I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the titles of sketches recently. As recently, in fact, as half an hour ago. It occured to me if you’re writing a sketch designed to kick off a series of sketches you need to come up with a title which sums up the entire series.
So, for example, the Superhero Tryouts sketches in The Wrong Door were imaginitively called ‘The Superhero Tryouts’ – a simple name which describes exactly what the sketches are about. Each episode then had a secondary title: The Human Spider, Tempus, The Raven … etc.
I think the name for the series of sketches should describe the set-up, but in certain cases the set-up is the punchline for the first sketch. The one I wrote this morning, for another example, appears to be leading us in a very different and familiar direction with the punchline being something completely opposite. The rest of the sketches deal with the aftermath of that reversal.
Obviously this isn’t a problem during the broadcast because the viewer probably won’t be privvy to the sketch’s title; but it is a problem as a writer when you’re submitting sketches to someone – you don’t want them reading the punchline before they’ve read the rest of the sketch. Sometimes knowing, or even hinting, at the punchline – whether it’s visual or verbal – will ruin the sketch and trick the reader into thinking it’s an obvious joke.
After everyone concerned has read the first sketch, that’s when you want them referring to the collective sketches by a name which describes the set-up; but until then … what do you call the first sketch?
I don’t really have an answer to this one and, on reflection, this post seems to have very little point. I think I’ll just turn round and pick a random word off the spine of a comic …
Brilliant, the sketch is now called ‘Alan’.