Grab a cowboy hat and some stirrups and let your imagination roam free. Western theme skit ideas can range from parodies of cowboys and their livestock to sketches about historical events such as the Gold Rush. They are popular as part of theater club warmups, comedy sketch shows and as recreational activities for campouts, birthday parties and extra-curricular school activities.
Git Along Little Dogie
Because cowboys are one of the most iconic symbols of the West, they should feature prominently in your Western skits. Wear a Stetson hat, pair of boots and tie a bandanna around your neck. Adopt a Texan drawl -- sort of a Southern accent with a twist -- according to Bob Hinkle, an expert who taught Hollywood actors how to speak Texan. He says, "Well, yew know, a Southern accent is real syrupy. Southerners say ‘mutuh’ an’ ‘fathuh.’ A Texas accent is harder. Yew keep the r. Yew say ‘muther’ an’ ‘father.’ An’ yew flatten out words." Have your cowboys use colorful language such as "crooked as a snake with cramps," "a lick and a promise," "off one's feed" or "nothing to nobody." Pick one of the stories about Pecos Bill who ate dynamite and had a rattlesnake named Shake that he used as a lasso. Add in his girlfriend Slue-Foot Sue who rode a catfish. Drop them both in modern times and act out a skit about their heroic adventures.
Know When to Fold 'Em
A common Western setting is a saloon with denizens of the Old West gathered around tables playing cards and listening to the piano. Take inspiration from Prescott's Boots and Bustles, who in 2009 performed two skits set in saloons. In one, a woman dropped off a baby on the bar and the men gambled in a card game to see who got to keep it. In the other, three "merry widows" mourn their dead husbands who are still playing cards in a "heavenly saloon" where they eventually try to shoot each other but to no avail, since they're already dead.
Wooden Indian: Painted Dreams Inside My Head
Native Americans are another iconic symbol of the Old West, but ones that comedians must use with greater care because of past and ongoing racial tensions. Consider creating a sketch type that Steve Martin dubs "the intellectual sketch." Rely on your audience to recognize a famous Native American such as Sitting Bull, for example, and create a comedy sketch around the incident in 1872 when he led four other warriors out between the lines and shared a pipe with them while bullets were flying. Use your imagination to improv the unknown dialogue; end with a twist that the audience doesn't expect.
Live Like Horses
It wasn't just people who made the Old West the Old West. Horses, cattle and donkeys worked the trails and were constant companions of those settling the land. Borrow a page from "Mister Ed," and create skits with actors portraying talking animals who have human features and personalities. For example, build a sketch around a mule arguing with a Mustang or two cattle waiting innocently to be branded. Create a musical quartet of animals from the ranch singing a modern Country-Western tune. Have your actors wear costume pieces that suggest the animals they are portraying to help create the illusion.
After the Gold Rush
The Gold Rush was a major historical event associated with the Old West and what helped populate California. Create what comedian Steve Martin dubs a commercial parody sketch. Have one of your actors take on the role of a narrator or announcer -- the "voice" of the commercial. This actor will start out inviting listeners to join the expedition out West. Other actors will act out the announcer's description of the wagon train traveling West. It can start out simple and factual and then build with increasingly exaggerated claims such as, "We provide horses that fly like Pegasus" or "Our wagon beds are softer than 20 feather mattresses piled on top of each other." The other actors can exchange disbelieving looks as they scramble to come up with ways to portray these claims.
As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.