TV blog

Way To Go: Writing a highly-charged comedy

Writer

Tagged with:

Mel Brooks once said - and I’m paraphrasing here - “Cutting your finger is tragedy. But falling down a manhole and dying… now that’s comedy.”

He’s right. Heightened situations of hopeless desperation are far funnier than tiny, subtle moments of pain.

So as upsetting as it is, death can be very funny.

And in Way To Go, the new BBC Three comedy I created about three hapless guys who start an assisted suicide business, we’ve definitely got death.

So clearly, the show must be hilarious. I mean, I think Mel and I have proven that.

But ironically, in Way To Go, the heightened situations of hopeless desperation come less from those pulling their own plugs (or, in this case, yanking a lever on the McFlurry of death, a DIY contraption made from old shake machine parts) and more from the central characters - Scott (the InbetweenersBlake Harrison), Cozzo (Marc Wootton) and Joey (Ben Heathcote) - who find themselves hopelessly desperate enough to get themselves embroiled in a highly-illegal operation.

Three hapless mates: Cozzo, Scott and Joey

But why write a comedy about assisted suicide in the first place?

I get that all the time. Probably because I wrote one.

A couple of years ago, I was celebrating whatever-cousin’s birthday, when in comes my wife’s 90-something year-old grandmother.

This vivacious, sharp, witty woman who would mercilessly destroy me in Scrabble, had in recent years deteriorated into a dried apple, propped up in a wheelchair, on display for family occasions.

And suddenly, my brother-in-law and I were arguing over whether we’d want to live like that or if it would be best to just, well... fall into a manhole.

I don’t want to say who debated which side (although if I have to spend the rest of my life as a flatulent, decomposing empty shell, please tie me to a hot air balloon and float me up to heaven), but we each made some salient points and avoided having to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to the cousin.

The subject was controversial, sensitive and highly-charged... which is when I knew I had a terrific comedy on my hands.

The truth is, I’ve always believed that when difficult subjects are handled with humour, people actually take things more seriously than if they are lectured to with dry, morose gravity.

Blake Harrison plays Scott, the vet's receptionist

So if Way To Go engages debate and gets people thinking and talking, then terrific.

And if Way To Go makes people laugh simply because they enjoy watching a trio of brilliantly funny actors inhabiting hilarious characters in way over their heads as they help people kill themselves for cash, well, then that’s even better.

Because seriously, what could be funnier than that?

Bob Kushell is the creator and lead writer of Way To Go.

Way To Go begins on Thursday, 17 January at 10pm on BBC Three. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

Tagged with:

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 34. Posted by CJ

    on 26 Mar 2013 02:35

    I hope the Beeb recommission this show for a 2nd series - so original, and unusual and had me laughing out loud - well done BBC!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 34: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 34: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 33. Posted by Bee

    on 24 Feb 2013 16:08

    I'd much rather have these guys come round to help me die, with humour and some dignity, in a place and at a time of my choosing than go to that god awful place called Dignitas or end up in the 'waiting for God' ward of a hospital or sure-don't-care-home! I often think about my preferred 'Way To Go' and this would be it. I've witnessed first hand the madness of families thrusting their elderly relatives into hospitals expecting miracles. I soo don't want to be tortured to life. Hope an out pill is made available to me before I get too much older. Also hope you go to series two.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 33: 1
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 33: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 32. Posted by LJ61

    on 24 Feb 2013 09:03

    I want more please! Excellent series, I cannot believe people complaining about the subject here ... Why are you watching this if it offends you so much? I wonder if those complaining have actually watched an episode or just going off on one after reading the synopsis, hmmm. Anyway hurry up with the next series, makes paying for my TV License worth it!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 32: 3
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 32: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 31. Posted by LHughes

    on 19 Feb 2013 22:28

    Series 1 not even finished and already hoping for a series 2 :)

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 31: 2
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 31: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 30. Posted by Londonsmee

    on 18 Feb 2013 00:21

    Really enjoying the show, some outstanding writing. So original, inspiring to see someone writing something outside of the mainstream. Please keep your fingers writing, Looking forward to see where this journey is going to take us. Many thanks

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 30: 2
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 30: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 29. Posted by Craig Parks

    on 16 Feb 2013 23:35

    I recently saw a news article on the BBC about two middle aged twins who had learnt of an impending eyesight failure that was incurable. They both shared an impairment of deafness and the thought of never being able to see again as well as not being able to hear led to their planned suicide. Can you imagine how that would feel like, I for one totally wouldn't hesitate in taking their discussion to end it? This program doesn't in anyway promote suicide but merely shows what too many who are already dyeing and would wish to end their misery sooner rather than later, highlighting the fact they really should have a say! I say well written to Bob Kushell please keep it going!

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 29: 3
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 29: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 28. Posted by fizzedup

    on 16 Feb 2013 11:20

    Having watched the first episode, I thought it weren't too shabby. I think it's commendable that it tackles the taboo subject of end of life. I like that the characters seeking end of life, are really clear about who they are and what they want. Episode 2 was hilarious and it feels as if it's coming into its own. Laughed all the way though. The character Coso, is just hilarious - he kills me. All the cast have great comedic timing, bringing this ep's sharp script to life. With aplomb and finesse the script skirts the line between black comedy and unPC humour. Seeing Derek Griffiths was a treat, why he's not on TV more often, is to our loss. Loving the pervey boss. Also, I thought the young woman in debt, was one of the prettiest actors I've seen on TV for a while. If the Beeb, continue to produce comedy like this and Pramface, it will prove that we Brits, have not lost our touch at producing world class comedy. Congratulations to the team involved in bring this show into life, (if you'll pardon the pun.) Best wishes with the series.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 28: 4
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 28: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 27. Posted by Kurono

    on 15 Feb 2013 02:55

    This is a great comedy that I happened to stumble upon while browsing Iplayer. I find it hilarious and a great watch, though I can understand people who have experience with suicide may feel differently.
    I must say it was a big risk to put on a show like this and the BBC need praise for trying something out of the box.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 27: 4
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 27: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 26. Posted by Comment is free

    on 9 Feb 2013 21:59

    I think this comedy is brave and relevant. We are denied the opportunity for voluntary euthanasia in this country under the Suicide Act (1961), but ironically we can make choices about putting our family pets 'out of their misery' as this show illustrates indirectly through the working day of the veterinarian. The debate continues over "ending a person's life to relieve suffering" and is very relevant as some consider it a human right. Life is suffering, it's difficult and sometimes very dark. Life is overwhelming but we keep going and seek strength, but sometimes it's good to sit back and just let yourself laugh...it's a free natural medicine for our and "...a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict". I need to laugh at life sometimes. Kudos to the show.

    http://www.helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 26: 5
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 26: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 25. Posted by stokesville

    on 3 Feb 2013 18:09

    As someone who struggles with depression and has on numerous occasions planned my suicide in detail I find this program to be very funny indeed. Clearly the humour is located not in the deaths of the characters but in the moral and legal conflict between the need to provide and survive and the bungling incompetence of those assisting in the death of another to aid that survival.

    If the characters were assisting, for example, in the death of a depressed individual who, with the right care and resources would be facing a good chance of recovery, then that would clearly be in bad taste. As it is the deaths in this program are of those who are at the end of their lives and have decided that they wish to die with dignity at a time and place of their choosing.

    Given that more and more people are discussing the issue of whether choosing one's time and place and method of death is a basic human right this program can only contribute in a positive way to that dialogue.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 25: 4
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 25: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous

Next