Visible boners, and sketches that never actually start.
Every year, there's trends that I notice in the sketches we see at SketchFest. One year, it'll be something clear like closing with white-boy rap numbers. Another, it'll be more subtle, like a phrase that permeates half the sketches we see. This year, there were two trends I noticed in SketchFest NYC, and they ran the gamut:
The first was visible boners. Whether it was a photoshopped penis sticking out of someone's head, or a raging member knocking over furniture, there was a proliferation of penis jokes on stage.
The second was sketches that never start. Meaning, a group would begin their show… But the show would never really begin, cycling through various ideas, before settling on what the show was truly about.
If I was to venture a guess as to why these trends showed up, I might look towards the fact that on one side, you have the crass, base, shock humor of a sexual organ exposed on stage; and on the other side, the cerebral view of sketch comedy as an art that can be dissected, and devoured whole while being scathingly commented on. The most accessible of jokes, and the least accessible, sometimes at the same time.
That all said, there's something I want to stress: I love that these trends show up each year, because it says we're doing something right. Rather than getting disparate groups who have no connection to each other, no shared language, we've scoured the country and found thirty-six groups – most of whom have never met before – all speaking the same dialogue in different ways. And more than that, each time, despite being similar types of jokes, they all nailed it in different ways, through their own points of view. That's exciting not just to watch, but also for the future of the form.
Anyway, pretension out of the way, this was a great year for the Festival – a step forward in many ways, and a realignment in others. We had huge crowds, great press turn-out, and even a standing ovation. But when it comes down to it, the main feedback we heard this year was what we set out to get in the very first year: that everyone had a great time. That SketchFest NYC feels like an exciting party, a relaxing weekend for the sketch comedians who work so hard on stage.
Luckily, we had an amazing staff and volunteers who made all this seem easy and effortless, while I know they were all working their butts off for four solid days. Plus, of course, our wonderful sponsors who made all of this possible. Without them, we literally would not have a Festival. Of course, thank you to the groups and performers who donated their time simply because they love doing sketch comedy; and lastly, to the audiences who came out to see shows, we hope you liked them enough to check out more sketch groups throughout the year, before coming back to SketchFest NYC. You won't be sorry.
We'll see you in 2012,