One panhandler says his pregnant wife is in the delivery room, and the other says he is suffering from Hepatitis C. Or is it the other way around?
“Man, learn your lines,” one says to other.
It doesn’t matter. The young couple has already figured out they’re being scammed, especially when the one with Hepatitis C forgets the disease’s name. Hippopotamus? Or herpes?
“I thought you said Hepatitis C,” the woman fires back at him.
“Honey, they just want money,” her husband answers.
And as you can imagine, the confusion becomes worse. But it’s intended, because the sketch wouldn’t nearly be as comical otherwise. This sketch is one of many that make up “Laugh Now Laugh Later,” a locally produced television program now in its fourth season on WBXH my BR in Baton Rouge.
The show airs at 11 p.m. Fridays. Terrance Turner is its creator, producer and director, and he is aided by local writers Alexander Scott, Will Merrill, Jeff Buck and Faydra Thomas, most of whom also star in the show.
Think “Saturday Night Live,” only the show doesn’t air live. Or think back to “In Living Color.” Sketch comedy is the driving force behind both shows, as it is with “Laugh Now Laugh Later.”
Take the sketch in progress. The main characters are two panhandlers trying to scam a young couple out of money. But their scam falls apart when they can’t remember their lines and their story collapses.
The more the panhandlers try to clean up their lies, the funnier it gets. Turner films this sketch on a recent Friday near the USS Kidd. Skies are cloudy, and rain is about to pour, but somehow, everything works out. The overcast skies provides a dusky mood, and filming ends just as the rain begins.
“We call that sketch, ‘Hobo Showdown,’” Merrill explains.
It began as a standup comedy routine, then developed into a sketch by Merrill and Buck. Many of the cast and crew members are standup comics whose jokes evolve into sketches.
“The idea started as a sketch comedy movie then morphed into TV,” Turner says. “We found that TV is a better route.”
The group found that television allowed for more idea development. If the crew can’t make something work in one season, there’s always a chance to try it again in the next. The ideas seem infinite.
“Our ideas come from everyday life,” Merrill says.
“And last march, when we got our ratings back, we learned we had a 46 percent share of the market,” Turner adds.
“Laugh Now Laugh Later” will finish its season on Oct. 11, which actually is its second run in 2013.
“This is the first year we’ve had two seasons in one year,” Turner says. “We also had a season that ran from January to March. The next season began in July, and we’ve been picked up again in the spring of 2014.”
The show also features a pop culture segment, man on the street and music reviews by radio host and blogger Ally Bea.
But like most shows of this genre, the sketches captivate the audience, especially favorite recurring characters like Merrill’s on-the-spot reporter Reed Stevenson and Scott’s Ratchet Ronnie.
“He owns the greatest bar in the world,” Scott says. “Just ask him, and he’ll tell you.”
“Everyone knows someone like Ratchet Ronnie,” Williams adds.