COVID killed my sense of humor. I was so depressed from the death toll that I stopped doing anything and just watched K-Dramas on Netflix. I told my kids I was doing research to see what all the hype was about but really I needed to get away from reality.
By 2021, I decided to write comedy because I needed a break from bleakness. I took comedy writing classes online and stumbled upon the wonderfully structured sketch writing classes at The Sketch School founded by industry veteran Marc Warzecha.
How I learned to write comedy
I finally found my humor home under Marc’s affable tutelage. He gained my trust to let my guard down and gave me the confidence to finally share my work, even if it’s a painful first shitty draft.
Marc can find something positive to say about the Devil so he made me feel safe enough to release my comic kraken. I joined his weekly Writers’ Workshop where we read and received feedback on our sketches. This was the first time I joined any writers’ group so I appreciated the positive reactions from my sketches. It’s great to see how your written work plays out, to see where it works and where it’s funny.
Then The Sketch School offered a Comedy Bootcamp with Key & Peele writer Rich Talarico. This class concretized everything I had learned so far. Rich urge me to put my work out in any way I can. But how? I didn’t want to be a stand-up comedian in a boozy bar at 3 am. I can’t leave my family to work in TV or movies. I don’t want to endure rejections from many humor publications. And I don’t want to ghostwrite for a comedian who can’t even write his own jokes.
The impetus to launch Humor Me Ivy
Then in April, my super kind friend from Wharton was diagnosed with cancer. She has lost family members to the same cancer. It makes me cry to think that her kids are still in elementary. But I didn’t know what to say to her. I’m so bad with emotions! I can’t even express affection for my husband after all these decades. And our firstborn is finishing college.
So I coped the same way I do when things get serious: I made fun of stuff to forget my painful reality. I decided to launch a comedy channel on YouTube, Humor Me Ivy, dedicated to my dear friend. If I can make her smile or chuckle for a few seconds, that’s a millimoment that lightens her load. Maybe other moms like her who suffer health problems can find a few second’s respite. Maybe someone else will also find a funny moment in my work. My own channel is also a chance for me to display my work. I’ve been writing comedy since 2021. I was also invited to write sketches for a small production in Los Angeles that stages a weekly topical sketch show.
However, I’m not political and I don’t care for the news. Instead, I satirize people and organizations who annoy me. So many of my evergreen sketches were rejected. You never get used to rejection no matter how often it happens.
So I quickly separated my posts for my cold open and my monologue “What is the Ivy League?”. They had low views but I was happy because any view above zero is a win for me! For my second episode, I did a tongue-in-cheek monologue on the “5 Signs of a Boujee Bakery”. That was well-received for reasons I will never know.
For my third episode, I posted a reading of a Shel Silverstein poem with graphics. I enjoy his work and I thought viewers would too. But, tepid response at 59 views. Hmmm. So no books? But I love books! That’s why I started a Bookstagram and YT book review, Ivy Digest. I’m still deciding on how to post humor books better.
For my latest episode in Season 2, I reviewed Jason Derulo’s book. This one got only a dozen views while its Shorts trailer got 78 views. Does this mean viewers definitely don’t want to see books? We’ll see.
Written versus Posted on YT
I tried out my sketches on my weekly Writers’ Workshop during our table reads. I noted the parts that got laughs or confusion. Then I finalized my draft and posted it on YT. I like to read out a sketch to hear how it sounds and plays. But sometimes what was funny to us writers didn’t translate into YT views. There’s just no way to know until I post it.
YouTube icon Mr. Beast said views are votes. Views show what the audience want and what works. It’s a great measure of how much viewers like my writing. But I’m still a new channel at five months with few subscribers. So my low views could also be due to my lack of exposure. At least, that’s what I like to think.
However, when I posted a straight review of Legoland, it hit over 2,000 views and is still growing. Viewers are telling me that they want more of this kind of content. This sways me to consider making more reviews aside from comedy sketches. The only way to know is to post more reviews and sketches to get more comparable data.
My YT channel is a great way to get instant audience feedback on my writing. I love the direct approach. Some of my friends text me their positive reactions immediately. If I hadn’t launched Humor Me Ivy, I wouldn’t have had the chance to show my work nor know if it was funny.
Put your work out there!
YouTube is a totally visual medium. I can’t just read my sketches. I had to animate them. But how? I don’t want to use actors nor do a big production. I don’t want to spend money, effort, or time either. I had to produce my sketches in the easiest way so it’s sustainable indefinitely. Otherwise, I will get lazy and quit.
So I used artist’s mannequins that have articulated limbs. I loved these dolls from art class because I can pose them and have fun dressing them. Think faceless unsexy Barbie at $10. Plus, they’re small at 10 inches so it’s easy to build a tiny set and stow everything in a small bin.
I intentionally create a no-budget production and use what I have at home. My point is to rely on the strength of my writing and not on the acting or effects. I want to prove that a show primarily needs good writing.
I also want to show artists that you don’t need much to produce your work to be seen by an audience. Writers of all ages already have the tools to produce their work. You don’t need to wait for an agent, director, or editor to accept your work. You don’t need to undersell or give your work for free just to be seen. Publish it yourself.
Successful comedy writers have also put up their own shows. SNL’s Amy Poehler and Tina Fey produced homemade shows for their family and friends when they were kids. The Kids in the Hall formed a comedy troupe to perform their sketches in Canada. Awkwafina made a viral video that got her the attention to have her own show. Fil-Am Jo Koy performed at his family parties but was rejected by Netflix. So he produced his own comedy shows which he then sold to Netflix.
I’m not aspiring for such fame. I can’t compete with the veterans, the Gen Z, and the slick productions. I launched my channel to lighten my friend’s load. I just want to give viewers a second of silliness. From hereon, I will use my snark to create smiles, not conflict.
Ivy is a lawyer turned comedy writer and columnist. She gives book recommendations @IvyDigest. Subscribe to her on YouTube @HumorMeIvy.
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