I'd like to begin my blog with a word of caution: when I sent this blog to the BBC it was full of hilarious gags, dazzling word play and, to put it simply, comedy genius. If what you are about to read is as interesting as dry toast, that's because it has been brutally edited, without my permission.
When Will There Be Good News?
A little bit about me: my family call me 'Captain Disaster' and my scripts have been met with rejection after rejection. One script even came back with 'Still not interested' scrawled on the front page. A few months ago me and my mam were in Oxfam. She held up a book called 'When Will There be Good News?' and asked me, across the shop, if the book was about my life. It isn't. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to get an email from the BBC, telling me that I'd made it to the Sitcom Masterclass at BBC Centre. I got to tell my mam some good news. "The BBC in Newcastle?" my mam asked. "No," I said. "The BBC in London." She leapt out of the chair, forgetting all about her arthritis and dodgy knee, and began dancing like a savage.
An incredible time at Bore Place, or 'Murder Manor' as I called it (the exterior is all 'Darling Buds of May' but the interior has a whiff of 'Murder by Death' about it.) One thing I'll never forget: the read through. I went into that room nervous. And when I get nervous my forehead turns red and gets really hot. Well in that room you could've cooked a Lean Cuisine on my forehead. What I thought would happen is this: my script would be read out and the room would be quieter than a mute at a funeral. But no. The opposite happened. People were laughing. It only got ridiculous when I realized that I was laughing louder than anyone else.
Slapped In The Face By Another Writer
I wasn't slapped in the face by another writer but I wanted a subtitle to keep you glued to your seat. The actual subtitle is: Things That I Learnt. The great Grahame Linehan came to Bore Place for a Q and A session. One of his tips really stayed with me (and I even got to include it in my rewrite). Mr. Linehan explained that when he's writing a script he tries to think of 2 or 3 great moments. 2 or 3 great moments that the audience will be talking about the next day. I think that's a great tip. It's a simple idea (the best ideas are) and it's a great goal to work towards.
At the end of our time at Bore Place we were given a month to do rewrites. I loved this time. I got to work on a script that people were actually going to read, a novelty for me. I had decided to make some big changes. I wanted to incorporate everything that I had learned at the Masterclass and Murder Manor. I started writing and noticed something. I was now writing scenes and thinking, 'Wait 'til they see this. This is going to be funny.' I was writing scenes that had to be seen, whereas before I would write as much funny dialogue as I could think of - but that's all it was: a lot of funny dialogue but not much to look at. So I think I've made a breakthrough, a step in the right direction if you will. But if you never see my name on TV it was clearly a big mistake.
The day before Edinburgh. Very excited. The news about the sitcom showcase in Edinburgh was the 2nd biggest surprise of the Laughing Stock experience (the first was me being asked to set up the DVD player at Murder Manor. Trust me, I was the least technical person in a ten-mile radius). So here's what's going to happen: 3 comedy scripts (picked from the scripts that went to Murder Manor) are going to be read at the festival. A bonus: we're getting the great and good of TV and radio, including: Isy Suttie from Peep Show and Tom Rosenthal from Friday Night Dinner.
The Edinburgh Showcase
Monday morning. Time to rehearse. All goes well. The performers are incredible, getting a handle on the characters in record-quick time. I have to say here and now how much I loved the actors for giving it their all and jumping into the spirit of the thing. We had a short break and then we were in the packed venue, ready to begin. Butterflies in the stomach were quickly replaced with a big smile as the audience start to laugh and continue laughing.
I'm on the train heading back now and my lasting impressions are these: the audience member who came up to me after the show and praised the number of gags (not in my script, he was praising the gag count in another script but I wasn't going to correct him); the member of the technical team who came up to me to say how much he loved one of my characters (I was in such a daze that I only managed to mumble 'Thank you, thank you.' Oh to be eloquent when it really matters.) I'd like to end by thanking everyone who made today possible. And I thank you for taking the time to read this. Best wishes.