Variety Show Skit Ideas

By Nancy Hayden ; Updated September 15, 2017
Classic stories may be turned into variety show skits.

A variety show is a sure-fire way to provide an entertainment event that has something for everyone. These shows offer a wide variety of acts, from singing and dancing, to magic and juggling. Variety shows became a permanent part of American culture in the days of Vaudeville. One important element to any variety show is the skit, a short and fast-paced scene filled with humor.

Vaudeville Style Skits

Vaudeville-style comedy sketches are a classic addition to any variety show. Vaudeville skits were usually performed in a presentational fashion, with the performers acknowledging the existence of the audience. To add an authentic Vaudeville skit to a variety show, memorize and perform a classic sketch such as Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" routine. Alternatively, write an original skit with one actor playing the straight man and another playing the wacky comic relief. Choose any topic and turn it into a hilarious sketch of confusing Vaudeville-style wordplay.

Physical Comedy

For performers who are well coordinated, a skit that focuses on physical comedy is an invigorating addition to a variety show. Put together a skit with a basic premise, such as two or more people attempting to build a house or any physical task. Fill the scene with classic physical shtick such as pratfalls and pretend injuries, as often seen in comedy acts like The Three Stooges. For a more modern take, choreograph a silent scene that uses instruments and physicality as is used in shows like "Stomp" or "Blue Man Group."

Musical Skits

Music is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser in any variety show. Another classic Vaudeville variety act was the song and dance team. Combine a comedy routine with intermittent song and dance breaks for a comedic musical sketch. Perform a cover of a classic song that fits the funny scenario of the skit. An example of this type of skit is two people dressed in one large shirt as a two-headed person singing "Me and My Shadow," or "Together Wherever We Go," and telling jokes.

Skits for Children

Kids putting on a variety show have many options when it comes to skit ideas. Write an original skit that takes place in a familiar setting such as a doctor's office and fill it with original jokes or doctor-themed jokes from a joke book. A fairy tale makes an imaginative premise for a skit; one student performs as the narrator and tells a classic children's story, while other children act out the action and perform the dialogue of the characters in the fairy tale.