25 Jul 2018
dave's picture

Good morning Newsjack writers, I hope you had a productive weekend in the parallel universe you’ve been occupying for the last three days.
Time to send your sketches off. Go to the Newsjack site on the BBC website and they’ll show you how to submit a script.
I’ve probably not quite organised the order of this properly, because I only decided to try it about a week ago, so I should have sent you a link to this on the first day. It’s an example of the template for what you send to Newsjack when your script is ready to go. They’ve shown an actual sketch to give you an idea of what your submission looks like. And it’s useful because it gives you a sense of what’s likely to get accepted: It’s not a big headline story but a nice quirky one, and there are lots of funny jokes:
Now I could be a little bit picky and say this sketch feels like a fairly obvious route to take, I could add that the jokes don’t really escalate and there isn’t an obvious place where the sketch reaches a heightened end of act 2 point and where act 3 begins. But as I said yesterday, if you can send a sketch with lots of funny jokes then you stand a good chance of bringing yourself to the attention of the producers. And it has a great punchline.
Bearing that in mind, and accepting for now that your script is probably not quite 100 per cent perfect, it would be great to look at this check list before you send your sketches off, and hope to have answered yes to all the following questions:
Do you have a very strong ‘what if’ premise?
Do you have two, possibly three characters, at least one female?
Do you have one famous person or less? (Newsjack usually only have one celebrity/politician in each sketch)
Does every character have a distinctive voice?
Does every character ‘own’ each joke they make? In other words, that joke couldn’t be said by another character.
Off the back of the ‘what if’ premise, are there at least half a dozen good funny jokes?
Does the story escalate, so that when we reach the last of those jokes the characters have everything to gain or lose?
Do you have a second twist?
Do you get to the punchline very quickly after your second twist?
Is this sketch absolutely as funny as you could possibly make it?
Is it noon yet?
If the answer to the final question is no, and you still have a couple of hours to go before sending, maybe you could take one last look and see if you can find another funny joke.
Press send.
At this point, I want you to forget everything that has taken place over the last 48 hours. There is nothing you can do now, it’s out of your hands. As we approach Sunday night (Thursday in Newsjack land), and you tune in expectantly, your stomach knotting with anticipation, followed by inevitable disappointment, then sure, at the end of the recording when your work hasn’t been used you’re allowed to feel the anger, despair, humiliation, bitterness and self-loathing that make us the brilliant aspiring writers we all are.
You can know what it feels like to be me, and James Cary, and every comedy writer whose work you’ve loved, even Jennifer Saunders on occasion, to have your work rejected and wonder why you’re bothering to waste your life trying to write comedy that no one will see or hear.
But for now you need to forget those sketches, and turn your mind to writing one-line gags. You've got 24 hours to come up with two gems. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how.

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