Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Insanity

Today, Tuesday, May 18th, puts us 16 days away from opening night!

There's a lot of momentum going on. All across Chicago, there's 179 actors working on their lines and blocking and, I hope, having a great time. For a writer, this is mind blowing. By June 3rd, I will have very little mind left.

Don Hall is working on figuring out how we can squeeze in more people into Hugen Hall because tickets are selling fast.

I was interviewed about the project by Jason Heidemann of TimeOut Chicago. My first interview on the project and a great opportunity to sort out some thoughts on the project. In my conversation with him, I discovered there was a perception that I wrote 365 Sketches first and then decided to have them all produced. The decision to have them produced came much earlier.

As I was writing them, I knew I wanted something to happen with them, but not sure what or how. When one writes for the stage, the process isn't complete until the damn thing is on the stage. Somewhere around sketch #50, Don Hall liked what he had been reading and insisted that we put them all up. Quite a task that neither of us could put our heads around as to how to do it. Do we literally do them all in one big ass show? Do we have comedy groups and theaters around Chicago do a show each in their own spaces? Through several conversations we came upon doing them all in one location and realized sometime around June 2009 that the best way to do it was to break the scenes up into two-week blocks. Each two-week block would be a "show." Two-week blocks meant 26 shows. 26 shows meant 26 directors. Both of us are pretty good at directing sketch comedy, but knew we would both have our hands full producing the event. We needed help.

Starting last June, I began lining up directors with the goal of having a cross-section of people representing different theater companies, comedy groups and, by association, different institutions (Columbia College, DePaul University, Second City, iO, Annoyance, LOL, ComedySportz, etc). Specifically looking for people who had the gumption to take on something as ridiculous as this and could pull their show together with little supervision and ZERO budget.

We have a wide variety of directors who have brought in a wide variety of talent. It's great for me to see so many new faces mixed in with some of my favorite actors. I'm also proud of the fact that over half of our directors, 16 to be exact, are women. Women get shafted as sketch comedy directors in this town and there's absolutely no justifiable reason for it. I hope this project helps change that.

How did knowing they would be produced by mid-project affect the writing? I'm not really sure that it did. I always write with the intention that what I'm writing will be staged. It's the main reason I don't just throw myself into writing screenplays or spec scripts. I'm reasonably sure that when I write a sketch or play, it will get done. Unless it sucks. Then I don't want it to get done.

Tomorrow, I'll post some rehearsal pics.


  1. "Both of us are pretty good at directing sketch comedy . . ."

    Didn't your mother ever teach you humility?

  2. Well, I did say "pretty good" not "spectacularly effing awesome suck it mo-fos" like I initially wanted to.