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"Troubled Days" by JeanPierre Chapoteau

Logline: Tragedy falls upon a man who holds the ability to make people laugh by a simple gesture.

Genre: Comedy

Cast Size: 10+

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: Fall Down Laughing (May. 2011)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Basil Sunshine (Level 4)

'...he gives her "The Face."' I didn't get that? The funny face? OK he makes it again at the park. The very first time you have him make that face, you should identify it as "The Face."

Epic LOL at making the face at the landlord


Oh God he killed them with the face lol

It's stuck that way LOL

This had kind of a slow start but turned out super funny. I bet if this was filmed with just the right actor it would be OFF THE HOOK funny. It needs a new title, though (Why not "The Face"?). But it is definitely EXCELLENT. Bravo!!

Bill Clar (Level 5)

The title doesn't do your story justice. Could you work in the word "face" somehow? It would make it more relevant.

'but he gives her "The Face."' What is "The Face"? Can it be filmed? Will the audience see it?

Original story. Good pacing with a bit of film noir thrown in. Great ending.

Bob Johnson (Level 4)

Neatly written, formatting fine, didn't spot any major typos or grammatical problems.

Locations good, characters were neat, dialogue brisk and kept up with the pace of the actions.

I think you forgot to add a 'FLASHBACK:' near the beginning.

The 'falling down' bit: Hardly a fall, was it?

As an overall comedy did it make me laugh? No, despite everyone in the story having a ball, I didn't see the funny side at all.


Brian Howell (Level 5)

It certainly would help if we knew what "The Face" looked like. This didn't come across as a comedy to me. The tone was mostly dramatic and the story is kind of a downer. Perhaps you were putting your faith in 'The Face' to make us laugh???

Anyway... a guy walks into a bar, cue the flashback while he narrates to the bartender... this framing device is a little overused. Not much of this script feels fresh. Again, maybe you are relying on 'The Face' to make this funny and entertaining, but then again, I don't even know what it looks like.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was written, formatted and paced pretty well. No errors or typos that I noticed.

The story is potentially funny. I say potentially because whether or not it is depends 100% on if the face made by the actor is believably funny. We don't get much description so we're just left to imagine some goofy face.

The characters don't really get properly introduced.

Overall, this is well-written and could be funny on film with good casting choices. Nice work and good luck!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

The title doesn't scream comedy - and now I've finished the screenplay, I'm thinking it could be better.

I'm liking the idea of the funny face!

Fuck a laundry mat? Uh? Do you mean laundromat?

Yhanna and Betty lay on the ground, faces horribly screwed in a grin, eyes wide, with saliva running down their cheeks - how is this funny? I don't understand. It undermines the entire comic premise.

Up until the death scene, I thought this had great potential. And after the death scene, I liked the ending. WHY this horrible bit?

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I really liked this a lot.

Great story. Wonderful use of flashbacks. I had no idea where this was going and the ending was fantastic.

Excellent. My only suggestion, I think you can come up with a stronger title.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

This is sad story, leaning toward horror, not really a comedy. At least in my opinion. A few too many sayings by a few too many relatives, I think the story could have been shortened and it would have a little more punch. Not a bad premise though.

I didn't see many obvious grammar errors, other than the first paragraph seemed a little clunky. "The BARTENDER looks up at the sound of JEFF, face hidden beneath a detective style hat, walking in."

Good luck. Thank you for entering.

David Patterson (Level 3)

way too much going on. A comedy should move. pop. There is way too much weight. it would pass as a dark comedy possibly. I don't like to see so much action sequence. it really bogs the thing down for me. less is more. I felt like you tried to pack too much into this.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

This is very good. Written well, easy to read. I actually loved all the sayings and thought it a clever concept.

The title may have been more effective if it was an actual saying - maybe? Just a thought.

Good luck!

Doug Wintemute (Level 3)

Really clever story. I would have liked a better title, or at least one which ties into the punchline a little better.

It wasn't laugh out loud funny and unless the face was really hysterical, this may end up too depressing and dark. Great idea though and I dont want to take away from that. I think I understand that Yhanna and Betty die from laughter? I think this may lose some of its strength when put to film. Either The Face is shown and it won't be as funny to the viewers, or it's hidden and not discussed except "that Face was dead to me" at the ending. Regardless, my vote is Good with an extra thumbs up for creativity.

Ed Jones (Level 4)

Clear, concise writing and well formatted other than the omission of FADE IN: and, perhaps, the use of FLASHBACK.

The story has humour, along with dark elements, but the main problem as I see it is the dependence on the believability of 'The Face' for the whole thing to work. That a child might have a crying fit changed by an adult pulling a funny face is one thing, but for it to have the same mood changing power over thugs and a landlord with an eviction notice is quite another. I imagine it will be difficult for a large audience to accept the transforming power such a face might have as interpreted by an actor.

A original story, well told.

'looks up at' = looks up as ...walks in.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)



This one should be called THE FACE! well, maybe a little obvious.

