My Monday Sketch class had it’s last meeting this past Monday and I had mixed emotions about it. I think overall I saw some growth in the work I was doing. I got better at giving my characters more action and stuff to do other than spit dialogue.
I also regressed in places, one of our last sketch assignments was a re-write of a previous sketch we had turned in before. They’re all suppose to be 3-4 pages which I usually oblige by but for some strange reason I wound up with 5 pages. I just fell into the trap of too much re-writing and my teacher said I could have shaved off 2 pages and she was right. I didn’t get to the crux of the game until then I think in part because I was trying to retain the spirit of my initial sketch which was a premise sketch about a bank teller who is actually happy and helpful to the people robbing the bank she works in. One of my notes was I needed more of a reason of why she was so helpful and to not be so overly plotty.
I went way overboard on the reasonings and went completely off game I think when I made the sketch about her disrupting the two guys robbing the bank because she was going through a lot of drama in her life (boyfriend breakup, cat dying, and getting passed over on a promotion — those were my beats). The interesting part of the sketch, which my teacher liked was when the second in command robber took a liking to the teller and stopped robbing the bank. I should have started there instead of all this backstory stuff. Oh well.
That was rough and even rougher was my weak explanation and defending the piece. I’m not just good at that which I think is something I really have to work on going forward. I think some of that came from hearing the notes back to me and just being like “shit it IS too long and it could have been so much better”. The readings are great for that, you can really tell if something is too long. The funny thing is going into the class I was always worried I’d barely make it over the minimum which is what happened in my film classes back in the day. I can be a ruthless editor and the two short films I did for school were both barely over two minutes which I thought would be seen as a major positive but it wasn’t even mentioned during evaluations!
The second assignment for the sketch class went much better, in part because it was a one pager and you really can’t go wrong with just throwing out a one pager. During the reading my teacher laughed out loud and I think most of that came from because she found the idea that someone would write about ghosts haunting people to be funny. The premise for that sketch was a rich guy is in the lobby of a movie theater, he’s just finished looking over the place when a ghost appears (ghost #1 because I like the rule of three) and threatens to kill him. And that’s how it ended with the ghost threatening to kill him for a second time. I definitely got notes on that one though because it was too general as to why ghosts would kill this guy, the key for these sketches and likely all writing is specificity. I should have been clearer on that and it was unclear as to why I had an assistant show up at the theater to fetch him coffee. My point, which I did not say out loud because I always think it’s stupid, was I just thought it would be funny. Although in hindsight, I could have said that because it’s been my “defense” before on a few things. But anyway, it was an odd joke and probably could be knocked out if I do another draft which leads me to this.
So what next? Well, I’m going to try to keep up the goal of writing one sketch a week. I’d like to take 201 at the UCB next time it’s available, although I probably have to save up a paycheck or two before then but I’m also tinkering with the idea of taking a class at either the Groundlings, Second City, or IO West to learn about their approaches to sketch writing. Last I checked only IO West had a doable upcoming class for me and my schedule.
Some progress was made but still a lot to learn which I consider a very good thing. Back to work!