Peter’s Commentary on the ‘First Dates’ Edition

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.

Sketch War, "First Dates" Edition, Peter’s Entry

Friday Sketch War
First-Dates Edition
“Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong”

FADE IN:

TITLE GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong”.

CHEERY BOSSA NOVA MUSIC plays throughout. This is the only audio.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #1”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

NEIL and WENDY, dressed nicely, sit opposite each other at a table in an elegant restaurant.

They both look bored.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#1: Complete lack of chemistry.”

Neil pulls out a paddle-ball and starts playing with it just before we CUT TO:

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #2”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Wendy sits at the table as before.

Neil? Nowhere to be seen.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#2: Mis-reading 8:30pm as 6:30pm.”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #3”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Wendy sits alone at the table. A cell phone sits on the table beside her. A SIREN flashes somewhere offscreen.

Neil enters DRESSED AS A COP.

He sizes up the location, a bit perplexed. He says something into his radio.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#3: You didn’t make it clear that it *was* a date.”

Neil sees Wendy.

Wendy waves at Neil coyly.

Neil looks confused.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #4”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy sit at the table.

Neil wears the traditional garb of Hasidic Judaism.

Wendy wears a Nazi uniform.

They both look awkward and uncomfortable.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#4: Insurmountable cultural differences.”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #5”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil sits at the table, bored to the point of nodding off.

Wendy talks at him excitedly.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#5: You can’t stop talking about the Second Punic War.”

Wendy pulls out a large map as a visual aid.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #5b”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Exact same scene as before.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#5b: He refuses to listen to your brilliant commentary about the Second Punic War.”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #6”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Wendy and Neil sit at the table. They both have plates of food. Neil’s head is face-down on the table. He ain’t moving.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#6: Death.”

Wendy slowly, furtively steals a bit of food from Neil’s plate.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #7”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy have a perfectly nice time. Nothing going wrong at all.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#7: Attacked by ninjas.”

NINJAS emerge from the shadows and carry them both off.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #8”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy have another perfectly nice time.

A WAITER comes by and greets Neil.

Suddenly, Wendy pulls out a GUN, points it at Neil, and starts yelling at him.

Some COPS enter behind Wendy and do the same.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#8: It’s actually an elaborate sting operation.”

Neil jumps up, sweeps away half the stuff off the table, and grabs his fork and knife.

Neil gets behind the waiter and holds the knife to the waiter’s neck. He brandishes the fork at Wendy & Co.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #9”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy enjoy a quiet moment.

A salt shaker sits on the table.

Wendy gestures at the salt shaker.

It levitates about a foot off the table.

Neil looks at Wendy with alarm.

Wendy gestures the salt shaker back down.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#9: You accidentally reveal your scary telekinetic powers.”

An awkward moment.

Wendy pulls out a paddle-ball and tries to distract Neil by playing with it.

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #10”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy are having a pleasant time again.

There is a flash of light, and a puff of smoke emanates from offscreen.

OLDER WENDY enters and all but drags a reluctant Wendy away.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#10: Later in life, you invent time travel.”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #11”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy chat.

Neil disappears in a puff of smoke.

In his place is a live chicken.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#11: One of you turns into a chicken.”

Wendy, all-but-entranced and nearly-drooling, picks up her knife and fork.

ADDITIONAL SUBTITLE: “… a juicy, delicious chicken.”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #12”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy chat pleasantly.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#12: Sudden, explosive bleeding from the eyes.”

They continue to chat pleasantly.

ADDITIONAL SUBTITLE: “(not shown)”

FULL-SCREEN GRAPHIC reads “Thirteen Ways a First Date Can Go Wrong: #13”.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

Neil and Wendy have a wonderful time.

A SUBTITLE appears: “#13: The date is fictional.”

The DIRECTOR wanders into the shot and talks to Neil and Wendy.

ZOOM OUT to include the rest of the set.

A CAMERAMAN wanders in front of the camera, reaches around to turn it off, and we —

BLACK OUT.

Peter’s Commentary on the ‘Learning Something New About History’ Edition

Last week’s FSW topic was “Learning something new about history”.

Last week, Mr. Porter let me pick the week’s sketch topic. I actually deliberated for quite a while. I didn’t want something so vague/broad that it suggested nothing to the writers, but nor did I want something so specific that it straitjacketed people. I finally settled on “learning something new about history”.

