Author Topic: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter" UPDATED!  (Read 14783 times)

Offline eashort

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter" UPDATED!
« on: July 08, 2010, 04:59:10 PM »
Hello. This is a short comedy sketch that I whipped out in a few minutes after I had a revelation that I want to be a comedy writer for a living. I have several others, but with this being the first script that I have written since my high school television production classes, I really wanted to get opinions on this one first. I just want to make sure that I even have the chops to make it in comedy. I have shown it to several other people, and so far the responses seem favorable, so I am optimistic!

"The Dear John Letter", as you can probably tell by the title, is somewhat of a dark comedy (well, more than somewhat). For the most part, I feel very comfortable with the sketch. However, for some reason, I still feel that the letter itself may be a bit too underdeveloped...It was also suggested to me by a friend, that I might consider extending the ending just a bit.

I am open to any and all criticisms. Thank you, and I look forwarding to hearing from you.

Oh, and before I forget, I had it in a proper screenplay format, and I will try very hard to keep it as close as possible. So, let me apologize now for any formating issues.  :-\



"THE DEAR JOHN LETTER"
by
Elizabeth Short


FADE IN:


INT.  HOUSE – ENTRANCEWAY/KITCHEN – NIGHT


A MAN walks into a house. He is carrying several bags and a briefcase. As we walks to the kitchen table, he puts down the bags that he is holding and his brief case, leaving only the black messenger bag around his chest.


As he walks through the house, he seems to be looking for signs that somebody is home, but doesn’t say a word right away.


When he finally speaks, it is in a questioning tone.


MAN
Anybody home?


The man turns his head in the direction of the master bedroom and holds his pose for a long beat. After a moment, he begins to head toward the master bedroom.


INT.  HOUSE – MASTER BEDROOM – NIGHT


As the man walks into the bedroom, a letter can be seen lying on the bed.


The man picks up the letter and begins to read it. As he reads the letter a WOMANS’s voice can be heard reading the letter aloud.


WOMAN (V.O.)
My dearest John, today is our fifth
   anniversary. The day we married, I
   remembered my mother telling me to
          hold on to those feelings, because
      those memories would help us
      through all of our struggles and
      hard times.
           (beat)
      But I am afraid that she may have
      been mistaken.
           (beat)
      While I have grown to care for you
      very much in the last five years, I
      feel that I have been living a lie.
      And as hard as it is to get this
      off my chest, I feel that telling
      you the truth may help to rest my
      tortured conscience.
           (beat)
      There is no easy way to say this,
      so I feel that bluntly may be best.
           (beat)
      I have been having an affair with
      your brother for the last five
      years.
           (slight beat)
      I can only imagine what you must be
      feeling right now, and the thoughts
      that must be going through your
      head.
           (slight beat)
      When did it start? How could I do
      this to you? What about the
      children?
           (slight beat)
      And I hope that I am able to answer
      some of your questions in this
      letter.
           (beat)
      First of all, I want you to know
      that you are a very sweet man, and
      never in my wildest dream could I
      have imagined myself in an extra-
      marital affair,
                          (beat)
      but as I walked down the aisle on
      our wedding day, and I saw your
      brother in his tuxedo, I knew then
      and there that he was the man for
      me.
           (beat)
      I realize that this letter must
      seem harsh and is coming as a
      surprise to you, but your brother
      and I want nothing more for you
      than to be happy,
           (slight beat)
      and that is why we are leaving the
      country to continue our romance.
           (beat)
      Without us here, we hope that you
      will be able to find the strength
      to move on.
           (beat)
      By the time you get this letter,
      your brother, Alex, and I will be
      on our way to Paris, France.
           (slight beat)
      Do not worry about the children.
           (beat)
      Your parents were kind enough to
      come along to help watch over them.
           (beat)
      Alex and I pretty much cleared out
      all of our bank accounts to pay for
      it, but we have purchased a lovely
      villa in the South of France, which
      I’m sure the kids will love.
           (long beat)
      I know that I could never apologize
      enough for what I’ve done to you,
      dear John, but I hope you may one
      day find it in your heart to
      forgive us, if only for the sake of
      our children.
                          (slight beat)
      Goodbye, John, and best of luck.
           (slight beat)
      Merry Christmas.
           (slight beat)
      Anne.


As the man finishes reading the letter, his face is stricken with a look of utter helplessness. He looks as though he is in a state of complete and total shock.


When he begins to speak, his voice is shaky, and there is a air of disbelief to it.


