Let’s have a look at two sketches, completely independent to one another, written an ocean apart, but which demonstrate very well how two people can arrive at almost exactly the same idea. Here’s the first, from an 1989 episode of The Kids In The Hall.
And here’s the second, from A Bit Of Fry And Laure, series four.
It’s clear how this idea develops. It’s an argument ad absurdum, playing on the idea of a pre-nuptial agreement, the likes of which were gaining popularity in the States at the end of the 1980s, and which were starting to be seen in the UK come the early 1990s.
What’s interesting it that both sketches share a similar shape, if not tone, beginning with polite platitudes, setting up the joke and running with it, before ending with essentially the same punchline.
I think I prefer Fry and Laurie’s version, it has a lighter touch, and is much less aggressive. They realise that the conflict in the set up is not the lawyers, it’s the language they have to use to strip all passion from the exchange. This is mirrored by the frankness of their suggestion at the end.
Conversely, the Kids undercut the aggression of their tone with that sweet kiss at the end.
I’m willing to bet there are more examples of this exact sketch from other shows of the time.
Can you think of one?