My Writers Circle

Workshop => Review My Script => Topic started by: sonofdenis on September 29, 2009, 09:27:36 PM

Title: A short sketch...
Post by: sonofdenis on September 29, 2009, 09:27:36 PM
Hi there.  I'm having a go at writing some short sketches for radio and TV.  This is a very quick one I rattled off this evening.  Just wondering what people thought.  It's about 2-3 mins long (500 ish words) and is supposed to be funny.  Well ... I hope so.

Youíll be pleased to know you havenít died today

A short sketch

Ian: A female call-centre worker who is bored but efficient.
Justin:  An elderly and slightly confused chap



IAN:                                                          Good morning and welcome to the Heaven hotline.  Calls are monitored at all times thanks to new omnipotent technology.  My name is Ian Ö how can I help you?

JUSTI N:                                                  (FLUSTERED) Yes.  Hello.  Er Ö did you say your name is Ian?

IAN:                                                          I did sir, yes.

JUSTIN:                                                   Only you sound a little Ö ladyish?

IAN:                                                          Oh, thankyou sir.  How may I help you.

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh, yes.  (CLEARS THROAT).  Iíve found myself in this room here.  And Ö I Ö er Ö found a phone and this numberÖ 

IAN:                                                         Good.  Yes.  Godís waiting room.

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh, is it?  Right.  ErmÖ

IAN:                                                         Have you been unwell recently, sir?

JUSTIN:                                                   Well, I, er Ö now you come to mention it I did feel a little odd this morning.  I woke up and my legs were awfully weak.

IAN:                                                          Yes.  I see.  Sorry, whatís your name, if you donít mind me asking?

JUSTIN:                                                   Harding.  Justin Harding.

IAN:                                                          Hello Justin.  You died today.  (PAUSE) So how may I help you?

JUSTIN:                                                   Excuse me?  Iím dead?

IAN:                                                         Iím afraid so.  As dead as a bottle.

JUSTIN:                                                   (PAUSE) Oh.  Iím a bit cross about that.

IAN:                                                         Thatís not uncommon. Justin.  This is why we put you in Godís waiting room and instruct you to phone the Heaven hotline.  I'll give another number to phone in a moment - once i've asked you a couple of questions - which takes you to through to Gordon.  Sheíll offer you a PIN number and some sympathy.  Have you got your password?

JUSTIN:                                                   Canít you give me sympathy?

IAN:                                                          Iím sorry, Justin.  I havenít been trained.  Have you got your password?

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh.  (PAUSE) Password?  Whatís that?

IAN:                                                          (SIGHS.  A LITTLE IRRITATED) Every new dead person should receive a password prior to phoning us.  Have you looked in your hand?

JUSTIN:                                                   No.  Hold on.  (PAUSE) No.  Nothing there.  What now?

IAN:                                                          Well, youíll have to go back and get your password before I can give you the PIN and sympathy department phone number.

JUSTIN:                                                   Go back where?

IAN:                                                          Well, (SNORTS Ė AS IF EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW WHAT SHE KNOWS) back you your life, of course.

JUSTIN:                                                   (DISAPPOINTED) Oh no.  I donít have to go through all that again, do I?

IAN:                                                          Iím afraid so.  (PAUSE)  Unless Ö what colour is the room youíre sitting in?

JUSTIN:                                                   Orange.

IAN:                                                          Ahh!  Of course.  (GIGGLES) Youíll be pleased to know you havenít died today.

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh.  (NOT REALLY MEANING IT) Splendid.

IAN:                                                          Youíve merely lost your mind.

JUSTIN:                                                   My mind?

IAN:                                                          Yes.  Senile.  Demented.  Brain-shift.  Completely trousered.  Youíll have to wait a little while longer.

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh.  I see.  How long do I have to wait for?

IAN:                                                          It depends on the degree of your bonkerism.  It could be days.  It could be years.

JUSTIN:                                                   Oh.  And what do I do in the meantime?

IAN:                                                         (PAUSE) Thereís a water fountain.

JUSTIN:                                                  Great.

IAN:                                                          Öand then when your body has had enough and dies youíll get your password and we can issue you with the etc.

JUSTIN:                                                   Thankyou.

IAN:                                                          Is there anything else I can help you with today?

JUSTIN:                                                   Whatís heaven like?

IAN:                                                          (PAUSE) Crowded.


Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: sonofdenis on October 02, 2009, 07:09:30 PM
Five words reviews will do me ie couldn't finish it ... Complete rubbish. From any of the 74 readers!
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Biola on October 03, 2009, 09:02:02 AM
You struggled through and I waited for the punchline. You seem to be enjoying the joke so my smile couldn't really take off. It is difficult when you try to make idiots as humour characters, it tends to fall on its face. Hope you will do something about that. The idea could be improved upon
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: randolph on October 06, 2009, 10:58:33 AM
Honestly it didn't make me laugh, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be funny in performance. Made me think of Michael Palin checking people off for crucifixion. I suppose it relies on a similar sort of bizarre bureaucracy.

I enjoyed the little twist, the 'what colour room are you in?' bit. 'You've merely lost your mind.' I was close to a chuckle there! I think the piece could work but needs more gags like that one.

Just the views of a completely untrained, inexperienced reader who never writes sketches!  :D Hope it helps you gauge how you're doing anyway.

Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Connorrpatrick on October 22, 2009, 12:16:09 PM
I'm a new writer- inexperienced- but even I can see potential. You have it.
However, perhaps you may want to revise the lengths. Where I do appreciate the humorous banter, I also think that it could excel further were it less tennis-like.

 I hope I'm being constructive, not destructive!

 Au revoir!
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Virginiabard on November 25, 2009, 05:57:13 PM
I think it's very clever. Your have a great grip of banter and the dialogue flows nicely.

JUSTIN needs to be a bit more unaccepting of his situation - he seems to accept that he's "died" and gone to God's waiting room easily.

IAN could be a bit more bored - bitchy - not really interested in him. Maybe she can become more interested in his "case"?

I LOVE that he's lost his mind and isn't dead... play on that. JUSTIN is now trapped - I don't think he would be so willing to just accept what he's been handed.

Just my two cents - I think you've got a terrific base story, though.
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: nom_de_plum on January 20, 2010, 11:23:18 AM
It's got potential for sure. The "There's a water fountain" line worked well. In fact that section of the sketch was the best bit.

Ian needs to be more disinterested as others have said, and Justin wouldn't wish to remain dead, unless you wrote in some jokes about his family\life that would make us understand why.

Re-write, then re-write and then re-write again. You have the basis of a decent sketch.
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: chillies on January 20, 2010, 12:33:06 PM
I think you've got the beginnings of a sketch that could be very funny. However, I also think you're trying too hard to force the gags. I would take certain things out, for instance, Ian and Gordon being female, unless  this is a critical part which is to be revealed further on in the sketch. Also the gag about being 'dead as a bottle' just doesn't do it for me at all. Perhaps this is a common phrase where you come from - I once heard someone say 'are you a man or a microphone?' I fell about laughing, although I can imagine not many people find that funny either.


Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Gyppo on January 20, 2010, 04:20:03 PM
Why do you have a female called Ian?  For me this alone distracts from what could be a funny situation.  If it's an added 'little joke' thrown into the mix then I don't think it's funny enough to justify inclusion.  Sharon or Tracy could work better, as both names have a humorous feel to them and lend themselves to an easily recognised stereotype which can be turned on its head for comic effect.  But Ian?  No, sorry, it doesn't work for me.

EDIT:  I did this without looking at the other comments first, and see I totally missed 'Gordon'.  The same comments apply.

Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: fidinoir on January 20, 2010, 06:19:12 PM

Enjoyed it a lot.  I got the joke of Ian being glad he/she sounded feminine.  Meant he had a sex change, right?  The Gordon gender issue not needed, and I missed it anyway.....same point.

Felt it may need a stronger conclusion....."crowded" means a kind, benevolent God who lets in most folks.  Rest of sketch didn't prepare me for such a broad, magnanimous message.

Essential joke is that even in Heaven, technology and bureacracy rule.  So, doesn't your punch line need to hammer that home?
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: motherbeastly on February 07, 2010, 07:03:00 AM
As a newbie I feel a little diffident about criticising but I do feel that this has potential.  I like the humour but think it needs to be expanded.  Why are Gordon and Ian female, is there a joke in that in itself?  Wouldn't someone who had just died be furious, and confused, rather than a little miffed, especially if they hadn't had any prior warning ? Perhaps there is room for jokes in here too.  Though it might make it a bit too like the life of Brian as someone else said.  Sorry for this, hope it is constructive rather than destructive.

