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

Monday (12/15/08) 8:39pm - ... wherein Peter posts some thoughts about last week's Friday Sketch War.

This past week, the Friday Sketch War topic was "First Dates".

We had three sketches this time around:  mine, Mr. Porter's, and Mr. Robertson's.

All in all, I'm happy with how my sketch came out.

Like the previous week, I was trying to move away from traditional scene-y sketches, and trade off plot for funny.  I'd just seen SNL's "Extreme Challenge" digital short, which is a complete "list sketch", and I figured I'd try something like that.  Or rather, I came up with a bunch of scene-y things I could do with the topic, hated all of them, and went with the "list of bad dates" idea that could let my imagination run amok.

It felt kind of like a cop-out, since coming up with a list of jokes is easier than constructing a plot, and because I'd done this structure before(And so have lots of people.)  But I just kept scribbling down ideas that made me laugh, and laughter trumps everything.

I was happy with how I structured the piece.  I started out sensible and normal.  I probably should have pushed 5 and 5b to position 3, but I think the general shape still works.  And what I like is that by around 6 or 7, the audience honestly doesn't think it could get further out there.  Once you've played the 'death' and 'ninja' cards, you're done, right?  So I think what works here is hitting that 'this can't get any crazier' point halfway through the sketch, and shooting straight past it to things the audience wouldn't expect.

Similarly-and-on-a-smaller-scale, I was happy when individual bits went further than the setup would imply they could go.  For instance, there are two parts of the 'chicken' bit -- you think it's just an absurd bit, but no, there's an additional joke about Wendy possibly eating Neil.

(Side note:  I'm amused with how geeky this came out.  It's probably the result of working on this post at the same time.)

Other things in the sketch worked less well.  The paddle-ball was a pretty weak runner, appearing only twice and not being particularly funny.  I'm not sure #3 (the cop bit) quite reads.  I knew I wanted "You didn't make it clear that it *was* a date" as one of the items, but it was damned difficult for me to express that situation in a silent scene.

Also, the sketch's ending is a bit anticlimactic.  Writing the end of a comedy sketch is always brutal, because sketches aren't really about stories, they're about jokes.  Stories end; a series of jokes just stops.  But if you're writing sketch comedy that isn't scene-based, then you're even more screwed, 'cos there's no story at *all* -- you either have to come up with a joke so hilarious that nothing can follow it, pull off a joke that reincorporates lots of earlier material, or tweak the premise in some cutesy way.

I opted for the third route, with middling success.

Anyway, hopefully I'll do something more scene-like next time, although the topic ("3:34am") looks to be a challenging one.

So let's see here -- Mr. Robertson's sketch is called "Honesty", and shows us a met-on-the-Internet first date where the honesty gets crazily out of hand, covering pretty much every lie everybody ever put on a match.com profile.

Mr. Porter's sketch is about "the *first* date", as in the Garden of Eden.  This one didn't really do much for me, and I'm not sure how I'd try to fix it.

My only guess is that I'd try to 'turn up the volume' on everything:  make Adam even *more* of a wide-eyed rube, make Lilith even *more* of a femme fatale -- but also make the things Lilith ask for even more outré, and make Adam even more offended (or nonplussed) by them.  And maybe focus on making Adam trying even harder to please Lilith -- the internal conflict where Adam is diametrically opposed to everything Lilith stands for, but he still desperately wants to make her happy, could be funny if it played out for a bit.

I think the ending works, though.  Divine intervention seems like the logical conclusion for this piece.  And even if the audience doesn't get that it's Lilith being replaced by Eve, the general idea comes across, I think.

Anyway, next week is the topic "3:34am".  We'll see what folks can come up with for that.

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