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.