We are not amused

Despite my blasé tweet:-

    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.

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.