As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of the use of TV parody in sketch revues. Mostly because they aren't done very well. They rely heavily on familiarity with the source material and don't say much more than "hey, look how stupid this is!" That's not much of a revelation for most of what's on television. I also feel that parody works best in its own medium.
The assignment this week is to write a TV parody for the stage and do it well.
How do you do that?
Imitate it well.
Know your source material well. Pick as your target programs or commercials that you know well, either because you love them, they are a guilty pleasure for you, or they bug you so much you know every detail because watching the show is like watching a train wreck. Know the elements that uniquely make your subject the subject. And be specific. Don't go for making fun of all reality TV shows. There's a huge difference between Supernanny and Survivor. Even shows that seem similar, like the NBC evening news and ABC evening news, have distinctions. And as you pick your target, keep in mind that serious programs are easier to parody than comedies. Dumb comedies are already dumb and its hard to come up with a viable angle that isn't just as dumb. Or dumb enough. Shows that take themselves seriously are already asking for it. Write you scene almost as if you were writing an episode of the show itself.
Also key for this to be successful is casting. You need actors who can emulate the originals without any "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" going on about their performances. They need to take it as seriously as if they were in the real deal.
Once you know what makes a show unique, exaggerate the hell out of it. Even if the TV pitchman announcer is already over-the-top, make him more over-the-top.
Change one thing about the source material and exploit it.
Most successful parodies only change one thing about the original. Many writers try to pack in as many funny ha-ha's as they can, thus diluting the impact of their parody. There's a very funny "24" parody making the rounds. It's a good example of imitate, exaggerate and change one thing. They technically imitate the style of the show well and the actors do a good job of playing it straight with "24" intensity and the one thing they changed? Instead of taking place in the present, it takes place in 1994. I won't ruin any of the gags for you, but imagine high-tech "24" saddled with mid-90's technology and how it would affect Jack Bauer trying to save the world.
ONE MESSAGE. LOUD AND CLEAR
"Impeach Bush Now" Google hits: 49,600 (up 1,900 since yesterday)
Tuesday, March 4th - get your voice heard by creating a worldwide Cyber Shout. Post on your blog, message boards, comment sections, wherever you can, "Impeach Bush Now!"
Playing off the Bush administration use of Iraqi Deck of Death playing cards, satirist Jerry Vasilatos has created a deck of cards called Royal Flush: Impeach Bush Now. According to the creator each card depicts a reason why he feels President George W. Bush should be removed from office via impeachment. You can read more about it HERE.
THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY
Yesterday, I asked...
"In order to 'feng shui' their store, one thing owners of a California McDonald's did was what?"
60% said "Start to individually arrange french fries in their boxes"
- Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the grease. Am I right?
10% said "Made Ronald barefoot"
- Apparently, that's a health code violation, even for clowns and statues.
Nobody said "Paint clouds on the walls"
And 30% got it right with "Add leather chairs"
According to the AP, the only familiar signs at the McDonald's in this Hacienda Heights, California community are the golden arches, the drive-through and the menu. Gone are the plastic furniture, Ronald McDonald and the red and yellow palette that has defined the world's largest hamburger chain. Leather seats, earth tones, bamboo plants and water trickling down glass panels have taken their place. The makeover is part of the attempt by McDonald's Corp. in recent years to remodel hundreds of its restaurants to attract more patrons with unique decor and amenities that might entice them stay awhile and to return.
The Playland has also been replaced with a Zen meditation garden and instead of Happy Meals they have Content Meals.