How to Win the Internet: Writing for Sketch Comedy

Marshall Rimmer, Filmmaker

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4 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. Idea Generation & Target Audience

      6:14
    • 2. Script Format

      5:49
    • 3. Writing the Comedy Sketch

      9:26
    • 4. Feedback & Rewrites

      3:11
23 students are watching this class

Project Description

Write (or Produce) a 1-4 Minute Comedy Sketch

Idea Generation & Target Audience

  1. Get to know this class format

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  2. Before You Begin...

    Welcome to my class! I hope you will learn many film tips that will stick with you throughout your filmmaking career, whether you are an aspiring professional or active hobbyist.

    If you're part of Skillshare's Membership program, you can sign up for my other classes completely free of charge! I recommend going ahead and doing that now, even if you're not planning on immediately jumping into the other courses. That way, if you ever have questions about other topics, you will be able to access these classes more quickly. It will take two seconds and is completely free!

    Once you've signed up for the other courses go ahead and continue your work on this unit.

  3. List your favorite comedy

    List 5-10 of your favorite movies, shows, channels, or comedians to better understand what type of comedy you gravitate towards.

  4. List passionate topics

    List 5 topics of discussion which you could passionately defend or attack.

  5. Start your day right

    Start your day with 3-5 comedy sketches which you haven't previously viewed. Examples can be found in the resources of this unit.

  6. Scan Facebook

    Go through your Facebook friends or contact list and see which of your contacts are plugged into which communities.

  7. Take notes

    Carry a notepad or smartphone with you at all times and write down any funny action you see or thought you think.

    Write the idea down IMMEDIATELY.  You WILL forget it otherwise, especially if you get the idea right before you fall asleep...

  8. Determine the concept for your project

    This can be as detailed as a whole paragraph or as brief as a couple sentences. However, please be more specific than just the set-up or scenario. Describe the conflict at hand, the characters involved, and/or what type of social commentary you are making with the sketch.

Script Format

  1. Download a script software

    Download Celtx, Final Draft, or another comparable screenwriting software.

  2. Create a character list

    Create a character list with breif discriptions of each character that will be included in your sketch.

    It would be good for your description to include personality, interests, wants, and/or needs.

  3. Write one sample page of your script

    Don't stress too much over the actual content of the page. This exercise is more to make sure that you understand how scripts are written and formatted.

Writing the Comedy Sketch

  1. Create a beat-sheet

    Make a list of the key moments, or beats, in your sketch.  Feel free to include dialogue in this list.

  2. The Rough Draft

    Scripts should be NO MORE THAN SEVEN PAGES in length. A typical, dialog-heavy sketch will run between two and five pages. If you are submitting a beat-sheet instead of a script, it should be VERY detailed. Bullet-points of beats should be accompanied with lines of dialog or specific action. No more than 10 main bullet-points.

  3. Create a title page

    Double check that you've created an appropriate title page for your script.

  4. Read the script aloud

    Once you feel that you've finished your script, read it aloud to see if there are any wording issues that you may have.

  5. Compare script with character list

    Once you feel that the first draft of your script is complete, compare it with the character descriptions that you made in the last unit to see how the scene aligns with your original intetion.

    If your sketch has strayed from your original idea, THAT'S OKAY.  However, if your sketch is part of a larger series with recurring characters, you will need to address any inconsistancies.

  6. Send out the draft for feedback

    Send your rough draft to 2-5 people. These people can be classmates, peers, or colleagues. It will be helpful if these people have varying levels of creative skills.

Understanding Feedback & Rewrites

  1. Compile feedback

    Compile your feedback into one long document. 

    Organize the notes by the frequency that you received them.  If 3 out of 3 people told you that a line of dialogue was confusing, chances are that you need to change that line of dialogue.

    For each note, diagnose the actual issue with your script.  Sometimes it will align with what your friend has said and sometimes it is a symptom of a bigger issue.

    Even though it is not necessary to adhere to every issue that people have with your script, it is a good practice to weigh each suggestion to see if it aligns with the bigger picture.

  2. Second round of feedback

    Depending on how much time you have, it is beneficial to send a newer draft to the people who gave you your original feedback.  This way, you can see if you've properly addressed their concerns even if you didn't take their advice on how to go about fixing their concerns.

  3. The Final Project

    Students are expected to upload a PDF of either their final script or beat-sheet to Google Drive, Dropbox, or a comparable hosting site so that they can share the link. Alternatively, those students with a production background are encouraged to produce their sketch and provide a YouTube or Vimeo link.

Additional Resources

Student Projects

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Duron Beneby
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Eric Vela
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Jillian Pullara
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Poz Lang
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My Project
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