Archive for Thursday, November 27, 1997

WORKSHOP WRITERS FIND HUMOR IN THE NEWS

November 27, 1997

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"Imagination Workshop's" members look on the front page for the material for their routines.

When it comes to explaining the "how-to" of comedy writing, "Imagination Workshop" producer Darrell Brogdon pretends to be at a loss for words.

"If I were teaching a class on writing comedy, the first thing I would tell my students is I don't have the slightest idea how to tell them to write comedy," he said with a laugh.

And yet the show, under Brogdon's direction, has been eliciting audience laughter for years based on the humor the writers find in the daily headlines.

"Imagination Workshop" is at it again Saturday, as cast members take the stage for 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. shows at Liberty Hall, 644 Mass., with the later performance being broadcast live on KANU-FM 91.5.

The show aims its topical humor at Marv Albert's recent Barbara Walters interview, the stock market plunge and the usual Clinton/Gore follies.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Janet Reno is also the target in "Janet Reno: Private Eye," and Bob Dole gets the comedy treatment as a contestant on the game show "Brain Twister."

TV shows are also spoofed with the workshop sketch, "Improperly Touched by an Angel."

New episodes of "Fishing with Dwayne" and "The Casebook of Mobile Holmes" are also planned along with a year-in-review song medley.

It is evident from their past record that the cast members are serious about their comedy, and Brogdon does let slip a few writing tips.

Scheduling and teamwork go a long way, he said.

"We start six weeks ahead, preparing our ongoing running bits," he said. "Closer to the show we get more topical, reading newspapers and magazines for fodder for the show."

Once-a-week writers' meetings are scheduled so the group can read over notes and try out new ideas.

"We are hard on each other. We tear ideas apart. If we can make each other laugh, we know we can make the audience laugh," Brogdon said.

The writers also must keep the sketches flexible to meet audience needs or to update current news items.

"Right now we are planning a sketch called 'Saddam Knows Best' and we're hoping that a war does not break out the day before the show, or we will have to take a serious look at that sketch," Brogdon said.

As the show's main writer, Brogdon shared a few more trade secrets, such as keeping jokes short and fast-paced. Self-discipline also helps.

"The hardest part is to sit down and do it," he said, "but having a deadline is a great way to figure out how to get it down on paper."

-- The Mag's phone message number is 832-7146. Send e-mail to biles@ljworld.com.

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