As it’s moon week (apparently), we should all remember the first UK moon mission, via the medium of this short film I made earlier (feels like yesterday. Wasn’t.). It’s a dramatisation of real events, like First Man or Hidden Figures, only shorter and with less historical liberties.
Ha hey! Me and mi Heavy Petting campadres made this for Hat Trick/Bad Teeth’s Short and Funnies prize, and we’ve been short-listed. This is in no way based on a true story, by the way, and don’t even ask what a reverse bent spoon entails.
Series two of the Comedy Unit’s Rough Cuts podcast started… uh… at some point in the past, and I am squatting in the middle of the first episode doing my two voices (posh and slightly less posh but louder). I am also wearing a wig and two different moustaches, one below each nipple, but you’d have to listen really hard to hear that.
From the site: Series 2 is made up entirely of clips sent in by the contributors themselves and is presented by the fantastic comedian Mark Nelson. In this first episode Mark introduces Endemic Comedy, Ross Main as Dogshit Johnson, James Harris, The Impenetrable Click, *Matthew Ellis and Tommy Mackay as The Sensational Alex Salmond Gastric Band. Produced by Chris Grady.
We’re serving up four portions of bawdy nonsense at ARC in Stockton on Saturday 14th July, alongside the region’s finest purveyors of burlesque and the art of striptease. I’d say something about tits on stage but that would be inappropriate.
I run a sketch group at our local arts centre, ARC in Stockton. I’ve done it for two years now, and we’ve staged 15 performances of 5 shows so far, and this one is definitely the sixth. The show is written and performed by whoever turns up on a Thursday night, and this show has a cast of 29. 29! That’s a huge cast for a sketch show, bigger than, like, Three of a Kind and Hale and Pace combined!
If you’re wondering how I contribute: I script edit, dump any sketch that mentions chavs or parmos, and make everyone say their lines louder. It’s fun.
Come along to the show. I guarantee it’s got a lot of bananas in it. Nice, if you like bananas. And if you fancy being in the show next time, come along on a Thursday night. We start again in September. Bring your own bananas.
As part of my work for Writers’ Block I run 1-1 mentoring sessions for writers, many of whom are writing sketches. And they all want to know – where can I send them? Sadly, there don’t seem to be many places in the UK that accept unsolicited sketches, but there are one or two opportunities to keep your eye on.
Cofilmic Sketch in the City
What is it? A monthly live showcase of new sketch writing. Currently limited to writers in the North of England. Submit your 3 minute, three character sketch and maybe it’ll get performed.
Will it help my career?
The best of the crop, selected from each night, will be submitted for the COFILMIC Comedy Film Festival live sketchwriting competition on 29th October 2012. A panel of top industry experts (as
well as the audience) will vote for their favourite and the winner will have their sketch made into a short film for the following years competition!
What is it? A slick and irreverent satirical topical comedy sketch show, based on the news and current affairs. Written by a team of over 40 writers and performed by a team of multi-talented satirical sketch performers.
What is it? Newsrevue is a weekly, fast-paced show of hilarious sketches and songs based on absolutely anything in the news—politics, sport, celebrities—from The Lords to Lords, from the Middle East’s Jordan to the Sun’s Jordan.
Will it Help my career?
Over the years, the show has won the Fringe First Award and a Perrier nomination in Edinburgh, won rave reviews from the national press, recorded many TV & radio specials and helped begin the careers of Rory Bremner, Michelle Collins, Josie Lawrence & Bill Bailey.
Basically, though, if you can somehow take control of your own sketches, by joining or starting up a sketch group, doing live shows, making short films, anything that gets your writing off the page and into a form that can be experienced rather than read, you’ll find your own voice much quicker, and you’ll have sketches to show people, which is always a step up from having sketches for people to read.
Do it yourself! Punk rock! Revolution! Seize the means of production! Or write a funny song about how fat John Prescott is for NewsRevue. Whichever you’d prefer.
Heavy Petting are now the official sketch group of Casa Bellini Burlesque. Here we are shouting at the audience, while the audience sit back imagining that at some point we will be taking our clothes off. Which we don’t do. Thus: humour.
It was a top night, and we’ll be back with our nipples artfully covered at the Peoples’ Theatre in September. Saucy!
In which I present a list of different types of comedy sketch, because why not, and also because if you’re writing a sketch, maybe this will help.
(Note: this list is not exhaustive, although it exhausted me.)
Up is down, black is white, dogs and cats living together… Inversion sketches present a character or situation behaving the opposite to what we might expect. For characters, this will often be an inversion of status: a childish judge, an over-emotional nightclub bouncer, a Tory MP with a human heart (satire).
MISDIRECTION / PULL BACK AND REVEAL
This is the sketch equivalent of the “…and then I got off the bus” punchline. Best kept short. An example would be a CSI-type set up, with experts gathered around an unseen “corpse” talking about signs of burning, teeth marks, spatter patterns etc – THEY’RE ONLY LOOKING AT A PIZZA! LOL!
An exaggeration sketch will take a recognisable situation and distort it via exaggeration. Possibly I didn’t need to write that.
A sketch in which we take a character and put them in a completely inappropriate/unexpected environment. Prince Philip on Pointless, Bear Grylls on a perfume counter (ooh, that’s good, I might use that).
A sketch in which characters/situations shouldn’t be together as they belong in different eras – Henry VIII having to deal with a chugger, or Hitler signing on (don’t do this one). Or Armstrong and Miller’s WW2 Fighter Pilots – the look is one era, the dialogue is another. Random.
Escalator sketches start off sensible and then ramp up the absurdity until they end up being completely silly/surreal. See Python’s Four Yorkshiremen boasting who had the worst childhood, or the dirty knife sketch.
See Scary Movie. Or rather don’t. See French and Saunders’ movie parody sketches, or anything John Culshaw does. Or, again, don’t see those. Let’s avoid parody.
THE LIST / REPETITION SKETCH
Pick a topic, load up thesaurus.com or Wikipedia, you’re away.
I’M WITH STUPID
There’s this normal character, right, and then there’s this not-normal character. And the normal character reacts to the not-normal one. A classic sketch ensues.
A sketch which relocates an activity. General election in Narnia.
THE WORLD’S WORST
Think of a job or activity. Think of the very worst person who could be doing it. Write that.
X-RAY / HANG A LANTERN SKETCH
Highlighting the absurdity of a character or situation by having the characters point it all out. Can also include “meta sketches” – sketches which are about themselves. Clever.
That’s probably enough taxonomising of comedy for now. But if you can think of any other categories, or better examples than the ones I’ve got, let me know and I’ll see about updating the list.
I tend to think that if you’re going to shoot a fish in a barrel, you might as well do it with style, originality, and a foul-mouthed precocious child, which is what Wonder Showzen do here, havin a pop at the Pope.