My six-week comedy workout

by isabelrogers

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 …