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A few weeks before this module began, I bought myself a Moleskine. I have got into the habit of taking this everywhere, with a pen hooked into it so as I can make notes at any time, in any place. I have gotten a few strange looks whilst trying to jot down ideas as I walking down the road (I would have stopped to write it but I was late for work). The thing about ideas is, I used to note them down on my phone, but they can be so fleeting that you forget what you are writing down, and the idea is gone. I have not got an excellent memory, and so carrying my book everywhere has helped me capture a lot of ideas which might otherwise have escaped me.

These ideas can come in many forms, frequently I will think of a fraction of a joke, and write down what I can think of. Anyone who was to examine my book would think it the ramblings of a mad man, with broken phrases and sentences, indecipherable scribbles and half jotted pictures. Even, at times, words which will spark ideas in my mind, or remind me of ideas I had would look insane to other people. For example, on one page, I simple have the word ‘Giraffe?’ written. I know what this means, but to the onlooker they would think me certifiable.

I have used this technique of jotting down broken ideas to enhance my work. Some of the ideas have made it into the script (I had the idea that we don’t see many ‘Dance’ musicals anymore, such as ‘Singing in the Rain’, which were so popular between the 20’s and 50’s, and are now only popular in Bollywood, and I thought I might try and revive this genre) other ideas were so broken that I might only have part of a punch line, or a set up which doesn’t go anywhere (I heard someone use the term ‘My parents didn’t believe in me’. This, to me, made a joke, I equated this to the way that children believe in Father Christmas). These are the ones which usually made it into a loose or broken sketch.

None of these ideas were complete, I have not written any finished sketches, but currently what I refer to as ‘Sketches’ are fragments of ideas. My housemate and I have been working on ideas for a sketch show for a while now, as he is an animator and also an aspiring writer, we have come up with several ideas together, only needing them to come to fruition. It is good being able to work with someone else, as you identify what sort of style you want to work on, and can help edit the other persons ideas. We have both come up with things we think are funny, but in recitation aren’t. Having someone to tell you whether your idea is good or bad, or to help to refine it is invaluable. This is a project I intend to pursue, but probably not for some time as it would mean huge amounts of time invested, which I currently do not have. I am going to continue taking my book with me everywhere and I will keep using it. It is an incredibly useful resource and an incredible way of capturing ideas which might otherwise have disappeared into the ether.

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One thought on “On Writing Sketch Comedy

  1. Never stop carrying a note-taking device: whatever you do in life, this will be your life saver. If you don’t believe me, see here: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=14680 – that man goes through a ridiculous amount in much the same way you do.

    I think that any writer deserves congratulations on working through to the first draft – it’s a long slog when you’re on your own no matter how much feedback you get so congratulations, Laurie. you’ve blogged well too and we can see your thought processes and the progression of things through it – though I’m still looking forward to hearing your Failure Day song. 🙂

    To go forward, don’t forget that you’re part of a larger network of creatives and that a writer should have a few more tricks up his sleeve in order to enrich his writing. To unpack that then, I’d say it’d be good for you to throw yourself into a larger collaborative work [like what will happen in your next module but more than that, try to complete something with your animator housemate] but also to ensure that you don’t get too sucked into the world of *only* writing – a good writer has to live in order to write about it – so ensure that you’ve more than simply writing skills. Keep writing, keep researching, keep analyzing, but also keep growing.

    See you in the sarc-lines.

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