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The Backstage Sketch

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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.
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  • 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.
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  • SCTV frequently had backstage plots throughout the show, especially during the 90-minute episodes.
  • When Roc began airing their episodes live, the show would often being with one of the actors backstage talking to the TV audience.
  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme uses these primarily for Lampshade Hanging and Self-Deprecation, and gets increasingly meta with them with every passing series. This perhaps peaked with a series 5 sketch in which Simon Kane complains that Finnemore writes these sketches in such a way as to make the rest of the cast look petty and bullying, and that that includes the lines he's currently reading. He's reduced to tearfully begging John to stop writing the sketch, while John says he doesn't know how to because he can't think of a punchline.
    Simon: Look, none of what I'm saying represents what I, Simon Kane, actually think or feel! Not even this!
    John: Okay look, you don't think this is all getting a bit self-indulgent do you?
    Simon: You have such a cheek. Sitting at your computer, writing that line, for you to ask me, as if it's somehow my fault, and then writing this answer for me to say! YES OF COURSE IT'S SELF-INDULGENT! MASSIVELY SELF-INDULGENT! So for god's sake, stop it!

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