Skits are largely the same, mostly because of format. If you only have three to five minutes for a bit, it’s not going to be packed with revelations, reversals, and scads of character development.
This is why 99.96 percent of skits–on Saturday Night Live, Key and Peele, or anywhere else–are one-trick ponies.
Here’s a good example from another Adam Driver skit:
Not terrible, not great–pretty typical, right? You do something funny like “That’s what she said” from THE OFFICE, except instead of sprinkling it throughout a series, you pack it into a single skit.
So yeah, these can be hilarious, and they can be highly, highly repetitive.
Check out this one by Adam Driver, then we’ll talk about why it’s different for two key reasons.
Sure, there’s a central joke–“crush your enemies!”–but instead of endless repetition we actually get (1) the best acting in any SNL skit ever and most importantly, (2) beautiful writing that surprises you.
There’s so much good dialogue that it’s hard to pick the best ones.
My favorite is, “I was born seven months too early. Incubation technology was still in its infancy, so they placed me in a cast iron pot inside of a pizza oven until I was ripe enough to walk. My bones never hardened but my spirit did. Be strong and crush your enemies!”
Yet the best part about this is the storytelling and writing. Unlike your average skit, there’s some real interpersonal conflict underneath it with real depth and a payoff at the end after multiple setups–the fact the entire class thinks his son is weak; the introduction of H.R. Pickens, his nemesis that he crushed; and finally the revelation that his weak son, rather than being a disappointment, is a rousing success in his eyes.
It all pays off in a few short lines: “I killed you Mr. Pickens! I crushed you into the ground and now your bones turn to oil beneath my living feet! I married your granddaughter, filled her belly with my festering seed and sired a boy! He is my final revenge, H.R.!”
I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.
Seriously. Give us a full two-hour movie about Adam Driver’s oil baron, shot on a budget of “Yo, the director sold his Kia, so here’s the cash we got” and people would watch the hell out of it until there was no hell left.