So what is 'solo sketch' anyways? An expert weighs in
What is a solo sketch artist? Is it a person who sits in courtrooms and sketching the portraits of possible criminals? Is it someone who independently makes people uncomfortable like asking to use your phone because they're "friend" was supposed to pick them up but now their "phone is dead"?
Solo sketch is character driven comedy. It's when a single person takes to the stage and builds a comedic story right in front of your eyes. Brave! We wanted more insight into this unique art form and so we sought out and expert in comedian, writer and producer, and solo sketch artist Tom Hearn.
Hi, Tom. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We have some hard hitting questions that need answering. To begin, what is Sketch comedy?
Sketch comedy is a bunch of short scenes (sketches) that tend to be 1-5 minutes long and are hopefully funny. Sketches can be topical, character driven, musical, fast, slow… have clowns in them if you want an audience to watch that… Sketches are normally performed by a group of comedians and in my case its live on stage!
What is solo sketch?
See above but remove the group. It's solo baby!
What are the 10 things you need to do to be a solo sketch artist?
Have a dollar store in your area.
Own a hot glue gun!
Have TMZ alerts on.
Be in therapy.
Be able to do a southern twang.
Not get offended when people introduce you saying "he's gonna do some...what? Characters? Sure that will be good."
Know how to make an electrical tape mustache.
W - I - G - S !!!!!!!!!!
Which sketch troupes or sketch artists do have had the most impact on the form?
The Sketchersons are a STAPLE for the sketch comedy scene. Sunday Night Live has been playing at the Comedy Bar for 15 years. The Sketchersons write a brand new sketch show every single week with a new host, it's extremely impressive. This show is also responsible for many new comedians being hired at Second City, 22 Minutes, The Beaverton ETC. It's a sketch comedy training ground.
The Tita collective POPPED OFF this year with a show that is made for the Filipino community. We are seeing a lot of sketch comedy shows that are speaking to a specific point of view like the upcoming Tall Boyz and the Black Lady Sketch show, my show A Sketch Comedy Extravaganza Eleganza and Baroness Von Sketch Show.
The solo sketch comedy world is slowly growing but we have mainstays like Kirsten Rasmussen who is one of the best sketch performers and sketch directors in the city. Cole Escola is huge inspiration for me. He tours his show around North America is absolutely so funny!
What advice would you give someone who wanted to get into solo sketch? Asking for a friend…
It's gonna feel weird especially if you come from a troupe. You are going to have all the set ups and jokes, it's all on you. Once you get past that feeling you will be flying free! After hours of playing the same thing over and over again alone you will feel stuck. Sketches and characters are all going to sound the same to you, but they are not… I PROMISE!!!
Get an outside eye like a director or even a pal to watch you. A huge thing most solo artists forget, because we have so many other things to think about like writing, acting, tech, promo etc, is BLOCKING. Make sure you are not just standing in the same place for an hour with a wig on.
Is there a special solo sketch recommended diet I...I mean...people could implement if they wanted to get really good at it?
What kind of person is best suited for solo sketch?
I think you need to be someone who isn't afraid to hold yourself accountable. This is just you on stage in a wig. If you don't put the time in it will show, and that's a horrible feeling.
Well, we sure learned a lot about this obscure comedy art form called solo sketch. Thank you, Tom. To learn more about how to sketch in all its varieties go see Tom live in the hit improv show Hookup at Bad Dog Theatre Company, Sunday Night Live with the The Sketchersons, or MILK Comedy, all in Toronto.