27 Mar 2014

The Blog Tour: 4 Questions

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THIS WEEK I was going to pay another visit to Newsjack, and talk about the mechanics of sketch writing.

Then a massively significant story broke that no one seemed to care about, which was that non-payment of the BBC Licence Fee is about to be decriminalised. I've always tried to remain optimistic about the BBC but this sounds like a disaster... if you know you won't go to prison for withholding your licence fee, who's going to bother paying? It's not like gas or electricity, where non-payment means you get cut off.

20 Mar 2014

In The Beginning...

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Recently I was asked to read the first ten pages of a bunch of sitcom scripts, then meet and chat with the writers. While it’s impossible to tell from such a small sample of work if your script will be a hit or miss, there are plenty of things a script reader can learn that will tell them whether or not the script has potential.

12 Mar 2014

How To Not Care About Failing To Crack Newsjack

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Two things happened since I last wrote. Well, of course, more than two things happened, but they're less relevant to this blog. The first was the 30th anniversary of the airing of the first episode of 'Spitting Image', and the second was the return of Radio 4 Extra’s topical show 'Newsjack'.

How we look at the news, and how we make jokes about it, has changed radically over that time, but the fact remains that if you want to make a living writing comedy, doing topical jokes remains the quickest and most efficient way in.

06 Mar 2014

Is This The Moment Everything Changes?

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My first reaction to the news that BBC3 was being moved online was ‘that’s a terrible shame.’ There’s been some fantastic comedy in the last year on 3, including ‘Uncle’, ‘Bad Education’, ‘Bluestone 42’, ‘Revolution Will Be Televised’ and loads of others I’m sure will come to me later.

Then I thought, well at least it’s not being totally axed. As radio producer Steve Doherty pointed out, it’s bound to lead to budget cuts, but at least there’s still a budget to cut.

27 Feb 2014

What's New

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Earlier this week I got half-heartedly involved in one of those Facebook discussions that take up way too much of everybody's time. There'd been an article in 'The Guardian' about how a bunch of young feminist novelists had hit upon a whole new way to write about women, which was to make them less like Bridget Jones - characters whose whole point of existence wasn't just to find a boyfriend.
 
21 Feb 2014

A Little Bit Of Politics

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I’ve had a quick read through Alexei Sayle’s Analysis Of Comedy Today – yes the king hath spoken, and deserves capital letters. I love Alexei, he was the main reason I became a stand-up, and it’s great to see him back again. But his inevitably Lexo-centric view of alternative comedy is a revisionist rewrite of what actually happened, in the long period of 20 years or so when he was largely apart from live comedy.

13 Feb 2014

My Favourite Sitcom Characters Are Lumps Of Wood

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There's a character in every sitcom that rarely gets a mention, yet has the potential to be one of the most useful members of your cast. Every sitcom has them, but most writers don't bother to give them the attention they deserve and require. I'm referring to: the room.

It’s not just any old room, it’s your ‘sit’. That’s already half of what you’re trying to write, so you should give it a good deal of thought.

06 Feb 2014

You Can Be Funny About Anything… Can’t You?

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So now that you’ve decided that a life of comedy awaits – performing stand-up or writing, or both – what are you going to joke about?

Many writers and performers, starting out, look at the blandness of much of what they see on mainstream TV, and reckon they could be much harder, edgier, sharper and funnier. Sometimes they are. I am totally sympathetic to this view – so much of the best comedy, the best anything really, comes from angry people tearing up the old rules and starting from a new place.

30 Jan 2014

The Family Family

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I always look forward to the new series of 'Outumbered', the family sitcom by Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton that helped to reinvent the form, and breathe new life into a genre that often feels like it hasn't moved on since the 1970s template 'Butterflies' by Carla Lane.

23 Jan 2014

What The World's Been Waiting For: A New Blog

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Hello everyone, and welcome to this first post on my new blog, offering advice on how to Be Averagely Successful At Comedy.


You may be wondering what purpose might be served by the arrival of a new blog. A blog with tips about how to do something creative, from someone you may not have heard of, someone who may have a long list of writing and performing credits but no certificate of qualification as a teacher.

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