Thursday, October 16, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen, demons and demonettes, RVD is proud to present our newest show. Here is the press release, for your enjoyment:

Robot vs. Dinosaur Presents:


Opening: October 31st, 2008
Closing: November 22nd, 2008
Days and Time: Fridays and Saturdays at 10pm
Location: Gorilla Tango Theatre
1919 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Tickets: $12

For Tickets, Call 773.598.4544 or visit

CHICAGO, IL – Robot vs. Dinosaur proudly presents their new show, Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan. Times are tough everywhere, even in Hell. With Hell crippled by overcrowding, thanks in part to the Internet, Satan may be forced to make a rash decision. But when push comes to shove, will Satan sell out?

Follow along as a father and son journey past demons, sinners and a three-headed puppy on a tour of the past, present and future of Hell led by none other than Satan himself.

Opening just in time for the Halloween weekend, Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan weaves together short comic scenes with compelling narrative to create a funny and playfully irreverent theatrical experience that will leave audiences laughing.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Satan is performed by Neil Arsenty, Kim Boler, Lisa Burton, Jill Fenstermaker, Tim Heurlin, Ryan McDermott, Nat Topping and Trish Vignola and is directed by Geoff Crump.

Robot vs. Dinosaur is Mike Bauman, Geoff Crump, Joe Janes, Joe Linstroth, Chris Othic, Nat Topping and Greg Wendling.

Tell everyone you know!

Friday, September 5, 2008


Monday, September 8, 2008

Robot vs. Dinosaur is NOW CASTING for its new, fun, totally demonic and hell-centric scripted sketch revue.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Slots available at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 pm. The audition will consist of cold readings from the script.


GORILLA TANGO THEATER, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Friday and Saturdays, October 31 through November 22
at 10:00 pm


Looking for a variety of MALES and FEMALES.

To sign up for a time slot, please email Chris Othic at or call 773-314-3582 and leave a message with your name, phone number and preferred time slot. I will contact you to confirm your slot.

Please bring headshots and resumes to the audition, as well as your availability for rehearsals from now through October 31st.

Monday, July 28, 2008


We are taking the summer off. We’re not sure when we will be coming back, but keep checking our blog for future updates. We will also continue posting weekly assignments and sketch discussions as well. Keep writing!


At our recent Robowriters meeting, we discussed a certain type of scene that I’ve noticed that uses a phrase over and over, sort of like a trigger point or a reset button.

As an example, a recent scene I directed for the sketch troupe Cell Camp featured the phrase “Take a letter!” over and over. The set up was a crazy man walks up to a mall information desk and demands that the assistant take a letter for him while he dictates it. The scene really begins when he demands “Take a letter,” at which point the assistant tells him he doesn’t offer that type of assistance, etc. After the first beat runs its course, and we think the crazy man will leave him alone, there is a pause and the crazy man says “Take a letter!” The next beat continues with him dictating a new letter. This continues on and on, each beat seemingly coming to a conclusion, until the scene ends as it started with the crazy man demanding “take a letter.” Blackout.

Part of the comedy comes from hearing this line delivered over and over, and each time the audience hears it, they know that they are in for another short ride of silliness in which the crazy man has to justify his reason for another letter to be written and the other character resists.

When you look at a scene like this, it is almost structured like a song. Each time you hear the repeating line, it acts like a chorus, and the verses are what fill in the story of the song (or scene, in this case). Following this example, you can even break the pattern of the scene by having a bridge near the end, which might be a walk-on by another character, a rant by one of the characters, or anything else you can think of. But it will always come back to that repeating phrase.

Another thing to note is that these scenes can work in two ways. One is where the line that is being repeated is always spoken in the exact same tone and emotion throughout the scene. The actual beat of the scene will vary in energy (most likely getting bigger and more frenetic as the beat builds) but the phrase will reset everything back to a normal level. The flip of that would be that each beat has a similar energy, and the delivery of the line changes (most likely gets bigger and more emotional) each time it is repeated. This is probably a result of which character is reacting more, the one repeating the phrase or the one hearing it.

Almost any line that you can attach some sort of emotional significance to will work. I would suggest making a list of 10 lines, choosing 3 you like, and then taking one of those and writing a scene with it.

Here are five I came up with:

But I made a casserole.
I don’t want to go to Iowa.
I’m sorry I offended you.
That’s what I’m trying to tell you!
Can I offer you a sandwich?

Taking “Can I offer you a sandwich” as a line, you can start a two-person scene with the first person asking that question, and then give the second person reasons for not wanting a sandwich (not hungry, just ate, etc.). The first person will of course have reasons for him to eat it (it’s delicious, it’s free, you’re too skinny, etc.). The person asking will obviously not take no for an answer. The scene could build for three beats, each time ending with the one fellow refusing the sandwich, then the other fellow seemingly giving up, but then asking again. The last beat could feature a rant by the person being offered the sandwich (this would be the bridge), then a pause, you think the scene is over, until the first character says, “You look really angry. Are you sure I can’t offer you a sandwich?” Black out.

So give it a try. Write a scene based on this idea. Then have a sandwich.

Chris Othic

Friday, July 25, 2008


Robowriters meets Saturday at 1pm at Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee. $5. It is open to everyone. Come have a sketch read or come get ideas for new scenes. We are taking a break starting in August, but will meet this week. Come on out and share in the fun!

Friday, July 18, 2008


Robowriters meets Saturday at 1pm at Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee. $5. It is open to everyone. Come have a sketch read or come get ideas for new scenes. We are taking a break starting in August, but will meet this week and next week. Come on out!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Robowriters Assignment


This assignment is a pretty good way to just start a scene and jump right in। You are going to take a line of overheard dialogue and use it as a jumping off point for a writing exercise. First, do a Google search of the term "overheard." Go to any of the websites you find. Here are a couple you will come across:

Browse through them until you find a line you would like to use। Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to write after you choose a line of dialogue, just jump right into it. It’s also best to use this exercise as a sort of writing improvisation.

Once you find a line, just get to writing your scene। You can take a few seconds—no more than 20 or 30--to think of a possible setting or characters, but it’s really best to start writing immediately and discover those things as you write. An alternative to starting the scene with one of these overheard lines is to try and write your way into the line. I’d try to get to it sooner rather than later, probably by the end of your second page of script.

One of the great things about reading these "overheard" lines is that you do not know the context that they are spoken in, so you have to create it yourself। Starting a scene with one of these lines is also a great way to begin a scene quickly by throwing something at the audience and getting right into the conflict of the scene.

Also remember that writing is a lot of observing what is around you and then creating your own context for those events। Feel free to eavesdrop as you go through your day and you might overhear a line or short conversation that you can use in your scene work as well.

Now get to writing!


Friday, June 27, 2008


Robowriters meets Saturday at 1pm at Gorilla Tango, 1919 North Milwaukee. $5. It is open to everyone. Come have a sketch read or come get ideas for new scenes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Robo-Bloggers - The Welcome Post

Welcome to the official blog of Robot vs. Dinosaur - Chicago!

We hope to use this forum to provide you with information about our sketch comedy group, let you know about upcoming shows and answer any questions you might have. Questions like, "who the hell are you?" and, "what the hell are you doing here?"

Good questions. Let's start with those.

Who the hell we are:

"Robot vs. Dinosaur originated in New York and was brought to Chicago by Joe Janes in 2007 when he assembled a roster of writers and performers that have a great deal of experience in the Chicago sketch comedy and improv scenes. Robot vs. Dinosaur appeared at the 2007 Chicago Sketchfest, and just recently completed their run of The Greatest Stories Never Told . . . TOLD! at The Gorilla Tango Theater."

What the hell we are doing here:

We are "a writer-centric group whose goal is to write and perform original comic material that is eclectic, dynamically staged and fun for audiences." Basically, we're here to make you laugh.

I'm sure as our group members become more and more familiar with this The Internet contraption we will fill in more information on our history, our group members, and our previous and upcoming shows. You are all welcome to check back any time you like to get the latest on our humble little group.

Now for a quick little tour of the new blog:

In the right hand column you'll see a couple of different features. At the top is our featured battle between a robot and a dinosaur. We ask you to vote and let us know who you think would win in a fight. Feel free to vote, however we obviously ask that you please heavily consider each battle before weighing in.

Beneath the battle portion, you will find the Labels section. One of the labels is 'Robowriters Assignment.'

Robowriters is a writing workshop that we run on Saturdays at 1:00 PM at the Gorilla Tango theatre (1919 N. Milwaukee Ave in Chicago, near intersection with Western). At each meeting we give out a Robowriter assignment meant to help get your creative juices going. We will post each week's assignment on this blog (the first assignment is already posted - go ahead and check it out!) and we will also post announcements about meeting times, cancellations for holidays, etc.

If you are ever in the need of some advice on a piece that you are working, or would just like to come hang out and get some comedy writing tips, please feel free to stop on in. All that we require is a mere $5.00.

That's all I have for the moment. Feel free to leave us comments in the comment sections under the posts (we love comments), and if you have any questions about the group please let us know. Otherwise, check back periodically for updates, pictures and videos of past performances, robowriter information and other delightful content.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Robowriters Assignment: The Three-Page Scene

When writing for our last show, Robot vs. Dinosaur writers explored writing longer scenes. Whereas a typical sketch should come in at right around five pages, we played around with ten page scenes, and occasionally some that were even a few pages longer. I think some of the writers liked doing this, as it gave them more freedom to explore and develop the scene. I hated it. Once you get around ten pages, I feel like you are writing more a of play than a sketch, and there is a different set of rules to work with.

Recently, however, we have been going the other way, by writing three-page scenes. I love the three-page scene, and I’ll tell you why. The most common critique I give when reading sketches is that a scene “can start a lot sooner.” Often, when someone comes in with a first draft, the scene doesn’t really begin until page two (or three sometimes) because the writer is “writing” their way into a scene, giving too much setup. In a good sketch comedy scene, you almost never need more than a half a page to set up the scene and then get to the conflict and start creating obstacles for the protagonist. With a three-page scene, you don’t have to worry about having too much setup because you just don’t have space for it.

The assignment here is simple: write a three-page scene, no more, no less. Anything less than three pages, and you run the risk of writing a blackout or an extended blackout. Anything more and you are not writing a three-page scene, you’re writing a four-page scene. Duh.

A three-page scene has everything a regular scene has: a set up, a problem, heightening, and a resolution, but it’s just done more economically. It’s a good way to cut the fat out, because every word has to be there for a reason. That’s why you don’t want to get fancy and have even two or three lines skip over to page four, keep it at three at all costs because it will really force you to go back and trim every unnecessary line out of the scene.

The other reason I like three-page scenes is this: it’s easier than five pages, because you can have an idea for a scene and only have to heighten it for a shorter period of time. I’ve read many scenes that were great ideas, but they either started too far into the scene, or ran out of gas at the end. With a three-pager you can avoid both of these problems. You will also find that it’s easier to take an idea that might not be quite good enough to go five pages, but you can sustain it for three fairly easily.

So write a three-page scene. It can be an original, or go find a five-page script you wrote that maybe didn’t work, and see if you can make it explode in three pages. Have fun.