There are some topics which should be made illegal as material for sketches.
TV SENDUPS Nothing reveals a lack of imagination and courage more than TV comedians relying on their own medium to get easy laughs. I’ll rephrase that: the writing’s easy, the laughs come damn hard. With all the topics in the universe out there for writers to look to to create hilarity, turning to the nearest thing at hand is just lazy.
I was looking forward to the recent series of Anna and Katy. Talented performers, but I’m sorry to say they gave me a headache. Nearly every sketch was a games show, TV chef, panel show or soap opera spoof…..and a take-off of “The Apprentice”. In every office across the country, people do send-ups of Lord Sugar’s hapless contestants. Do we need yet another on TV?
COSTUME DRAMA SPOOFS Yes, we know that Jane Austen characters talk in a slightly stilted way and are absolutely hilarious when they fiddle with their parasols and call all the men “Mr”. That’s the trouble: we know. We want sketches to surprise us.
PEOPLE DRESSED UP AS ANIMALS Often, about half way through the series, when the ideas are beginning to flag, someone in the team says “Wouldn’t it be funny if we dressed up as poodles?” People are interesting. Dogs are boring. People dressed up as dogs are desperate.
Writing comedy can be tough. A sketch which seemed brilliant and fresh when you wrote it at midnight can look stale and clichéd at 10.30am. The stress and adrenalin involved in being funny can cloud your judgement of your work. Ernest Hemingway spoke of his inner bullshit detector. Developing one of these is nearly as important as building your self-belief.