Skit-writing is a fun experience, but can be daunting for anyone who has never done it. Maybe you have been asked to write something unique for your church event, school event, or maybe you just like to do it for fun. I've been writing skits for a professional sketch-comedy troupe for many years, and I can give you 5 really simple steps to writing a funny skit that is sure to get laughs.
1) Start With The End In Mind.
Before you start writing your skit, it's important to know what you want to accomplish at the end of the skit. Are you wanting laughter? Surprise? A lesson taught? The adoring applause of proud parents watching their children? Regardless of what you want to accomplish, it's important to know what that is before writing. This acts as the compass for your efforts. You'll find that establishing what you want to happen at the end will end up guiding you through the rest of the skit-writing process.
2) Establish The "Who, What, When, Where, Why and How."
Once you know exactly what you want to accomplish, write down the characters, setting, and situation. This might be dictated by who you have available. If you're working with children, for example, you probably aren't going to want to develop some sort of overly complex character with 12th grade language (unless of course you want to purposeful do so for comedy purposes.) I always find that putting unique characters in somewhat uncommon settings with uncommon situations can really create a good environment for comedy. For example, having two tall basketball players in a tiny car taking drivers ed lessons already has comedy gold written all over it. If you establish the "who, what, when, where, why and how" (WX5+H) of your theme, it creates a creative box from which to create from.
3) Figure Out the Shock.
Skits are short, so you don't have time to develop characters over a long haul. Comedy in skits usually comes with a shocking or surprising twist; this is a fundamental building block of humor. Take your WX5+H and find something that will be shocking, surprising and not expected. This will elevate the humor to the next level. For example, let's take those basketball players taking drivers ed. What if one of the drivers ends up not being a basketball player at all but just pretends to be because he feels self-conscious about his height? I don't know -- not my best example, but you get the point. Adding a twist or surprise always ramps up the comedic value of your skit.
4) Write a Punchline
So, it's important to end your skit with a punch. This doesn't necessarily need to be an actual line, like a stand-up comedian would, but it definitely needs to end with a bang. Most stories have a denouement -- or, falling action. This is the part of the narrative that comes after a climax that gently, but satisfyingly wraps everything up. Good skits are different. You want to end on a climax; a big laugh or wow. Find that last climatic punchline, and place it right at the end.
5) Connect the Dots.
Now that you have all of your "dots" established, you now need to connect them. This, essentially, is the actual writing process. This is where you can add color and character to the skit. The purpose is to connect everything linearly to get that shock and to get to that punchline you're going for.
BONUS: When looking for a theme for your skit, try drawing from something familiar the collective crowd would know. For example, if you're at a church, you may want to write a skit about the church's pastor, or if you're performing at a school, make the school cafeteria and that all-too-familiar Thursday "chicken surprise" dish at the center of your skit. Familiarity supercharges the comedic impact of your skit.
This process has always worked well for me. I hope it works for you!
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