Borrow, borrow, borrow!

At the beginning of September we had Keith Horvath visiting from America. Keith is one of the 70 worldwide alumni of The Second City Directing program, a former Class Administrator and director at The Annoyance and he has taught improv and sketch at Columbia College in Chicago. We were very lucky to have him teach a workshop on just that – sketch writing!

There’s a few technical things about writing sketch, like the ways of developing characters and the structure of the sketch itself, that are better suited for the classroom rather than the page of a blog, but there were a few take away points from Keith’s class that can be used in whatever you do in comedy which we felt were worth pointing out.

Specificity kills ambiguity – Susan Messing

When following a comedic premise, you should try and be as specific as possible. Usually, the easiest way of being specific is by thinking of things in your own life. For instances, if you have to mention a car in a scene, thinking of the first car you drove will be the fastest way of getting there. Mine would be the old, white Toyota Yaris from my driving school. There were 2 of them in the school, both old, with signs advertising the school that could be taken away easily if the instructors wanted to use the cars in their down time, when they weren’t teaching. This kind of specificity will add immense detail to the scene and will allow a level of unpacking that will inevitability lead to comedy. Think of all the fun places you could take an old, white, Toyota Yaris and the driving instructor behind its wheel!

Once you get comfortable, f*ck around! – Keith Horvath

When you settle on the game, or unusual thing in a scene, you are free to f*ck around. You have defined what is the comedic characteristic of the piece, which is the thing you can always get back to and play with and that is always there, safe! You can go away from it, play with other toys and have fun, and come back to play with your favourite game when the audience least expects it. That will make their enjoyment of it even greater!

Any teacher who tells you there’s only 1 way to do things is probably not a very experienced one – Keith Horvath

Keith is a very down to earth human being who was great to meet, learn from and play with. This quote is a good example of it. There are many ways of doing things and many people from whom to learn. The best thing you can do is “borrow anything and everything you can from different artists” and find yourself in the process!

Check our website here to find out who you can borrow from through the workshops we have lined up for you!

This post was written by Mariana Feijó

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