I’ve been wanting to write about high concept comedies for a while.

What is high concept?

Typically, it’s a What if…? scenario. There are different styles, but one of the common patterns is that you make the protagonist of your story a fish out of water, bring a high concept to the character, and make their world out-of-the-ordinary. High concept doesn’t have to be funny, but oftentimes it is. The higher the stake is, the funnier it gets. But to make it funny, it’s important to let your audience know who the protagonist is and what their daily life is like before bringing the extraordinary world into the story. The protagonist is a vital character to your story and we see the story through their eyes, but high concept is not character-driven. It’s idea-driven. The concept needs to be clear.

Here are some examples of high concept comedies.

  • What if a fast-track lawyer couldn’t lie for 24 hours? (Liar Liar)
  • An Australian outback crocodile poacher goes to New York City (“Crocodile” Dundee)
  • What if three buddies woke up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing? (The Hangover)

Got the idea? Now, what if…?

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