Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sketch Comedy Sucks

Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself as part of a sketch comedy troupe. A mime troupe, maybe. Possibly a dance troupe. Like every other young man in America, I had visions of perhaps making it to Saturday Night Live -- as a host if not a regular cast member. This was a vision fuelled by men such as Phil Hartman and Mike Meyers, and far too many lonely Saturday nights spent at home in my teen years.
Flash forward [muffle-muffle] years, and here I am. Hollywood, California. Geographically and culturally removed from "Live! From New York!" by a continent-sized ... well, continent. And what have I learned?
Sketch comedy sucks. It's too often done poorly, with little rehearsal or attention to sound comedy writing. It co-occupies a niche of suck with bad improv (which is to say "most" improv); a lonely cubbyhole of despair full of cheap shots, easy targets, and pandering. My God! The pandering!
To say "I hate sketch comedy" would be too strong, too virulent, and too truthful. But I also love sketch comedy, when done "right." What do I mean by "right?"
  • The moment when Dave Foley realizes he's eating eggs that Chicken Lady laid.
  • Whenever Robert Webb begins singing "Devil's Gallop," whilst manically running around.
  • When Phil Hartman's Anal Retentive Chef discovers a piece of pepper that is bigger than the rest.
  • When the cast of "The Jew, The Italian & The Red Head Gay" and (inexplicably) "Godspell" catch their breath after singing the theme song.
In a word, when it's funny.  To be a part of a sketch comedy troupe and be able to live with myself, it has to be good.  It has to be funny.

Die Grüppe was forged at a theatre company Phillip Kelly and I helped co-found, and is now under the umbrella of Merry War Theatre Group. We (and by "we" I mean a talented group of writers and performers that I consider myself lucky to be counted among) have been hard at work crafting a new show.  The material is written, a director is on board, and we are narrowing in on dates. Die Grüppe is back.

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