Friday, November 20, 2009

Over 1 Million Served!

Unbelievable! I was looking at the stats counter on my main site, ChristianSkitScripts.com today and realised that the one millionth visitor had come and gone over 21,000 visitors ago!

Reaching the one millionth visitor mark is a high point for me, as the site's visitor count has been steadily increasing since it was first launched in September of 2002, or a period of 2,614 days.

The hit counter on the front page only counts those entering the site, not the pages viewed once there. So the total is only for visitors, not page views. The total visitor count since opening is 1,021,649 as of today.

Being the number one search result for the term "Christian Skit Scripts" or "Christian Skits" on Google, Yahoo, Bing and others is both a reflection of the site's user popularity, and of how the search engines have helped the hits grow.

I thank you, the regular visitor to Christian Skit Scripts, for helping us hit this milestone! Here's hoping we are both still around in a few years to celebrate the two million visitor mark!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Photos of "A Midnight Dreary."

Rev. Van Buchanan submitted these photos of their performance of a "Let's Skit Crazy!" script, titled "A Midnight Dreary" (read it here) at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina, during their recent Fall Festival.

In the script, a man is spending a stormy night at home by himself. When he thinks that an escaped convict is lurking outside, he forgets the Bible lesson on fear he was studying, and panics. A comedy of terrors results, as circumstances conspire to bring him to the brink of a nervous breakdown. After turning back to the scriptures for comfort, he discovers that our imagined fears and reality are often two very different things.

Using the recorded soundtrack CD for accompaniment, the actors had fun with their performance, unfettered by having to memorise lines.


Derek Crane digs into the snack foods he has stockpiled for his night alone.


Derek assures his wife that he is fine, as she calls to check up on him. The night is still young, however.


After a series of frightening events, Derek rediscovers his source of peace.


Derek dons a sheet and makes fun of his own fears.


Derek is about to finish off the invading stranger who has collapsed on his floor.


Not letting fear dictate his actions, Derek learns that the invader just needs a helping hand.

Thanks, Van, for sending the pictures of your performance! I love seeing people having fun doing the scripts I've posted. Here are some more, on the official site.

EXTRA! Listen to a three-minute sample from the beginning of the soundtrack by clicking here: Demo Sample

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween Special: The Telltale Talent

It's that time of year again! And although it's too late to perform this skit by Halloween, you can enjoy reading it and listening to it right here.

Synopsis: A fellow, asked to direct a church play, declines due to a lack of faith in his ability. Later, while napping, an angel visits him in a vision and takes him to the Cemetary of Buried Talents. There he is confronted not only with the reality of what he has done with the talents the Lord gave him, but the cost in human terms as well.

Read the script here: "The Telltale Talent."

Listen to the audio version, fully produced, from the CD "Comedy Cookout."


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SPLAT #1



Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, homeschool parents and Christian school teachers all need help in making learning life lessons from the Scripture interesting and memorable. Christian Skit Scripts can supply some help in that area!

Tapping into the imagination is a great way to make lessons come to life in the mind of the student, and become imbedded in the memory. The albums by Prime Example, "Comedy Skits and Songs," and "Comedy Cookout," made available on the official site on the Comedy CDs page, are great not only for your listening enjoyment, but are terrific to use in classes for youth and young adults.

Another way to use our material is to get the students involved by having students do readings of certain scripts. The ones that are talented in reading out loud and performing will enjoy doing it, and the rest will enjoy listening. This exercise may also get them excited about actually performing the script for the class or church, which will stimulate your drama team growth.

After playing the skits from the album, or having the students read the scripts, you can invite a class discussion about what they just heard or read. That's where "S.P.L.A.T." comes into play!

What's S.P.L.A.T.?

Good question! Aside from the noise an egg makes when thrown against a hard surface, it's also short for:

SPiritual Life Application Teaching!

"Toss it out there and see what sticks!"