I think it first occurred to me partly because sadogre had mentioned an interest in sketchwar, and I figured this would be right up his alley. The more I thought about it, the promising it sounded. People could do any number of “learn the real story of <x>” sketches. They could do sketches about learning something new about one’s family history or personal history. Or it could be about actually learning history, like a college course or something.

So I sent off that topic and happily started compiling sketch ideas along those lines. Then at some point I flashed back to this narwhal-themed thread, and wrote the words “F***ING HANNIBAL F*** YEAH”, only without the bowdlerizing asterisks. I thought of other, more original ideas, but I kept coming back to that one. So that’s the one I wrote.

I’m happy with how it came out.

First off, I’m happy that I didn’t write a scene. I’d just watched another SNL digital short, and suddenly I wanted to write something like *that* — to just jettison all the principles of drama and scenecraft and focus on stringing together three minutes of funny. If you keep ’em laughing for three minutes, who cares if you don’t have a story?[1]

Fortunately, I fell into the “F*** YEAH!” voice pretty naturally, and I had a pretty obvious structure to follow: relate the Battle of the Tremia, and then tack on some concluding words. Easy-peasy. I had already brainstormed a bunch of comic bits to include, so I churned out the sketch in about an hour. It made me laugh[2], and I was happy.

This week had two other entries: Mr. Robertson wrote about how the Three Wise Men picked their gifts, and Mr. Porter wrote about a conspiracy theorist.

Mr. Porter didn’t like the topic much, which I felt bad about. I had hoped I’d picked something that would help inspire the other writers. Then again, Mr. Porter himself had picked “Oprah” as the previous week’s topic, so none of us are immune from bad-topic-picking.

After last week’s post, Mr. Porter requested sharp and pointy notes on his sketches, so I’ll do my best to provide that this week.

Here’s what I got this time around: first, get out of my head. Yes, I have had pretty much that exact conversation. *shudder*

Now, writing-wise, there are two ways to go with this sketch. First, you can give the conversation heavier emotional stakes. You did a great thing towards the end with the line, “Michael. Seriously. You need help.” If you can get that vibe *throughout* the sketch — that Peter really cares about Michael, and he’s scared by the shocking amounts of crazy — that’ll help draw the audience in. Defining the relationship between the two guys might help with that.

Also along ‘make it more emotional’ lines, I can suggest a possibly-useful question. Nearly everybody would find Michael’s nonsense annoying, right? The question to ask is: why is it *especially* annoying to Peter? Why is Peter the *worst possible person* for this to happen to? If you get Peter desperately wanting to help Michael, but also infuriated beyond all reason, then you’ve got an audience paying attention.[3] Peter’s flustered quality is a real strength here, and you can emphasize that.

Okay, so the ’emotional’ thing is angle #1. Angle #2 is the ‘wacky’ thing. To put it bluntly, I don’t think Michael gets crazy enough. You may be sputtering in disbelief right now, but really: real conspiracy theorists are even crazier than Michael. I’d lengthen the ‘slightly crazy’ talk at the beginning, pare down a bunch of ‘moderately crazy’ stuff in the middle, and add some ‘extreme batshit crazy’ lines towards the end. Seriously, you have not gone ‘too crazy’ until you hit “they’ve implanted a chip in my scalp and if you just hand me that penknife I can show you” crazy.

Finally, last complaint: I could do lots of little edits here and there, removing words and phrases. For instance, I’d cut “writing on my blog and mailing out the newsletter” to just one of the two. But these are just small edits I’m takling about, and I think when I edit I like to err on the side of making lines too short.

Okay, enough complaining. There are many things to like here.

First and foremost, yes of course that’s the right button to end on. Absolutely perfect. And I loved all the different reactions Peter went through — I hate scenes where everyone has the exact same attitude through the whole thing, but we see Peter being confused, curious, annoyed, humoring, and ultimately sympathetic. Well-played, that. And the historical facts that Michael keeps screwing up are priceless, and you ramp up the crazy nicely as the sketch goes on.

I laughed in spite of the “OH GOD IT’S MY LIFE OW OW OW”.