* loved the bits with the sayings of relatives
* no dirty humor - something Red Skeleton or Jimmy Durante would do
* the fall was worked in seamlessly
* I wish I could alter my neural pathways to come up with shit like this

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

The title does not sound like a comedy. It sounds more like a drama. Your craft is very good but I'm not sure why you have a FADE OUT. but no FADE IN: One minor point, you need a space between window and sill on page two. Also, Betty is an odd choice for a two year olds name. It's a very old sounding name for a toddler. The story is good, interesting and it's well written, but I don't consider it a comedy. It has one joke (...your face will stay that way...) but one joke doesn't make it a comedy. A brilliant actor may be able to pull it off if his version of "The Face" is truly comedic but that is a lot to ask for or expect. Also, I get the impression that this may be a part of a larger script. If so, some of the details in this may add up.

Heather O'Connell (Level 4)

This is well-written and vivid. It's hard to imagine what "the face" looks like. I did not see then end coming at all. The darkroom part is creepy. Kind of dark for a comedy.

Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)

Well, i would say it was a good job done. Though my own suspense for the story was not wholly satisfied but it was okay.
Most of all, I loved the clarity and simplicity of the script. Felt like I was around in person with all those childish stuffs happening...giggles and all the kids stuff.
Good job done my friend

James Hughes (Level 5)

I'm not sure how to score this. I liked the script, but don't see that this was a comedy. He was making a funny face the entire film, but the action was not humurous with the girl and daughter dying, the man depressed about his life, the seedy bar and noir set up, etc. I thought the story was clever, the series of family sayings turning into the one we don't even have to say in the end. Your writing was very good.

If I thought about filming this, I would have some potential concerns about the acting. How would an actor pull off "the face". Could a face really be funny enough to make this story believable? It would have to be some kind of once in a lifetime face like a Jim Carrey face. I think having various actors laughing believably at the face would be tough as well. I think you will need really good actors.

I am going to give this a Good. If it was just an open challenge and not a comedy contest i would definitely have given it a better score.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Good format. I was thinking that things could have been a bit clearer. The types of relationships that existed felt vague to me.

Kelley Allen (Level 4)

Interesting and inventive story. Reminded me of a cross between THE MASK and the Monty Python skit about the funniest joke in the world.

The story is more tragic / poignant than funny. (Granted, humor is always very subjective.)

I didn't quite get the end (about what his mom used to tell him.)

There's something missing in the arc of the story. Perhaps adding another twist to the story somehow.

From a technical standpoint, the script was written at a good pace. No spelling / grammar / formatting errors.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I guess we have to understand what his mother said but I don't.
I want to see what kind of Face he's making and everytime you said "The Face" it left me wondering. Could I have missed something? I think that it would be hard to shoot it because the face (any kind of face) can't be that funny. Also I did not understand "the face everywhere on the walls" when Betty and her mother died and how they died... Guess someone just murdered them in cold blood.
Frankly I think it's very dramatic. Extremely dramatic and dark. Maybe it's just me.

Kisha King (Level 4)

Oh My God. This is the scariest story that I have always pictured happening, because my mother told me this when I was a kid. I have always been afraid of continually making faces. You have completely scared me but at the same time it is funny. In the middle of the story I wasn't sure where you were going with this but at the end it all comes together.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Good combination of some drama, the humorous throughline of "The Face," and the killer ending, so funny, of this poor character with "The Face, permanently stuck there." Notice a noir feeling, too.
Thought while reading that a linear structure might work better; no need to use VO. By the end, the imaginative noir feeling is so strong that it might be lost without the VO. Didn't fully understand what occurred in the darkroom. First impression was Yhanna had taken mocking pictures of Jeff with "The Face." But, "Yhanna and Betty lay on the ground" infers the two might be dead. Maybe the mother and little girl are playing, mimicking the pictures.
"The Face" seems to be the focus and might be a better title.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

I liked some of this but was also confused by some parts. I liked how it ended with his face getting stuck that way but I didn't understand what happened to Yhanna and Betty. Were they dead?? The writing here was very easy to read.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I like how you use the classic framing device of a man in a bar relating the story, and how over the top he is.

'She glances up at Jeff's normal face... but he gives her "The Face."'
This line was really unclear, although I understand it after reading the rest.

"the LANDLORD waives the eviction notice"
"waives" should be "waves", otherwise there's a completely different meaning.

The story was strange, bordering horror-comedy, but it worked. I had a hard time picturing "The Face", and so will an actor reading it, a look that can be funny but also kill (why wasn't too clear to me).


Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

Nicely done. You almost lost me with this because it felt very much like a drama and when the two deaths happened I thought you might go over the edge but the tone stayed consistently satirical so you squeaked by in the comedy category. This started pretty slow but I loved the ending.

Michael Harrop (Level 2)

This was nicely written. Excellent format. BUT -- story-wise, just didn't do much or me. In other words, the laugh factor was a bit low. When you came out of the flshback with "current time" I kinda wondered what's up with that? Never seen it before. Why not just call it "present day". In any event, congrats on completing a solid submission.

