Sketch Highs and Lows

For a week I’ve been high on a bit of praise I received from Esther’s Follies.  For those outside of Austin, Esther’s is a bit like our very own Saturday Night Live.  Their shows have been running non-stop Thursday – Saturdays since around 1977.   Recently, they (along with The Onion) hosted a sketch writing contest and I went ahead and submitted a sketch.  My thought was, “the only way to definitely not win is to not try”.  This is the rallying cry I use when talking myself into most things – good and bad.  “The only way to definitely not know what the red ‘Do NOT Push’ button does is to not push it.”   You know the sort.  The praise I received was, “this is very funny” and had a couple of suggestions to make my sketch work on their stage (apparently, you cannot expect actors to crumble into dust before a live audience – clearly their actors aren’t truly dedicated to the craft – lazy creatures!). They then reiterated that they really liked the sketch.  I was drunk on the praise.  Here’s a group that I’ve gone to see since the late 70’s with my Dad.  The place we’d show-off whenever an out of town guest crossed our city’s limits and here they were saying I was funny. Oh you! You guys are funny!

The contest ended Sunday.  I knew I wouldn’t hear back and I’ve really tried to cheer myself up with “hey, you got some fine praise”, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed.  I was completely in love with the idea that my sketch would be performed on their stage.  How cool would that have been?  In my fantasy, my sketch writing class heroes and I then formed a sketch writing troupe. A video montage played in my head featuring photos of an assortment of performers, stages, and YouTube clips along and the occasional shot of all of us laughing hysterically and our delighted audiences. There may have even been people cheering my name and a guest spot on The Daily Show.  My Belushi-esque downfall would still be years away.  The highs and sad lows of a week.

To add to those lows, I really tanked in sketch class last night.  In class, we go around the room and there’s a group reading of your sketch.  You assign your parts and you get to hear how it plays out.  I had two sketches read – one where the assignment was based on a real life event and one where we created a musical number.  The one I wrote based on a real event went over like a big gigantic craptastic turd.  Well, the event it was based on was a big gigantic craptastic weird turd to begin with, but I had lamely tried to make it humorous by switching up a few details.  Let’s just say it played like it did in real life.  The first comment after the last line was read was a big, “WHAT?!?!”  I knew I should have gone with the story about the blind date who took me to the AA meeting.

The musical sketch I wrote was a parody of Glee using characters from Game of Thrones.  No one in the room had ever seen Game of Thrones, so I spent most of the time trying to explain who the characters were and what the gags were about.  I used the Glee theme “Don’t Stop Believin’” as the song the characters would sing at the Westeros Regionals.  After explaining that Westeros wasn’t actually a real place, I realized I should stop before even trying to explain why the Dothraki Secondary School kids would be scantily clad and whinnying.   Before we even started reading/singing the sketch, I just wanted to lay my head down on the table.

For your amusement, I’m including the first draft.  A couple of notes:  It won’t make sense if you’ve never seen Game of Thrones. It’s also a first draft; I haven’t re-written it, yet.  I’m actually not sure what I’m going to do for a re-write – maybe the character The Hound will sing a version of “Get Happy”.  As a first draft, I decided I was completely cool with it not following a rhyming scheme necessarily and having it stray a bit from the original song.  I’ll stop there since I’m about to kill an angel.  As you recall, we’re forbidden from doing this in class (or outside).  It happens when you apologize for your writing.

First, let’s start with the Glee version of the song to get you in the right mindset.

Now, the first draft.  Did I mention it’s a first draft? It’s not polished?  Be kind. (Oh, and about the HTML code – well, it wins today.  I’m too lazy to figure out the spacing problem at the moment.)

SEVEN KINGDOMS REGIONALS

INT – HIGHSCHOOL AUDITORIUM – DAY

A brightly colored banner bearing a stag on each end declares this is the “Westeros Seven Kingdoms Regional Competitions”. Several groups of teens cluster around in their school’s groups, each with a kid holding a standard representing their respective high schools. “Winterfell High” – the kids are dressed in white with fur lining theirnecklines and cuffs. “King’s Landing High” – blonde, beautiful and tanned students who all look eerily similar wearing the finest couture – the glint of rings, necklaces and pearly whites reflect in the spotlights . “Dothraki Secondary School” – the teen boys strut around without tops and wearing only shorts – the girls are also scantily clad. The Dothraki sporadically whinny. Finally, “Nightwatch High” – reform school kids that appear to be hard on their luck without a budget for matching outfits. They stand around and sulk.

The crowd favorites, Winterfell High, assume center stage. Their stars NED and CATELYN STARK step away from the group as the orchestra begins to play the opening refrains of “Don’t Stop Believin’”. They smile as they look at each other, and then face the audience to begin their duet.

NED

Just a small town girl,

Living in a frozen world

She took a late night ride goin’ anywhere.

CATELYN

Just a man, they call The Hand;

They tried to kill our Bran

He took a late night walk to uncover the truth.

NED

A eunuch in a sun-filled room.

The smell of lies and stench of doom.

In a whisper he will point the way

To my destiny.

 The rest of the Winterfell choir moves forward and takes center stage.