[1] The irony here is that last year, when I took a class in sketch-writing, I really chaffed at being required to write sketches that weren’t structured like proper dramatic scenes. Now I’m embracing it. *shrug* I contain multitudes, etc.


[2] Favorite moment: the sudden and unexpected appearance of Babar.


[3] One (lousy) possibility: Peter is a history buff, and he’s reading a biography of Truman that prompts the whole conversation.

Peter’s Commentary on the ‘Oprah’ Edition

Okay, so last week’s FSW topic was “Oprah”.

So I wound up writing this sketch. I had spent days trying to think of something — *anything* — that I could do with the topic. I think the best I managed was a couple’s young daughter idolizes Oprah and causes embarrassing situations by trying to treat her parents as talk-show guests.

Then I visited my family for Thanksgiving and talked about the topic with my sister, who watches the show from time to time. I somehow stumbled into, “What if some guy had a big collection of Oprah porn?”

Katherine immediately said, “You probably should run with that.” Then we stood around the dining room trying to think of the most disturbing things one could do with that topic.

I’m actually quite happy with the end result. I haven’t tried to write a scene that’s “OH GOD NO”-creepy before, so that was interesting. Apparently the scene thoroughly disgusted this round’s other two entrants, which I guess means that I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. And I think I struck a nice compromise between sketch structure (funny, Funny, FUNNY!, end) and scenework (hero pursues an objective and faces complications).

It bugs me, though, that I didn’t get the structure quite right. The opening scene in the living room works okay — Matthew’s series of reactions amuses me — but it feels kind of tacked on. And I could have improved the reversal at the end, where I reveal that Chase’s Oprah fetish is actually a cover for his roommate fetish. I keep trying to use a sudden twist as a sketch’s button, but the twists are never clear enough, or they don’t make sense at all.

For this round, Coyote wrote this sketch, and Ken Robertson wrote this one. I laughed out loud at “You watch a lot of shows on that LG HDTV refrigerator at your place?” / “Sometimes!”. I also laughed out loud when, at the exact moment when I thought Ken’s sketch couldn’t get any crazier, the Mayan death god Cizin appeared. Well-played, sirs.

(If anybody wants me to get all detailed and critiquey with their sketchwar entries, lemme know. I may not know what I’m doing w/r/t sketch, but I can easily blather on about sketches in an opinionated fashion.)

On to next week! Once Mr. Porter posts the recap for this week, I’ll post about the “learning something new about history” round.

FSW: Learning Something New About History Edition (Peter’s Entry)

Friday Sketch War
Learning Something New About History Edition
“Learning Something New About History”

FADE IN:

TITLE GRAPHIC reads “Learning Something New About History”.

BAROQUE MUSIC plays.

A CLASSY NARRATOR with an aged, respectable British voice starts the show.

CLASSY NARRATOR (V.O.)

This week on “Learning Something New About History” —

TITLE GRAPHIC reads “Hannibal and the Battle of the Tremia”.

CLASSY NARRATOR (V.O.)

— Hannibal and the Battle of the Tremia. And now as always, Mr. Joey Weitzman.

MUSIC FADES OUT.

JOEY talks with fierce enthusiasm about his subject. His near-constant profanities are all clumsily bleeped out. He speaks over stock photos.

First: a bust of Hannibal.

JOEY (V.O.)

Hannibal. I mean, shit. Just look at him. Hell yeah.

Screencap of Chuck Norris.

JOEY (V.O.)

Fuck. Guys are like, “Chuck Norris is a badass mrmee mrmee woo” —

Screencap of professional wrestling.

JOEY (V.O.)

— or “check out real ultimate fighting lalee bunny froo froo” —

Busts of Scipio and Sempronius.

JOEY (V.O.)

— and I’m like, “You little pussies are like Scipio and Sempronius.”

Battle diagram of the Trebia, showing the location of Roman forces, marked “Bitches”.

JOEY (V.O.)

The two Roman guys were, like, flouncing a tea party by the Trebia —

Bust of Scipio.

JOEY (V.O.)

— and Scipio was all —

(fey falsetto)

“Oh, there’s no way that ass-slaughtering general can find us here!”

Bust of Sempronius.

JOEY (V.O.)

— and then Sempronius was like —

Battle diagram, now with an arrow added — Roman forces approaching the river. The arrow is labelled “weak-ass shit attack”, with black bars over the profanities.

