Monday 28 November 2011, 10:18
Hello. You don't know me but I am yet another of those regular people what made it through that Jesting About-initiative thing last year. I've been asked to write a blog about it. I also work part-time in a cafe, but you're not interested in that, are you?
Of course not.
So, I was asked to write about my experience on Jesting About, and I thought that as well as doing that, I would give some (hopefully) helpful tips on what to do when applying. Now, I feel it's worth pointing something out before we go any further on this prose-based journey of ours - being a writer isn't glamorous. Despite what you see on E! News and Dickinson's Real Deals; this industry isn't all that pretty. In order to fully help you grasp this concept, I have an admission to make...
When I filled in my application form for Jesting About, I did so wearing nothing but a pair of pants.
You see - it's not all vanilla lattes and falafel fajitas in this business. Nevertheless I was accepted onto the Radio strand of the scheme, where I had to write and perform sketches for a pilot show to be aired on BBC Newcastle and BBC Tees. I had my sketches looked at, spat on and pulled apart. It was difficult, as a writer, being subjected to harsh criticism but I haven't experienced anything else that has tested my comedy muscles in quite the same way. You have to earn every laugh.
It's a daunting situation to go into, even if you've already had brushes with show business before (I once met Rula Lenska in the men's toilet at the Centre Parks in Thetford Forrest, and was once seen walking past a Eurosport commentator during the International Speed Skating Championships of '97) but don't let it intimidate you. The tears I held back as I watched experts, such as Ross Noble, Michael Jacob and Dan Tetsell, rip into my babies (not literally) will stay with me, but they have put me in good stead for making a proper go of this writing lark. These are people that live and breathe comedy, with the exception of one chap who used a ventilator. So it is crucial to them that you are as funny as you can be. It was gruelling, stressful and it constantly questioned my abilities, a bit like X Factor boot camp, except Sinitta wasn't allowed on the premises. But I wouldn't have had it any other way.
I know what you'll be thinking - "Great; another BBC comedy writing scheme I won't get accepted on to" and that's exactly what I thought, but now look at me - I'm writing a blog. A BLOG for crying out loud! And did I mention I work part-time in a cafe? So do it. Don't worry about it, just do it. Find your strength; whether that's narrative, sketches or gags, and milk that funny teat for everything its worth. If you are funny, you will be found. Don't second guess what they want, don't alter your material to fit that "BBC feel", just write what makes you laugh. It sounds simple; patronising even, but there is honestly no better advice.
I met some wonderfully talented people on the scheme, from both ends of the spectrum, and I wouldn't be where I am now (cafe) without them. I learnt so much, made great friends and laughed until the tiniest bit of wee wee came out. You will get no better chance than this; so do it. Seize the day, or as the Latin folks say "Carpal Tunnel".
You can find me on Twitter as @RobGilroy; if anyone wants to know any more about deep-filled paninis. It really is a nice cafe.
Are you a writer, performer or comedian? BBC Comedy are searching for the next generation of comedy talent for Jesting About 2: Funny Gets Serious which is being held in Newcastle. Find out how you can enter Jesting About 2. The deadline is noon today, 28th November 2011.
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