CARLSBAD — Comedy is a fluid art form and even the best comedians must test material to determine if it makes the cut.
For a group of Carlsbad kids, however, they are building their comedic chops the way many of today’s best have done, through trial and error during live shows.
Five years ago, Tommy Kelly, 12, of Valley Middle School started to scratch his stand-up itch. He began performing at their Ocean Street home with his neighbor, Damon Ivey, 9, of Buena Vista Elementary School.
After a two-year hiatus, Kelly recruited three more friends — Connor Pasarnikar, 12, of San Elijo Middle School, Mateo Minotta, 12, of Calavera Hills Middle School and Holden Sisco, 12, Kelly’s classmate at Valley.
The five form the WFK (World’s Funniest Kids) Show, which has grown into a live production and is posted online on YouTube.
“Damon and I started it when I was in first grade, five years ago,” Kelly said. “We just set up a camera in my room and acted silly in front of it. Last year is when we really got serious about WFK.”
The show follows the format of “Saturday Night Live” as a skit-based act. Kelly said the show opens with a sketch based on the national political scene, followed by the host’s monologue and closes with a news update. The cast also rotates as host.
Kelly writes the script and he and Pasarnikar edit the show on their computer before posting online. During the editing process, Kelly sometimes inserts different backgrounds, such as a news broadcast found on local or national outlets.
He makes good use of a green screen his mother bought him.
“Last year I started watching ‘SNL’ and thought it was really funny, so I started my own show,” Kelly said.
Of course, all scripts must run through Kelly’s father, Jim, for approval as no dirty or suggestive language is permitted. Jim Kelly also oversees rehearsal giving tips to the boys on stage presence, voice projection and of course, speaking slower than normal so the audience can follow along.
The boys, especially Kelly, are fond of prominent comedians such as Jim Gaffigan, Brian Regan and Jerry Seinfeld, all of whom do not use profanity in their acts.
Most importantly, the five young comedians avoid “kids comedy” opting for a kid’s spin on the adult world.
“I think it’s practice makes perfect,” Sisco said of their improvement.
The boys rehearse about once per week in Kelly’s garage, tinkering with their act and rewriting if a bit doesn’t meet their standards. They have gathered a collection of costumes and props to add a bit of flair to the show.
Their popularity, meanwhile, has started to rise as they moved their shows from Kelly’s home to Heritage Hall, 258 Beech Ave., at Magee Park. At their last show, about 30 people attended, with a $3 cover, and they expect about the same turnout for their next performance Friday.
“Last time, we got $30 (each),” Pasarnikar said with a smile.