How To Write Great Comedy Skits
Skits are an essential part of a comedians’ craft. Regardless of whom your loyalties belong to in the stand up comedy world, you wouldn’t have known about them if they weren’t good at writing and performing comedy skits.
Comedy skit (sketch) writing is one of the most difficult tasks in the comedy world. While writing a skit; you either have to stretch a simple idea into a larger concept or you commonly convey a complicated idea in a short amount of time. Like everything else, it takes practice to get good at it but here are some helpful hints to get you started.
What’s The Idea?
The first and the most important step to writing a skit is to come up with an idea. You can get an idea from anything that you see, hear, or experience in your everyday life. Another way to come up with an idea for a skit is by noticing other people. Just keep an eye out for people who strike you as “quite a character.” You can create an entire sketch around any of these situations just by thinking around the lines “wouldn’t it be funny if…?”
Make an Outline
Some skits are good, but some are great! The difference between skits comes from its structure. A good skit usually has a good ending, whereas a great skit has a good beginning, middle and end, as well as a well-conceived introduction and integration of characters. Much of your writing for skit and jokes will come on the fly but it’s still important to set up what you want to happen in the sketch so you can set it up properly.
Develop Your Characters
Writing a good sketch means that you have to avoid the common mistakes at all costs. Incorporating too many or too few characters is one such common mistake. When you’re writing a skit, make sure that each character is serving a purpose. Rule of thumb is to create at least one “straight” character who’s going to be responsible for setting up the funny character on whom the sketch is based.
Write a Good Ending
‘Make an Outline’ did cover this part, but repeating it is important because a sketch is never considered great unless it has a good ending. A great ending can be, but not limited to the possibilities that involves a twist or unseen departure from where things seemed to be going. A good ending should at least end on a good joke or a gag that ties up the piece’s main idea to a similar problem on the horizon.
A good example of it would be from Dane Cook’s “Isolated Incident” where he linked the “difference between free and absolutely free” with a number of situations and tied it up at the end.
Watch and Learn
Perhaps the best way to learn anything and everything about writing and/or performing a skit is to watch and study established standup comedians. This will greatly help you in understanding how skits are played and what aspects of it you need to focus on in order to make it great.