The List

With our eighth episode complete, it’s time for me to start writing again. Facing the blank page, again. It’s cliché, but very apt, and very intimidating. So, how do I get started? First, I check The List – my list of sketch ideas. I’m such a dweeb that my list is on an Excel spreadsheet. Sometimes the idea is a word or two, or an entire phrase, like #82: Superhero/villain in jail or #91: Delicious Aliens. When I originally made the list and printed it out, there were 70 ideas.

If I were a type-A person, I’d update the file and print it out every time I added something. But, I’m a type-somewhere-down-the-alphabet person, so I left empty spaces up to 88. Once I filled those in, I started scrawling ideas in the margins. I numbered them up to 95, but I don’t even do that anymore. I just jot the idea anywhere on the page with a bullet. That’s where the idea “Be your Amazon Bitch” is, which eventually became The Dating Game for moms sketch, Will You Be My Mom Friend. Actually, it’s a quote. My good friend, Janet, literally offered to be my Amazon bitch (she’s a good friend!) and I knew that quote had to be the punchline to something.

Sometimes an idea jumps out at me from The List and I work on it, trying to flesh it out, and it goes nowhere. #2 on my list is “a cake in the road (traffic back up).” I’ve fooled around with the cake in the road more than I care to admit. With each new show I come back to it, brainstorm a little, and hit a wall again. But you never know. I’ll keep trying….

For this last show, I started with twelve ideas, then narrowed them down to five. My original idea for the Superhero sketch (#82 on my list) was to have the villain in jail and build something around that. But as I fooled around with it, it wasn’t working. Then for some reason that Bugs Bunny cartoon where the sheepdog and the wolf go to work together popped into my head. They battle each other all day, but then the whistle blows and they’re friends and walk home together. It’s just a job. So I started to think of other ways a superhero and villain could interact in a very mundane way. And then I got the idea of the bar with the superhero drowning her sorrows for some reason and the villain shows up. Once I had that, I had to figure out who the superhero and the supervillain were. And that, my friends, gets me to avoid the dreaded blank page even further because then I spend time brainstorming the characters and what their deal is.

For the Antiques Roadshow parody (scribbled on my list in sparkly orange marker, by the way), I also have the notes “Holy Grail” and “Ark of the Covenant.” My husband and I watch a lot of Antiques Roadshow and we’re always shocked when an appraiser gives a beautiful object with fabulous provenance a low value because of some seemingly minor flaw – a tiny scratch or a slightly worn patina, or a patina not worn enough! So originally the sketch was going to have people bringing in these incredible religious relics, like the holy grail or the ark of the covenant. But somewhere in my brain dump sessions, I had the appraiser call something “crap,” and the lightbulb went off. Personally, my favorite line in that sketch is when the first appraiser says you can’t tell whether the object was made by humans or raccoons. And, while we were recording it, Ellen had to turn away a few times to avoid laughing out loud while Michele was doing the appraisal. You might be able to hear a tiny audible snort when Michele says, “This is crap.” That’s probably me!

Thanks again for listening and enjoy the show!

Anita

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