What's the difference between a "skit" and "sketch"? Many people, even those who are involved in Drama Ministry can be hard pressed to make a distinction between the two terms. For many, the terms are synonymous and are used interchangeably. Let's take a closer look at these terms to help clear up any confusion.
First off, the skit.
A skit is generally non scripted and largely improvisational. Skits usually seek to convey a single point and can be taught fairly quickly and require no rehearsal time at all. Most of the time, skits do not have props involved. They generally possess a vague outline indicating what is to happen during the skit. Often times skits are thought up on the spot and then presented to a small group such as with youth and bible studies. While most skits try to be humorous and are often outlets for goofing off. There is very little characterization in skits. Players are more concerned with getting the intended point across to the viewer than portraying a specific character. Some skits attempt to convey some sort of lesson or spiritual truth. Skits often do not have a thematic thru-line and lack a specific beginning, middle, and end.
One great example of a typical youth group skit is one that I call, "The Gift". In this particular skit a person comes into the space and is expressing happiness due to a special "gift" (cupped hands) they have just received. The person's words and actions are largely unimportant as long as the viewer get the idea that this person has been given a gift and they are happy with it. Next, a second person comes into the space and appears to be sad. Person #1 gives person #2 some of the "gift" and both are now happy. The level of happiness can be played however big or small the people involved desire. This is where goofing off and improv comes into play. After 1 has given the gift to 2, 1 leaves the space. Person #3 comes into the space and is expressing some sort of negative emotion (IE. sad, angry, depressed etc.) 2 decides to give 3 some of the "gift". 3 is now happy too. The last person comes into the space and is not given the "gift". 3 simply talks to 4 and 4 soon walks away. After 4 leaves, 3 soon discovers that the "gift" is gone and is wondering where it went. 1 comes back on stage and tells the viewers the point. God's love is a gift that needs to be spread around, if we don't, it loses its power.
As you can see this skit, although very effective and powerful, does not require line memorization, can be taught quickly, has no rehearsal, props, script, and can be as outrageous or serious as the players want it to be.
A sketch on the other hand is a whole different animal altogether.
A sketch follows all the basic elements of a regular stage performance and has a specific beginning, middle, and end. they are, in many aspects, small plays.
First of all, a sketch has a script. Although many of the lines in a sketch can be ad-libbed as the actors see fit, the lines are crucially important to get the story from point A to point B. Also, the lines help to set up thematic elements such as characterization, jokes, and plot direction. Line memorization is always required for the performance of sketches.
Sketches possess a cast of characters who carry out the action. An actor must adopt the persona of their character. The focus of the action is not on the person onstage, rather, it is on the character and what they are doing. Sketches often require props and costumes. This helps to give the sketch more integrity and allows the audience to fully buy what is being presented in front of them.
Sketches need to be rehearsed and require blocking. Blocking, is a theatrical term for the scripted movement onstage and lets the actor know when they are to enter, exit, cross the stage, pick up or use a prop, where to stand, what kind of posture is to be used for a given character, and much more. All these aspects are handled by a director who is in charge of the sketch.
The director schedules rehearsals and gives the actors "notes" on their performance. During a typical rehearsal, the director will help the actors to find motivation for characters, assist with line delivery and vocal tone, help the actors understand both the text of the script and subtext of the jokes and humorous bits to be conveyed.
A sketch must have a point. In Drama Ministry, it should have something to do with the Bible or spiritual principles about how we are to live our lives as Christians. Each sketch must make this moral obvious for the audience.