The tagline of “She Took Everything” is “Breaking up is hard…especially when you’re left with nothing,” but we, as viewers, are left with quite a bit. Ordinary in its subject matter, we’re covering Jeff Whitaker’s work today because of how he (with a lot of help from Carlyn Hudson, Ellie Ann Fenton, Jason Newman, and Sanjay Rao) built a game-forward sketch that’s also rich with sub-games without losing an acute focus on the core joke at hand. That’s tough to do! Okay, but for everyone who hasn’t been trained at UCB, what the hell am I talking about?
It’s pretty cool, actually. So, most game-centric sketches adhere to a core joke (in this case, our lead lamenting his broken relationship while obliviously revealing all the reasons she probably left his mooching ass) that heightens throughout the piece, and this one does, too. What’s different about ”She Took Everything,” though, is the degree to which sub-games – side jokes that emanate from the main game – are present. For instance, our lead mooches from his friend while divulging his relationship affronts. Second, he repeatedly swells with moments of unjustified confidence, vowing he’s “going to call her,” while his buddy talks him down. Appropriately dramatic music cues accompany those moments.
In less experienced hands, sub-games like this can often work to distract from the driving force of a sketch. In this case, though, the additions are symphonic, creating a piece that shapes its unremarkable subject matter of relationship woes into a fast-paced, truly original contribution that, we think, is very much worth a watch. So, to all you sketch-writin’ kids out there: don’t ever let anyone tell you not to get sidetracked by sub-games…if you know what you’re doing.
Luke is an executive producer at CollegeHumor and a watcher of many web videos. Send him yours @LKellyClyne.