I like the idea of Heaven being crowded, means there might be hope for me yet  :)
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Kiryana on May 08, 2010, 08:05:20 PM
From my perspective I actually found this quite funny. Of course, I'm reading it for pure pleasure and not so much trying to provide help seeing I have no experience with writing.  I can see how people would say that he should be more upset that he is dead. I, however, see Justin as the type of person where "anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  I myself have felt like I've been in that position. I have a very easy going nature though and honestly would respond the same way he did. I do agree that some of the punch lines may have been pushed hard but overall I did get a good laugh out of it.
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: fidinoir on May 10, 2010, 11:55:50 AM
I enjoyed it very much. Agreed with the one commentator who said the victim was just a passive type.......funny in itself that he would NOT get angry, remain a polite obedient (?) Brit.  Since so good, I'd also like to see it expanded into more plot lines.  maybe victim could ask about some friends about his age who aren't in great shape.....ask that they be joining him soon?  But not his wife?
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: par on June 09, 2010, 11:10:20 AM
i found your piece amusing, and reminiscent of bob newhart and danny thomas, who had brilliant one sided phone conversations.  as far as being part of a longer piece, i don't know if it'd be worthwhile.  (watch a lot of bad Saturday Night Live, do you?).
however, i agree you have a nice gift for dialogue (which i don't have - except in my own mind), which could probably be tweaked by a collaborator.
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: AndyPNE on July 24, 2010, 08:44:10 AM
Hiya. i think you have the basis of something that could be incredibly funny. But here is what i think you could do to improve it. Get rid of the whole gender issue thing, Because i really don't think it needs to be there. Swap the names round. When i was reading, it didn't seem right having an ederly character called justin. I think of justin as more of a younger persons name and i imagined the receptionist guy being younger. When it comes to writing for the older character who is losing there marbles, and getting good comedy from them then i think you should look at characters like The Colonel from Fawlty Towers. If you have never seen Fawlty Towers then Youtube it and have a watch. I think if you did this then went back to you're piece then the ideas will come flowing out. I wasn't really impressed with the line "I'm a bit cross about that". I think he would react alot more to being told that he's dead. Perhaps you could get them into a little argument even. There is often alot of comedy to be found in arguments. One more thing is the heaven joke at the end. I think the idea of de-glamourising heaven works really well. but i think it would work better if you were a little more liiteral about it. E.g My vision of heaven is its built on clouds high up in the sky. So when Justin asks "What is heaven like?" Ian could reply " Cold, windy, cloudy, lots of pollution from airliners and if you haven't got a head for heights or don't like the vision of naked baby angels playing harps then you're screwed. Just a few i deas for you there. all the best. 
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: irallan on October 05, 2010, 01:23:47 AM
Very familar Monty Python overtones and possibilities. Not too bad on it's own in my opinion but with the tweaks suggested , has great potential. Was not roll on the floor stuff for me but raised a smile in places..regards..Iain
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Patron on October 16, 2010, 12:42:48 AM
irallan has it right. Monty is one along with many other short and quick sit-coms. U.S. wise, Carroll Burnett with Tim Conway, Johnny Carson and some of his memorable skits. Your on the right track.

I will tell you this; comedy can be difficult to write. Don't worry about some of the more negative posts here. You need to stay with your thoughts and write until you finish. Many times in comedy when looking for a critique people won't get it. That's the way it is. That being said, many new writers land opportunity's because they bring in a fresh set of ideas that pro's tend to run out of; especially in the TV business. The trick is to be able to continue to write this humour in a long series; and then you will do very well.


Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: lovelylexi on October 23, 2010, 02:36:18 PM
I did find it entertaining... not funny but definetely something to listen to on the radio while driving to work and then share with coworkers in a " Isn't this guy just as stupid as can be?" So it is something entertaining and to get peoples minds going but it could be improved... to make funny so I can laugh... no pun intended ;)
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: englishdork34 on October 28, 2010, 05:34:32 PM

Well I am a inexperienced writer, but after reading this, I felt like the humor could have been a bit dryer. I think you have a great plot set up, don't get me wrong! But perhaps making the character banter a little more witty and the characters more animated. For example, I would picture heaven's operator lady to be excessively peppy and happy rather than mean and bitchy. It is heaven after all where everyone is supposed to be cheery. :) And I agree with what some of the others commentators had mentioned about Jason being more upset and unapppreciative of the situation he has been put in. After all, he has just been told he died, but it turns out he's crazy. So, just a few tips I wanted to throw out there. Hope you continue with your play writing!   :D
Title: Re: A short sketch...
Post by: Kiryana on October 30, 2010, 12:05:59 AM
I think the fact that you don't stick to the norm of what everyone would expect with your characters personalities and reactions is what makes it funny.  The unexpected is what grips you and keeps you interested. If you can predict how a character will act right away I think you lose the initial snag that your work has. But in the end take a little away from what everyone says on here and I think you will have a piece of work that will fit a broader audience.

Good luck,