Learning Sketch Comedy – Part 1

Sketch comedy comprises a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called “sketches”, commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio or visual medium such as radio and television. – Wikipedia

I think as a storyteller it’s important to know a thing or two about comedy. Since I like producing sketch-comedy type of videos, it’s in my best interest to learn how to properly construct a gag; understand visual comedy; improve my comedy writing; and maybe learn some history on it while I can.

Let me get this straight first. I’m not a professional. Honestly, I don’t think I’m that funny. But I like funny stuff, like farce for example. And I would love to learn how to do that. I can make you giggle. But giggle doesn’t sell. So, I need to figure this out.

A farce is a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus improbable. – Wikipedia

I’ve picked up the book The New Comedy Writing (Step by Step) by Gene Perret and let me tell you, it’s a great introduction if you don’t know diddly squat about comedy. As a matter of fact, this book was was given to me four years ago by a college english professor. I guess he saw some comedy writing potential in me.

When you read this book, you’ll soon realize that being a clown, a jokester, or the funny guy isn’t enough. There’s tons of work to be done, if you want to make a living out of this. The book will cover what I won’t here. It will teach you how to write, build your skills, and get a career started in comedy writing. It’s pretty complete. I totally recommend it to anyone interested in any field of comedy.

Jackie Gleason said that comedy is the most exacting form of dramatic art, because it has an instant critic: laughter. – Chuck Jones

In this series,  Learning Sketch Comedy, I don’t plan to go too deep. I just want to share my findings, maybe throw in some links here and there, and move on to writing and producing some of my ideas. Because it makes no sense, if all we do is talk about it right?

Let’s not reinvent the wheel here. The book I recommended is great to start and YouTube is your university.  Already, I’m diving in and studying the classics like Sid Caesar’s Your Shows of Shows, The Carol Burnett Show, The Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Looney Tunes, In Living Color, Monty Python, SNL and more.

Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end. – Sid Caeser

Grab some sketch comedy scripts. They’re a breeze to read (3-10 pages). Google them and do it as much as you can. Consume, Consume, Consume. Netflix and Analyze.

Don’t stop there. Make, Make, Make. Write something. Anything. Write a script now! And share it with your friends. Go the extra mile and try bringing it to life.

The timing is perfect is almost perfect. CNN is about to release a series called The History of Comedy.

In Part 2, I’ll share more videos, links, and excerpts. Let me figure this out first.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram.  Browse around this page and see the videos I’ve produced and even acted on.

Some more fun reading: