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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (3/2/09) 11:26pm - ... wherein Peter posts thoughts about the "Social Networking" Sketchwar.

Here's some more Sketchwar commentary.  For the week of 2/27/09, the topic was "Social Networking".

This time around, we had six entries:  "Just Like on that Website…You Know?", "Who Watches the Tweeters?", "Facebook Saves the Day", "Six Degrees of Desperation", "Facebook of Genesis", and my own "Why Don't You Read My Blog?".

Let's start with "Just Like on that Website…You Know?"  Ha!  I love the idea of discovering geocaching and just not getting it, and laughed aloud at "I hid the stash at exactly 12:00."  Also:  good to see stoners depicted on Sketchwar.  We have had a sad paucity of drug humor of any kind.

Ordinarily I'd advise making a sketch like this shorter, but... no, that's not quite it.  I think the length is right and the pacing is right.  But still, there's that page and a half or so where Teeter is trying to get Chance to say "geocaching" where I felt like I was waiting for the scene to get started.

But like I said, the pacing feels right.  You could pare it down to essentially the same content, hit all the jokes in the sketch, and it would just scream by in a blur -- and these aren't exactly guys who get things done with ruthless efficiency.  So I might suggest paring it down to that 'really fast' version, and then re-expanding it with digressions like the "squirrels with no thumbs" bit, which was my favorite joke in the whole piece.  I'd love for this to have a Big Lebowski feel, where there's just enough of a plot to hang all the digressions on.

Next up:  "Who Watches the Tweeters?"  And this is the point where I doff the "King of the Blackout Sketches" crown I picked up during "The Heist" week and hand it on to Mr. Porter.  Take good care of it, sir.

I have nothing useful to say about this sketch, only that it is good.  And that everyone wants tacos.

A great big 'howdy' to Jennifer Best, who submitted her first sketch this week, "Facebook Saves the Day".

Aha!  I am now not the only one sneaking scenes into Sketchwar!  Join me, compadre, and we shall continue funneling illicit supplies of character-based drama into this world of cream pies and seltzer bottles.

So this is one of those entries that's less about "funny joke, Funnier Joke, FUNNIEST JOKE, blackout" and more about wryly observing day-to-day life.  Does it succeed at this?  To an extent, yeah -- we get Jesse's oddball take on social networking, and it's an extreme version of something all over the place in real life.  Yet, it kind of felt like just the *start* of a scene to me -- like, once the scene depicted Jesse's attitude, it should have done something with Jesse or to Jesse.  Maybe Carly holds an intervention of some sort and changes Jesse's mind.  Maybe Jesse decides to do something truly dangerous and embarrassing and Carly and Eric try to stop him.

Basically, if we're doing a scene (not a sketch), then we probably want to observe 'scene rules' -- that is, have two or more characters with conflicting objectives, so the audience wonders who will win.

(Gah.  Don't let this discourage you from further participation, Ms. Best.  Look back over my commentaries and you'll see that I'm pretty complain-y about most sketches....)

Okay, let's move on to "Six Degrees of Desperation".  First, a confession:  I'm ashamed to say I didn't recognize the name "Larry Page".  I fail at Internet.

I loved the button on this sketch.  I was not expecting a time machine, that's for sure.  The start of the sketch, I liked less.  It seemed like there was a long buildup to the six degrees thing -- a page and a half, maybe? -- and that's a long time, in a sketch, to not be funny.  Still, as with "Just Like..." the timing feels right, so I wouldn't say *cut* the buildup... just find some way to squeeze jokes into the long "I know you from somewhere" banter.

Moving on to "Facebook of Genesis":  I admit, I've seen several of these style jokes -- see also LOST and Hamlet -- but the format never gets old, and the use of "Li'l Green Patch" maybe me laugh through my nose in an uncomfortable way.  In fact, there are pretty good laugh lines throughout here:  "Awesome Animals I Have Named", Lucifer posting a link to ICHC, and so on.  The only useful advice I can think to offer is perhaps to use an even wider variety of facebook features in the status updates.

Okay, finally, how do I feel about my own sketch?  I was kind of surprised at the reader response:  about half thought it was really depressing, and the other half couldn't stop snickering.  For me, personally, it depicts a sort of small-minded pettiness I see in my own character, so I find it really funny.

I think the problem is that I wrote a scene, not a sketch, and I didn't really blow up the characters' attitudes as extremely as I could have in a proper sketch.  It was just an argument, and it never went into Monty-Python-esque crazy-land.  Ergo, the audience couldn't really distance themselves from it, and they weren't quite sure if they were reading comedy or not.  (Including jokes would have also been helpful.)

Do I think the scene worked?  Eh, I did what I set out to do -- observing an odd little aspect of my own life -- but after three weeks of not-exactly-humorous entries, I really need to get back to writing proper sketches again.

[Note:  this is mirrored on the Sketchwar site.]

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