It’s interesting to see how the “Modern Family” walks that line, especially if we compare the original script to the finished version. Here are some “edgy” jokes that appeared in both the script and the finished version.
- PHIL, on meeting his new Vietnamese niece Lily: “Hi, Lily. (aside to Mitchell and Cam:) Isn't that going to be tough for her to say?”
- JAY, in the same situation: “Let me see that little pot sticker!”
- JAY, while waiting for Cam’s surprise: “If Cam comes out with boobs I’m leaving!”
But here’s the stuff that was wisely cut:
- MITCHELL, about his new daughter: “This doesn't worry you, that she barely slept on the plane and she's still wide awake? I didn't even think Asian eyes opened that wide.” Ouch.
- CLAIRE: “My kids are mortified by me. Which is pretty ironic considering Haley dresses like a hooker, Alex dresses like a lesbian and ...Luke can barely get his shoes on the right feet. And tell me you're not horrified by Dad and that Huggy Bear outfit that Charo out there bought for him.” Not much better.
Meanwhile, the edgiest joke in the final version is one that isn’t in the original script:
- MITCHELL: We have been together for... five, five years now? And we've decided we really wanted to have a baby... so, we initially asked one of our lesbian friends to be a surrogate.
- CAMERON: Then we figured, they are already mean enough. Can you imagine one of them pregnant? No, thank you. Ekk...
As a modern comedy writer, your job is find those untapped fault lines and expose them in way that allows us to laugh in shock at the failings of the bigot, without laughing at the group being targeted.