JOEY (V.O.)

(equally-fey falsetto)

“I’ll just put down my doily and launch a little attack.”

The battle diagram now shows another group of forces, labelled “FUCKIN’ HANNIBAL FUCK YEAH”, again with black bars.

JOEY (V.O.)

And then Hannibal was like — “RAAAWR! Ambush, motherfuckers!”

Several arrows from Hannibal’s forces to the Roman forces appear. Joey punctuates each appearance with:

JOEY (V.O.)

Unh! Unh! Unh! And like, killed them with pointy sticks —

A label appears by the Roman forces: “Blood and guts and killing and shit.” Again, a black bar.

JOEY (V.O.)

— and then killed them harder with motherfucking elephants!

JOEY (V.O.)

I mean, fuck, man!

Shots of various ordnance.

JOEY (V.O.)

Yeah, you got your AK, your fuckin’ F-16s, your tanks and shit, fuck that.

Shot of Babar.

JOEY (V.O.)

Somebody throws a motherfuckin’ elephant at your ass, you know you are fucked.

Shot of an elephant.

JOEY (V.O.)

They’re all BOOM BOOM BOOM stomping and trumpeting —

Shot of the olliphaunts from Lord of the Rings.

JOEY (V.O.)

— and all Lord of the Rings and shit. ‘cos that’s how Hannibal rolls.

Map of the Roman empire. An arrow goes from the battle of the Trebia to Lake Trasimene.

JOEY (V.O.)

And the last guys left ran like fuckin’ babies to Lake Trasimene, and Hannibal killed the shit out of them there.

Shot of Rome.

JOEY (V.O.)

And Hannibal could have taken over fucking Rome. But he didn’t even bother. ‘cos he’s fucking awesome.

Screencap of Colonel Hannibal Smith from The A-Team.

JOEY (V.O.)

Okay, the big question: is Hannibal cooler than Hannibal from The A-Team?

Two shots, side-by-side: the A-Team screencap, the Hannibal bust.

JOEY (V.O.)

What the shit, people? Compared to the hero of the motherfucking Carthaginians, A-Team Hannibal was just a pussy with a van. Fuck you, A-Team Hannibal!

Screencap of Faceman.

JOEY (V.O.)

And fuck you, Faceman!

Screencap of B. A.

JOEY (V.O.)

Fu — okay, you’re cool.

Screencap of Murdock.

JOEY (V.O.)

But fuck you — other guy.

Screencap of 300:

JOEY (V.O.)

The other question: what if it was Hannibal versus the badasses from 300?

Two shots, side-by-side: the 300 screencap, the Hannibal bust.

JOEY (V.O.)

But that’s a trick question, ‘cos Hannibal would be, like, “You rule!” and shit, and the Spartans would be all, “You! Are! Awesome!”

A crude Photoshop inserts the bust of Hannibal into the shot.

JOEY (V.O.)

And then they’d join forces, and that shit would rule.

Back to the opening title card: “Learning Something New About History”.

The same BAROQUE MUSIC plays.

CLASSY NARRATOR (V.O.)

This has been “Learning Something New About History” — stay tuned for next week, when we present: “Jean-Paul Sartre and the Existentialists”.

FADE OUT.

FSW: Oprah Edition (Peter’s Entry)

Friday Sketch War
Oprah Edition
“No Accounting for Taste”

FADE IN:

INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

A typical college apartment. MATTHEW (uptight college kid) sits on a couch, picks up a remote, and uses it to turn on an entertainment center. A Pirates of the Caribbean DVD case sits nearby.

ON TV

Oprah Winfrey’s talk show returns from commercial. The TV chiron reads, “I can’t control my teenage daughters!”

BACK ON MATTHEW

Matthew picks up the DVD case, puzzled. Looks at it, looks at the TV. Meanwhile, we hear the AUDIO from the TV…

OPRAH (O.S., TV)

Sandra, what’s the real problem you’ve had with your mom?

SANDRA (O.S., TV)

Mom doesn’t like that my sister and I just can’t keep our hands off each other.

PORN MUSIC kicks in.

Matthew is intrigued.

OPRAH (O.S., TV)

Hey… mind if I join you?

