am just so angry…”


Armchair-quarterback-showrunner-with-no-network-or-cable-television-writing-experience me says, “Oh come on! I can do better than that!”

I turned to air my grievances to my partner and her eyes are glued to the screen, enthralled. The same show was on the screen and it offered two different experiences.

I have to be completely honest with you. I came here to write a blog absolutely burying this show. However while typing it out, I realize that isn’t what I learned from it at all. There’s no show out there that’s perfect, and (despite advertising and salaries) television can be critiqued as art. As creators we never know what’s going to “knock ’em dead” and what’s going to be a “groaner” until you put it out there. As for me, I was glad the show was canceled. There was too many things wrong at the script stage to get me to care about what was happening on screen.

At the very least, there was at least one fan in the room. A fan that ‘makes me feel pensive.’ 😉


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