 CHORUS

Houses scheming, for a throne of swords.

No need for cushions, hemorrhoids.

The kids don’t look like you, what’s a king do?

They’re all blonde, yay inbreeding!

The chorus line throws their thumbs in unison over their shoulders to point out the choir from King’s Landing. The kids from King’s Landing High scowl and quickly cover the ears of the younger choir members. Ned and Caitlyn come together and then dance away. JON SNOW steps away from the Nightwatch High kids and takes over the mic.

JON SNOW

Working hard to guard the wall.

Don’t want to take a fall.

Trying to fill my time.

And not worry about Bran.

(singing defiantly to Catelyn)

My step-mom, she’s a shrew

I can see why he strayed from you.

I took the black, now the White Walkers come.

CHORUS

Don’t stop with treason.

Grabbing the throne is still in season.

Whispers in the night.

CHORUS

Don’t get attached.

Ned Stark’s head becomes detached.

Everyone in the story ends up dead.

JON SNOW

Don’t start moping

There’s more to come; the plot line’s open

I get a girlfriend in the end.

Jon Snow shoots a smile at the kids from King’s Landing, then adds.

JON SNOW

… and Tyrion is my friend.

Jon walks away from the mic, high-fives a young dwarf standing among the King’s Landing kids.

CHORUS

Don’t Stop!

The crowd goes crazy with applause and gives the group a  standing ovation. At the judges table a heavy-set balding man covers his mic while whispering conspiratorially with a small squirrely, well-dressed man as they score the performance. Their nameplates read: VARYS and LITLEFINGER.

FADE OUT.

And that’s how I went from an incredible montage-filled high to a “I think I’m quitting sketch” low (and how I worked the word “eunuch” into a musical number).  I’m really trying to listen to Jay, although he’s filled with crazy ideas like, “Beth, you’ve only been doing this for how long? Three months?” This whole “it takes time” “you get better by continuing to write” thing is annoying.

10 thoughts on “Sketch Highs and Lows

  1. maturestudenthanginginthere says:

    Craptastic is a great word but I think you’re being hard on yourself Beth. Do you know what you get out there and do it. That’s more than most people do. If you’re unhappy with these sketches step away from them and don’t allow them to take up space in your head. Once you leave these behind you will make space for the creativity you clearly have. You go girl!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Jacqueline! They’re greatly appreciated. I may just walk away from these re-writes and write something new – especially the one sketch based on a real life event. I love sketch, love my class, but some days I’m just stumped and that deadline is looming. Argh!

  2. DeAnne says:

    Hate Glee on principle, but LOVE the Game of Thrones adaptation!! I’d pay to see that!

    • Beth says:

      I wouldn’t recommend Glee to anyone. I think the story line is terrible and really only watch it for the songs. Plus, I “may” watch it because I think Mom would have loved the music – it’s a goofy bonding thing. Of course, I should probably watch Smash for that same reason, but there’s only so much singing I can take in my shows.

      I have to come up with a re-write – they want a despicable character singing a happy Disney-style “I Wish” song. Not sure what I’m going to do. Cersei or the Hound singing “I’m Walking on Sunshine”? some kind of love song to Jamie?

      Miss DeAnne – thank you for getting me.

  3. Well you cracked me up (you always do!) … But dont let that go to your head … I AM a simpleton.

  4. Oh the joys of reading to a group..how is it that it always sounds good reading aloud at home, then?…and then the explaining…and the handwringing…(sometimes it’s just the wrong piece for that audience….)
    But the Game of Thrones morphed with Glee! outstanding idea -just rolling with laughter.

    • Beth says:

      Sadly, I only have one other true geek in my class and when he wasn’t there I squawked loudly that I needed him One of the guys tried to cheer me up by saying, “I got your Twilight parody with the mummy and I never saw Twilight”. But we all know teen angst filled mummies are funny no matter the context. And sadly, two of the guys in class had never seen the word “eunuch” written before, but one was very excited about it and claimed I should still use it in my re-write. *dramatic sigh* So alone!

      Thanks a ton for the support! The song needs a bit of an overhaul (and the right audience who I’m sure are in that other sketch class – darn their hides!) I was toying around with some how re-writing the song to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s Rhiannon and have it be from Cersei to Sansa and call it “Sansa”. Of course, if they didn’t get the first song, I’m sure this one would make them boggle. Then there’s The Hound singing “Walking on Sunshine” – so many wrong ideas, same audience. 😦

  5. Carolyn Blankenship says:

    I have to say, having seen both Glee and Game of Thrones, that I think you nailed that song! Quite wonderful! I can see it all quite clearly in my mind, which means you accomplished something….not sure what. Such fun!

    • Beth says:

      Thank you! I was starting to feel quite alone – like maybe I was really the only person who’d ever seen “Game of Thrones.” I think I’m skipping the re-write, if they don’t get it as is then if I write a song where from one character’s point of view where that’s an “I Wish” song will really baffle them. (That was the request on the re-write – an “I wish” song from one character’s perspective. Guys, if you don’t get the broader song, you’re really not going to get Cersei singing about being a pawn or The Hound singing about being an Abercrombie and Fitch model is going to go straight over your heads.)

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