Laughing Stock - the latest

Wednesday 2 March 2011, 12:08

Paul Ashton Paul Ashton

So our final tally of entries is an astonishingly grand total of 1808 - a lot more than we usually get in script competitions, augmented no doubt by much tweet activity.

The readers are ploughing bravely into the scripts as i type and are already uncovering what they think may be contenders for the workshop. Halfway through the initial sift and we've had all kinds of characters, ideas, worlds and setups, from transvestites to trappist monks, pathology labs to magical doors, storage units to surreal newsrooms. Recurring themes include student sitcoms, hapless men, mockumentaries and the recession.

Watch this space...

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    Comment number 1.

    Isn't it time to retire the 'funny tansvestite' trope?

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    Comment number 2.

    1808/1 I fancy some of those odds !!!!

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    Comment number 3.

    They're probably choosing 25 so it's more 72/1, yeahhh!

    Sorry, that sounded pedantic, just making it sound more positive and likely :)

    Still, 1808. Madness. Sitcom Mission got 1241 (I think) in the end too. Nice to see so many people eager to make their mark in the world of sitcom. Still, more competition for us all, eep!

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    Comment number 4.

    1808, a good turnout then :) As one of those ever hopeful eighteen hundred, I was pleased just to get the confirmation of receipt email. More pleasing at first, was the fact that none of the set-ups or characters mentioned were mine.
    Now, with typical writer's insecurity, I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't at least have included one transvestite, ex-trappist student who, due to the recession, works part-time in a pathology lab connected by a magic door to a surreal newsroom.
    What do you think, would that have increased my chances?
    On a serious note, I think it's great that there are so many of us still enthusiastic enough to keep plugging away. Good luck to all (especially me of course :)

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    Comment number 5.

    May the gods of the arts bless us all in this most turbulent of contexts, or (if you prefer) contests...

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    Comment number 6.

    was excited to find the email confirmation - I get such a thrill about functional postal systems. I'm just thinking actually, did anyone ever not 'get the package that I sent' ? Sadly, I think everything I've ever sent out was received without any problems whatsoever.

    Anyway, the excitement waned slightly when I remembered that I hate every single word of my script. To look at it makes me feel queasy in fact. There's literally nothing remotely funny in it. It could probably be used though - as the basis of a moving and tragic documentary.

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    Comment number 7.

    Glad to hear I'm not the only one thinking that Paul. I read through mine again this morning and realised that during the 14th rewrite I'd managed to miss out part of the establishing scene. Hey ho :) I'll wait until the lucky 25 are announced and start rewrite 15 then. In the meantime, on with the latest screenplay, should only take me six months or so to realise that's a loser too :)
    Ah, the joys of writing. Quote of the day for me is
    "Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead".-Gene Fowler

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    Comment number 8.

    Hello

    I have yet to receive email confirmation that the script has been logged, are there still people you are yet to contact?

    Regards

    John

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    Comment number 9.

    Col1958 - I reckon that mine is in the list of characters or set ups, and I'm slightly pleased to see it there... but in all honesty, I don't think it matters either way. They're not all common pitches, and even then common ones still get made and can be brilliant - Flatshares is notoriously sent in all the time, but it led to both Peep Show and Being Human.

    So I wouldn't worry whether your idea is there or not - the world isn't as important as whether it's funny or not.

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    Comment number 10.

    Antrax, I couldn't agree more, the value's in the writing not the set-up, and if it's funny and well-written, you could probably set it in a bus-shelter. (mmmm, I wonder)?
    I meant no disrespect to anyone who can see their idea in the examples mentioned, nor did I think there was anything wrong with them. I was just trying to show how my own doubts and insecurities start niggling at me once it's too late to change anything. Happens every time I let go of a new piece :) Peep Show, Being Human? How I wish I'd thought of those.


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    Comment number 11.

    Could someone let me know if my sitcom, HIGHER EDUCATION, has been received? Posted 17 Feb. Thanks, Louise (& Ade).

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    Comment number 12.

    I completely agree with Antrax and Col1958 on premises and set-ups.
    My entry was (admittedly) pretty cliche (think The Simpsons), and has been done quite a few times. Then again, the reason so many people DO that kind of set-up is because it's clearly tried, tested and successful. Also those kinds of set-ups are usually far easier to sustain, whereas original concepts usually get weighed down a bit by having to keep with the premise. An original premise of a four-headed man-fish who owns a blood-bank-Quidditch-team on the darkest side of Mordor would of course be new and fresh, but sustaining it past episode 1 would be very tough.
    Personally I've tried going for outrageous and original plots and stories to keep it different, but then that's frowned upon for being too unrealistic. That means somehow it's predictable and typical while being unrealistic and outrageous.

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    Comment number 13.

