Sketch Writing 101

So I've been messing with writing sketches the last couple of months (between taking classes and being part of a group that's writing a new sketch a week). And while it's been fun and I've been learning a lot, it still feels like they're coming off as a giant inside joke to myself.

I got to see one of my sketches on stage for the first time tonight with awesome actors doing a great job with a script they were seeing for the very first time. But I couldn't help but feel "No! That's not how you're supposed to be stabbing yourself in the chest!"

With standup I'm used to having control not just of the writing process and figuring what I'm going to say but on how I say it. The hand gestures, voice volumes, intonations, etc. Writer, performer, and director all get mixed together. And so far when writing sketches I have very specific ways in mind for how lines should be said and how characters are interacting with each other and moving on stage. When I read my sketches I see not just the words on the paper but the stageplay I've been creating in my mind.

It looks like, at least while I'm starting out and not having much control I have to divorce the script from the performance (my inner control freak hates this!). Which actually isn't dissimilar to what I have to do on the first pass of jokes for standup where I have to figure out how to make a situation funny to other people without them needing the implicit contexts in my head. I have to write sketches that can survive without the very specific vision I have for them.