MAN
What?
   (long pause)
   How could somebody write a letter
   like that?
   (long pause)
   What a bitch!


The man pauses with the letter in his hand for a few more seconds, still looking very shocked.


As he finally lets the letter fall back to the bed, he reaches into his messenger bag and pulls out a large black trash bag and begins to ransack the bed room.


FADE OUT.

THE END


Here is an updated version of my sketch. I took the advice about extending the ending and making the letter more cruel. I have some ideas about how to liven up the humor of the sketch, but unfortunately I am not that skilled in writing screenplays, so I don't know how to transcribe that. I guess I will just have to direct the sketch myself!  :-\ And again, I am sorry about and issues with the format after I transferred it over from Word.





INT.  HOUSE – ENTRANCEWAY/KITCHEN – NIGHT


A MAN walks into a house. The man is dressed entirely in black winter clothing, including gloves. He is carrying a briefcase in one hand and a duffle bag in the other. Around his chest is a messenger bag.


As we walks to the kitchen table, he puts down the duffle bag and his brief case, leaving only the black messenger bag around his chest.


As he walks through the house, he seems to be looking for signs that somebody is home, but doesn’t say a word right away.


When the man finally speaks, it is in an almost questioning tone.


              MAN
      Anybody home?


The man turns his head in the direction of the master bedroom and holds his pose for a long beat. After a moment, he begins to walk purposefully toward the master bedroom.


INT.  HOUSE – MASTER BEDROOM – NIGHT


As the man walks into the bedroom, a letter can be seen lying on the bed.


The man looks questioningly at the letter for a few seconds, and then picks it up and begins to read.


As the man reads the letter silently to himself, a WOMANS’s voice can be heard reading the letter aloud.


              WOMAN (V.O.)
      My dearest John, today is our fifth
      wedding anniversary. The day we
                married, I remembered my mother
                telling me to hold on to those
                feelings, because those memories
                would help us through all of our
                struggles and hard times.
        (beat)
      But I am afraid that she may have
      been mistaken.
           (slight beat)
      While I have grown to care for you
      very much in the last five years, I
      feel that I have been living a lie.
           (beat)
      The truth of the matter is that I
      have been living this lie since we
      first met in high school.
           (slight beat)
      And as hard as it is to get this
      off my chest, I feel that telling
      you the truth now may help to rest
                my tortured conscience.
                (beat)
      Unfortunately, there is no easy way
                to say this, so I feel that bluntly
                may be best.
           (beat)
      I have been head over heels in love
      with your brother, Alex, for the
      last 7 years.
           (slight beat)
      And we have been having an affair
      for the last 5.
           (slight beat)
      I can only imagine what you must be
      feeling right now, and the thoughts
      that must be going through your
      head.
                           (slight beat)
      When did it start? How could I do
      this to you? What about the
      children?
           (slight beat)
      And I hope that I am able to answer
      some of your questions in this
      letter.
           (beat)
      First of all, I want you to know
      that you are a very sweet man, and
      never in my wildest dreams could I
      have imagined myself in an extra-
      marital affair…
           (beat)
      …but as I walked down the aisle on
      our wedding day, and I saw your
      brother in his tuxedo, I knew then
      and there that he was the man for
      me…Hands down! No questions asked!
           (beat)
      Really, I think I have known all of
      these years. Since Alex drove us to
      our Junior Prom on our first date.
           (slight beat)
      My teenage mind used to fantasize
      about Alex every time he would
      come home from college on break.
           (beat)
      And while many high school crushes
      go unrequited, I was lucky enough
      to find out right after graduating
      that Alex had always felt the same
      way about me.
           (beat)
      John, we married the day after we
      graduated from high school…And Alex
      and I began our affair one week
      later.
                      (long beat)
      I realize that this letter must
      seem harsh and is coming as a
      surprise to you, but your brother
      and I want nothing more for you
      than to be happy,
           (slight beat)
      and that is why we are leaving the
      country to continue our romance.
           (beat)
      Without us here, we hope that you
      will be able to find the strength
      to move on.
           (beat)
      By the time you get this letter,
      your brother, Alex, and I will be
      on our way to Paris, France.
           (slight beat)
      Do not worry about the children.
           (beat)
      Your parents were kind enough to
      come along to help watch over them.
           (beat)
           They feel that with their favorite
      son leaving the country, there is
      no better time to retire and spend
      more time with their grandchildren.
           They are truly remarkable people!
              (long beat)
      Alex and I pretty much cleared out
      all of our bank accounts to pay for
      it, but we have purchased a lovely
      villa in the South of France, which
      I’m sure the kids will love.
        (beat)
           While I know that you live for your
      children, and it pains me greatly
      to take them away from you, they
                really should be with their
           real father.
           (long beat)
      I know that I could never apologize
      enough for what I’ve done to you,
      dear John, but I hope you may one
      day find it in your heart to
      forgive us, if only for the sake of
      our children.
           (slight beat)
      Goodbye, John, and best of luck.
           (slight beat)
      Merry Christmas.
           (slight beat)
      Anne.


