Chaos Attraction

Sketch 101 Week 1: Get Super Weird.

2016-08-29, 4:10 p.m.

So instead of taking Improv 301 for a fourth damn time in a row, I've taken the advice of some of my classmates who took the sketch writing class and signed up for that one. They said it helped you get good ideas, and I need work on that.

So week 1: This is taught by Chris, who is very good at it. I have a few classmates in from previous improv classes and some new folks, including two chicks who work for the state and like to make up songs about taxes. Which is adorable.

Quote from Chris: “I wanna encourage the weirdness. I wanna see you guys get super weird.”

We're going to have homework every week (writing sketches after week 2), which we're to upload online and then do table reads/critiques in class. This week we read a sketch of his as an example. This class doesn't have a performance, but they are working on developing a 201 class that will go as far as having a performance.

This class also gets you free tickets to the Secret Handshake Society sketch performances once a month. Turns out sketch is currently the easiest thing to get into right now, as after you've taken this class (or 201 in the future), you're apparently allowed to go to Sunday night pitch workshop meetings for SHS.

Sketch = comedy scenes written for stage/video.
1. Write script
2. Pitch/cold read sketches
3. Get notes
4. Rewrite
5. Will do stage readings later.
Minimal props/costumes.
Game/pattern = backbone = what’s funny. Unusual character(s). Hits = things you do, keep it simple. Premise = unusual universe. Put pattern up front to know what to repeat. Game is an umbrella, hits hold it up.
Grounded world ideas + new disparate layer (like prison being treated like summer camp).
Risks/stakes get higher
Free flow hits, rearrange the order, ease them in. Justify, then get away with.
Economy of words-could prune down. Don’t chunk dialogue. 3-4 minute scene.
Story consistent with time period (unless it’s deliberate not to fit).
How soon do you know the pattern-halfway through the first page. Put it on the first page (the justification can come later).
Keep a notebook of ideas from life-you will not remember them! You will need these items later for class! Mention the context they came up in, you will forget that too!

We read a script called “King’s Poison,” about a king who’s just discovered the joys of poisoning people and poisons his aides, who catch on after the first one dies but end up dying anyway.

We made a list of ten occupations, a list of ten descriptive adjectives, passed our adjectives list to someone else. Then tried to pair the adjectives with job descriptions that combined into something funny and then brainstormed what you’d do with them.
Mine were:

* pooper scooper in parades / arrogant
* chiropractor /itsy-bitsy
* knitwear designer
* gynecologist
* coke dealer / neurotic
* self defense instructor
* Zumba instructor
* Ballerina / bro-ish
* Crossword puzzle designer / ditsy
* Perfume saleswoman
(adjectives: sequined, furry, smelly, messy, cross-eyed, purple haired, blinged out, weaselly, slimy, horny).

Then we were to come up with ideas for one of these pairings.

Bro-ish ballerina: grew up with a lot of brothers, may be forced into ballet, acts like football jock, tries to talk sports with the gayest guys around, shoves other girls out of the way, does football/soccer-esque kicks, accidentally hitting people, walks into class with hangover, REALLY hangs onto barre, shows up in jersey and tights, hair put up in a bun with a nasty sock, trash-decorated tutu, has a penis drawn on her face, burps a lot, brings her own beer to class instead of water, spills, wants to slide across stage, discusses choreography like a football play.

I was ridiculously proud of how that one went. That was awesome.

Homework: get a new list of jobs and adjectives like before, find 2 new patterns and make a list of hits, ordered from grounded to crazy town, pick out best 4 for escalation.

I went with this: Tactless accountant: working with a man and a woman and mentions aloud everything dubious the guy is asking for deductions about.
* Hey, what’s with all these deductions for rose bouquets?
* You sure do charge a lot of hotel rooms.
* How many assistants do you have? You sure do go through a lot of assistants!
* Wow, you had a daughter this year? Congratulations! Oh, wait, it’s not yours, Mrs. Smith?

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