In this week's assignment in sketch writing class over at ImprovBoston, we were asked to write an 'ensemble sketch' -- one where several characters have more or less equal parts to play, rather than a single central character.
This sounds reasonably simple. And maybe it is, if you're not me. But I'm me. And NOTHING is simple in my world. Including this.
We brainstormed some possible ideas for these sketches in the last class. We even got a list at the end of the session, to help goose our creative juices. I pored over the list a few times over the week, but sadly, no juices were goosed. I remained goosed juiceless.
Finally, I gave it a stab. Two stabs, actually -- although really more like a stab and a half. The real, honest-to-goodness stab, you'll find below. It was based on someone's idea in class of an overly-sensitive football huddle. I don't think I quite took it in the original direction -- I don't recall him mentioning "window-licking husky-boned block-chuckers", just for starters -- but it was produced in at least the spirit of using the list we'd made.
The half-stab came from a mention I made early in class of something I'd written here a few months ago parodying the Food Network show 'Chopped'.
"A couple of window-licking husky-boned block-chuckers, riding the short bus into the huddle. That's just great."
(Because evidently the only stupid TV that sinks into my squishy brain is about food. If it weren't for Chopped and Good Eats' and... oh, everything else on that godforsaken channel, I wouldn't have a TV category.
Also, I'd probably be thinner. Watch an hour of Food Network and not raid the fridge afterward? Unpossible.)
Anyway, I asked if anyone had seen 'Chopped'. Nobody had. I described the show, then my idea for a similar contest show involving surgeons. Blank stares. I said I'd written up a rough treatment already. No love. And 'Chopped with surgeons' did not, as you might imagine, make it onto our list of 'viable ensemble sketch ideas'.
Think that stopped me from pooping it out in sketch format and printing it out to read, anyway? No chance, sunshine. 'Butchered!' will have its day in class. Blank stares and all. Oh, yes.
Meanwhile, enjoy the clusterhuddle nightmare below. It's pretty much how I imagine the Colts are operating this year. And that's comedy gold.
[JACK, PETE, DENNIS and FRANK are standing together in a football huddle. Pete and Dennis are big burly guys; Jack and Frank are skinnier.]
JACK: All right, guys; this is it. We need a touchdown here or it's all over. Pete and Dennis, you block the pass rush. Then--
PETE: Whoa, whoa. Why do we have to block?
JACK: Uh... because you're blockers. That's what you do.
DENNIS: Oh, that's how this works? You look at us and automatically assume we're blockers?
JACK: I'm not assuming. I've seen you block. You've been blocking all day.
PETE: Oh, nice. Now you block one guy, and you're a block-chucker for life.
DENNIS: You think society is making progress, and then wham -- we're back to the Dark Ages.
JACK: Look, I don't... it's... you guys are just built to block, okay?
DENNIS: Did he just call us fat?
PETE: He did. Totally uncalled for.
JACK: No! Not "fat". Just... "stout". "Big-boned"? "Husky"?
FRANK: I think what Jack's trying to say is, we all appreciate what you do here. Your contribution is...uh, significant. And "sizable". And very special.
PETE: So now we're "special". A couple of window-licking husky-boned block-chuckers, riding the short bus into the huddle. That's just great.
FRANK: What? No! That's not--
DENNIS: Oh, we get it. Pete and Dennis, the big dumb jocks -- let's all hide behind them so we don't get hurt; then we'll laugh and point between plays. Big fun!
JACK: Okay. Okay, fine. We're sorry. Maybe we judged you based on size.
FRANK: And that was WRONG.
JACK: Yes, and we apologize. We'll work harder to give you the respect and consideration you deserve.
DENNIS: And love.
DENNIS: Love. What about the love we deserve?
FRANK: Of course! We're like brothers here.
JACK: Fine. Love, too. The whole shebang. All right?
PETE: Apology accepted.
JACK: Good. Now, will you guys block the pass rush for me?
JACK: Why not?
DENNIS: We're tired of being pigeonholed into a role based on outdated stereotypes. We want to try something new.
JACK: New? Like what?
PETE: Like wide receiver.
FRANK: Wait. I'm the wide receiver.
PETE: And now you can be a blocker. It's only fair.
DENNIS: Not just fair. "Loving."
FRANK: Jack, come on. Help me out here.
JACK: Hey, you promised them love. You're on your own, brother.
FRANK: But it's the last play of the game! Our whole season is riding on this next fly route!
PETE: "Fly"? Oh, no, I'm not running a fly. Lord. I was thinking maybe a short hook. Two steps, turn, and BAM -- there's the ball.
FRANK: We're fifty yards from the end zone! How's that going to help us?
PETE: I dunno. I could juke some defenders. Bob and weave and such. Show off my moves.
FRANK: This is a Hail Mary, not a sumo watusi!
PETE: Hey, hey -- ouch. What happened to "love"? And anyway, there's no point in running all the way down the field. Dennis can't throw that far.
JACK: What does Dennis have to do--
DENNIS: Oh yeah, did I mention? I want to give quarterback a shot. Get the old 'heave-ho' working.
JACK: All right, let me get this straight. You want to quarterback?
JACK: While Pete runs a three-yard hook?
PETE: You betcha.
JACK: When we need fifty yards for a touchdown?
JACK: And Frank and I block a bunch of three hundred pound linemen who bench-press Buicks for breakfast?
PETE: More or less.
JACK: I see. And other than a sudden deathwish, tell me WHY we should run such a ridiculous cockeyed play?
DENNIS: You called us "husky".
PETE: Right. That.
JACK: Fine, here's the ball.
[The four break huddle. Pete awkwardly practices a throwing motion and Dennis works on his 'moves'. Jack and Frank lag a step behind.]
FRANK: Man, Coach is going to kill you for this.
JACK: That lardass? Fat chance.
[Pete and Dennis turn and stare at Jack, aghast. He shoos them off, annoyed, and all exit.]