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Sketch Time Machine: Sketch Mania

Because hey, why not, I thought I’d start posting some of my old/never performed/never to be performed again sketches online, with commentary about them. And I will call it, “Sketch Time Machine!” And it will be good. Hopefully.

Year Written: 2003

Now this sketch, I totally forgot existed. I think maybe I read it once, and revised it once, but I’m not sure? I do know it suffers from the same problem as “All Kent’s Friends Are Crazy,” in that it’s made for only sketch comedians to watch. It’s also not hilariously funny, though I think the structure and ideas are sound.

NOTES:

  • I wrote this in 2003, about the time I started teaching sketch comedy. Can you tell?
  • The amount of sketches I write where all the main character wants to do is “rest” or “relax” is telling, I think.
  • Like most sketches of this type, it gets very reflexive. I think I lost the build on Alistaire’s character halfway through, but the third beat is pleasing in the amount it eats itself.
  • I also really like having the straight man be the host, I think it works nicely, and as mentioned, for the first half at least, I did a good job (I hope) of playing him both ways.

Here’s the sketch:

SKETCH MANIA 

A head eater by Alexander Zalben

CHARACTERS: Announcer, Pirate, Zombie, Cowboy, Alastaire

It is a game show setting. A pirate, a zombie, and a cowboy are standing behind the contestant stands.

                         ANNOUNCER

And now its time to play everybody’s favorite game show, Sketch Mania! And now here’s your host, Alastaire Guy!

                         ALASTAIRE

Hi everybody, and what is this crazy world I’ve wandered into?

                         CONTESTANTS

Hi Alastaire.

                         ALASTAIRE

Okay. Well, according to these cards I was given backstage, Sketch Mania is the only game show entirely based on the principles of sketch comedy. You all know the rules, but I certainly don’t, because I’ve never been in a situation like this before.

                         ANNOUNCER

You should probably ask them the questions on the cards!

                         ALASTAIRE

Woah, where’s that voice coming from?

                         ANNOUNCER

I’m the announcer!

                         ALASTAIRE

Okay! That’s crazy! Here’s your first question: You’re in a wacky receptionist sketch, and all you want to do is leave a package for the guy in charge. What do you do?

                         PIRATE

(Buzzes in) I’d run her through! She deserves it for being such a scalawag!

                         ALASTAIRE

I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. If you did that, the sketch would be over.

                         PIRATE

Argh, I’ll run ye through too.

          (ZOMBIE buzzes in.)

                         ALASTAIRE

Yes, Zombie?

                         ZOMBIE

Brains…

                         ALASTAIRE

That also is incorrect. Cowboy, care to have a go at it?

                         COWBOY

Can I get a point of clarification?

                         ALASTAIRE

Why not?

                         COWBOY

At what point in the sketch do I enter?

                         ALASTAIRE

Well, according to this card, you’re the fourth person to enter.

                         COWBOY

Well, that makes sense. Since the receptionist is crazy, the other people have to be normal until the last line. Since I have the last line, I’d have to say my line would be a reference to something else in the sketch, but mainly just a Cowboy joke.

          (DING DING DING.)

                         ALASTAIRE

I’m going to have to assume that bell means you’re correct, but I have no idea whether it is or not, really, since this is a totally crazy situation. Okay, Next question. Name two places you can easily be placed to create a juxtaposition of hilarious proportions.

                         PIRATE

An office and a pirate ship.

                         ALASTAIRE

I’m sorry, it wouldn’t be a juxtaposition for a pirate to be on a pirate ship.

                         PIRATE

Yargh. I admit when I’m wrong.

                         ZOMBIE

Brains.

                         ALASTAIRE

No.

                         COWBOY

An office and a family.

          (DING DING DING)

                         ALASTAIRE

That’s correct! Okay, if I remember anything from Game Show sketches, I know that now I should probably ask some info about you before we move on to the final round.

                         PIRATE

Y’argh, I’m a pirate, and I live in the sea. I mean, on the sea. In a boat. On the sea.

                         COWBOY

Howdy. I’m a cowboy.

                         ALASTAIRE

You probably have some sort of crazy story about that.

                         COWBOY

Nope.

                         ALASTAIRE

And Zombie?

                         ZOMBIE

Brains!!!

          (He lunges for ALASTAIRE. COWBOY shoots

ZOMBIE’s arm off, ZOMBIE falls down, gets

back up.)

                         ALASTAIRE

I have got to get out of this crazy situation. Okay, going into the final round, Cowboy has two points. Before we ask the final question, Announcer, tell them what you’ll win.

                         ANNOUNCER

Today’s winner will take home existence! That’s right, you’ll get to be a real person and wander around in the outside world. Today’s runners up will disappear the second this sketch is over.

                         ALASTAIRE

Holy fuck, that’s terrible. At least I’m not a sketch character like those guys.

                         ANNOUNCER

Sure you aren’t.

                         ALASTAIRE

Wait, what does that mean.

                         ANNOUNCER

Nothing. Just ask your final question.

                         ALASTAIRE

Okay, here’s your final question, which is worth double the points. At the end of this sketch, I will a) die, b) run out of the room screaming, c) cease to exist.

                         PIRATE

Yargh, this situation has taken a turn for the disturbing. I say b.

                         ZOMBIE

Brains!!! (Pause) A.

                         COWBOY

Well, I’m going to say c, for cowboy!

          (DING DING–)

                         ALASTAIRE

Wait! I am not a character in this sketch! I just wandered in off the street, and somehow ended up in this insane situation!

                         ANNOUNCER

Just finish the sketch, okay, and then you can rest.

                         ALASTAIRE

Rest! I don’t want to rest! I want to exist!

                         ANNOUNCER

Unfortunately, that’s not an option!

                         ALASTAIRE

Ah. Ah! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

          (ALASTAIRE runs offstage.)

                         ANNOUNCER

That’s weird. I really thought the answer was C.

                         COWBOY

Wait, so it’s a tie.

                         PIRATE

Yar. What happens now?

                         ANNOUNCER

It’s the end of the sketch, and there are no winners. Nobody gets to exist.

                         ZOMBIE

(sad) Brains.

                         COWBOY

There, there. Maybe we could make an exception just once?

                         ANNOUNCER

Nope, sorry.

          (ALASTAIRE re-enters, screaming.)

                         ALASTAIRE

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-ha! I just re-entered screaming! That NEVER happens, right? So that means this isn’t a sketch! Which means it can’t end! Which means that–

          (Lights.)

                         ALASTAIRE

Hey! Turn those lights back on! (Music starts) Seriously, you can’t get rid of me that easily, I’m a real person, and I’m not leaving! Never, ever, ever, ever–

          (Next sketch starts.)

                         ALASTAIRE (CONT’D)

Ever–

          (Alastaire says his first line in

the next sketch, ceases to be Alastaire, becomes a

new character, and continues in that sketch.)

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