We’ve all enjoyed great sketch comedy, suffered through terrible sketch comedy and furrowed our brows at totally inexplicable sketch comedy. But how does sketch comedy, you know, work? I sat down with Sam Brown and Trevor Moore of IFC’s own sketch comedy show “The Whitest Kids U’Know” to find out how the magic happens.
What’s your writing process like?
Trevor Moore: Everything’s written different ways. If someone has an idea for a sketch, they can come in and be like, “I really want to do this,” but when we’re actually writing for a deadline, we’re like, “Okay, everybody take five minutes and write down as many ideas as come to mind.” And then we go around the circle, and it’s everybody pitching out their ideas. And we’ll just kind of be like, “Okay, that one” depending on what everybody laughs at.
Sam Brown: And a lot of times it’ll even get to the point where we’ll work on something until we decide, “Eh, maybe it wasn’t the best idea.”
TM: Yeah, and then some of our sketches are like you know, Sam’s nut popping out in the first episode of season two. That just came about when we were outside of one of our live shows…
SB: …I think, “What if we had a sketch where the joke was that I had one nut out?” I think it was that simple.
TM: And we’re talking about that “Yeah, and what if you come back later and it’s hanging out of your collar?” And then we wrote a sketch for that.
So it’s just basically a lot of drunken conversation.
As connoisseurs of a certain type of comedy that… pushes boundaries, where do you figure the line is? Or is there a line?
TM: It’s all tone. I don’t think there’s any issue that you can’t talk about. A lot of our sketches deal with race or homophobia and stuff like that. The person that the joke is on tends to be the racist character or the homophobic character. They’re the odd man out, not like they’re the norm.
SB: You’re not gonna be mean to people for no reason.
TM: Well, that can be funny, too. [laughs]
Where did the name of the group come from?
TM: It was like really early in the troupe, and we had a couple of names that weren’t very good that we were considering. We used to go out and film stuff with video cameras, just on the street. We were doing some sort of freestyle rapping thing on the subway, and this one guy who was friends with us was like, “You guys are the whitest kids I know.” We were in the market for a name, so we were like, “That’ll do!”
Who do you guys like out there, in terms of influences or just people you think are doing great things in comedy right now?
TM: Well, everyone in the troupe has different influences. I think one consistent influence for me is Monty Python. There’ll never be anyone better. They’re the Beatles of comedy. The troupe kind of goes down into two groups — Sam and I are into Monty Python, Steve Coogan and some comedians that no one’s ever heard. And Zack and Timmy and Darren really like Dane Cook and
SB:the Blue Collar [Comedy Tour].
SB: Yeah, they are. They have the DVD. They watched it a lot when we were on tour.
TM: That and “Full House.”
SB: Timmy just got that. He ordered it. It comes in a little house, like the actual house
TM: And it’s just full of DVDs. It’s a full house of DVDs. That’s their influence.
Any plans to work on movies?
TM: Yeah, Zack and I just finished a movie [a Fox comedy called “Playboys”] that we’re editing right now. We actually have to turn in our first cut next Friday. The Whitest Kids have a movie written that we’re actually about to go out and try to set up somewhere.
A sketch comedy movie?
TM: It’s not a sketch comedy movie. It’s a linear story we don’t play multiple characters, but it’s got the same tone and mentality of the TV show. The hard thing was having an arc for each character they all have to learn something along the way. I think we took care of that pretty well. It’s kind of like a live action “Duck Tales” episode.
[Trevor Moore and Sam Brown of “The Whitest Kids U’Know”; Andre Vippolis, 2008]