My friend and fellow RvD member Joe Janes spent an entire year writing sketches - one a day. As though that isn't a herculean enough of a task, he's in the middle of a ten night festival - 365 Sketches - showing all of those works in their entirety.
Tonight, RvD does their part by performing "A Thing I Wrote," consisting of weeks 31 & 32. If you are able to make it out tonight, you should come. If you are busy tonight, you should still try to make a show or two before the festival ends on Sunday.
Yes, I am biased because not only is Joe my friend but I'm also in the show. That said, I think 365 is incredibly important for a couple of reasons:
- It's an acknowledgement of the sheer amount of work Joe put in for an entire year. As someone who writes sketch comedy, I can attest to the fact that it's not always easy. The fact that Joe was able to write a new sketch a day for a year is a testament to his dedication and his ability.
- The sketches are all good. I've seen a few of the shows now and I have yet to see a sketch that I thought was terrible. Combined with the breadth of the project, that's an amazing accomplishment.
- These sketches are a vessel holding decades worth of sketch comedy writing experience. Are you learning to write sketch comedy? Do you want to know what a fish out of water scene or a relationship sketch is supposed to look like? Do you want to know what works and what doesn't work? Do you want to know how to get away with a shock-joke without alienating your audience? 365 is the place to benefit from Joe's vast experience as a teacher and as a Second City alumnus.
- Since each show is directed and performed by a wide variety of people from different parts of the sketch comedy landscape, the show is essentially a meeting of comedy minds from across the city. The show is the perfect combination of Joe's writing prowess and this city's interpretive creativity.
* * * *
When Joe finished the writing process back in January, a bunch of people got together at Goose Island brewery on Clark and celebrated. As part of the celebration, RvD wrote him a scene entitled "Sketch Zero." The scene is basically an excuse to give Joe a good natured ribbing and drop a 'pants on the ground' reference back when that was still topical. Chris (another RvD member) posted it on the blog today, and I still got a chuckle reading it through five months later. If you're curious, you can read it at the link.
Show starts at 8:00 tonight at the Straw Dog Theatre, 3829 N Broadway in Chicago. Let's do it.
What's interesting is that one of the earliest seedlings for this project came from Nat himself when he came in to an RvD meeting with a Johnny Appleseed scene he wrote that afternoon. He was determined not to come in empty handed and just sat down and churned out a scene. And, as I recall, it didn't go through much in the rewriting process. Nat showed that something like 365 was possible.
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