Let's Make an Episode!

Good question. I will say the hatch on top in the movie is not right though. As @griff17matt just said before I finished writing. :blush:

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There is a cool PBS documentary about Sealab that I may watch again to brush up on my undersea science.

By the way, if anyone is in the mood for a quite intense documentary about a deep sea diving accident, check out Last Breath.

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That’s deep.

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Totally doable. You don’t need to commit to it the whole way through (that would get dull), it’s just a running gag. I’m doing something similar. Mallard and the Captain don’t believe there could possibly be survivors, so I’m playing that up as a cover-up for insurance purposes. I’ve got four or five related comments scattered throughout the film.


A simple observational riff like “I’m starting to think they all died in the diving bell” followed by a later riff along the lines of “You know, if they had actually survived the cable snap incident, they wouldn’t be _______.” These seem to be Tom Servo lines to me.

It’s an interesting angle. It makes more out of the movie than the film maker intended (I assume) while at the same time rendering the meaningless imagery more meaningful in a way. It’s very highbrowed humor, and I like it. I will have to rewatch it from the beginning with this in mind.


Ladies, gentlemen, and bots, here’s my submission for the entire intro segment and both invention exchanges! (Unless anybody has any better ideas they’d like to try out). The storyboards are a bit rough, but you’ll get the general idea.
Check it out:

[Roll opening credits]

[Switch to Moon 13. Standard Mads configuration except that there are two Boneheads standing guard in the background a few paces away. Kinga has a Purple ‘Moon 13’ brand smartphone with the skull logo on the back (static prop). Max has a black version in his back pocket (screen area should have bright LED spotlight with red gel filter.)]

[Switch to SOL. Everybody is wearing aprons, and Jonah has oven mitts. Crow and Tom both have loaves of sourdough bread glued to their hands. There are seven open top canning jars full of sourdough starter (actually expanding foam) on the console. Two of them are connected to old 90’s style Sony Walkmans. The starter in front of Crow is hooked up to a large syringe and bubbler from under the desk so it will slowly expand and bubble over the top as the sketch progresses. The starter with headphones stage-Right of Jonah is filled with a thick liquid he can drink (vanilla milkshake?) The rest can all be static props.]

Wha d’ya think, sirs?


Well then… so much for the democratic process, huh? :zipper_mouth_face:


Actually, a true diving bell is open on the bottom and relies on air pressure to keep the air trapped inside. It’s exactly the same premise as sticking a cup face-down in a sink full of water. All you’re getting is a big pocket of air, and nothing else. Mind you, diving bells only work up to a certain depth, because the deeper you go, the stronger the pressure, and the more the trapped air gets compressed up towards the top.
They’re really only useful for snorkeling in comparatively shallow waters. (i.e. where the pressure change isn’t significant enough to give you the bends)


Ha. I’m aiming doing something similar. A more-or-less complete episode, and I figure some of the stuff will make it. I haven’t shared the host segments yet. I’m not sure what to do with those. I figured I’d wait until we defined the selection process/date.

@DeepHurting, I love your visuals! It’s the next best thing to animated. I am going to be competing with you with my uglier ideas, though, so en guarde. :sunglasses:

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Well, mine’s pretty universal, and can be applied to any episode (except for the movie description bit) so yeah… You think you can take me. Go ahead on! :cowboy_hat_face:

I don’t think it’s possible to write sketches by committee. At a certain point, people are just going to have to write stuff and push it forward, and see what the group thinks.
We can all vote later and whatever doesn’t get used, maybe we tweak it slightly and use it for the next one.

I’m going to try to get back to focusing on riff writing now. I finished the script parts three days ago, then spent the last two nights d*cking around in Photoshop trying to somehow translate my ideas into something visual. I probably could have just pencil sketched the whole thing by hand in about the same length of time.

Also: While I don’t think I’ll be going back and changing the storyboards, because it’s a ton of work, I’ve got the whole thing written out in standard script format as well and am open to any tweaks or suggestions if people think the phrasing or whatever could be improved slightly to make it funnier or easier to say. I’m afraid I had to saddle Jonah with a bit of an info-dump up front because not everybody knows what a sourdough starter is, let alone the whole snobbish chemistry behind what constitutes “a good one.”


