Well, it's Friday afternoon, and a dozen entries to the college are now with senior comedy colleagues for their opinion, and to help decide which applicants we'll be inviting in for a chat. I have e-mailed the 12, and over the next week I will be e-mailing the people who nearly made it to the shortlist.

This year we received 650 entries - oddly, exactly half last year's number - explained I think by the enhanced criteria for submission. A few people with no CVs to speak of tried their luck, but the vast majority were extremely qualified, a few rather over-qualified, and the selection process has been difficult, particularly in getting down to a dozen. Five of us were involved in that process, and the final winnowing will be done by nine people and me.

In a way this is a very exciting time, and in another it's a bit miserable, because while I'm looking forward to working with six new writers, I'm very conscious that there will be 644 others who are going to be frustrated and disappointed. Telling people that not being accepted for the scheme isn't a comment on their talent or their writing isn't much consolation, but since nearly everyone who applied has a career already, they should take comfort from that. Proud as I am of the scheme, it's not the be-all and end-all and, as Jeremy Dyson pointed out in Leeds on Wednesday night, a lot of a writer's life is rejection. Though being the rejector is never enjoyable.

Jeremy and I were on a panel with Phil Mealey and Kate Rowland doing a q&a as part of the Northern Laughs scheme, an excellent project involving writers from across the north of England being mentored by Jeremy, Phil and Craig Cash, and Ian La Frenais.

Not surprisingly, the college came up, and I was asked what my criteria were, and whether the fact that I run the scheme didn't mean that the writers all conformed to my taste. I think with a number of people involved in the selection process, there's no danger of it being a solo list, and as for criteria, I think we all apply the same - is it funny, is it original, am I immediately involved? And when you've got a bunch of scripts and sketches which meet those criteria, it's then a matter of who is funniest, who is most original, and whose work is the most involving?

When we have done the interviews I'll post names and short biogs of the six, so the next blog will be at the beginning of next month.

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  • Comment number 17. Posted by Al_Debron

    on 20 May 2009 13:42

    No apology needed Michael, we just wanted to be sure that our submission wasnt shortlisted due to the merits (or lack thereof) in the material itself and that those reading it used their own preferences when judging the piece rather than a checklist handed to them by a shadowy smoking man.

    Essentially were realists trying to keep our cynicism in check for when we set to work on next years entry.

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  • Comment number 16. Posted by MichealJacob

    on 20 May 2009 13:24

    @Al_Debron

    I'm sorry you didn't get an encouraging email this time. The material is considered as a whole,on its merits, and the shortlist encompasses a variety of styles, as was the case with the successful writers last year. There is no check list, and no focus group. The criteria are: is it funny, is it exciting, and does it speak with an original voice?

  • Comment number 15. Posted by Al_Debron

    on 20 May 2009 11:32

    Can someone shed some light on a curiosity my co-writer and I have?

    Last year we submitted a contemporary piece to the college and although we missed out on an interview we received a close but no cigar email, which was nice. This year we chose a different tact and submitted a genre piece; again we were unfortunately unsuccessful but this year also missed out the email.

    As were of the opinion that both pieces are of the same standard in quality (were admittedly a little biased in that but still), please could you enlighten us as to what factors we should consider when choosing our next submission, other than just whether something is funny? For example do the subject matter, setting and styling of a submission predispose it to be considered more kindly or is the material considered as a whole?

    We understand that there are certain criteria all potential employers have when recruiting staff, but I suppose what were looking for is a confirmation that the material is judged on its own merits as opposed to being held up to a checklist of what is considered de rigeur by some focus group at the time of reading.

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by juggles

    on 18 May 2009 17:17

    I'd rather give birth to triplets three times a day than receive a rejection

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  • Comment number 13. Posted by MichealJacob

    on 18 May 2009 14:06

    This has been a very mixed day of telling people that we'd like to meet them (happiness) or that they just missed out (sadness). Though one of the good news group hadn't been answering his phone because his wife had been having a baby, so that felt extremely good.

  • Comment number 12. Posted by MichealJacob

    on 14 May 2009 15:39

    @Aspie

    Indeed.

  • Comment number 11. Posted by AspieBoy

    on 14 May 2009 14:01

    "Unfortunately the rules specify that feedback won't be given, purely because it's just me who would be giving it, and I can't enter into 600-odd debates."

    Lightweight. ;)

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by barryatsillyplatypus

    on 14 May 2009 09:38

    No problem, Micheal. I appreciate you taking a moment to respond.

    Have a great weekend.

    Barry

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by MichealJacob

    on 13 May 2009 10:17

    Unfortunately the rules specify that feedback won't be given, purely because it's just me who would be giving it, and I can't enter into 600-odd debates.

  • Comment number 8. Posted by barryatsillyplatypus

    on 12 May 2009 22:54

    Congrats to those shortlisted, then.

    Hey Miceal, the next best thing to actually getting in would be to receive any honest feedback about where my material/application fell short.

    That way I can keep improving. Sometimes rejection is a great learning experience.

    Could anyone there give me feedback so I can improve for next year's try? It would certainly help make up for not making it into the program.

    Thanks,
    Barry Price, barry@sillyplatypus.com

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