*THIS POST IS RE-PUBLISHED FROM WEBSERIESTHEORIES.COM, A FORMER BLOG OF MINE.
WARNING: This is a gushing review and analysis, but there are so many things to take away from it! : )
JUNIORVARSITYTV.COM’s Best Sketch Comedy Show (BSCS) in their own words is “an actual show with a variety of sketches, not just one stand-alone sketch per episode”, which as far as I have found is a unique and fresh content format for the webseries medium. The show falls in line with something you might see in the mainstream with shows, like SNL (though BSCS is not live) or the late Chappelle Show.
BEST SKETCH COMEDY SHOW – PROMO
SNL is a monumental legacy in our television history, but I think many agree that the quality of the comedy in recent years has declined significantly. I’d attribute this to their current talent pool, but also the show’s hour-and-a-half format. Thanks to the web, I’m sure you’ll agree that we live in a fast-paced world, where attention is divided and short (one of the reasons I think webseries have started finding a significant audience), also the reason I think SNL’s Digital Shorts are so popular.
With this new landscape comes some very significant challenges. As many webseries creators will admit, writing and producing an episode that quickly captures a viewer’s attention, while also cramming a full narrative that leaves the audience feeling as though they received their click’s worth in just a few minutes, can be a daunting task. It requires a very specific level of understanding, talent, and luck to accomplish. The creators behind Best Sketch Comedy Show, Brandon Dunaway, Steve Porcaro, and Michael Evangelis have pushed themselves into an even greater depth of difficulty, in having an entire short-format show comprised of sketches.
SKETCH comedy, as I am sure you know, is the ultimate challenge in comedy. You have even less time, which means there isn’t a first act or scene for plot and character development. An actor doesn’t have room to breathe in their role. You cut in, get a laugh, and leave. To be able to do this over and over again, sustaining a viewer’s attention and giggles, is an incredible talent, which these three creators have in spades (to use a good cliché).
Often, I’ve found that many people don’t consider the acting side of comedic performances. These three actors commit to each and every sketch in performance, completely. Watching their entire run so far, I haven’t found one ingenuine moment, which is key, because we enter each sketch already lived in. The characters have life, so we accept them and what they do; it makes it OK for us to laugh, even if they are ridiculously unreal or offensive.
Behind the camera, Steve Porcaro, as Director and Editor, supports these performances brilliantly. My favorite editorial choice, is the book-ending of each show with an outtake or blooper. At first, I was afraid this was a gimmicky decision, but after some consideration, I feel it brings an incredible amount of connectivity to the show. We are immediately invited in on the joke. The audience is made to feel like a part of the process, which goes a long way to us accepting their format. The rest of Porcaro’s choices provide a simplistic, fast-paced, and elegant complement to his and the rest of the team’s writing. I’d be interested to know how much of the show is improvised. My feeling is that the writing is incredibly minimal, allowing room for play. And it seems to be the perfect balance between the two.
Expanding outward from the featured content of the site, Best Sketch Comedy Show, you find a very smart design and an intelligent use of communication platforms. In my last post, I praised Spellfury for their site, but now I think they’d do good to take notes from the guys at Junior Varsity.
First off, through their design, Junior Varsity appears to be laying the groundwork for not just Best Sketch Comedy Show, but also for an entire comedy network, indicating a plan for the long-term. Bold it may be, but these creators seem driven and are thinking about the big picture, which you must be doing, if you are going to take the time and effort it requires to produce quality images and content, while competing with the rest of the web (soon to be the rest of media).
Junior Varsity’s site utilizes a sleek and simplistic layout that is easy on the eyes and points to various channels of sharing and communication with and about their content. They have an e-mail list. Smart. Think about it; with an email list you have a quantifiable and direct method of communication with your most devout fans. They have a donate button, which we all know could lead to further success (RE: The Guild). You can see the activity on their Facebook and Twitter from their site, which builds community around their site. They have a blog and other content, all written in a fun comedic voice, in vein with the show. They simply understand shotgun fishing (RE: my last post).
Let’s face it. I’m loving these guys and what they’re doing. So what’s the theory (which have lately started looking more like lessons. Sorry! I just want to help . . . )?
WEBSERIES THEORY: Expand with your audience.
When I attempted to quickly navigate Junior Varsity’s site, performing research for this article, there was an extreme lag. I assume that this is due to the recent amount of press and popularity that the show has received, leading to more traffic on their server. And that’s great, but stay on top of your success. If it takes a significant amount of time to load your content, I may be turned away. And that marketing shotgun, that you’ve got loaded and ready to go, is useless, if there’s no one around to shoot. (Man, this metaphor is getting violent.)
That aside, Junior Varsity is a creative team to watch. And we can all learn a great deal from them.
Thanks for reading!