SPLAT is the name of a planned series of original outlines that help you to use the album tracks from the Prime Example CDs and scripts in your classroom. Each recorded skit or script will have a corresponding SPLAT page on this site, which supplies scripture references for the skit or song, questions to ask, discussion topics, etc. You will be able to print them out and put them in a notebook if you like, to use at your convenience.

SPLAT #1: "The Trials of Rev. Milton Blumquist"

This entry is #1 in the series and is intended for use with the first Prime Example album, "Comedy Skits and Songs," which can be ordered on the Soundtracks page. You may preview it by downloading the MP3 file. Or, you can read the script, which differs from the album in ways that make it easier to perform live.

Synopsis:

The good Reverend Blumquist has a weekly radio program on a local Christian station that he records at home. This week, his topic is "Patience." Unfortunately, Milton has some problems with patience in his own life, and each point that he brings out in the sermon comes back at him through irritations that threaten to stop the program: a psycho poodle, a noisy neighbor, a tremor-inducing train, etc. All of these are intended to help him learn his own lesson. But will he learn it before he completely loses it and ruins his testimony?

Questions for discussion:

These questions are intended to stimulate open discussion and thought. You may take the lessons further with your own insight and answers that you share after hearing the class input.

Q: Is the man in the skit a Christian? Explain your answer.

Q: Who do you think sent all the interruptions: God, to teach him, or the devil, to tempt him to sin?

Q: How do we see difficulties in our lives: as opportunities to learn and grow, or hinderances to trip
us up?

Q: Can a temptation by the devil be used of the Lord for our good?

Q: What was the result of his impatience? Who was affected by his outbursts?

Q: Are we ever in situations where our actions are different from our words?

Q: If we "lose it" like the character, how can we go about correcting the problem, or repairing the
damage?

Scripture references to look up and read:

These scriptures are either referred to in the skit or inferred by the message. After reading each scripture, discuss how it relates to the message of the skit, and how it relates to our own lives.

(All references are from the New King James Version.)

Luke 21:19 "By your patience possess your souls."

James 1:2-4 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

James 5:11 "Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful."

2nd Cor 6:4 "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses"

2nd Timothy 2:24 24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 12:12 "...rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;"

In coming weeks and months, this section will grow as the SPLAT pages are expanded and added. Come back soon and see what's new!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Listen to some samples of the new play soundtrack!

In my last post I told you about the new play I had written for this Christmas titled "Redemption In The Wings," which you can read and print out from the official site. Below are some MP3 samples of the soundtrack CD that you perform it to.

Click to listen: Sample #1 From Act One: the start of the play

Click to listen:
Sample #2 From Act One: the tree-decorating scene

Click to listen:
Sample #3 from Act Three: Sophie's prayer and background song

Click to listen:
Sample #4 from Act Five: father-daughter revelation/reconciliation
scene

Click to listen:
Sample #5 from Epilog: Nathan shows Old Johnny the gates of Heaven

To download and then listen, right-click on the link and select "save target as" to your preferred folder. Then use "My Computer" to go to the folder and click on the file.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Christmas play added!



Well, it's been 5 months in the making: first, developing the idea, then plotting it out, then actually writing it, then a month and a half devoted to recording all the lines and mixing it with music and sound effects. But on Tuesday, October 13, I posted the script and the CD purchase link, and breathed a huge sigh of relief and exhaustion. There were nearly 20 pre-orders waiting for the CD, and they had to be mailed out immediately. Most of the people pre-ordering were those that had done my play "The Christmas Family" in the last year or two, and they were waiting for the new one. I hope everyone likes "Redemption In The Wings" as much as the former one.

This one is done in the same style, the unique "Play/Act!" format that I came up with. All of the dialog is related by the narrator, so the actors don't have to learn lines, only actions. They don't even lip-sync it, which I am not a fan of. They just act as if saying the approximate things, and the narrator tells the basics of what is being said. We've all seen montage or flashback scenes in movies, where the main character tells what happened in the past, and we see it, only hearing the sound in a reduced manner in the background. Well, that's how the entire play works here.

