Archive for sketch primer

Sketch Primer 3 – Mitchell and Webb

Posted in Comedy with tags , on August 9, 2009 by fieldingmellish

Well, it’s taken me a long time to actually get around to writing this primer. I think part of the problem is that Mitchell and Webb are sort of at the height of their popularity right now. It’s easy to talk about Mr. Show and The Fast Show because it’s possible to put them in context. They have an arc that was completed, they disappeared, they survive as hazy memories. Mitchell and Webb are, to borrow a phrase from the delightful American sporting highlight program, The Center for Sports, now. They are the biggest comedy force in England, and easily have the best sketch show on the landscape. The same could have been said for a number of shows, but it’s hard to place them in context until after they’ve been gone for a few years. Mr. Show, for example, was the best sketch show in America for awhile, but if I was writing a Sketch Primer in 1995, I wouldn’t have been able to say that. I wouldn’t have been able to bemoan the tragic cancellation and what it said about our country’s view on comedy. Without time, there is no context.

That said, I will tell you right now that you should stop reading if you don’t want to hear why I think Mitchell and Webb have the best sketch show since Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If you would rather do some shopping or play Civilization than read a several hundred word handjob about a show you likely haven’t even seen yet, please do. Because I’m not going to say very much bad about them. Go ahead, I’ll wait………….. Continue reading

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Sketch Primer 0 – What is Sketch Comedy?

Posted in Comedy with tags on April 23, 2009 by fieldingmellish

Part 1 – Mr. Show

Part 2 – The Fast Show

Before I go any further in the Sketch Primer series, I thought it would be nice to give some of my readers who don’t have a background in sketch, but want to learn, a little introduction to the world of sketch comedy. I’m going to cover the basics of what makes a sketch, then I’ll talk a little about what makes it good. Maybe they’ll even be a little history thrown in. And hey, we all just might learn something. Join in, after the break…

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Sketch Primer 2 – The Fast Show

Posted in Comedy with tags , on February 26, 2009 by fieldingmellish

For part two of my several part series on Sketch Comedy I was going to do Mitchell and Webb, but I called an audible at the last minute and switched to The Fast Show, another English sketch show, for reasons I’ll get into in a minute. Anyways, the point of this series is to try to get you, the reader to watch more and different sketch comedy, while learning a thing or two about what makes it great. The first installment, Mr. Show, was covered here.

So why did I choose the Fast Show (also known as “Brilliant!” in the US, a terrible name if ever there was one)? Well, that’s sort of complicated. The Fast Show was the second sketch show I ever really watched, after Monty Python’s Flying Circus, so it holds a special place in my heart. But for the purposes of this series, it’s interesting because it’s an almost exact contemporary of Mr. Show, lasting three seasons from 1994-1997. I figured it would be a good look at what was happening across the pond, since for all intents and purposes The Fast Show was the biggest and most important English sketch show of the mid-90s. Many of it’s characters and catchphrases have entered into popular usage in the UK, while noted fan Johnny Depp quotes it in his movies and puts its cast in minor roles. This year at the Olympics, an American reporter named Ed Winchester caused quite a few chuckles when he went on the BBC and said, “Hi, I’m Ed Winchester,” and nothing else. But you’ve probably never even heard of it. Continue reading

A Sketch Primer: Part 1 – Mr. Show

Posted in Comedy with tags , on December 5, 2008 by fieldingmellish

When most people think of sketch comedy, they immediately think of Saturday Night Live. And I suppose we shouldn’t blame them for this, since SNL is basically the only game in town in the US. It’s also an institution. You know about it, your parents know about it, and your little sister knows about it. But believe it or not, there’s more out there. So I’m starting a series about other great sketch shows. If you like SNL, or you would like SNL if it were funnier, then you should check some of these other shows out. If you like MadTV, there’s still hope you can be saved.

Our first show is Mr. Show, in my opinion the best pure American sketch comedy show in history. Continue reading