Why You Should Write Comic Character Monologues
It’s good for your writing to do something different once in a while
Are you finding it harder to write right now? Is it writer’s block or do you feel pressured to write something significant? Could it be that you’re tired of writing the same articles, essays, and non-fiction that you always write?
You try different ways to express yourself. However, making a video of your #isolationlife or aTik Tok where you lip-sync to For Your Love isn’t inspiring you creatively and is doing nothing for your writing.
To help you get over the writing blahs; you need to mix it up. The best thing you can do is to write something that pops.
A popular genre of writing is the comic character monologue. Out of necessity, actors and writers are putting their creative energies into these writing small, one-person sketches that they can do by themselves.
Comic character monologues can be a stand-alone bit or set pieces to a larger work. Think of sketch shows like SNL, MadTV, Key & Peele, Dave Chappell Show, In Living Color, and Kids in the Hall — all have some kind of character solo bits.
If you saw either of the recent Saturday Night Live: At Home episodes, you may have noticed that there were quite a few character monologues and that they worked well within the confines of social distancing.
Now is the perfect time for relatable, hilarious, character monologues because they’re self-contained, versatile, and they can spark you creatively in a way that inspires you to get out of your comfort zone.
There are many benefits to writing character monologues even if you’re not associated with any sketch show. They’re a great way to work on creating memorable characters, improving your humor writing skills, generating material for yourself, and expressing your funny side.
What are comic character monologues?
You may think that you’ve never seen one but sketch shows, playwriting festivals, and scripts for T.V. and film are full of them.
A monologue is one person speaking — usually to someone invisible. We know that they’re talking to their neighbor, their doctor, or even a customer at a strip club by what information that’s given to us in the piece.
A character monologue is one where there’s a fully fleshed-out character. They’re not there to provide support for another character — this character has the spotlight all to themselves.
And when there’s only one person as the focus; it makes the writing, as well as the performance, stand out.
Some people may get confused between a character monologue and a stand-up comic who does characters.
When a stand-up comic is doing their routine, they may act out a character as a way to deliver their jokes, but a joke-delivery-system isn’t comic character monologue. If the stand-up chose to do their whole act in character, it would depend on the content of the monologue if it was a comic character piece.
Stand-up comedy tends to be based on a set-up and punchline format whereas the humor in a character monologue, it’s the character who provides the humor in what they do or say.
These kinds of comic characters may be outrageous, eccentric, and bizarre, but there’s always a kernel of realness to them.
We laugh at and with these characters because we recognize their humanity.
One of the highlights of the recent SNL: At Home was the sketch where Kate McKinnon played Barbara DeDrew of ‘Whiskers R We’ and her cat played all the cats that Barbara was trying to get adopted.
Since cats aren’t considered professional actors, this sketch can still be categorized as a character monologue.
There were no other actors in the scene with her, it was one location, and it didn’t look as if it was overly technical to shoot. Although there were jokes, a lot of the humor came the details and quirks of the character.
Throughout McKinnon’s time at Saturday Night Live, she’s done many hilarious characters but usually in scenes. When it’s just her, it’s even funnier.
Wacky characters have always had a place in sketch comedy. Once someone creates a character that resonates with people; they can use it again and again — whether in sketches or solo projects.
Sometimes the fact that someone is performing a monologue may not be obvious. Think about when a guest comes on SNL’s Weekend Update, even if they have a small dialogue with the anchors, characters such as Opera Man, Carrie Krum, Stefon, or Michael Che’s neighbor Carrie Ann are all doing monologues.
Character monologues are a staple of sketch shows but they aren’t limited to them. You could put together a one-person show of only your comic character monologues, use one as an audition piece, write a one-act play based on the monologue, or put a series of them up on your YouTube channel.
It’s good to have a character monologue in reserve that you can use at a moment’s notice.
You can write a character based on yourself, a family member, a famous person, or an entirely made-up person.
Make it clear who your character is talking to, give them a strong point-of-view, and be sure to add in some quirks and habits that make them unique.
When you have a written comic character monologue in your portfolio, there are so many things you can do with it.
If your interests are only in writing, you turn it into a one-act play, make it part of another larger piece, give it to someone else to perform, or turn it into a short piece of fiction.
If you’re a performer as well as being a writer, you can shoot it and put online, write a few more and turn them into a theatrical show, or use it to audition for a sketch show.
The takeaway is that if you’re sheltering in place and you want to do something different that will inspire, not just you, but other projects as well, then write a comic character monologue.