Peter’s Commentary on the “Taxes” Edition
14 July 2009
by Peter Rogers
Here’s my commentary for the 4/17/09 round of Sketchwar, which had the theme “Taxes.”
Wow. So… um… it’s been three months since I’ve written any commentaries for Sketchwar. The closest thing I’ve got to an excuse is “I was sick three times and I had a couple of dance weekends.” It’s almost like this effort gained inertia from my inactivity.
But now, huzzah! I’ve found myself with some extra time, so I’m puttering through these back issues. First up is “The Taxman Cometh”.
It starts promisingly with Clark’s showdown with Death — it’s just great to see an ominous figure, somebody used to being in charge, get utterly flustered by circumstances foreign to his experience.
The next bit — the tooth fairy one — got a little bogged down in detail. This isn’t a disaster; it just means that there’s a much shorter, much funnier sketch somewhere in this longer, logier one. The ‘we’ve already met’ bit and the ‘all I want for Christmas’ jokes were cute, but the sketch might have been better served by beelining to the $275 million in expenses line. That led into “things that happen to the Tooth Fairy” section, which was the funniest part. Once that was done, it wandered off into the “incorporating in Delaware” section, which never quite gelled as a joke. I feel like this one wanted to be chopped down to a blackout sketch.
Apparently, Mr. Coyote came to the same conclusion, because he followed up the first “Magical Audits” with several much shorter sequels. I didn’t much go for the jokes, but that’s just me, and someone else’s mileage may vary. I can say that the structure was dead-on — get in, ha-ha-ha, get out — and the variety of situations Clark gets into was perfect.
The leprechaun one is more stretched out. Lucky’s history in the state department is more ‘intriguing’ than ‘funny’, but once we get to the “kids are after me” section, that gets us to a nice little reversal with Clark springing the two kids on him. Again, there’s probably a shorter, funnier sketch in here that limits itself more strictly to cereal.
“Cause I’m the Taxman”
This one definitely takes the prize for setting. Both Coyote and I went for staid, underdescribed tax-audit offices, but this was definitely something else.
Great bizarre opening and closing jokes. In between, I’d try to beeline from “making a loophole for Tony” to “burning the bar” quicker. Yes, seeing all the different ways lawmakers can be corrupt is fun, but nowhere near as fun as watching lawmakers-gone-wild throw around Molotov cocktails.
So maybe one deduction for Tony, another deduction for Paulie — something simpler than the Death Tax, I think, and then we’re good for the chanting and destruction, no?
This is a new experience for me — enough time has passed that I can read my own Sketchwar sketches with a somewhat more dispassionate eye than usual.
Occasionally for Sketchwar, and without really intending to, I’ll write a dramatic scene that isn’t actually funny. On the other hand, there are other times where some drama seeps into a normal sketch and makes it more interesting without torpedoing the humor. All in all, it’s an okay tradeoff, but it means I’m stuck with the occasional dud.
Unfortunately, I think this time I torpedoed the humor. I had a solid sketch idea — man gets audited by his mother, hijinx ensue — but I wound up veering from standard borscht-belt sorts of jokes (‘you got rid of Aunt Vera’s present?’) to eerie, pained family arguments (‘I hate kids!’). It was an uncomfortable read — which is certainly better than nothing, but not quite the hilarity one wants with sketch comedy.
[Side note: this is mirrored on the Sketchwar site.]