All that is happening is in the past, and the main character is also the narrator who is relating it according to memory.

Read the script here: "Redemption In The Wings."
Here's a ten-minute MP3 preview of one of the tracks: Listen here!

It just might solve your problem of getting actors involved, due to the stress of learning lines being absent!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Best Skit Ideas Come While At The Flea Market!

Down in Savannah, Georgia, about an hour from where I live, there is a large place called "Keller's Flea Market." Me and my wife go there sometimes, and once we find a parking space (a daunting task in itself), we split up and go our separate ways, (temporarily) to meet back at the entrance at a specified time.


Home of the Big Cow

I usually haunt the old book, comic and record bins, but I also keep my eyes open for interesting junk that can be used as props in skits. Flea markets, or just plain old yard sales, are great places for this.

But I seldom, if ever, go out looking for a specific item needed for a pre-written skit. It works kind of opposite. I see interesting or odd items, and they generate skit ideas that utilize them! For example, I might find a hat with a large pair of lips on them. "That looks funny," I think. Then an idea for a skit where a character wears such a hat suggests itself. If it seems promising, I'll buy the hat, then go home and write down the skit idea that came to mind. When I have the time, I'll sit down later and think it through, developing it into a full-blown script.

Now, few of those type of ideas end up on this script site, since you may never find a prop or costume item just like that. I try to post scripts that use easy-to-find props. However, it demonstrates a technique that you can use to develop your own skit ideas. Seldom do skits come by sitting down and saying, "I shall now write a skit." They come by capturing the odd ideas that float through your head, mostly prompted by something you see or hear. An interesting prop, anecdote, sermon, song, etc., that gives you a kernal of an idea that you jot down and develop later.

That's how most of the ideas for the scripts on this site come about; by harnessing the ideas that flit through my mind all during the day, and saving them for future work. Don't depend on your memory, you'll forget it. Jot it down quickly and save it. I have a text file on my PC just for saving ideas. Regularly I'll open it up, go over the large collection of thought and ideas, and pick the one that is the most promising for what I need. Most of them do get developed over time. Others just float there, in limbo, waiting for the day when they too, might be picked for development.

So, watch for junk as you browse your local garage sales or flea market. You might be surprised at the treasures you will find that will spark an idea for a great skit! And you never need tell your audience where you came up with it. It's our secret!
For more great skit ideas and free scripts, go to my site: http://www.christianskitscripts.com/!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Big "But"

I get many emails each day telling me that my skits are being used, often with complimentary words about them. I appreciate that very much. However, something I have noticed over the past few years since the site has been up is the use of the word "but" in their comments. Here's how it's most used: "I love your skits! They are funny, but they have a good message."

I know most people don't mean anything by it, it's just the way they express themselves. But it seems to me to illustrate a common perception that many have about skits. It's this: that "funny" and "having a good message" are usually mutually exclusive. The use of the word "but" implies that they don't expect to find a skit that is both funny and spiritually effective. Or that they are excusing the use of humor by adding the qualifying statement that it is also spiritual. The use of the word "but" carries the implication that there is something doubtful, or wrong, with humor.

Let me use it differently to make it clearer. Let's say that, in a conversation, I indicate a particular person and say about him, "He's a Baptist. And he's a good man!" That's simple and straightforward. However, what if I were to say, "He's a Baptist. But he's a good man!" Now, that puts a whole new spin on it, doesn't it? Wouldn't a hearer, being a Baptist, take exception to it as a slight? Of course they would. Adding "but" has the effect of suggesting that the speaker feels that there is something wrong with being a Baptist, and they add a qualifier to say that, in spite of that, they are good.

So, saying "Your skits are funny, but have a good message" is almost a backhanded compliment. Like saying, "You're smart, for a white guy." Not very complimentary after all. It suggests, that in spite of being funny, it is redeemed by having a good message.

