"John, how did you make your online comedy sketch show?" is a question I have never been asked, but I thought I'd write an article on the subject as I feel it's only a matter of time. Of course, it's by no means easy. Shows of this sort cost literally hundreds of pence, whether it be for buying paper to write ideas on, or for purchasing pens without which the paper would be worse than useless.
I have always been a big fan of sketch shows, and grew up with classics such as The Funny Comedy Laughter Show, The Comedy Laughter Funny Show and more recently Sketches For Shrews on the Wildlife Channel. But how would I make a show of my own when I had a busy schedule of sleeping scheduled for the foreseeable future?
Help came in the form of comedy partner and part-time mattress salesman Mark Hibbett. We had met some time ago at a Side Splitting Workshop run by veteran improviser Sid 'Rubbish' Wilson of seventies double act Tall and Taller. It was here that we came up with many of the routines that were later discarded. However, after several weeks of writing, rehearsing and, in Mark's case, mattress selling, we came up with material that we felt was good enough to put online, although the range and quality of freely available cat videos did make us think twice.
Several of our sketches called for elaborate props, so we made an appointment at Elaborate Props Ltd, and it was thanks to them that we were able to use a steam roller, a full-size cannon, and three hundred plastic goats. It was a shame that the sketch using these props didn't make the final cut. To keep our budget down we decided to reduce the cast from two hundred to none, although the result was somewhat lacklustre, and after some discussion Mark and I were brought in to act (from the other room).
Mark has always seen himself as a musician first and a comedian last, and this is very much reflected in the show. To give him due credit, not only does he have a rudimentary knowledge of the triangle, but he has also heard of the glockenspiel. This came in very handy when it came to the musical side of the show, although it was of no help in terms of catering. Thanks must also go to our choreographer, Arlene, who spent several days devising a routine for the finale in which we wanted to look as if we didn't know anything about dancing. Her painstaking and meticulous methods allowed us to achieve just the right effect.
I hope this piece has been useful to those of you, and the final sketch show can be seen below. Books I have found helpful include serious studies such as Are People Funny? and Sketch Comedy And Its Role In The Development Of The Hydrogen Bomb.