I have seen many teen comedies, and for every teen comedy film I have seen, I have read many, many, many teen comedy spec scripts. There is a reason for this: With rare exception, teen comedies are based on specs. And of those exceptions, the scripts are often adaptations of classic literature (an excellent example being 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU).
Interestingly, teen comedies tend to be most successful when they fall into one of two opposed extremes: Either the dramedy that largely draws from true life experiences of the writer/filmmaker, or the hyper-artificial story that uses the tropes of the genre to explore larger world-building and/or themes.
Of the former category, we have films like FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, MID90s, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, ADVENTURELAND, and DAZED AND CONFUSED.
Here we have stories in which, for the most part, the teens are treated like human beings; their stories are grounded, messy, often confused. Sure, there’s artifice because at the end of the day even if the script is based on a true story this is still the “movie version,” and the movie has to entertain an audience that came to see a comedy.
And while we have big, cartoony personalities in play (Spiccoli in FAST TIMES coming immediately to mind), for the most part the comedy comes from the adventures of adolescence as a human experience, and are just as often infused with drama.
At the other end of the range we find movies such as HEATHERS, CLUELESS, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, BETTER OFF DEAD, and so on. In which the tropes of high school/adolescence (and the teen movie as a paradigm) are cranked up to the nth degree.
The idea being that we’re using the magical realism for a point that’s larger than just teenagers going to high school. That is: adolescence is often absurd, adolescents are often absurd, so let’s use that absurdity to create something that’s bigger than reality, for comedy and satire, and to use the hyper-specific social setting of high school as a font by which to run classic stories (for instance, EASY A).
There is something of a middle ground in which the action is largely grounded, but the film still draws on stereotypes and cinematic genre tropes; we have jocks, nerds, bullies, etc. Here we find movies like AMERICAN PIE, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, SUPERBAD, and ROLL BOUNCE. There is a degree of artifice because it’s a comedy and a movie, though we never fly off into magic or pure film-setting. This is perhaps a more slender needle to thread; it’s easier to go grounded or go big. And this is the realm of any number of sitcoms, and thus harder to find anything fresh to do with this specific middle-ground take on the sub-genre.
Point being: I have read a lot of teen comedy spec scripts that seem to be floating somewhere between these three takes. We get the stereotypes and tropes, but the script isn’t doing anything fresh – or anything in particular – with them in terms of concept or theme. I’d say either write about stuff that actually happened to you in high school, or crank reality up to 11; there is a middle ground of broad comedies playing on tropes, but even then we still need something of a pitchable high concept to make the story work.