10 Jul 2014

Self Obsessed? Self Employed.

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Deadlines and strikes this week so instead of a new piece here's something I wrote last year about going freelance...

02 Jul 2014

Yes You CAN Make A Living Writing Comedy

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Today's blog is given over to Joel Soetendorp, a comedy writer you've probably never heard of but who is very successfully making a living at writing comedy. Joel's main source of income is writing content on the internet, and he clearly has a knack for it. I talked to Joel (the urge to say 'at his LA poolside' is strong but would be inaccurate) about his work. 

How long have you been writing comedy? 

Oh years, but if I go by my first sale of stuff then it’s News Revue 2006. 

25 Jun 2014

Mrs Cohen's Boy Writes...

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There's a film out this week, two more to come, and the TV show has sold 5 MILLION DVDs. Yes, MILLION. Here's a piece I wrote last year about Mr(s) Brown.

When the first series of Mrs Brown’s Boys aired on BBC1 in 2011, I disliked it on more levels than any comedy programme I’ve ever seen. It was as though 30 years of alternative comedy had never happened. All those battles we fought in the 1980s: for this?

18 Jun 2014

Surrealism: There's Something Fishy About It

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"He's fallen in the water... Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!...What's on the end of the stick, Vic?"

Up until about twenty years ago you rarely saw the word 'surrealism' used to define anything other than a certain type of painting, more recently it has become a form of shorthand to describe a great deal of modern comedy. Do you have a flair for surrealist comedy? Would you like to be able to write and perform more of it? More to the point, have you any idea what 'surrealism' means?

11 Jun 2014

What Can We Learn From Rik

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Funny how things work out. I've written a piece about surrealism that I was going to post today. So I'd been thinking last week, for the first time in a while, about 'The Young Ones', and the bomb it exploded under British comedy.

It's been difficult over the last two or three days to avoid the tributes to Rik Mayall, just about everybody I know in comedy has either commented on the Rik they knew, or the Rik that inspired them to do comedy. Is there anything more to be said?

04 Jun 2014

Learn From The Best

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Since I started writing these pieces a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about the kind of role models you should be looking to if you want a career in comedy as a writer, or performer, or both. Whichever you wish to be, there's one person who stands out, and whose 30 plus years in the business continue to be an inspiration and education. If you want to know how to 'do' comedy well, then it’s time you started paying serious attention to Mark Steel.

22 May 2014

I Coined A Phrase But I'm Not Minting It

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Immortality. That’s why we do this isn’t it? Since landing on the moon and appearing on Top Of The Pops have vanished as options, being remembered for saying or writing something clever is pretty much all we have. And you can quote me on that. No writer ever knows which phrases will stick.

15 May 2014

The Joy Of Specs

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I've been asked by a comedy writer friend about writing spec scripts of comedy shows. These are scripts you write of sitcoms that already exist, that you send off in the hope of showing off your sitcom-writing ability to comedy producers. The script is written for free, and on speculation of getting work, hence the name.
08 May 2014

Time For Your 15 Minutes

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I've spent some time working through the new free BBC ebook - 'How To Write Radio Comedy' (link at the end of this article) - and I'm a little surprised by the number of omissions. A few weeks ago I mentioned its lack of information with regard to sketch writing, apart from about specific shows on air at the moment. There's plenty of useful information, and some insights into the kinds of shows the Radio Comedy department are not looking for, but I couldn't find any mention at all of one of the biggest growth areas in Radio 4 comedy - the 15 Minute episode.

01 May 2014

Writer? Don't Fear The Writer-Performer

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Last week, on his consistently wise @sitcomgeek blog James Cary wrote two very thorough pieces about the rise of the writer-performer in comedy, and how this has had an effect on sitcom. (links at the end of this article)
James makes many good points. Of course he does, he always does, he's James Cary. The first, and what prompted him to write about it, was the current obsession in the comedy industry with ‘talent’, meaning the faces in front of the camera as opposed to ‘talent’, the massive team effort required to turn a good show into a great one.