Three Very Basic Tips For Making Parody Cartoons (With Examples)

2015 Artwork making good parody cartoons article sketch

Well, since there will probably be some parody cartoons (there will be at least two about the movie “Blade Runner”) posted on here over the next couple of days at least, I thought that I’d give you a few basic tips about how to make good parodies of movies, TV shows, games etc..

The main thing to remember with parodies is that, most of the time, they’re aimed at fans of the thing that you’re parodying – for the simple reason that they’re the most likely to get the jokes you’re trying to make. So, parodies don’t have to be cynical or sarcastic if you don’t want them to be.

Yes, you can make sarcastic parodies of things that you don’t particularly like, but even these only really work if people have a reasonable understanding of the thing you’re parodying.

So, yes, even if you’re making an extremely critical parody of something, it will probably only be understood by people who are “in the know” – whether they are fans or detractors.

Anyway, this said, how do you make a good parody? Here are three very basic tips to get you started:

1) Realism: Fiction is obviously larger-than-life most of the time. In order to tell a compelling story or make a compelling movie, you often have to stretch the limits of realism somewhat. There’s actually a term for this and it’s called “dramatic licence“.

In the context of an interesting story, most people will accept these exaggerations, distortions, inaccuracies and embellishments (in other words, “The willing suspension of disbelief” comes into play) because they serve to make the story more interesting and enjoyable.

However, if you want to parody something, then all you have to do is to inject some realism into the thing that you want to parody. To point out that, for example, an old sci-fi movie got it’s predictions about the future wrong, or that a cool piece of technology in a sci-fi movie would be useless in real life, or that a piece of cool-looking armour in a fantasy movie would be hilariously impractical in real combat etc….

Here’s an example of the kind of thing that I’m talking about:

Yes, the Jaffa armour from "Stargate SG-1" may LOOK cool, but I'm sure that things like THIS happen occasionally...

Yes, the Jaffa armour from “Stargate SG-1” may LOOK cool, but I’m sure that things like THIS happen occasionally…

Basically, one of the easiest way to come up with a good parody is just to think about unrealistic things realistically.

2) Characters: Another good way of coming up with a parody fairly quickly is to just take the characters from something and to put them in a very different situation from the one that they were originally in.

For example, Darth Vader might look menacing when he’s commanding the Death Star, but he’d probably be absolutely hilarious if you saw him in a supermarket, trying and failing to operate a self-service checkout (or, more famously, if you saw Darth Vader in a canteen).

(Ok, this is probably inspired by Eddie Izzard's "Death Star Canteen" comedy routine)

(Ok, this is probably inspired by Eddie Izzard’s “Death Star Canteen” comedy routine)

Sometimes just imagining what fictional characters will think about current issues or just showing “serious” fictional characters goofing around can also be great ways to parody things. In other words, just have fun with the characters.

3) Understand your own sense of humour: If you want to make a good parody cartoon then the first person that it has to amuse is you. If you personally don’t find your cartoon to be absolutely hilarious, then who else will?

So, it’s a good idea to understand your own sense of humour before you start making parodies, because you’ll be best at writing the kind of jokes that you personally find funny.

In other words, if you’ve got a sarcastic sense of humour, then make your parodies sarcastic. If you’ve got a “shock value” sense of humour, then make your parodies shocking etc…. I’m sure you get the idea.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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