    Trickiest thing to decide on this was the tone. Might sound easy right? All you need to do is make it funny. At least that's what my mate said before I lamped him one during a session of aggressive fingernail-chewing. But as someone who likes everything from Mrs Brown's Boys, Father Ted and Blackadder to The Office, Lead Balloon & Gavin and Stacey - with a side of helping of things like The Phoneshop, Peep Show and Outnumbered, it was a Big Decision to make. Do I make it whacky and mental and fill a loosely-plotted sequence of ridiculous events with outrageous one-liners, or do I keep it grounded and let the comedy come from the characters? If I do the former, is it outrageous enough? Do the one-liners work? If the latter, are the characters strong enough to let the comedy flow or is it actually just very boring? Who would get this? So I have no idea if the decision I went with the was the right one in the end.

    All I knew was that under no circumstances did I want it to resemble 'My Family' ....... um....... one of the most successful BBC sitcoms of recent years...... (cripes! back to chewing the rest of my fingernails!)

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    Comment number 14.

    Hardly anyone I know really rates 'My Family'. So why is it successful? Because it's safe, because it's predictable, because there's nothing else? I feel the same about 'Miranda'. Got three gongs at the British Comedy Awards. How? And I'm not being nasty or whatever, just puzzled. The originality seems to have gone out of British comedy. I've made myself sit through really old sitcoms like 'Steptoe & Son', 'Rising Damp', 'Porridge' and despite me wanting to 'dis-rate' them, I couldn't. They're just so good. And that's only three...

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    Comment number 15.

    i completely agree with louisebp, british comedy has recently become too predictable and boring, although 'my family' isn't that bad (did i really just say that?) don't get miranda either. i did push the boat out a bit with my sitcom, and am now worrying i may have gone too far. i am sure this is just typical writer insecurities though.
    am addicted to this site, am checking it everyday hoping to see some more updates, seems like it's been months since first update was written, although know it not to be true.
    just want to say to riflemangreen, 'phone shop' really? thought that was the worst thing on TV since 'the simple life' with Paris Hilton. absolutely terrible!

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    Comment number 16.

    'Phoneshop' was a guilty pleasure :-)

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    Comment number 17.

    Oh well, it appears I'm not one of the lucky 25 this time round, so onwards and upwards with the next project. Good thing is, since posting in my entry I've had time to take a break from it and start the next re-write:)
    Congratulations to those who made the grade, let's hope there's some really excellent future sit-coms there, and I say that without a trace of envy (no, really;)

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    Comment number 18.

    I didn't get through either.

    I'm glad I got my first proper sitcom attempt done, and I'll continue writing for these characters too! But I'll definitely go back to other non-sitcom works that I hope I'll soon be sending to Writers Room by the usual route.

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    Comment number 19.

    Well, if you think surfers ain't funny, that's your loss, you swines! (Guess who got the 'it's not you' email this morning?) Despite my own crushing disappointment, genuine congratulations to the lucky 25 who are going to get one hell of a prize for their efforts, good on ya, boys and girls.

    Question: could you perhaps give us a little bit of a 'summing up' of what made you pick the ones that got through, just to give us losers a few pointers as to what it takes for a script to get the thumb's up from the writer's room? I'm sure we'd all appreciate a few tips so that we can get it closer to the mark next time? Ta...

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    Comment number 20.

    "Dear Writers,

    We wanted to update you all as soon as possible about the selection process for Laughing Stock as we know how hard you have worked on your scripts and how difficult it can be waiting to hear if you have been selected.

    Our readers enjoyed so many of the submissions but only a handful could be put through to the next stage of the competition and we have now contacted almost all of the writers who have been selected.

    Therefore if you haven't had a separate email / phonecall / postcard from us by now then I'm afraid, on this occasion, it is unlikely that your script will be considered any further.

    Unfortunately due to the volume of entries we cannot enter into any further discussion about your script but we wish you all the best with your future writing."

    I'll admit it. I'm annoyed but I wanted to reiterate to people there is hope. I found out today that their readers only read the series outline + 10 pages, sometimes not even that (obviously the good scripts they read in their entirety). So if like me you had a crazy first ten pages before the script settles down then thats probably why you didn't get through. It doesn't mean your script is bad though, reading the first ten pages of 2001 space odyssey (http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/2001-A-Space-Odyssey.html) is probably the best example of how that system doesn't always work. Also some comedies start off poorly, such as 'Roger and Val' and 'Grandma's House'and must have come across as boring on paper through the first 10 pages (heck the first 10 pages of Mighty Boosh must have come across as random!) so don't be disheartened fellow writers.

    Sometimes your too good for the BBC (Obviously, some of you might actually be so bad that you are borderline raping the ideals and standards this country has set with its rich history in comedy).

 

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