As the man finishes reading the letter, his face is stricken with a look of utter helplessness. He looks as though he is in a state of complete and total shock.


When he begins to speak, his voice is shaky, and there is an air of disbelief to it.


              MAN
      What?
           (long pause)
      How could somebody be that cruel?
           (long pause)
      What a bitch!


The man pauses with the letter in his hand for a few more seconds, still looking very shocked.


As he finally lets the letter fall back to the bed, he reaches into his messenger bag and pulls out a ski mask.


As the man begins to ransack the room and place any object of value into his messenger bag, another man comes running into the room. This new man is wielding a cell phone and appears to be out of breath.


              MAN 2
      Who are you? What are you doing in
      my house? I’m calling the cops!


Despite man 2’s threats to call the cops he doesn’t budge.


              MAN
      John?


              MAN 2
      How do you know my name?
           (beat)
      What are you doing in my house?
           (beat)
      I’m going to call the cops!


              MAN
      Buddy, you’ve got way bigger things
      to worry about.


                           FADE OUT.


THE END


I am also getting ready to post another sketch, which way different than this one, based off of the sheer abundance of absurdity in the subject matter.   ;D
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 02:15:21 PM by eashort »

Offline DavidMcK

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 97
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 05:20:26 PM »
Hi Eashort,

There is a terrible problem of new members posting in the script section and then not replying to anybody’s comments and then they never post again.

I suggest you read and comment on other peoples scripts first. The plus side to this is that if you comment on people's scripts then they will then in turn comment on yours. It is a win-win for everybody. :)

David

Offline eashort

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 05:23:43 PM »
DavidMcK, thank you for the suggestion.  :)

Offline rikki

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 438
  • What is 'is'...who cares?
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 09:22:07 PM »
This reminds me of a David Sedaris piece I heard him read, which I hope you take as a compliment  ;)

I was wondering if you could explain what the (beat) refers to?

I don't write scrips and just happened to open this up. It made me chuckle when he began to ransack the place...nice twist...
Where the slime is thickest, under that rock, that's where they found me.

Offline eashort

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 09:29:37 PM »
Thanks rikki! And "beat" refers to a moment of silence in a script, or a break in the rhythm (ie: an empty beat of rhythm) 

Thanks again =)

Offline rikki

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 438
  • What is 'is'...who cares?
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 09:51:21 PM »
Understood. Thanks for the explanation on that...
Where the slime is thickest, under that rock, that's where they found me.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 10:57:38 PM »
rikki, I don't write scripts . . . but I liked the story you showed us in this format.

There were two small things that bother me though.

1. I would have expected a man reading such a letter to have more of a reaction than what you showed. Maybe one or more of the men around here would be better giving feedback on that than I am though.

2. Why did he have several bags when he came in and why, after setting all the rest of them down, did he not put the messenger pouch down also?

( I was wrong - one more question.)

Why did he have a plastic garbage bag in the messenger pouch? 

The answer to all my questions might be because I generally write and read prose, not script.  If so, ignore what I've asked.

Smiles,
Alice
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline eashort

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 11:07:57 PM »
Alice, thank you for your response. To answer your questions, it is because the man is a robber. That is why he had so many bags and the trash bag in his messenger bag.

I agree with what you said about his reaction, but I am having some difficulty figuring out how to write that in without him appearing too close to the author of the letter and its intended recipient...I have a feeling I may just end up being stuck leaving that task to the actor.

Thanks again, and if you have any suggestions on what I said, I would love to hear them.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

  • http://www.writestreet.com/writestree
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31219
  • Hello from Texas
    • Alice's Hide Away
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 11:44:54 PM »
Alice, thank you for your response. To answer your questions, it is because the man is a robber. That is why he had so many bags and the trash bag in his messenger bag.

I agree with what you said about his reaction, but I am having some difficulty figuring out how to write that in without him appearing too close to the author of the letter and its intended recipient...I have a feeling I may just end up being stuck leaving that task to the actor.