I don't see such a dichotomy. When I write a skit, I strive to make it funny and meaningful, not funny but meaningful. See the difference?

The difference is in your approach to skits overall. If you see them primarily as entertainment, then they can be funny but meaningful. Maybe so, maybe not, but possibly, depending on if you can reconcile the humor with some kind of message. However, if you see them as a tool to impart a spiritual truth, then when you write humorous scripts, they will always be both funny and meaningful. It won't be an option.

Now, to some, that may not make much difference. But if you are interested in skits for the power they can have to impart a scriptural truth, like a parable, then the way you write or perform them will be different. If enough people see that type of commitment to ministry in skits, perhaps they will begin to understand that laughs and spiritual life go together naturally, not only when forced.

So, go forth, and leave the "but" behind you!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Soundtrack CD Tips

This entry is aimed at the person that will be operating the sound when you use the Soundtrack CDs that are provided for the scripts at Christian Skit Scripts.

Using a soundtrack CD to accompany a skit is similar to running a song soundtrack for a singer, but there are some important differences.

Be On Time!

First, not only are there musical pieces designed to add some kind of emotional content to a particular scene, but there are individual sound effects as well. For this reason, rehearsal with the CD as the actors practice is mandatory. You can't simply hand the CD to the sound person when you go to do the skit like you might when singing a song to a soundtrack tape. The sound person must work with the performers to make it all flow smoothly.

The sound person must have a copy of the script, and must keep up with the dialog as it is delivered, so as not to miss any of his cues. The sound must be run proactively, not reactively. Sound engineer, you must anticipate, not react. Be ready with the next track cued up, follow the dialog, and play the track as it is called for. There should be no pauses while the actors wait for the sound to catch up to the action.

In some tracks there are music and effects mixed. It is important that the actors recognise the significance of the sounds in relation to what they are doing on stage, and work with the sound, where it dictates their timing. This is where practice, and familiarity with the soundtrack comes in.

Sound Levels

Never let the music dominate the scene, it must only complement it. Make sure your performers aren't drowned out by a too-loud musical cue. It is a background element, and as such, enhances the scene. Blasting it out without regard to proper levels will detract from the scene and distract the audience, as well as your actors. Likewise, tracks played at too low a volume will get lost in the action and become confusing. Have a person work with you when practicing by telling you from their vantage point near the stage when an element needs to be played louder or softer. Keep notes as to which tracks may need to be adjusted each time, by marking on the script at the place the track is called for.

Mixing Elements

Some soundtracks have tracks that are intended to be played at the same time. For example, a continuous background sound, such as traffic, that plays overall. The individual effects are played as the script calls for, over the already playing background sounds. To do this, you will need to record the continuous effects track to another source, such as a cassette tape. Play the background effects as the script dictates, at an appropriately lower level to provide ambience. Then play the individual tracks from the CD over them at a higher level as they are called for. Once again, practice is needed to pull it off smoothly.

I am always happy to answer any questions you may have, or to act as a consultant, when it comes to making your use of the CDs and scripts go more smoothly. Email me from the contact page, or call any evening at 912-557-8921 (home office) or 912-237-5636 (cell).

-Fred Passmore, Sheep Laughs Records

"FREEZE, TURKEY!"

I think you know what I mean. We've probably all seen it done. You may have even done it. "The Big Freeze." A skit has just been finished, and, as the script indicated, "The actors all FREEZE." I get chills just thinking about it.

The "freeze" is another pet peeve of mine. Excuse me... "freeze?" Why freeze? Was the skit being done in a refrigerator? Did the director push a "pause" button? Who came up with this silliness and why is it done? It's because, without a soundtrack that supplies an unmistakable musical end, the audience had no other way to know the skit was over! Or, the skit was written by someone relying too much on tradition to come up with a way to have the characters exit logically. Hence: "the characters all freeze." Lame, lame, lame.

