Sketch comedy

Sketch comedy comprises a series of short comedy scenes or vignettes, called "sketches", commonly between one and ten minutes long. Such sketches are performed by a group of comic actors or comedians, either on stage or through an audio or visual medium such as radio and television. Often sketches are first improvised by the actors and written down based on the outcome of these improv sessions; however, such improvisation is not necessarily involved in sketch comedy.

An individual comedy sketch is a brief scene or vignette of the type formerly used in vaudeville, and now used widely in comedy and variety shows, talk shows and some children's television series (such as Sesame Street). Warner Bros. Animation made two sketch comedy shows, including Mad and Right Now Kapow.

Sketch comedians routinely differentiate their product from a "skit", maintaining that a skit is a (single) dramatized joke (or "bit")[1] while a sketch is a comedic exploration of a concept, character or situation.[2]

History

Sketch comedy has its origins in vaudeville and music hall, where a large number of brief, but humorous, acts were strung together to form a larger programme.

In Britain, it moved to stage performances by Cambridge Footlights, such as Beyond the Fringe and A Clump of Plinths (which evolved into Cambridge Circus), to radio, with such shows as It's That Man Again and I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, then to television, with such shows as Not Only... But Also, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Not the Nine O'Clock News (and its successor Alas Smith and Jones), and A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

In Mexico, the series Los Supergenios de la Mesa Cuadrada, created by Mexican comedian Roberto Gómez Bolaños under the stage name Chespirito, was broadcast between 1968 and 1973, creating such famous characters as El Chavo del Ocho and El Chapulín Colorado and others including Los Caquitos, Dr Chapatín and Los Chifladitos.

While separate sketches historically have tended to be unrelated, more recent groups have introduced overarching themes that connect the sketches within a particular show with recurring characters that return for more than one appearance. Examples of recurring characters include Mr. Gumby from Monty Python's Flying Circus; Ted and Ralph from The Fast Show; The Family from The Carol Burnett Show; the Head Crusher from The Kids in the Hall; Martin Short's Ed Grimley, a recurring character from both SCTV and Saturday Night Live; and Kevin and Perry from Harry Enfield and Chums. The idea of running characters was taken a stage further with shows like The Red Green Show and The League of Gentlemen, where sketches centered on the various inhabitants of the fictional towns of Possum Lake and Royston Vasey, respectively. In Little Britain, sketches focused on a cast of recurring characters, including Vicky Pollard, Marjorie Dawes and Lou and Andy.

In North America, contemporary sketch comedy is largely an outgrowth of the improvisational comedy scene that flourished during the 1970s, largely growing out of The Second City in Chicago and Toronto.

Notable contemporary American stage sketch comedy groups include The Second City, the Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings and the cast of Saturday Night Live.

Films

Such sketches made during the 1970s and 1980s were If You Don't Stop It... You'll Go Blind and the sequel Can I Do It... 'Til I Need Glasses?, The Groove Tube, The Kentucky Fried Movie and its sequel Amazon Women on the Moon, Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different and The Meaning of Life.

Other sketch films in later years were The Underground Comedy Movie and its sequel InAPPropriate Comedy and Movie 43.

Festivals

Many of the sketch comedy revues in Britain included seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Since 1999, the growing sketch comedy scene has precipitated the development of sketch comedy festivals in cities all around North America, including festivals in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Montreal, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Philadelphia.

See also

References

  1. ^ Skit, Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  2. ^ Sketch, definition 3b, Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
Biz Kid$

Biz Kid$ (stylized as biz KID$) is an educational television/sketch comedy/variety show that teaches financial education and entrepreneurship to babies, toddlers, kids, preteens and teens. It uses sketch comedy, musical guests, guest and special guest appearances, and young actors to explain basic economic concepts. Its motto is: "Where kids teach kids about money and business." It is like a PBS Kids Go! version of Almost Live!.

Bubble Guppies

Bubble Guppies is a children's television series produced for Nickelodeon and created by Jonny Belt and Robert Scull. The series is a combination sketch comedy, educational, and musical show revolving around the underwater adventures of a group of merperson preschoolers named Gil, Molly, Deema, Goby, Oona, and Nonny and their pets. The program premiered on Nickelodeon on January 24, 2011. The series is produced by using Autodesk Maya 3D software.

Mad (TV series)

Mad is an American animated sketch comedy produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The series was based on Mad magazine, where each episode is a collection of short animated parodies of television shows, movies, games, celebrities, and other media using various types of animation (CGI, claymation, stopmotion, etc.) instead of the usual animation style that Warner Bros. Animation is known for. The series premiered on the evening of September 6, 2010 on Cartoon Network. The series ended its 3-year run on December 2, 2013.

