Created By: Wackd on January 17, 2012 Last Edited By: Wackd on September 23, 2012
Troped

The Backstage Sketch

A sketch in a sketch show in which the actors play themselves during their downtime.

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Fairly self-explanatory. A sketch during a Sketch Show that focuses on the actors preparing for the next segment, or just enjoying their downtime. If these are the majority of the episode, odds are the sketches are just a Show With In A Show.

Examples:

  • That Mitchell and Webb Look frequently featured the stars lounging around on set in-between takes. One particularly memorable instance lampshades how the supposedly documentary-esque content of these sketches were in fact just as scripted as the rest of the show.
  • All That began each episode with the cast getting up to wacky hijinks in the green room before the show. The sketches even had their own Catch Phrase, with the panicked stage manager informing them they have five minutes until the show starts.
  • You Can't Do That on Television showed the backstage area on occasion, but the best example of this from it is the introduction/theme elaboration sketches on the blue triangle set, which more often than not would lapse into being more about the making of said sketches.
  • Evening at the Improv, a late 70s/early 80s show was mostly comprised of stand-up comedians performing at the Improv comedy club. Between the comedians' segments (and commercials) there were backstage-type sketches involving the waitstaff at the club, sometimes interacting with the featured comics and sometimes not, including a young Julie Brown. Every episode ended with one of the waitstaff doing a few jokes onstage to an empty house, presumably working on their craft after the club closed for the night.
  • The Muppet Show would frequently feature sketches backstage where the "talent" would propose new acts, the guest stars would bicker with Kermit over the things they were being asked to do, and zany things went on in the name of pushing the show forward. These would often be intertwined to create a plotline.
  • A not infrequent trope on Saturday Night Live, which shows the host preparing in his/her dressing room, cast members interacting with each other or Lorne Michaels, etc.
    • This was parodied on Family Guy, with Meg losing her virginity to Jimmy Fallon in what she thought was actually backstage...up until he yells "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" post-coitus at a previously-unnoticed camera.
  • The Kids in the Hall often did sketches where they played themselves, addressing their status as a comedy troupe with a TV show. For example in one sketch, Kevin in his Butt Monkey role frets that if his next contribution isn't good enough, the others will kick him out of the group.
  • Rutland Weekend Television, where Eric Idle, Neil Innes, David Battley, Gwen Watford and Henry Woolf could be seen sitting around a table ostensibly doing read-throughs, commenting on the quality or otherwise of Eric Idle's scriptwriting and generally fracturing the fourth wall.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • January 18, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Evening at the Improv: this late 70s/early 80s show was mostly comprised of Stand Up Comedians performing at the Improv comedy club. Between the comedians' segments (and commercials) there were backstage-type sketches involving the waitstaff at the club, sometimes interacting with the featured comics and sometimes not, including a young Julie Brown. Every episode ended with one of the waitstaff doing a few jokes onstage to an empty house, presumably working on their craft after the club closed for the night.
  • January 18, 2012
    JonnyB
    The Muppet Show alternated between sketches on the stage and sketches backstage.
  • January 18, 2012
    TrustBen
    A not infrequent trope on Saturday Night Live, which shows the host preparing in his/her dressing room, cast members interacting with each other or Lorne Michaesls, etc.
  • June 2, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Universe on Family Guy when the family becomes a rock band and are booked as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live. Before the show Meg has sex with Jimmy Fallon, who then turns to the camera and says "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" Meg didn't know that they were on camera. Cut to the rest of the family, staring at a TV in open-mouthed shock.
  • June 3, 2012
    Wackd
    That's not really an example, in-universe or out. Is the audience supposed to think it's happening backstage?
  • June 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    It is happening backstage. Everyone in universe sees it being broadcast as a Cold Open backstage sketch. Meg isn't aware until The Reveal, nor are we out-of-universe viewers. I might not be explaining it well enough. Here's a crummy youtube version that may make it more clear. Here's The Other Wiki's summary of the scene:
    ...they travel to New York to perform on Saturday Night Live. Meg is immediately seduced by Jimmy Fallon and loses her virginity to him; she fails to realize that the entire encounter is being aired on live television as part of the "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" portion of the show (even as Fallon keeps glancing at the camera and chuckling) until it is too late.
  • June 4, 2012
    Wackd
    Ah, okay.
  • June 4, 2012
    TrustBen
    This kind of sketch is seen fairly frequently on The Kids In The Hall as well.
  • June 11, 2012
    AgProv
    TV Rutland Weekend Television, where Eric Idle, Neil Innes, David Battley, Gwen Watford and Henry Woolf could be seen sitting around a table ostensibly doing read-throughs, commenting on the quality or otherwise of Eric Idle's scriptwriting and generally fracturing the fourth wall.
  • June 11, 2012
    TrustBen
    Vis a vis fleshing out the Kids in the Hall example, the Kids often did sketches where they played themselves, addressing their status as a comedy troupe with a TV show. For example in one sketch, Kevin in his Butt Monkey role frets that if his next contribution isn't good enough, the others will kick him out of the group.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=2td0ne05mv0b258fd7gos1nr&trope=TheBackstageSketch