Shane Black and the Art of Wit

Exploring how the writer-director uses humor to define character.

Exploring how the writer-director uses humor to define character.

In terms of contemporary screenwriters, Shane Black is indisputably one of the best. He’s got a particular knack for blending bombastic violence with true humor and real heart, creating films of heavy visual artifice that play against their characters’ resonant emotional verisimilitude. But if there’s a standout among those elements, it is by and far Black’s wit. Like David Mamet, Black writes wit in a way that sharply defines character, it’s quippy and smart, but also revealing and pointed, it never crosses into har-har-har territory and always manages to inform the narrative in intuitive ways.

In the following video from YouTuber iamthatroby, Black’s wit-skills are put under the microscope to both define and interpret how the writer-director weaves it into his films. This is the first video I’ve seen and featured from iamthatroby, but he has a score of others you should definitely check out on his channel; while you’re there go ahead and subscribe, a track record like this is only going to improve.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist