(photo by michele manske)

During the first three weekends of this past June, I co-produced, co-wrote, co-directed, co-starred, and co-mingled in “The Weekly: Yesterday’s News Today.”

In early February, Minneapolis playwright / producer / comedian Chris Knutson and his girlfriend saw my performance in “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.” After the show we met at Grumpy’s for drinks.

The idea for “The Weekly” sprung-up after talking about comedy in the Twin Cities. The conversation meandered from what we loved about Minneapolis / St.Paul’s comedy-scene to the types of comedy the market was over-saturated with and lastly, what type of comedy the market lacked.

To the best of our knowledge, Minneapolis didn’t have a weekly sketch comedy show inspired by local news. So we ran with that. Chris and I joined forces and became the then-unnamed-show’s producers.

Initially, we wanted to book a venue for a three-month-run, however, we didn’t even know if we could produce an hour long original sketch comedy show based on local news every week. We didn’t have a reputation, the show wasn’t established, and we didn’t have an audience base to support us.

Chris and I knew the show would be a test for the writers, actors, and mostly: us. Taking everything into account, in late February 2009, we booked the Bryant-Lake Bowl as our venue for three consecutive weekends in June. The plan was if we could produce (i.e. survive) an original show every week for three weeks, we’d bring the show back in the fall.

In April we assembled an awesome array of writers and actors to make the show happen. Then we instructed everyone to wait…

Because the premise of “The Weekly” is “an original sketch comedy show written every week,” we didn’t start writing until May 31. Our show opened on June 6. Three days to write, four days to learn lines, for three weeks…A typical week for “The Weekly”:

  • Sunday: Writer’s meeting. Discuss news, sketch ideas, assign writers. Promote show.
  • Monday: Continue to research the news. Continue to write. Begin sketch revisions. Promote show.
  • Tuesday: Continue to write and revise. Complete all sketches. Send sketches to producers. Promote show.
  • Late Tuesday: Producer’s meeting to discuss sketches (content, length, props, casting, running order). Worry about show. Promote show.
  • Wednesday: Alert writer’s of additional needs (i.e., more sketches), send actors running order / sketches to begin learning lines, begin crafting slideshow presentation (week’s one and two), continue writing (“News Minute Segment,” week’s one and two). Begin freaking out. Promote show.
  • Thursday: Continue learning lines, acquiring props, and if needed: writing. Continue working on slideshow and freaking out. Promote show if you remember.
  • Friday: Run lines. Share a case of beer with friends while promoting the show.
  • Saturday: Rough rehearsal, call time: 9AM. Break for lunch: 12PM – 1PM. Tech rehearsal: 1PM-6PM. Doors: 6PM. Show: 7PM.
  • Repeat. Repeat.

    Obviously, we survived.

    The first show was the best attended with 39 patrons, a couple even showed up due to the article in the Southwest Journal.

    And while that first show was a little crude, it worked. We worked through the technical issues involving ancient projectors and new computers, line drops, and jokes we didn’t think would be funny but were and jokes we thought were funny but weren’t…(photo by gurayn sylte)

    The second week seemed more tame than the first. We still had a great time, but the energy between the second and third shows didn’t really compare.

    Our last show felt solid and playful. The cast knew how to work with each other and it produced great results. We ditched the “News Minute” segment so we could focus on rehearsing instead of attempting to get too technical. (photo by gurayn sylte)

    As luck would have it, after our last show tragedy struck…The deaths of Billy Mays, Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, and Farrah Fawcett would have provided lovely fodder for a number of sketches, its unfortunate our run was only three weeks. You can’t plan for everything though…

    The next project for the Got Nothin’ To News production company is possibly staging “The Weekly” at Duluth’s Renegade Theater… However, the concept or contacts haven’t been developed at this point.

    The fact that we’d even consider attempting to do “The Weekly” again tells me: it was fun and worthwhile. I’ve learned more in the past month than I’ve learned in a lot of other months…

    Michael