Matthew lets out a little YELP of alarm and turns off the TV.

INT. CHASE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Typical messy undergrad bedroom. CHASE (mellow college kid) lies in bed. His outfit includes a belt.

The room has a shelf of DVDs and two doors: one (closed) door leads to a closet, and one (open) door leads to the hallway. A wig and a magazine sit on the floor.

Matthew tentatively enters from the hallway, holding a DVD labeled “Oprah: The Lost Nastysodes”.

MATTHEW

Chase, I think you got a couple of DVDs swapped.

Chase gets up, picks up the DVD.

CHASE

Ooh. Yeah, that’s mine.

Chase thumbs through the DVDs on the shelf. Matthew looks on.

MATTHEW

Chase, is that all Oprah-themed…

CHASE

It’s Oprah porn. What?

MATTHEW

That’s kind of a lot of it, isn’t it?

CHASE

It’s just the classy stuff.

(off the DVD)

These guys, they get the show down, and their Oprah impersonator is just — mmm!

MATTHEW

Oh. That’s good. Can I have my Pirates DVD back?

CHASE

You like this stuff? ‘cos if you want to get into Oprah porn…

Chase opens the closet door, the inside of which features a bikini pinup with Oprah’s head crudely pasted on top of it.

CHASE

… I’m your guy.

MATTHEW

Oh god.

CHASE

Nothin’ to be ashamed of.

Chase picks up the magazine, hands it to Matthew — the title reads “OhhhhhHHH! The magazine of Oprah-themed Adult Entertainment”.

CHASE

See? It’s a whole industry.

MATTHEW

That’s not right.

CHASE

Wait, I thought you liked The Color Purple.

MATTHEW

Yeah, but — wait, didn’t I loan you my copy?

CHASE

Want it back?

Chase rummages through his bedsheets.

MATTHEW

No. I just want to watch Pirates of the Caribbean!

Matthew trips on the wig. Sees it. Picks it up.

MATTHEW

This is an Oprah wig.

Chase crosses to the hallway door, closes it.

CHASE

I don’t use it for anything weird.

Matthew drops the wig.

MATTHEW

Ew!

CHASE

Don’t judge!

MATTHEW

But Oprah is like America’s mom!

CHASE

(aw, yeah)

I know.

Chase walks away from the hall door, revealing:

A poster of an animé tentacle monster, again with Oprah’s face pasted on.

Matthew freezes.

CHASE

Can’t look away, can you?

Matthew exits in a hurry, and SLAMS the door behind him.

CHASE

Whew. Dodged that bullet.

He pulls out a remote, presses a button.

The Oprah posters roll up to reveal similar pin-ups with Matthew’s head posted on them.

Chase puts on the wig. Takes off the belt.

CHASE

It’s fun time.

Matthew re-enters.

MATTHEW

Look, Chase, could I just get my DVD —

Matthew sees the new closet poster. Sees the wig. Sees the belt.

CHASE

Hi.

Matthew exits.

BLACKOUT.

Peter’s Commentary on the ‘Horrible Family Holidays’ Edition

[Catching up on blogposts, now that I’ve recovered from the Dance Weekend That Ate My Life.]

Just thought I’d put up some thoughts on the most recent Sketch War.

Ken Robertson’s entry: laughed aloud at “No ‘Christians and Heathens’, okay?” / “Awwww.”. I liked the payoff at the end — possibly could have trimmed the number of awkward moments leading up to it, though Priscilla’s drunken pass at Massotihan was a great über-embarrassing exchange.

R. A. Porter’s entry: Ow! Ow ow ow ow! These aren’t my memories, but it’s like they are my memories! My painful, painful memories! Ow!

With regards to my own entry, I’m mostly just proud that I managed to pound *something* out on time. I spent Tuesday fishing for a topic, scribbled out some ideas on Wednesday, and carved out an hour or two from Friday night — in the thick of ALX — to lock myself in a little room until the pages were finished. Things I liked: simple sketch concept, wrote with clear characters in mind, invented a puppet troupe. Things I didn’t like: random ending (why would Katie flee the scene?), should have pushed the jokes to be more surreal and out-there, and I put an emotional tilt into a comedy sketch, which is kind of wrong. (Sketch comedy isn’t about emotional arcs — the structure is more like “funny. Funny. FUNNY! done.”)

