This is the purging of thoughts that we went through in the early days
of The Show. Strange how stupid you sound when you read something you wrote
when you weren't jaded by life and the long toiling hours of blood and sacrifice
it takes to produce a sketch comedy show...
I'm gonna wish I hadn't said that, aren't I...
Art+Comedy: Tim Burton/Terry Gilliam type direction. Simplistic, post-modern
style, both in art/set direction (i.e. the look, or "mood") and
in the sketches themselves. Think intense, extreme, stylized characters in
very almost pure situations. (If it’s at a biker bar, make it the most
"true" biker bar you can imagine, make it what any average person
visualizes when they think of a biker bar.) Especially in comedy writing,
the characters are stereotypes, almost caricatures of themselves. 100% pure;
one look at the character and you recognize it for what it is, no matter how
subtle or over the top. The actor must also be over-the-top in their conviction
that the character is real. The character must at all times be completely
portrayed as its true self, by use of voice, movement, and the way in which
the character is written.
SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF
Actors must believe in the character no matter how extreme. Think about how
much Pee-Wee Herman believed in his character, which makes him believable
to the audience despite his ridiculousness. Become the character. Pure characters.
Make your audience get caught up in the belief and the energy of the whole
thing. Make your character unforgettable. The conviction of the actors in
the characters must sell it to the audience. The characters must be able to
go as far as you can go and still be believable. Everything must look, sound
and feel real, even if it is outrageous. Even dream sequences should be done
realistically. Things have greater impact if the audience can believe they
POOR MAN’S PROCESS
High quality with a low budget and simple props. It doesn’t have to
be elaborate to be believable. Plus, the belief of the characters in the reality
of the scene (no matter how cheaply produced or recreated) makes not only
the simplicity of the sets, props, etc. endearing, but keeps the audience
there with the characters. The simplest of props can portray something completely
if the character believes in it.
Don’t just think of poop jokes, (only funny because poop itself is funny),
think of what’s funny in the deeper psychology of poop. Why is it funny?
It can be rough and have edgy, even risqué or grotesque content, but
from an artistic, almost philosophical viewpoint. Think of how happy and positive
and clean the character of Pee Wee is, he’s likeable and has very childlike
qualities. Yet he is a grown man who is obviously crazy. This is a deeper,
darker character than he appears at first, and that is what makes him even
funnier. He also knows and believes in the character totally, which allows
us to see him as a real person. (Sorry about all the Pee Wee references, but
I was watching Pee Wees’ Big Adventure movie while writing this! He’s
just an example.)Think of other artistically rendered, psychologically twisted
characters. That is not to say all characters should be outwardly insane,
but even the subtlest of weird idiosyncrasies make a character vivid and real.
That is who they are, and they should act accordingly.
We must encourage obsessive attention to detail when it comes to art direction
and character conviction. Knowing who your character is, inside and out, will
lead to deeper understanding of them and will make it easier for the actor
to "become" them. Every detail of what is on screen or stage must
be refined to it’s absolute best, or we are promoting a less-than-worthy
performance. Artistry and design is paramount in writing, performing, and
sets; every process must be clear and concise in order to make sense and be
entertaining and to draw the audience into our world. Therin lies the difference
between amateurs and professionals.
Always bring any material, thoughts, etc. to the meetings. Open communication
is key. We want to be ideasmiths, constantly generating and improving upon
ideas. Sketches can ALWAYS be improved, down to the very last detail. Never
let it rest; continually ask yourself "How can I make this funnier?"
Think out of the box, different points of view and weird twists make things
interesting and edgy. We want originality; don’t rely on "standard"
sketches like so many well-known sketch comedy shows do. Always turn things,
twist and reshape and mold the situations and characters into something really
different and artistic.
Constantly stay one and 4/5 steps ahead of the audience. If the audience expects
the joke to go in a direction, take them on a completely different route.
If that’s not possible, at least try to throw in a twist. If it has
to be predictable, make it over the top in its predictability. Every beat
in the sketch must be funny and/or interesting to be a part of.
RANDOMNESS WITH CONTROL
Be Random! Whenever you want! If it makes the scene funnier to start screaming
nonsense and tearing off other peoples clothes, feel free, if that’s
what the character needs to do to make himself or the situation realistic!
However, do not use randomness as a crutch if you can’t think of a better
punch line. Make character and situations as firmly rooted in some kind of
reality as possible, even if it’s a twisted reality. That is what keeps
the audience going, "with" the characters and situations, following
along. If something isn’t strong enough to be recognizable or believable,
it will weaken the integrity of the entire sketch. Everyone doesn’t
have to "get it," but as long as some people will get it and think
it’s really, really funny, that’s all that matters. We’re
catering to a specific audience here, AVOID ANYTHING EVEN SLIGHTLY MAINSTREAM!!!
Don’t plagiarize or do rip offs of characters or situations, even for
ideas! When watching the comedy of others, ask yourself "Why does this
make me laugh, what is it that makes this funny?" Over the years, a lot
of sketches have been written and a lot of jokes have been told by a lot of
people. In recent years the same jokes are being told over and over again
by different people, it’s like churning up the same old chum. Everything’s
been done, there are hundreds of recognizable standard characters, situations,
plot lines and jokes that have been told and retold over and again. It is
our job to breathe life into old jokes that have been the mainstays for so
long, and take them in new directions. Some things are inherently funny, they
have always and will always be funny, we just have to find a way to use those
things that is new, different, unique and artistic. It is also our job to
create new, original jokes where there were none before. We’re simultaneously
inventing and recreating comedy.
What a load of crap!