The comic premise is an expression of your main character’s dilemma.

Dilemma is the choice between two things that have positive values and is dramatically expressed through the conflict between what your main character desires (outer plot goal) and what they need to learn (through relationship).

“The Full Monty’s” Gaz must prove he is a responsible father to maintain custody of his son, but the only way he can make money is to form a Chippendales-like stripper group with his unemployed cronies: responsibility versus courage. The comic premise is an expression of Gaz’s dilemma:

An unemployed steel worker hopes to maintain custody of his son, by secretly forming a Chippendales stripper group with his cronies to pay his child support.

In “Tootsie,” Michael Dorsey’s dilemma is that he values being a successful actor and also values being in a relationship. He dresses up like a woman to get a juicy role on a soap opera, only to fall in love with Julie, the leading lady. His outer plot goal, to be a successful actor, is in conflict with his need, to be himself and be real in a relationship. The comic premise of Tootsie is an expression of Michael Dorsey’s dilemma:

A frustrated unemployed actor disguises himself as a woman to get an acting job, only to fall in love with the leading lady.

How do we dramatically express the comic premise in a way that reflects the unity of plot, character and theme?

Key: chart out the roles, goals, and plans of your main character’s outer plot goal and see how this is in conflict with your main character’s roles, goals and plans of their relationship goal.
How to Create the Premise in the Best Comedies

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