Saturday, January 3, 2009

Peter's Commentary on the 'Resolutions' Edition

Finally catching up on my Friday Sketch War commentary. This past week, the FSW deadline fell on January second, so we went with the holiday-appropriate theme of "resolutions".

This time we had only two entries (*sniff*): this one from me and this one from Mr. Porter.[1] Alas, all the talk from local sketch-comedy types about joining in on this turned out to be just talk. (Ah well. Writing to a weekly deadline is hard work.)

When I posted my entry, I mentioned on twitter that "I imagine I like [this sketch] better than most folks will".

Look, I recognize that this entry is very slight: man climbs mountain, man discovers that it's now a tourist trap, end scene. But I still think it would play funnier than it reads. This script is more elliptical than usual. Riley talks around the fact that his wife died, probably recently. I don't explicitly say that Jerry feels awful having to be the guy who reveals it's no longer "the most secluded place in the world", or how it breaks the spell of sharing a quiet, profound moment in the middle of nowhere.

So I think there's a good scene in there. I'll bet if I expand it to three minutes or so, it'll be something worth watching.

It's odd how this one came about. For the longest time I had a more straightforward and "think-y" concept for a sketch: a guy had hired somebody to enforce his adherence to a simple resolution ("Don't eat donuts.") The button would be a simple loop, where the enforcer's enforcer came in to enforce the enforcer's resolution ("Don't use tasers on clients.")

But then I started listening to this song over and over again, which made me think of winter in places that actually have winter, and got me wondering what hiking through the snow might have to do with resolutions. Soon I had dumped my straightforward and promising sketch for this other, quirkier piece -- something about a widower climbing a montain -- that I felt like I needed to write.

Mr. Porter's piece was about angels who worked in a divine division devoted to getting mortals to break their new year's resolutions. I think that's a really strong concept, especially since he's got Clarence (as in "Attaboy, Clarence!", as in It's a Wonderful Life), with his newly-acquired wings, as our viewpoint character.

It stumbles in a few places. The scene's setup is not in and of itself funny, so it needs to either become funny or become shorter. (I'm guessing the latter, in medias res-ifying route is the easier one.) I would have liked to see a greater variety in the ways the angels are tempting people -- if it's sketch comedy, and I've seen one perfectly normal form of temptation, I'm let down if the next form of temptation isn't a bit batshit and unexpected. Basically, the tempting needs some way to be really funny in and of itself -- that's a good way to make the sketch funnier than just its original premise.

And then there's the button. I think I get what Mr. Porter was getting at -- George Bailey's bank got hit by some form of government regulation, and now Clarence is being punished. Or maybe that's not it at all -- I mean, why would Job (blessed man, lived righteously, yada yada) be there?

So I guess the 'regulators' is just a quick one-off joke that's not related to the sketch? If that's the case, I'd probably delete it -- unrelated material at the very very end only sows confusion (see above).

No, this scene needs a button that ties in to the scene we've seen so far, and somehow cleverly inverts it. And yeah, no idea what that should be -- although if Mr. Porter were an utter bastard, then Clarence's first assignment would be George Bailey, no?

I dunno. I harp on these flaws because I think the idea is strong, ergo I think there's a good in scene in there. *shrug*

[1] I again took on summary-writing duties.