Posts Tagged Stephen Fry
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.
The week I was on vacation, away from CBS TV, Craig Ferguson pulled off an experimental episode of his Late Late Show. On the February 23 episode (which unfortunately is no longer archived on the CBS website), after the opening monologue he interviewed the British actor and writer Stephen Fry for the length of the whole show without a studio audience. That element of the show hearkened back to the format done by original Late Late Show host, Tom Snyder, who always had done the show without a studio audience.
The opening monologue, which I linked to above, reveals the transparency in which Ferguson consistently conducts the show. He conceded that he was slightly bothered by the dust-up on NBC involving Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Coming out of that, it got Ferguson thinking about the dynamics of his television show and itching to try a show without a studio audience (an aspect of his normal show that he fully concedes he appreciates and feeds off of on a regular basis).
If anyone doubted his being inspired by Snyder’s old format, Ferguson eliminated that possibility with the closing line of the monlogue, quoting Snyder’s traditional line to his audience: “Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.”
CBS did not post the entire episode, but I’m sure if you look through You Tube, you might find snippets here or there. But for now, I provide you the five-minute snippet CBS was kind enough to post. Should I find out they will be replaying the episode, I will try to post a note here or on my Twitter account (TalkingwithTim).
One last thought on this experiment, to echo Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker, who wrote a great analysis of this episode: “I vote for one edition a month of The Late Late Show in this format.”