Following on from my notes about the comedy workshop I attended, I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the material from the session.
Two intensive scripting exercises were set during the day, in between talking, “workshopping,” and watching the first episode of Modern Family.
The first was a sketch, basically, which would end on a specific phrase, in this case “I said we shouldn’t have done that.” For this, I drew on some imagined scenario at my in-laws, based in reality.
As a starter exercise, it was quite useful, and certainly set the tone for the day.
In the afternoon, we continued the task started before lunch – that of planning a sitcom pilot episode, with six characters, a situation, and a few dynamics for the character, drama, and comedy to develop from. Below, I’m going to share the two scenes I wrote from the sitcom, which remains unnamed (and ultimately, undeveloped, I suspect) in the final stages of the workshop.
Background: the sitcom is set in an old people’s home, taken over by an ex-PE teacher (Karl) wholly unsuited to dealing with old people. The former owner is his father, Trevor, now a resident. Other key characters are Caroline, responsible for keeping the residents occupied and entertained, Stefan, over qualified nurse from East Germany, Maggie, the undercover CQC agent (or is she..?), and Gordon Blue, a former TV chef determined to give residents the greatest culinary experience in their twilight years.
Sitcom Script Drafts
Ideas for the characters came from all around the class, although I can claim some responsibility for Karl’s “ex-PE teacher” status, intended as an old-school “shouter”. The name “Gordon” came from elsewhere, but “Blue” (as in Cordon Bleu) was a moment of inspiration from me.
Pushing on through the afternoon, a series of situations and scenarios were suggested, and thrown on the whiteboard by Bennett Arron. These included things like a shortage of flu jabs, ex-military Trevor losing his medals, and Karl interrogating his father for information (with “captured operative” comedy). Man of the ideas ranged from incidental details to A plots. Eventually, we settled on the following:
A plot – “charity investors come to visit to decide about investing”
B plot – “Caroline auditions the residents for a show”
C plot – “Trevor has lost his medals. Are they stolen?”
Several scenes were suggested to push the script from beginning to end and these were the subject of the final task: write two scenes. Mine are below:
While I’m pleased with both, I think the second is more characteristic of my writing. The first feels a bit too close to Fawlty Towers. Hardly a surprise, but still…
What is particularly curious about this is that the two fellow members of the class sat either side of me also wrote versions of Scene 5. While they were quite different, they all had good gags in them (a combined version of the three scripts into one scene would probably have had the most laughs).
Try Bennett Arron’s Comedy Workshop
I remain pleased that I signed up to this workshop. It’s rare to find anything that costs more than £50 that doesn’t immediately result in Buyer’s Remorse haunting me (it’s probably a Yorkshire thing) but this is one of the best £80s I’ve spent in years. I don’t know if it will lead to any scripting work, but I do know that the experience was invaluable, especially the collaborative nature of the exercises.
Although they’re first drafts which I have little intention of polishing up, feel free to check the links above and enjoy the scripts.
Head over the Bennett’s site to check his upcoming tour dates and workshops.