The Trials And Tribulations Of Sketch Comedy
By Big Sexy
Sketch comedy. We know it. We love it. That is until you have to write it and come up with brilliant ideas out of, seemingly, thin air. How do they do that? How can I do that? Well, it’s not as hard as you may think and simultaneously as difficult as you can imagine.
I belong to a new sketch writing show called TelevisionTV. We do both a live show and digital content. The hard part is creating the material. The fun part is seeing that creation performed and getting the laughs that you found when you wrote it. The hardest part is that in between space. Fleshing out the ideas, making them into something and working out the kinks. It’s a chore to find the funny. And what’s funny to you may not be funny to most and there is power in that self-awareness.
Ego can be a monster and subjugating said ego can be your most powerful tool. When you can let go and be open to honest criticism, your material will also grow into some of the funniest things you have ever written. But it stings. Make no mistake. Having someone, usually your head writer, come back with suggestions on how to make your sketch better can spark that ol’ ego into a nice bit of resistance.
“How dare they tell me my baby isn’t as funny as it is to me!”
“What the hell do they know?”
Well, they probably know a lot and luckily know different from you. If it appeals to them then hopefully it appeals to a broader audience and that’s really the point. As I said before, filling in the in between is the hardest part. You can have a great idea. Say, an old jazz musician who skats every time he’s nervous. Sounds like a pretty funny premise. But then you have to write it and is it really funny in the long term, how do other characters respond to the ”joke”?
Are their responses funny? Where’s the set-up, the punchline, the call back, the button? If you can find the answers to all those questions you may have a fully formed sketch.
Hopefully, the fully formed sketch is actually funny. Then you have to do it all over again. New idea, more questions, find the answers, flesh it out if you have them, scrap and restart if you don’t. Rinse. Repeat. Hopefully never ending. Sketch comedy writing is hard and grueling but so very rewarding when you get it up on stage, in front of an audience of strangers and they laugh and enjoy your words, wit and humor. To the writer that sound is the sweetest in the world.
Rinse. Repeat. Hope.