Short Stacks Eleven Commandments*:

  1. Comedy is hard. Comic structure is dramatic structure but MORE SO: neater, faster, more intense. You should have your structure completely figured out before you write a single line.
  2. Brevity is godliness. If a sketch is over 5 minutes, we better be literally peeing our pants when we read it. If something CAN be cut, it SHOULD be cut.
  3. Characters are funnier than dialogue. Know who your characters are. “A middle-aged guy” is not a character. Funny characters with weak lines >>>> weak characters with clever lines.
  4. If you’ve got a beginning but don’t have an ending, you are mistaken. You don’t have the right beginning.
  5. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. We do not have a captive live audience, or even a semi-passive TV audience. There is nothing to stop the viewer from turning off your sketch after 15 seconds when it doesn’t look funny. Your opening better look like the funniest thing they’ve seen all day.
  6. ACTION speaks louder than words. There’s a reason we are not making radio plays. If there is nothing visual in your sketch, then we have no reason to film it.
  7. Sketches are not written: they are RE-WRITTEN and RE-WRITTEN and RE-WRITTEN. And then shown to someone who you trust to tell you it stinks. And then RE-WRITTEN again.
  8. Avoid the topical. This isn’t SNL. We have no idea how quickly a sketch will gain an audience. Could be next week. Could be next year. Don’t date your material.
  9. Avoid the political. This isn’t The Daily Show. No one is interested in your thoughts on the Federal Reserve.
  10. Avoid the regional. This isn’t Almost Live. We are a sketch comedy team that happens to be based in Seattle, not a Seattle sketch comedy team.
  11. Comedy is really hard.

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