Tuesday was my comedy writer’s group again and not only was ‘House Cat’ and another sketch read but also a piss-funny animated sitcom ‘Blames Direct’ by Alex Howley. You can read how it went down over at the London Comedy Writers blog.
The night was a real hoot with plenty of new faces and lots of energy in the room. The group has been on fire recently and I’m looking forward to what the next meeting brings.
So, how did ‘House Cat’ go down I hear you ask?
Good. There was plenty of feedback and hearing it read with audience reaction was invaluable. It all gave me plenty to work on for the next draft.
It didn’t get a raucous response or endless praise (writers – they’re a tough crowd!), not that I was hoping for either but there were laughs where I hoped there would be, which was a good sign. There was feedback about what worked and what didn’t and suggestions on how to punch it up, which is what I was really looking for in the end.
The lead in to the sketch is still a bit too long, I need to get to the set-up and first real gag quicker. This is something I’m still learning with my comedy writing and a tip that’s applicable across all genres – get to the set-up and first genre defining moment (be it comedy, drama, horror, sci-fi) as quickly as possible to tell your audience what story they’re in and where it’s headed.
My main comic character can be punched up some more as well. This was reassuring feedback to get as I was worried he was too big. I tend to write quite naturalistically and so I have to remember that comedy gives you the license to go big – to push characters and scenarios to the extreme. I’m quite happy to do another pass and make him much more devilish.
There was some discussion about whether or not the sketch was too long and whether it was one or two sketches. The group was quite divided on this and I wasn’t left with a definite answer. A lot of the debate got down to personal opinion more than craft and since the reading I’ve been mulling over it.
Most sketches are usually short – the general rule being ‘the shorter the better’. After thinking about it I still believe it’s one sketch but I can see where I can set up the mid-point twist a bit more at the start. I can also now see where I can cut.
The one unanimous response was that the sketch finished on the right punchline and didn’t overstay it’s welcome. Whew!
Overall I count the reading as a success. Yep, there’s more work to be done but the structure and characters are there. Now it’s about re-write, trimming and tweaking.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress.