British Comedy Guide

I can't write endings... Page 2

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David Salisbury

  • Friday 7th December 2012, 2:43pm
  • Reading, England
  • 201 posts
Quote: StephenM @ November 20 2012, 12:28 PM GMT

Personally speaking I approach endings differently for different types of sketches.

For quick sketches or ones with a build to a big finale the punchline / ending is the most important part of the sketch. For those I'd start with the ending and work backwards to get there. The ending is usually a twist or reveal to get there.

For other sketches (usually longer ones) where the important thing is to set the premise up early I'd start at the beginning with the premise then work out how to develop it or make it more and more absurd.

So, in short, I think I (usually) start with the most important part of the sketch and build from there.

It is important a sketch does have an ending, even if it is just a sign to the audience the sketch has finished. A year or so ago I was worried about endings so paid particular attention to TV and Radio sketch shows to see how they do it. It's amazing how many sketches don't end well. Some just peter out and few end on a high. In fact if you think of some of the great sketches it's surprisingly how few have a big finish.

So perhaps a good sketch doesn't necessarily need to have a barnstorming ending. It may be enough to conclude it in a fashion that it keeps the audience happy rather than pushes them up one more level.


One trick I have learned is to finish a sketch on a call back. It helps signal "sketch over" to the audience and often gets a laugh for the callback even if it's not that great a line in itself.

Or you can do what Spike Milligan adn the Pythons did and just cheat :D - but in very funny ways.

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Trinder

  • Monday 10th December 2012, 3:40pm
  • Brighton, United Kingdom
  • 180 posts

For what it's worth, I very rarely have an ending when I start a sketch. I tend to be one of those people who gets a vague idea and starts writing to see where it goes....then end up having to have a good long think halfway down the second page about how to wrap it all up.

From what I can figure out, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum and what might be right for you may not be right for some.

Try different approaches until you find the one that sits best for you and be wary of anyone telling you the 'proper' way to write.

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Ben

  • Sunday 16th December 2012, 12:52pm
  • England
  • 18,412 posts

I don't think there's a set formula. When I used to write, I'd come up with an idea first of all and then see if I could find a funny resolution. I've never quite understood how you can come up with an ending first without anything to base it on.

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Nogget

  • Saturday 10th October 2015, 5:37am
  • England
  • 6,620 posts
Quote: Lee @ 20th November 2012, 12:48 PM GMT

How can you even conceive a joke without a punchline? It's not always the case you need the punchline first but I would've thought the punch would be the concept of the idea you're trying to write.

I often start a joke without a punch, particularly with topical stuff. I just write the essence of the subject down, look at it, and the punch appears out of nowhere. It's a knack.

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Rood Eye

  • Saturday 10th October 2015, 8:09am [Edited]
  • England
  • 4,103 posts
Quote: Trinder @ 10th December 2012, 3:40 PM GMT

be wary of anyone telling you the 'proper' way to write.

And whenever you're out in your car and you're completely lost, you must never ever ask for directions.

Just keep driving around until you get to your destination by pure chance or you run out of petrol somewhere and get eaten by wolves.

Remember, a real man/driver/writer never takes advice.

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Paul Wimsett

  • Sunday 11th October 2015, 11:32am
  • Folkestone, United Kingdom
  • 3,395 posts

I think the best advice I had recently was in Brad Ashton's comedy writing book. Don't write too funny lines, otherwise the characters turn into Jack Bennies and Dorothy Parkers. Just concentrate on character.

Advice that you are free to ignore.

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Rood Eye

  • Sunday 11th October 2015, 2:09pm
  • England
  • 4,103 posts
Quote: Paul Wimsett @ 11th October 2015, 11:32 AM BST

I think the best advice I had recently was in Brad Ashton's comedy writing book. Don't write too funny lines, otherwise the characters turn into Jack Bennies and Dorothy Parkers. Just concentrate on character.

Advice that you are free to ignore.

I've been advising people for years that quality comedy is character-based rather than joke-based.

Sadly however, there are some 'bosses' in the TV industry who see value in joke-based sitcoms.

God help us all!

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Frankie Mildly Perturbed

  • Monday 16th November 2015, 7:04pm
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 5,497 posts

Einstein may have said:

"Listen to anybody, everybody and nobody in equal measure"