Putting together a comedy bit takes more than a sense of humor. At WTIT, we have been very lucky to have had some DJs with an incredible gift. The hardest part, I always thought, was not the humor, but the direction. No matter whose idea for a comedy bit, the person directing had to cast the roles, set an outline, be fair and inclusive and has to know when to cut and redo a segment or scene. Now this is not necessary for a lot of WTIT comedy, spoofs of commercials and newscasts are general written out rehearsed and given input by the various members of the DJ cast.
Generally, I took on this task, because initially it was an “it is my ball” kind of thing. The more flexible I became, however, the comedy got better. So naturally everyone took turns writing and directing. My only insistence was there had to be a plot, a point and also it helped if what we were doing was actually funny. If you break just one of these rules, it is a disaster.
We had done several well received spoofs of the Twilight Zone. We were hoping to do a fourth. The original episode was called “Monsters on Maple Street”. I had never seen the episode, but Cos (our Science Editor) and main force of the previous three spoofs explained the story. But now, here was his twist. The trees would be the evil doers and it would be called, “Maples on Monster Street.” Great, I said but we need a plot. Cos was busy casting. One tree was Godzilla, another Mothra and on it went. When my request for a plot was vetoed a third time, I thought, “We have to go ahead and do this so everyone learns.” When the story started all the tree monsters could say was “Hi King Kong, How are you?” It took about forty-five seconds until the ship sunk. No survivors. The sad thing is that we never ever attempted another Twilight Zone, even though the proceeding three were terrific.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s we also did original scripts. We outlined a serious plot and then we would spoof it. Sometimes this worked. “The Rise & Fall of Thomas Cormier” is an example. It was a story about how a guy rose through the ranks of a company by sleeping with his boss’ wife. It was very funny. But, on the other hand, we also did a show called “Charlie, the Clown”. This was a story of a clown who was no longer funny. What we didn’t realize was that not only wasn’t Charlie funny, but also neither were we. To this day, it is really the only drama we did. It was a painful experience. (Unless of course you find it now included on our latest CD. Then it was a “Four Star Laugh Riot”.)
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