Mad TV

Mad TV (stylized as MADtv) is an American sketch comedy television series originally inspired by Mad magazine.

Not Necessarily the News

Not Necessarily the News (shortened as NNTN) is an American satirical sketch comedy series that first aired on HBO in September 1982 as a comedy special, and then ran as a series from 1983 to 1990. It was Conan O'Brien and Greg Daniels's first professional television writing gig. The show was considered an inspiration and a predecessor to future news satirical programs like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Last Week Tonight, among others.

Pirate TV

Pirate TV is an American sketch comedy series that aired on MTV. The series premiered January 26, 1990.

Popzilla

Popzilla was an animated TV series in production for MTV. with a premiere air date of Sunday, September 27, 2009 following America's Best Dance Crew and ended on October 16. The show is produced by SCTV alum Dave Thomas. The show is an animated sketch comedy show focused on pop culture, celebrities, and famous figures. Each episode consists of about 30 sketches, each under a minute. Celebrities such as Britney Spears, K-Fed, Criss Angel and even fictional ones like Harry Potter have all been targets in some of the early sketches released on YouTube.

Popzilla is animated in Flash by Animax Entertainment in order to provide for fast turnaround to cover celebrity news.

Robot Chicken

Robot Chicken is an American stop motion sketch comedy television series, created and executive produced for Adult Swim by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich along with co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root. The writers, especially Green, also provide many of the voices. Senreich, Goldstein, and Root were formerly writers for the popular action figure hobbyist magazine ToyFare. Robot Chicken has won an Annie Award and six Emmy Awards.

Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is an American late-night live television variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC's Saturday Night. The show's comedy sketches, which often parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest, who usually delivers the opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast as with featured performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!", properly beginning the show.

In 1980, Michaels left the series to explore other opportunities. He was replaced by Jean Doumanian, who was replaced by Ebersol after a season of bad reviews. Ebersol ran the show until 1985. Since Michaels' return he has held the job of show-runner. Many of SNL's cast found national stardom while appearing on the show, and achieved success in film and television, both in front of and behind the camera. Others associated with the show, such as writers, have gone on to successful careers creating, writing, and starring in television and film.

Broadcast from Studio 8H at NBC's headquarters in the Comcast Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, SNL has aired 865 episodes since its debut, and began its forty-fourth season on September 29, 2018, making it one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. The show format has been developed and recreated in several countries, meeting with different levels of success. Successful sketches have seen life outside the show as feature films including The Blues Brothers (1980) and Wayne's World (1992). The show has been marketed in other ways, including home media releases of "best of" and whole seasons, and books and documentaries about behind-the-scenes activities of running and developing the show.

Throughout four decades on air, Saturday Night Live has received a number of awards, including 65 Primetime Emmy Awards, four Writers Guild of America Awards, and two Peabody Awards. In 2000, it was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. It was ranked tenth in TV Guide's "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" list, and in 2007 it was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". As of 2018, the show has received 252 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, the most received by any television program. The live aspect of the show has resulted in several controversies and acts of censorship, with mistakes and intentional acts of sabotage by performers as well as guests.

Sesame Street

Sesame Street is an American educational children's television series that combines live action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. It is produced by Sesame Workshop (known as the Children's Television Workshop (CTW) until June 2000) and was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. The program is known for its images communicated through the use of Jim Henson's Muppets, and includes short films, with humor and cultural references. The series premiered on November 10, 1969, to positive reviews, some controversy, and high viewership; it has aired on the U.S.'s national public television provider PBS since its debut, with its first run moving to premium channel HBO on January 16, 2016.

The format of Sesame Street consists of a combination of commercial television production elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect the changes in American culture and the audience's viewing habits. With the creation of Sesame Street, producers and writers of a children's television show used, for the first time, educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content. It was also the first time a show's educational effects were formally studied. The show, therefore, has undergone significant changes in its history as adjustments to the format and content have been made to reflect change sources to the curriculum.

Shortly after creating Sesame Street, its producers developed what came to be called the "CTW model" (after the production company's previous name), a system of television show planning, production, and evaluation based on collaborations between producers, writers, educators, and researchers. The show was initially funded by government and private foundations but has become somewhat self-supporting due to revenues from licensing arrangements, international sales, and other media. By 2006, there were independently produced versions, or "co-productions", of Sesame Street broadcast in twenty countries. In 2001, there were over 120 million viewers of various international versions of Sesame Street, and by the show's 40th anniversary in 2009, it was broadcast in more than 140 countries.