Oh, and I screwed up on the topic: I mis-read it as “horrible family gatherings”, came up with my sketch, and then realized it was “horrible family holidays”. Then I shoehorned some Christmas decorations into the stage directions. (That’s the magic of screenwriting, kids! Change the time of year just by typing a few extra words!)

Lord knows how I’ll come up with a sketch on the topic of “Oprah”.

FSW: Horrible Family Holidays Edition (Peter’s Entry)

Friday Sketch War
Horrible Family Holidays Edition
“Ted’s Wake”

FADE IN:

INT. ELEVATOR LOBBY – NIGHT

KATIE (27, black formalwear) paces in a posh elevator lobby, going over a handwritten speech.

CROWD NOISES emanate from a closed door. Beside the door hangs a poster with a black-and-white photo of a scowling old man reads, “In Memoriam: Ted Reynaldo”. Beside the poster sits a chair.

Christmas decorations adorn the walls.

HOMER (23, black suit) breezes in through the door.

HOMER

Katie! ‘sup!

No repsonse.

HOMER

Dad says it’s time to do the thing —

The elevator BINGS. The door opens.

KATIE

Dad can wait. I —

And in the elevator, is —

HOMER

Sandra!

— SANDRA (23), pretty and cheerful. She and Homer kiss. Homer points her at the room.

HOMER

I’ll be there in a second.

Sandra heads in.

Off of Katie’s look —

HOMER

I met her last week. She’s, like, this really cool —

KATIE

And you invited her to Uncle Ted’s wake?

Homer just grins.

KATIE

(to herself)

Do I do the prayer —

The elevator BINGS.

KATIE

— or just go straight to the speech?

A small crowd of people pile out of the elevator, carrying what look like Muppets.

HOMER

‘sup, guys!

PUPPETEERS

‘sup, Homer!

They go into the room. Off of Katie’s look —

HOMER

Sandra’s, like, part of this puppeteering troupe.

KATIE

What?

HOMER

They do puppet shows.

KATIE

No. Why are they here?

HOMER

I guess Sandra invited them.

The NOISE from the room gets louder, more festive.

KATIE

Did you actually tell any of these people this was a wake?

Elevator BINGS.

HOMER

I — hmm. I said it was catered. I definitely said it was a Christmas party.

KATIE

Oh god.

HOMER

Well technically, it’s a party, and it’s Christmastime, right?

A couple of DELIVERYMEN show up, pushing kegs on dollies.

DELIVERYMAN

Um — the Puppet Place Players?

HOMER

In there.

DELIVERYMAN

Cool.

They join the wake.

The NOISE from the wake gets louder. MARIACHI MUSIC starts up.

HOMER

I guess I sort of told Sandra she could invite people, and they invited people —

The elevator BINGS. A MOTLEY ASSORTMENT OF PARTYGOERS spill out.

HOMER

‘sup guys — it’s in there.

The partygoers cheer, join the wake.

KATIE

Who are they?

Homer shrugs. Off of that —

KATIE

I can’t believe you did this to me! I —

Stops. Goes to the door. Looks in the room. Returns to Homer.

KATIE

Mariachis? How did they even get in?

HOMER

Oh, there’s this freight elevator, and it’s awesome, like this moving cavern, and —

Katie collapses in the chair, distraught.

HOMER

What?

KATIE

I know I didn’t exactly like the guy, and I know I’d rather cram things under my fingernails than give this big speech about how great he was, but I got stuck with putting this together and I just want to do one thing right for this family! Is that so much to ask?! And then you go and —

The elevator BINGS yet again, the doors open —

KATIE

OH GOOD GOD WHAT NOW?!

— and Katie finds herself face to face with a POLICE OFFICER standing in the elevator doorway.

Awkward pause.

HOMER

‘sup, officer? My sister’s kind of off her meds.

KATIE

Meds?!

POLICE OFFICER

We’ve had a noise complaint.

KATIE

Oh. Oh! Yeah, they’re right in there.

POLICE OFFICER

Thanks.

The officer crosses to the door, opens it.

Meanwhile, Katie darts into the elevator. She drags Homer in after her. The elevator closes.

POLICE OFFICER

Puppets!

The officer joins the wake.

FADE OUT.