Peter’s Commentary on the “Mother’s Day” Edition
26 July 2009
by Peter Rogers
Here’s my commentary for the 5/6/09 round of Sketchwar, which had the theme “Mother’s Day.”
I continue slowly catching up on Sketchwar commentary. This week, I got back from Chicago and immediately took sick with bronchitis. Fun, fun, fun. So, no sketch from me the week of 5/6/09 either.
“Virgin Mother’s Day”
Definitely a good concept here, and mostly a good delivery. For a second draft, I’d recommend creating a clearer ‘arc’ to the complaints about the children. First there’s a minor complaint. Then there’s a heavier complaint. Then an even more serious one. In fact, the women could be deliberately trying to outdo each other (“Oy! You think *you* have troubles?!”) in ‘My Kids Suck’ poker.
I really dug the right turn into surreal-land at the end. I appreciated the fact that you brought in the robots early and let the audience wonder what the hell was up for a bit. And the payoff, where they all speculate as to the symbolic significance of the fight scene, felt very entertaining.
I love it when comic characters keep resolutely being themselves under suddenly-changed circumstances.
I don’t usually get hung up on logistics (at least, I don’t *think* I do), but this time, I couldn’t get away from this question: why would Roger go to his mother’s bedroom? Wouldn’t he see all the accoutrements laid out for an elaborate, romantic, Valentine’s-Day tryst, and… well… leave?
I dunno, I guess I didn’t get this one. I like the basic idea of the fed-up mother bailing on her family and spending Valentine’s Day in Hawaii, but… I dunno. The long build-up to the discovery? Not so much ‘funny’ as ‘setup’. Then the antics with the blow-up doll and the flash-bulb? Not so much ‘funny’ as ‘confusing’. And then the long, recorded tirade from the mother? Not so much ‘funny’ as ‘angry’.
Even the closing button — while it was a nice callback to the box of chocolate that Roger brought — felt a little weak, humor-wise.
Ah well. Mr. Stinton has written sketches I’ve liked before, and he shall write sketches I like again. This one just didn’t work for me for some reason.
“The Line Between Mother and Other”
Aha! Good direction to go with this. Over-the-top mommiphilia and this culture’s They Live-like “BREED AND CONSUME” messages are ripe for derision.
I have mixed feelings about the sketch. I loved the general shape of it. The setup, with Michelle banned from the “Mothers” party section with the good food, is perfect. I love that you went for the crazy, over-the-top fight like on the “Taxes” entry. And the “barren and loving it!” twist was really strong. You might could have gotten from beat to beat more quickly and efficiently, but you definitely have the right events happening in the right order.
That said, I think this sketch got a little hamstrung by preachiness. Basically, if you have a party where the non-mothers are segregated to a dingy ghetto, you’re making your point loud and clear. Likewise, if you have Michelle try to rouse an “Others’ Rebellion” to get the decent food, that announces a message very loudly.
Basically, once you’ve got this metaphor factory in place, you don’t want to cover the same ground in your dialog. Instead, you can (and should) just focus on the story. Michelle doesn’t need a speech about the iniquities of the matriarchy — just let Michelle focus on her quest for crabcakes. Jeannie’s dripping contempt and Lynette’s thorough ‘sniff test’ will convey volumes.
Still, I think there’s a good sketch in here. A little more speed and a little less preaching, and I think you’ve got something.
The following items are inherently funny: azaleas, diaper genies (when airborne), Crazy Aunt Bea.
The following items are capable of reducing me to “aw whoozza cute widdow wuggums”-style baby talk: German Shepherds.
Tags: mother's day