I read about a phenomenon that came about in the late 60s and early 70s regarding sketch comedy. It was actually the folks at Monty Python’s Flying Circus which really broke through with it. The premise for sketches leading up to this time was simple: they need a beginning, a middle and an end. But the folks at Python (and later at Saturday Night Live) broke down that model and realized that once the punchline was released, there really wasn’t a need to wrap up the sketch with a bow and send it home. In fact, it was tiring to have to do so.
Python came up with a rule of thumb: if a scene is starting to go on too long, drop a cow on somebody. (You can see where they went with this in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) The early seasons of Saturday Night Live apparently would drop a plastic cow from the rafters once a scene was ready to make a quick exit. The premise, however, is a good comedic one: Get in, set up your joke, hit ’em with the punchline, get out. I like to adhere to this as much as possible.
But herein lies the problem: when blogging it’s very challenging to “drop the cow.” At least it is for me. Perhaps it’s because people have the ability to review my writing after the funny has been presented. And then I fear it simply won’t be as funny. Or interesting. It’s an insecurity of mine, I know. But tonight it plagues me just the same.
Here’s my dilemna tonight: I’ve started a blog entry which is titled An Open Letter to Wil Wheaton. The premise: My blog entry on January 3 of this year links to a funny video from the sketch comedy show The State where smooth operators Lavon (Michael Ian Black) and Barry (Thomas Lennon) start seducing and getting down with $240 worth of pudding. My rationale for linking to this was because of my overuse of the phrase “Aww yeah.” And because it’s simply a silly sketch from 15 years ago.
Fast forward four days. Mr. Wheaton has decided to dedicate a post to the exact same video.
The funny: my letter would kindly ask him to stop stalking me — even though he’s the celebrity and I’m not. And it was likely just a coincidence — two people who happen to find The State pretty damn funny.
And then? I’ve got nothing. I’d have to drop the proverbial cow right there and then. My setup is fine — I even talk extensively about his role in Toy Soldiers as the son of a mobster played by the late Jerry Orbach. But after the punchline — of what I now see is a pretty weak joke — there’s simply nothing.
I just thought you guys deserved an explanation as to why I didn’t bring the funny.
Fetchez la vache!