Thank you. I thought the film was probably breaking the laws of diving bell physics. No airlock, trapped air on the bottom, got it. So that single special part the lab montage makes is also a misleading lie.

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Aww, can’t it be more collaboration than competition? We have a writer room! You are a fast and prolific leading comic AND everyone brought a skill AND everyone gets a riff in :smile_cat:


Your storyboards are beautiful. I wish I could run Photoshop right now but can’t because that computer is broken. I like the sourdough starter one best.

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Yeah, I did not see this coming. :confused:

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Well, I’ve posted a few things, and gotten some feedback. I’m not sure what else we can do as a collaboration. But I’m open to ideas. I think our biggest problem is that we aren’t trapped in a room together during a workday. Going through the script in this Discourse would take so long.

I suppose we could comment on each other’s riffs/host segments. I’m just worried that anything beyond the medal system might come across as critical. And I’d also prefer anonymous voting over public. It’s also why, in my medal method, all the medals are meant to be positive; if you don’t want to say something nice (at least a bronze), you just don’t say anything at all. (Okay, the “it sucks” vote is harsh, and probably not needed with a head writer or multiple reviewers – I retract it).

So who sees an opportunity how to collaborate better?


While a writer’s room can be useful in a real television production because you can feed off each other’s ideas and suggest small tweaks in real time, because this isn’t a paying gig (we all have jobs and other things we need to do with our time, not to mention that several of us are probably on entirely different continents and 8 to 17 hours apart) it’s simply just not practical to do so. I think it’s fine if we more or less write independently, and then we pool our combined funny towards the end and see how it shakes out. That’s more or less how the new series is written anyways. People mostly write on their own and then bring it back to the group for review and polish.

For subsequent riffs, if we want to do something more akin to a writers room, maybe we could have someone in the group schedule a live-screening of the movie at least a few days in advance, and then anybody who wants to can riff along in the chat, and anything usable that comes out can be added to the existing Google sheet.

Overall, I think the rough timetable moving forward should look something like this:

Week 1 - Decide on a movie, and logistics like where the commercial and host segment breaks are. We’ve already done that.

Week 2 - 3 - Freestyle. Where we are now. The meat and potatoes… Or possibly ham and cheese. Give people an opportunity take a pass at watching and self-riffing the movie at their own pace, filling up their columns of the Google Sheets as we go (By the way, I’ll be transferring my stuff over to Wy’s in a bit, since it looks like that’s become the dominate one). At the same time, those who have the inclination should begin thinking up and writing the scripts for potential invention exchanges and host segments.

Week 4 - First pass voting and rough script review. assuming we can get the framework in place, we consolidate all jokes onto a new tab without attribution to who wrote them, in as few columns as possible (hopefully there won’t be too many that directly overlap) and let everybody read through the rough script and anonymously award medals to jokes that they find funny. The same goes for voting on any reasonably fleshed out skits we currently have in the running for host segments/invention exchanges.

I think a 3 point likert scale of bronze, silver, and gold should be more than sufficient for both these purposes. If a joke bombs or you don’t understand the reference, leave it blank.

If something is actually offensive, rather than simply falling flat, this is something best brought to the executive(s) privately, so it can be reviewed quietly without causing a potential flame war or backlash about what is or isn’t appropriate.

Speaking of rankings, we might also want to also include an entirely separate “I got that reference!” medal for earmarking obscure references that most people may not get. Since we’ve got writers from all around the world here, it’s my hope that there will be at least a few gags that make their way into the script that go over the heads of 90% of the audience, but that those who are in on the joke will find hilarious.

I’d like to skew towards giving those “audience of one” riffs a slightly stronger weight than just their total bronze/silver/gold score, especially if we see a handful “I got that reference!” awards paired up with a small but equal potent numbers of "comedy gold"s.

