22 Jul 2018
dave's picture

Do you think you could become a writer for Newsjack?
First, let me put you off. The answer is almost certainly no. There are a number of perfectly straightforward reasons why the chances of this happening are slim.
Most of the show is written by commissioned writers. Of course it has to be, this makes complete sense. You can’t expect the producers of a weekly topical show not to have the insurance of knowing that if all else fails they’ll be able to fill the show with the work of writers who have proved they can do it.
Then there’s the subject matter. For the last couple of years the news agenda has been dominated by two stories, you don’t need me to tell you which but I’ll give you a clue, they both cover similar ground and both feature Nigel Farage in a walk-on part. These are ongoing stories and my guess is the producers wait until the last moment before deciding what angle to take. Unless you can think of some fantastically new comedy slant in the days leading up to the deadline it’s probably best to avoid them.
Next, how is your ego feeling these days? Do you have plentiful reserves of mental strength? You’re going to need them. It’s quite rare even for the writers most suited to the work to be instantly successful, and even rarer for them to be able to follow up that success consistently over the six week run of the series. More likely you’ll have a go in the first week, send off your jokes and sketches, wait with anticipation, listen to the show with a growing sense of foreboding and disappointment, and then give up straight away. At least 50% of you will, according to the producer we spoke to earlier this year.
Finally there’s the timing, which as we all know is the secret of comedy. The show goes out on a Thursday evening, which means the search for material for the following week’s show begins on Friday morning. Because the commissioned writers will be working as close to the deadline as possible, you’re going to have to do all your work before that. The deadline for your sketches is Monday morning, jokes Tuesday morning.
That means all your hard work will take place over the weekend. You get to write two sketches, so you’ll want to spend most of Friday looking through the news and searching for two stories that will provide you with two minutes of jokes. If you have time to do a first draft on Friday, great, that gives you all of Saturday and Sunday to rewrite (and hope your story doesn’t become out of date).
And you really need to rewrite. Because writing is all about rewriting, you know that. No first draft ever got made. If you want to write for Newsjack, be prepared to wave goodbye to six weekends on the trot.
Still think you can become a writer for Newsjack? Okay, let’s start.
We’re going to run this week like it’s a typical week for the show. There was a show last night so today is day one in the next week’s Newsjack cycle, Friday (I know, it’s Monday, go with it). You’re going to spend the rest of today coming up with two great funny ideas for sketches, with lots of jokes. I’ll be looking through the papers and coming up with suggestions of my own that I’ll share with you tomorrow – but why not send me yours? In the comments below.
Tomorrow, day two of the Newsjack cycle, is when you start writing.

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