Live from Kirrin Island

I am the Producer and one of the writers on Live from Kirrin Island in collaboration with others from from the British Comedy Guide. All the details here at the KirrinIslandPodcast.com website.

We are not amused

Despite my blasé tweet:-

    @LippyAlison
    Phew. Relieved I didn’t make it through to the next round of #laughtrack. Workshop on 24th clashed with dentist appt

I was a tad disappointed not to progress to the next stage with my BBC laughtrack TV sitcom competition entry; The Black Hats: about a team of inept Computer Hackers in a house share hacktivating their way to disaster.

    “Black Hats” [blak hatz]: A phrase with origins in western movies for the bad guys who stereotypically wear a black hat in contrast to the hero’s white hat. Now also used to refer to a computer hacker who breaks into networks or computers, or creates computer viruses. In contrast the White Hats develop the counter measures.

But it felt rushed – probably because it was. And that made it clumsy in places where it could have been improved with focused re-writes. With 800+ entries there are bound to be plenty that are more polished and not rushed and I’m competing against all of those and some. There’s definitely a lesson about when writing to deadlines don’t underestimate the time needed for re-writes.

As it happens the process of creating the premise and developing interesting characters and an amusing story was enjoyable, and a good discipline and practice.

A reason it was rushed was because I have several other irons poking into the fire at the moment. One of which is awaiting feedback on a radio audience comedy I submitted through the BBC writers room earlier in the year. I re-read that last night coincidentally and really enjoyed the whimsical nature of it – which I couldn’t replicate in the TV sitcom environment. Whether that means I prefer writing for radio – which I think I might but don’t want to commit to yet – I’m not entirely sure… but secretly I’m hoping for some positive feedback on the radio comedy so that I can write the other episodes I have ideas for.

Live from Kirrin Island Podcast

Back to podcast pages

Plans are coming together for a one-off topical satirical comedy podcast in early summer. It’s the closed season for BBC Radio Newsjack which is one of few open-door radio shows ie where anyone can contribute material and receive a writing credit (along with payment from the BBC) for material that is recorded and broadcast.

There is no shortage of alternative writing opportunities and voluntary deadlines to keep comedy writers busy, but it seems that there is something a little bit special about the immediacy of having a go with Newsjack since the weekly cycle of scanning news, writing, submission and then instant success or failure in the public domain is gripping. The other factor is that it is genuinely high quality entertainment and many believe on par with other total commissioned-writer produced shows such as The Now Show.

So until Series 7 begins in the Autumn, it seemed appropriate to gather for a social soiree whilst keeping our topical writing skills well honed. And hence the Live from Kirrin Island podcast. Recorded in front of a friendly audience (for the laughter track) at my house which – as one complete open plan space with the sofa moved – is ideal for concerts and shows. Complete with a Wurlitzer Theatre Organ and a baby grand piano.

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With all the talent of BBC credited writers, experienced performers and a well tanked up audience, we should be confident of putting together something as good as anything you’ll hear on the airwaves. Watch this space.

    Risk Register:
  • Writers don’t turn up
  • We can’t think of anything funny
  • Audience don’t turn up
  • They don’t find it funny
  • Technical Failure eg recording
    • Mitigating action (respectively)
  • Offer of wine
  • Consumption of wine
  • Offer of wine
  • Consumption of wine
  • Teenagers and neighbours who happen to be BBC Sound technicians.
  • More information here

    Kirrin Island UDI

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    Living on an island is a most bizarre – but strongly recommended – experience. From attempted killings to adultery, it’s a bit like Midsummer Murders meets Wife Swap but with less diversity. The upsides are to be celebrated. A view from my bed of the ancient and regal River Thames, the draw of community and the tranquility of no traffic. As I cross the rickety foot bridge (more later) I enter a territory that we collectively call home in a way that other neighbourhoods are unable to achieve. All of these reasons and more are why I could live here for many years to come.

    There are downsides of course; I’d be kidding if there weren’t. Primarily the attempted murders which seem to stem from historic animosity between feuding families. I exaggerate of course – this seems limited to someone scattering tacks on the road so that the only islander allowed to drive his vehicle on the island would crash off the bridge and into the icy Thames. It was a good plot for Morse who would have drunk a bottle of claret before dispatching the Community Support Officers to investigate – and that’s what happened. We’ve now got a sign on the bridge that says Welcome to Kirrin Island – attempted murders in the last six months, zero. Please drive carefully – you know who you are.