Peter Timony (Level 3)

I... I love it. Not terribly comedic, but damn. I'm giving you a very good, due to the fact that it wasn't really a comedy. Some other month I might've rated it Excellent. It's so original, and a complete story in 5 pages. Like any good screenplay, it made me want to see it on screen immediately. I don't know how I'd handle "The Face" though.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

I voted Good on this one.

You had a lot crammed in here. Barely got it all in on 5 pages. In fact if you had used proper spacing for your slugs it would have run longer than 5 pages...

Anyway, this was a dark comedy and I thought you did pretty well with it. The only thing I didn't get was Jeff saying "something my old lady used to say when I was about 10". I thought old lady meant your wife, not your mother.

You pulled off making something funny out of something that wasn't so congratulations. :)

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Would benefit from a better title. The noir style fits the tone of the script well but I didn't think the Bartender added anything. Maybe just have Jeff in voice-over the whole time. I was a little puzzled why you put FUNNY FACE in all caps, yet defined the look with 'The Face.' Even then, The Face deserved a bit more of a description. The phrases and sayings of relatives worked well except 'laundry mat' was a real speed bump. Spell it correctly no matter what the context. The camera flash to end the montage was a little too much directing on paper and it seemed as if you didn't triple space between scenes. This was a lot of story to cram into five pages and you did a nice job of revealing Jeff through events rather than description. This particular story would translate well to the screen and would probably be a better film than a screenplay. Best of luck with it.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

This was witty, cute and had some really good v.o. supporting the visuals. I only wish two things would've been slightly more elaborate:

- "The Face" needs to be described better for me to see it well. Hard to do, yes, but therein lies the challenge.

- A lot of the situtations became monotonous after the initial success of his new skill. You could cut out a couple of those.

Well, this gets a very good, from me for being original, if not in style definitely in content and execution.

Should make top three!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I thought this was interesting. There were parts that were humourous, but I wouldn't call this a comedy. I don't get how or why Becky and Yhana died. What killed them?

If his face was permanently like that, how could he change it at will, until back at the bar his face was permanent,as in if the wind changes your face will stick that way.

Lots of questions, the story meanders a little in parts. I like the idea of someone being able to smile and make others happy, but the deaths and the ending had me scratching my head. The tone didn't stay comedic the whole time. Maybe a dramady?

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Well written & very visual story ... to bad the punchline fell flat. The VO sucked a lot of the life out of this, would have liked more character interaction & less explaining. The montage & jumpy scene changes didn't help advance the plot, just kept me wondering where this was going. I didn't really get what happened to Yhanna & Betty.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

This was excellent. Definitely my favorite entry of the whole month. It was so surreal and bizarre but I loved that about it. Some of Jeff's dialogue was a bit corny in the beginning, but the ending, writing and pacing were all awesome here. Great job!

Tim Ratcliffe (Level 4)

This was written pretty well, but for the most part didn't strike me as a comedy really. Although comedy can have a broad definition, so I guess it works.

Biggest problem I had is you never describe what the Face looks like, what he is actually doing. It's a bit hard to buy that all the adults are so overcome with laughter by his funny face, but fair enough. Overall I give it a GOOD.

Zach Jansen (Level 4)

If the bartender’s in the bar how can it be empty?

Is this a second Jeff? Is this a flashback? I’m guessing it is since it seems as if Jeff is telling a story…

When did the montage begin? You certain can’t end something that hasn’t begun.

Current time? Be sure to indicate when flashbacks or montages begin, not just when they end. It’s too confusing.

This might be funny on-screen, but it reads more noirish on the page. Definitely didn’t make me laugh, smile, giggle, grin, etc. It’s great as it is, but it falls short of the contest requirements for my taste. And for that, I have to knock it.

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 7/1/2011 12:08 AM

I loved this! One of my favorites. Perfect ending.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 7/1/2011 12:47 AM

JeanPierre!!! I gave you an excellent!! I'm offended at the place this got... It's hilarious!

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2011 2:34 AM

Well done JeanPierre. This was one of my better rated entries.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 7/1/2011 3:36 AM

Hey, thanks guys! And thanks for the favorite, Chris!! I got so busy checking other entries, I forgot to look at my after contest comments.

I really liked this entry. I wish it did better, but I can see why people didn't find this to be funny. If anyone is still interested in any questions they previously asked, it'll be a pleasure to answer them.

I WILL change the title. I seem to approach them with little importance and come up with them in like a minute or two. I need to change that way of thinking.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 7/4/2011 9:23 PM

JP, I don't understand how anybody could not find this hilarious. Sure you killed off the wife and kid but it was so over the top (they died from laughing, come on people!!!) that I don't see how it could be taken as a serious downer.

Well I can understand some might not have gotten the ending... if they don't know that a lot of mothers in America tell their kids that their faces might "stick like that" when they make funny or rude expressions. No excuse for everyone else! ;D

Which just made me think of a few more title possibilities...

HE'S GOT THE LOOK (hahaha)

OK, well, those probably aren't quite right ;D

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