I had taken him as being her husband. But since he is there to rob the place, that explains the bags, including the garbage bag and his lack of a stronger reaction.

Thanks for explaining.


Thanks again, and if you have any suggestions on what I said, I would love to hear them.
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline DavidMcK

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 97
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2010, 04:18:48 PM »
HI Eashort,

I liked your sketch, I wasn’t aware of the ‘beat’ either. I’ve learnt something new, thanks.

I think I would change the punch line.

MAN
What?
(long pause)
Some people are just so horrible.
(long pause)
What a bitch!

I hope to read more of your stuff.

David

Offline par

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 63
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2010, 06:04:02 PM »
i kind of like this piece, but i think it may not go far enough.
for instance, the wife may say a few more outlandish things...the burglar may have a much bigger reaction and really trash the whole place, at the end of which another burglar could enter and ask if he's found anything of interest and THEN we find out the first burglar is not the husband.

Offline eashort

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 45
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2010, 08:27:17 PM »
David: Thanks.  :) I like your idea, I think it works a lot better than what I have. I'm gonna try substituting it in later and rereading the whole things just to make sure! Thanks again!!!  :D ;D :)



par: Thanks for your suggestions, too. A friend of mine actually suggested that I draw it out a little further too. Except her idea was to have the burglar either bolt from the house as the police arrive, or to extend the scene where he does the actual burglarizing and to have him leave the house and hide in the bushes as the husband arrives and then to just let the scene end with the sound of the husband's reaction. What do you think?  :)

Ethor

  • Guest
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2010, 08:51:18 PM »
that made me lol! but i agree the end needs a change

Offline Xerika

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1596
    • Rob Johnson - writing, podcasting and reluctantly olive farming
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2010, 10:10:15 PM »
There is a terrible problem of new members posting in the script section and then not replying to anybody’s comments and then they never post again.

Well said, David, and I heartily agree.

Having said that, Elizabeth, you seem to be rather more serious about your craft than the many other timewasters, so I commend you for your bravery.

Having said that, I'm gonna be a bit cruel, but please don't take it amiss as I'm only trying to help:

1)

Hello. This is a short comedy sketch that I whipped out in a few minutes after I had a revelation that I want to be a comedy writer for a living.

Well, there's quite a lot to say here even before I get to the script itself...

1a) Your revelation sounds great and I hope you stick with it.

1b) One thing you never ever do with a comedy sketch (or a poem or any other writing for that matter) is whip it out in a few minutes and then present it for public consumption. Refine, hone and polish until you are happy with it and then ask for a critique so you can make it even better.

1c) Unless you're a comedic genius (and there are a few I could mention), writing comedy that will actually make people laugh (and surely that's the point) is one of the hardest writing jobs on the planet and not something you knock out in a few minutes.

2) On to the script itself...

Sorry to say, and here's the really cruel bit, it didn't even raise a smile from me.

I didn't even get that the guy at the end was a burglar until you pointed it out in the comments, and even then it's really not that funny.

What you've got is a whole load of unfunny 'stuff' till you get to the not-very-funny punchline. Do you really think an audience will still be with you by the time they get there?

If I'm missing something here, please tell me, because I totally missed any humour in everything that went before the 'punchline'.

3) Okay, so here's a bit of advice you can ignore at will...

Watch (and often listen to on the radio) the sketches that you find hilariously funny and analyse why they make you laugh.

Do they put you through a couple of minutes of dullness before they reach the punchline? Of course not. Modern sketch writers know that you need to get a laugh in the first line or two and then build it from there. Hell, Monty Python knew years ago that you didn't even need a 'punchline'.

Just to emphasise the point, check out the Python's parrot sketch, which is universally acknowledged to be one of the greatest comedy sketches of all time, and ask yourself why that's funny from the very first line.

4) Well, here's the nicey nicey bit... (meant sincerely)

It's clear to me that you can write, so keep going and just try to get funny from Line One (or Three at least) and study how the masters do it.


http://rob-johnson.org.uk/ - writing, podcasting and reluctant olive farming

"I'd Rather Eat My Own Face" podcast. The truth about olive harvesting. http://wp.me/p2bC2C-8U

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." - Elmore Leonard

Offline par

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 63
Re: Short Comedy Sketch..."The Dear John Letter"
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2010, 10:40:23 PM »
i think all of the suggestions could work.  everyone has creative ideas, now it's up to you to work your way around them all and come up with your own Wow factor.  you can do it.