Sesame Street was by then the fifteenth-highest-rated children's television show in the United States. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. In 2018, it was estimated that 86 million Americans had watched the series as children. As of 2018, Sesame Street has won 189 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammy Awards, more than any other children's show.

The Amanda Show

The Amanda Show is an American live action sketch comedy and variety show created by Dan Schneider that aired on Nickelodeon on April 4, 1999 as a pilot, then as a regular series from October 16, 1999 to September 21, 2002. It starred Amanda Bynes, Drake Bell and Nancy Sullivan, and featured John Kassir, Raquel Lee, and Josh Peck. The show was a spin-off from All That, in which Bynes had co-starred for several years. The show ended at the end of 2002. Writers for the show included Schneider, John Hoberg, Steven Molaro, and Andrew Hill Newman.

About a year after the end of The Amanda Show, Dan Schneider created a new series, called Drake & Josh, featuring Drake Bell, Josh Peck and Nancy Sullivan.

The Andy Dick Show

The Andy Dick Show was an American sketch comedy series that aired on MTV from February 2001 to May 2002. The series was created by and starred comedian Andy Dick.

The Andy Milonakis Show

The Andy Milonakis Show was an American sketch comedy television show starring Andy Milonakis, which aired on MTV2, the first season having aired on MTV. The program premiered on June 26, 2005 and ended with its three-season run when it was cancelled on May 1, 2007.

The Ben Stiller Show

The Ben Stiller Show is the name of two sketch comedy television programs that aired on MTV from 1989 to 1990, and then on Fox from September 27, 1992 to January 17, 1993. The Fox program starred Ben Stiller, Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo and Bob Odenkirk. Character actor John F. O'Donohue also appeared in every episode.

The program featured numerous filmed comedy segments, many of which parodied middle of the 1980s to beginning of the 1990s pop culture. Despite mostly positive reviews, Fox cancelled the series after only thirteen episodes, due to low ratings.Unlike most sketch comedy program, The Ben Stiller Show did not use a studio audience or a laugh track, and was the first ever Fox sketch comedy program not to use a laugh track. The semi spinoff, The Andy Dick Show, used the same format. After cancellation, the series won the 1993 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program.

The Jenny McCarthy Show (1997 TV series)

The Jenny McCarthy Show is an American television variety show and sketch comedy series starring Jenny McCarthy that aired on MTV in 1997.

The Mickey Mouse Club

The Mickey Mouse Club is an American variety television show that aired intermittently from 1955 to 1996 and returned in 2017 to social media. Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, the program was first televised for four seasons, from 1955 to 1959, by ABC. This original run featured a regular but ever-changing cast of mostly teen performers. ABC broadcast reruns weekday afternoons during the 1958–1959 season, airing right after American Bandstand. The show was revived three times after its initial 1955–1959 run on ABC, first from 1977–1979 for first-run syndication as The New Mickey Mouse Club, then from 1989–1996 as The All-New Mickey Mouse Club (also known to fans as MMC from 1993–1996) airing exclusively on cable television's The Disney Channel, and again in 2017 with the moniker Club Mickey Mouse airing exclusively on internet social media.

Mickey Mouse himself appeared in every show, not only in vintage cartoons originally made for theatrical release, but also in opening, interstitial, and closing segments made especially for the show. In both the vintage cartoons and new animated segments, Mickey was voiced by his creator Walt Disney. (Disney had previously voiced the character theatrically from 1928 to 1947 before being replaced by sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald.)

The Who Was? Show

The Who Was? Show is a sketch comedy and history program on Netflix, in which Andy Daly's character, Ron, interacts with a group of teenagers; interspersed with historical vignettes and narrated by H. Jon Benjamin. The show is based on the Who Was...? series of books, published since 2002, and premiered on May 11, 2018.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (U.S. TV series)

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (often known as simply Whose Line?) is an improvisational comedy television show, an adaptation of the British show of the same name. It aired on ABC and ABC Family from August 5, 1998 to December 15, 2007, hosted by Drew Carey. A revival of the show, hosted by Aisha Tyler, began airing on The CW on July 16, 2013.

The series features Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady as its regular performers with the fourth seat occupied by a guest panelist.

You Wrote It, You Watch It

You Wrote It, You Watch It is an MTV sketch comedy series hosted by Jon Stewart and featuring members of The State comedy troupe prior to being given their own show by the network.

The State troupe performed humorous sketch recreations of letters sent to the MTV offices by viewers, depicting outrageous stories and events from their daily lives, with introductions by Stewart.

An early example of crowdsourcing, the show only lasted one season, premiering in 1992 and being canceled in 1993. Jon Stewart would later quip, "You wrote it, you just didn't watch it!"

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