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

Sunday (3/29/09) 9:09pm - ... wherein Peter posts thoughts about the "March Madness" Sketchwar.

Here's my commentary for the latest round of Sketchwar, which had the theme "March Madness."

(Only five sketches this week, so this gives me a bit of a breather, commentary-wise.)

"This Is March"
Alas, I couldn't quite get on-board with this one.  The basic idea ("Wouldn't it be funny if the Trojans and Spartans squared off in mascot-specific ways?") maybe gets a wry chuckle out of me, but that's about it.  300 references don't really do it for me any more.  On the plus side, even though I know nothing about Bill Raftery, Bill's voice in this sketch did amuse me, for what it's worth.

"Basketball, Bullies and a Blue Freeze Pop"
Technical note:  in non-dialog sections (that is, prose), try to break up big paragraphs, and generally avoid forms of "to be".  (I know it sounds silly, but it'll force you to write simpler, more active descriptions.)

Okay, enough quibbling:  this is probably the strongest concept of the week, with ESPN announcers covering a third-grade b-ball game.  And you do good work exploring that concept.  Bob's coverage of player backgrounds works well.  Interrupting the game with crying-for-mommy or vomiting works well.  I'd like it if you used more of the slick, high-production-value bits you see in NCAA coverage.  Maybe they have graphics for each players, or they digitally mark up footage of particular plays, or they go back over something in slo-mo -- you get the idea.  Instead of dwelling so much on each idea, see how many different ESPN-show bits you can fit into three to five minutes.

I like that you set up a conflict between the two announcers.  If anything, I'd heighten it:  Bob is *really into* cover this kid's game, and Jim is wondering which limb he has to gnaw through to get out of this hellish trap.

It's also good that you've got a story arc in there, with Stevie getting knocked out early on and then coming back to (almost) save the day.  It's simple, it's effective, and it gives you a storyline to hang all the jokes off of.

"Way Too Literal"
~ chortle ~

Ah, well -- we all have our weeks where everything goes haywire.  If it's any consolation, I now want to see an animated cartoon all about the adventures of various bits of punctuation.

"The Big Show"
Great scene-setting as always.[1]  Nice touches with having the characters inherently skilled at aiming throws.  Nice detail on the announcers' coverage.  Great that you build up tension in the game, and it's really satisfying, seeing Myron make the shot from half-court.

The twist at the end strikes me as just okay.  I think I get the joke -- people in this family are great at throwing accurately from big distances, but crap at throwing at nearby targets -- and it's moderately amusing.  Frankly, I think once Myron makes his shot you need to get out of the sketch *fast*.

Bah.  "Make the end more funnier!" is not constructive criticism, is it?  I can't think of a better twist than the one you've got -- maybe just make it happen a lot faster?

Yeah, one could argue that I'm kinda sorta ripping off "Pimpbot 5000" here (especially with Weathertron).  I figured giving the "pissy about March Madness betting" to an AI would be amusing enough.  Given that I don't know anything about basketball (note the fictional college names), I had to find *some* oblique way into this topic.

I dunno.  I found a few sort of funny things to do with Statbot's rage.  I made a nice little detour with Statbot gambling with the weather AI.  Nothing great here, but it keeps trucking along.

The only thing I really learned here is that it is a lot of fun to end a sketch with the line "Yeah.  Wait, what?"  Yes I'm ripping off the first act-out from a recent LOST episode, and no, I don't care.  I just love confusing the hell out of a character and then hitting the blackout before they can find any relief.

Side note:  yes, I actually wrote an explicit "Beat" into this sketch.  I'm going to try being (very) slightly more direct-from-the-pagey on Sketchwar entries, since these are for reading and not performance.

[1] Although I'd offer the same advice I offered E. L. Raica about how to make the prose look more screenplay-like.  Then again, you've got a produced *film* already, so take that with a decent-sized grain of salt.

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

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