Comedy sketch types: Pullback and reveal

This is the first in my irregular series of posts on types of comedy sketches. First up, the pullback and reveal.

We see a man unpacking his angling gear out his fishing rod. The camera pans out to show us that he’s about to cast his line into a fishtank in a restaurant.

That there is a pullback and reveal. We think we see/hear one situation. It’s actually another. That surprise makes us laugh (hopefully). Of course, it helps if there is more to it that just surprise – I’m not sure a man building a lego house , which turns out to be in a bookies is that funny. Although if you have a funny comedy sketch that dies just that, please prove me wrong.

This is a technique often used as part of a longer sketch (usually as the punchline) or as  a quickie sketch all on its own.

The pullback and reveal is sometimes thought of as a little cliched. For example when a stand up comedian is  talking about doing some embarassing or intimate thing followed by “and that’s when I got off the bus.”

But it’s still a good trick to have up your sleeve when writing comedy sketches. Like all comedy forms and techniques – the fact that it is old does not make it automatically lazy and unfunny. Find a fresh original way to do it and everyone  will be too busy laughing to care.