For example, if I make a reference to “[Cal Worthington and his Dog Spot! (go see cal - YouTube)” that’s something that almost anybody who lived on the west coast during the 80’s and 90’s will get instantly, but the rest of the world… not so much. Likewise, if somebody wants to reference some Australian soap opera from the mid 80’s that I’ve never seen, but people from that country are going to understand and find funny, I’m inclined to leave it in, as long as it gets at least a couple of people mark it as “I got that reference!” and it isn’t competing with any other riffs that seem to have broad popular appeal.

A “Citation Needed” flag might also be useful for tagging riffs where you think the person is potentially misremembering their particular obscure reference. (As I was guilty of myself when I made a Lloyd Bridges crack when I saw Lloyd Nelson’s name come up)

Week 5 - Script review and gap identification. This is the part that sucks and actually feels like a job, and where some feelings might get hurt. After we’ve first-pass voted, whoever we decide should be “executives” need to do script review and decide what from the first pass survives to the next round. This should be judged not only by how funny the joke was, but also by how well it fits the available space and in context of all the other riffs. (is it simply too long and complex for a human being to say in the 5 second gap between dialogue? Would it overlap another riff we want to keep more? Is it a repeat or watered down version of a similar joke that occurs earlier or later in the scrips?)

At the same time, the execs should also be making minor timing adjustments (this riff may work a few seconds earlier/later) and marking out dead spaces in the script where we have no workable riffs, but it feels like one should go. I’ve already started doing this on my own spreadsheet. When I know there’s a gap for a joke (typically 10 seconds or longer of dead space), but I can’t think of anything good to fill it, I mark that approximate cell with a *, which turns it red, reminding me that it’s something to go back and look at later.

Week 6 - 2nd draft gap filling and polish. Executives will rerelease a second draft version of the script with all the riffs and host segments that made the grade in place, but also all the gaps where we still need material.

Depending on how tricky it is to do captioning it may even be worthwhile to try to release a rough cut of the episode on a private youtube or google drive link with all the lines that we know we want to keep in place so that people can watch it without having to manually scroll through a script at the same time. Flashing a little * up on screen is a sign that we need a riff to fill that slot, and might make it easier to elicit suggestions from the group.

Week 7? - Whatever counts as “production”. This depends a lot on what week 6 looks like and what we think our finished product is going to look like. It seems pretty likely that we can pull off caption-based riffs, possibly even inserting static theater silhouettes (easy enough to do in Adobe Premiere), but host segments or potential voice acting? Shooting actual live theater segments stand-in’s with real props? There are ways to do all of these, but it depends on how far down the rabbit hole people want to go.

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I like all of the voting/medal ideas for the riffs. With a ton of overlapping riff ideas, we definitely need a way of trimming things down, and this system seems fair. I have no problem with anyone wanting to write stuff for the entire episode. I just don’t want anyone to feel squeezed out, like there is no space for them to contribute anything because they weren’t fast enough (I’m not saying this very well…).

I think I was just in temporary shock that completed segments were already seemingly being made camera ready without any agreement that we were definitely going with those ideas. It just seemed we were jumping WAY too far ahead in the process and slamming the door on anyone who might want to take a crack at suggesting different ideas (rather than just tweaks).

I think I overreacted, actually.

Anyway, I’ve gotten over my initial shock and taken the “should really just relax” advice, so I’m really ok again. Carry on. :slightly_smiling_face:


I like all of this - with the exception of the named timeline. As you said, we don’t get paid for this, so we don’t HAVE to “perform” within certain metrics. So I don’t think we need a hard and fast timeline. With it all being a volunteer effort, I say we take as long as we need to to make the best possible product, whether that takes six weeks, or a year.

As with anything, the more we do it, the better we’ll get, and the faster we’ll get. But I think, especially at the beginning, we need plenty of time to find our footing. I don’t think it wise to rush that process with arbitrary timelines.


For this first project, I agree. Once we have a process and tools nailed down, we can even have multiple projects going, and it would be cool if there always something available for people to casually riff on. Some smaller projects could also be cool (like perhaps a collection of shorts instead of a feature film) to provide some variety.

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Some people just operate on a higher creative level. Me? I like spreadsheets. :slight_smile: