The Key to A Good Comedy Sketch

For years, I have wondered why some Saturday Night Live sketches (frequently after 12:30 AM in the last half hour of the show) die horrible unfunny deaths. Watching this old sketch from the 1989-1995 series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie (starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), I realized the way good comedy writers turn a sketch around.

Too often the sketches run out of steam, or beat a dead horse. The great thing about this sketch–which for the most part has Laurie singing an absurd American jingoistic parody–was just as you thought it ran out of steam, Fry enters the sketch and punches Laurie in the throat.

Ending a sketch can be a challenge (as any writing, of course), but this struck me as a great lesson in Sketch Writing 101.