My six-week comedy workout
Six weeks of Newsjack. Six times I wrote a topical news sketch and sent it in by their Monday noon deadline. Five times I heard nothing, and I’m fully expecting that to clock round to six by this Thursday.
But, you know what? Today’s only Monday, and I’m feeling upbeat about the whole thing. I don’t usually blog about exactly what I’m writing, but the end of this six-week thing seems an appropriate time to take stock.
I’m still editing my novel, readying it to send to agents. It has reached the stage where I think it’s awful, unfunny tat, so actually flexing my comedy muscles trying to write sketches has been a welcome and beneficial (I think) contrast to writing what is supposed to be a funny novel.
I also recently went on a “sitcom weekend”, with the very lovely and – of course – funny Paul Bassett-Davies. This was a last-minute decision, when I was in the swing of trying a sketch a week, and wondering when I’ll have the time to drag my sitcom pilot and comedy drama draft out of that drawer to polish. It also had the effect of my husband asking, after being left with the two children over the weekend, “when are you going to do anything with your writing?” Ah. Apparently having had poetry and flash fiction published doesn’t count. But I’ll save that rant for our marriage counsellor.
Anyway, this sitcom weekend meant sitting in a basement room (probably deliberately, to acclimatise us – don’t all the horror stories about being in a writing room mention a basement?) with a load of other people who think about comedy just like I do. They analysed shows line by line, just like I do. Like I think is normal, but am reminded talking to my friends that it really isn’t. I had a blast writing with Emily Benet, before Paul split us up. Teachers are so mean. I read out some bits I’d been kicking around in some of Paul’s exercises, and they laughed. I made a room of people laugh, with just a pencil, a bit of paper and my warped mind.
So, I honestly don’t care if Newsjack like my last sketch or not. I’ve learned a hell of a lot just writing them: one a week, six times. It has rejuvenated my comedy mojo, if I can say that without craving a crushed velvet suit, bad teeth and glasses. I’ve parked the rejected sketches I’m happy with on this blog (and I’m sure on Thursday I can put my last one here). I’m back to my novel with renewed vigour. Just as soon as the kids finish their half term …
Newsjack can’t be the only outlet for your talent? Surely there are other programmes, artists, etc who will be interested in your material. It’s a shame Bob Hope is no longer with us…
I’m sure it’s not. I allowed myself this finite distraction because I’m supposed to be getting the novel finished. I’ll investigate more when that’s done!
Well, on the basis of your Newsjack sketches, I for one am looking forward to reading your novel! Keep going! It’s hard when people on the outside of the writing process don’t understand all the work that’s going on, and when they look for results too soon, but these things take time. You’ll get there (and so will I) and it will all be worth it.
Thank you Simon! Let’s hope the novel has a bit more nuance – it will have had considerably more time spent on it in the end. Best of luck to you as well.
Fingers crossed for a good Newsjack result this week and very pleased to hear your mojo is back! As for the husband, may I suggest a comedic frying panning moment…
Comedic frying pans … *dreams*
With the talent you have – comic, novelistic and all the other kinds – it can only be a matter of time… Unfortunately with all creative endeavours a trying amout of patience is required. But it’s character-forming!
My character will have taken on a weird form all its own by the end of all this. (And thank you for your lovely compliment!)