MAKING A SAFFERLAND SKETCH – THE CONCEPT

Just in case you think making these things happens like (finger snap) that, here’s the first in a series of blogposts about the process that results in 2 to 6 minutes of content that may or may not make you LOL. First up is the idea or concept. Even though our main characters are now established we like to live by the credence that they’re only as good as their last sketch. So the pressure is always on to keep them relevant and keep them funny. Ideas can come from a few places, but let’s start with the obvious- the news.

These ideas are usually societal issues or people in the news that piss us off so much that we feel we have to say something about it or we’re gonna burst. The faith we have in these idea generators stems from the knowledge that if they’re pissing us off then there’s a strong chance they’re pissing at least 50% of the population off as well. Also, just the fact that a lot of people read/hear/see the news too, means that we’re beginning from a common page. And for us that’s important. Because the biggest fear of all artists is that, after all their hard work in creating their masterpieces (artists can be quite biased towards their own work), no-one might actually give a shit about it. Some artists don’t give a shit about this in itself, which is very brave, but it’s also a little unsociable. As we at Safferland believe that the best laugh is a shared one, we want to include as many people in our world as possible, so the quest for the common page is a real one.

Although there is a lot in SA news these days that is gagging to be satirised, we’re careful not to get all our ideas from it, cause although we’re making the audience laugh, we’re also reminding them of the societal spanner-in-the-works that the sketch is about, and too many spanners can get a bit heavy. This is usually where character steps up and takes the lead. If the character is original and well-drawn then we’ll find them taking us places we wouldn’t have thought of, and as suffering writers, believe me, that’s the most fun. It’s what happens every time Dr Gert uses a personal experience (usually involving a braai) as a psychological analogy, or when Brett leads us down the narrow and somewhat violent path of his bouncer logic.

And then some ideas are nothing less than gifts from the muses. These are what creative types call ‘inspired ideas’. But like a cat will only give you a cursory nod of acknowledgment if you feed it the right food at the right time (anytime between 5am – 5:20am) , the muses will only toss you an idea if you’ve spent time worshipping at their altar. In other words- if you’re staring at a blank computer screen for 30 – 60min or if you’re staring at your writing partner’s blank, coffee-saturated face for even longer. Yes, awkward silences can lead to some very funny face savers.

Of course, a good idea is just a good idea, and you still have to have the skills, passion and perseverance to make something from it. That’s where the writing comes in, and where Part 1 of Making a Safferland Sketch goes out.

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