    For us lesser pedestrian mortals, I continue to cycle on and off the island and we leave a car on the mainland for reasons of living in the 21st century. Today I shall be mostly ogling the fit rowers and enticing them over with offers of cake. It’s a hard life.
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    Mr Stig of the Waste Transfer Centre

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    I’ve just come back from a visit to my local Waste Transfer Centre. That’s right – you heard correctly. No dumping or tipping of any sort was done. Just calm responsible transference of all my crap onto a pile of other people’s transferred crap.

    I think I do them a disservice as they report – on the way in – that 78.5% of “transferred” stuff is recycled. I was very impressed. It made me want to diss-assemble the old Ikea wardrobe I was throwing away, into its component parts, stick it back in a piece of cardboard – of which there was loads lying around. Draw a few stickmen having sex on the front to approximate an Ikea instruction manual and then give it a daft Scandinavian name. A student from somewhere would have taken it away. But I didn’t. I dumped my stuff and drove off quick before they discovered I lived in the wrong Borough.

    Blagging your way to the Royal Suite.

    I stayed in a 5* hotel last night and got upgraded to a superior room as a bonus. Ok it was a last minute.com “secret hotel” thingy deal for relatively sensible money. But it was still a five star hotel in the heart of London and actually it was never a secret because I’d worked out which it was from some crude googling. 5 star overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral narrows the field a little. Having complained that the Bluetooth signal on my bedroom “multimedia hub” was weaker than Chris Huhne’s forthcoming defence, I was upgraded to a superior room. This morning having hacked the lift and finding myself on the executive roof garden (from where the picture is take), I kicked myself for not finding three or four consecutive things to complain about last night as I could have woken up in the Royal Suite, in a bed the size of the Greek debt but without the downside of interference from Germans.

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    Oh yes. I’m writing comedy

    So I’m getting stuck into comedy writing and really enjoying it. Ok so I’ve written drama a bit – and currently have a one-act play appearing at festivals – but hey I like a challenge. They all warned me; “Comedy is really difficult to write” they said “You’ll think it’s easy – but it’s not”.

    And they are right of course, but that’s the attraction. So far, a radio audience comedy to BBC Writers Room – still waiting to hear, and I just made the deadline for the BBC Laugh Track TV sitcom competition with a comedy about Computer Hackers.

    But actually it’s sending in material for Newsjack that is giving me most pleasure at the moment. Perhaps it’s the competitive element that drives me – there’s lots of writers I’m competing with to get air time. But really I think it’s the discipline of writing comedy sketches I enjoy. Study news stories, find an unusual angle. And then form the dialogue which is tight, rhythmic and clever – funny even. I write a bit in my day job and this has been the best development training I could imagine – make every word punch above its weight. How does this come across to the reader/listener? Remove the fat – get to the point with impact. I’ve heard other people say, “get in – make your point – get out”. Real writing and comms skills that serve you well whenever.

    So, it’s episode 5 this week of a run of six. And so far my material has been recorded (episode 3) but sadly didn’t survive the edit. Two more attempts.

    I’m going to feel a bit bereft after next week. My current one-act play is set on death row in Florida – not much of a laugh but I did mange to squeeze in two jokes which the audience seem to enjoy (they are appropriate I hasten to add). I feel more comedy calling me.

    Strewth I’ve got a blog!

    What did I do that for?

    Well actually because I realised that a social media profile needs a strategy – you can’t just throw a few tweets about and hope for the best. Now it might be my over excessive controlling manner and actually you can do exactly that. But I’ve realised that a combination of forum posting and tweeting also requires somewhere to post longer thoughts and develop your voice – hence this blog.

    And the other thing you realise is – and maybe it’s just me but I doubt it – when I create a tweet (only 140 chars) I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about whether it meets the needs of my followers – people I’ve not asked to take an interest but whom nonetheless have put themselves out to do so. They deserve a reasonable amount of quality. Or they’ll unfollow me or defollow me whatever the correct term is, and that would make me feel I’ve failed. But blogs are different. I’ve not asked you to come here. I’ve got no idea who the heck you are. But welcome. Thanks for coming by. I hope you’ll stay a bit. Come back even. Perhaps leave a nice message. But if you don’t, neither of us have to worry. There was no commitment. We haven’t got that awkward morning after moment. Just grab your clothes and head off before breakfast. We can pretend it didn’t happen. And that’s why I’ve decided I like blogging. I hope that makes sense. And if it doesn’t I don’t really care because I don’t feel responsible for you being here. See you soon I hope :)

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