College of Comedy - Phase One

Tuesday 15 April 2008, 17:11

Micheal Jacob Micheal Jacob

Well, midnight has gone, the submission deadline has passed, and the BBC's College of Comedy has received 1300 submissions, rather more than we expected.

Doing a detailed breakdown is one of those aspirations probably doomed to remain an aspiration, so instead here is an impressionistic account of things we picked up while looking at CVs and what was being submitted.

Narrative comedy and sketches arrived in roughly equal proportions. A large number of submissions came from women writers, many of them writing duos, so it's now official - comedy is a female friendly field, and not before time. Two writing courses were very well represented - Salford and De Montfort. London, Manchester and Glasgow seem to be the major cities where comedy writers live. Many writers have been involved in the various radio projects for comedy newcomers, a tribute to the talent-spotting abilities of our colleagues in Henry Wood House.

Not having specified geographical limits (we didn't feel we had to), there was a surprisingly large number of entries from the USA and Australia, as well as from South Africa, Hong Kong, New Zealand and, closer to home, Ireland.

The most popular sketch setting seems to be the police interview room, and Facebook has certainly entered sketch writing consciousness. There were also quite a few antenatal classes, and a number of deaths, some funnier than others.A significant number of people submitted short film scripts rather than television work, and many people have an internet presence.

Some entrants were over-qualified, but only about 100 were completely unqualified (and thus not eligible), which means there are a lot of comedy aspirants trying hard to break in.

We're now beginning a process of long-long-listing, before moving on to long-listing, then short-listing and selecting people for interview. Inevitably it's going to be a difficult process, and there are bound to be strong disagreements as senior colleagues in the comedy department and the writersroom become involved.

For me, the major criteria are: does the work make me laugh; does it offer an original viewpoint; can I see this writer's work on television (as opposed to radio or film).

So that's how life in the college is looking on deadline day plus one.


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