Chicago is a world capital of sketch and improv comedy. I’d say that under oath and not even quiver. Just like training, the most effective sketch comedy is a product of fine-tuned collaboration and creative—yet disciplined—development. Let’s look at some secrets that make sketch comedy hit on all cylinders and how they can apply to your training initiatives.
1. Get to the Premise Fast
The urge to carefully set things up is understandable. Letting characters hang out and discover the bit naturally seems fair and gentle.
But eh, nah. The audience wants to laugh pretty fast, as it turns out. They want the writer to have already determined what the main funny premise of the sketch is and to present it quickly. Setup is important—you don’t want people to miss an important detail of the premise—but you can typically establish those things right at the top. The sooner the characters can start speaking and doing funny things, the better.
2. Raise the Stakes
Once you have your premise established, you want to keep attacking it, exploring it, and building it up for comedic effect. This can be very enjoyable for an audience, who, feeling confident now that they understand the basic source of the humor, starts to feel a kind of narcotic anticipation for how it will be portrayed next.