Please, thaw out your poor frozen performers and simply have them exit the stage in a logically-written manner or to a musical closing theme. The Ice Age is over, folks... and the "freeze" method of ending a skit needs to go the way of the woolly mammoth... rapid extinction.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Philosophy of Sketch Art

My Philosophy of Sketch Art

In many people's minds, the word "skit" brings to mind something that is not worth much; a short, quickly thrown-together bit of comedy fluff. (Most of this perception comes from the off-handed attitude of those that they have seen do them.) One proof of this that I see often, is the fact that so many wait till the last minute to look for a skit script online for an upcoming event or holiday. Many people put it off til the last minute, thinking that they can throw something together real fast, so there's no need to search early to give time to rehearse. This is not the way to do it, folks.

For me, a long-time sketch writer and performer, a skit is much more than a last-minute afterthought. It is something that begins with a good idea, which is then thoughtfully developed and written with the mind of being an enduring piece of art that may be enjoyed for many years. After being written, the soundtracks are carefully produced (if it needs one), mixing just the right effects and musical backgrounds from my large collection of paid-use effects and production music libraries.

And once posted on my site, "Let's Skit Crazy!" that skit script, when selected to be performed, is brought to life through the years by countless others who invest of their own time, talent, imagination and hard work to bring it's message to their audience. The success of the performance is directly related to the amount of each of those ingredients invested.

Although there are some skits posted here that are intentionally easy to do within a short preparatory time frame, that is not the overall consideration. Rather, I resist the "last-minute, quick-and-dirty" mindset of skit performance as a philosophy. The Lord Jesus gave equal consideration to the smallest details in the design of His universe as He did the infinitely large aspects. A truth known by many is that the hand of God is seen most in the details of His design. The submolecular physicist, exploring the tiniest bits of matter that his instruments will allow, is just as awed by the density and design, as the scientist peering through the most powerful space telescopes at the countless myriads of galaxies presently visible in the universe.

So, we should be as careful doing the small things in His kingdom, as the big things. For skits, though short, can be very powerful in their impact and effectiveness of bringing God and His plan into focus for the people in the audience. Therefore, we should make their presentation as professional and impressive as possible, to let the message shine through clearly, and not be obscured by sloppiness or carelessness.

The skits posted at "Let's Skit Crazy!" are intended to supply you, the director or performer, with some fun, inventive and message-meaty material to work with. (Did I succeed? That's left for you to decide.) With the script in hand, and the soundtrack to enhance your performance, you have the tools to make your skit efforts shine in a way that few have seen them done. You may find that they are so well received, that you will want to keep doing them for others, in other churches. This is a side-effect experienced by many that have used them!

So, although you may be initially forced to do some quickly, now that you have found the site I encourage you to come back often. Print out the scripts you wish to use, order the soundtrack if it has one available, and expose your team to your excitement at doing them in the best manner you can. It will catch on, and your team will become in demand in areas beyond your own church. In fact, I used to travel extensively as part of Prime Example, but due to the demand for quality scripts, decided to scale back that aspect and devote the time I had to making them available to others, such as yourself, to use. Their impact is now being felt far beyond the limited areas I could travel to.

I hope that my Sketch Art philosophy has inspired you to reconsider your approach to it, if you had -however unconsciously- viewed them as disposable elements of the church service. You are working toward an eternal goal and reward... don't you think your efforts should be the best they can be?

Welcome to my new blog!

Welcome to my blog, dedicated to helping church drama directors and teams. It's an offshoot of "Let's Skit Crazy" at www.ChristianSkitScripts.com, where you will find the free scripts for you to use, and soundtrack CDs created especially to help you present them with a greater impact. Visit the site for lots of free scripts you and your team will go crazy over!

On this blog page, you'll find an ever-increasing collection of my random musings, thoughts (and occasional rant) on skits, comedy, drama, performance, anything that pertains to the general topic of using these tools to communicate Biblical truths to the viewer. I'll add them as they occur to me, in whatever order they come, and perhaps as you visit occasionally to catch up on the latest, you'll find something useful to you.