Meet our second round judge: Inel Tomlinson
We caught up with Inel for an exclusive interview.
He gave us some insight into his job as a stand-up comedian and comedy writer and told us why he believes “Writing comedy is like magic”.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a stand up comedian, actor and a radio presenter. I love doing a variety of different things as it spices up my days. When I’m not helping animals in 'Junior Vets on Call', I’m telling funnies in a comedy club or acting in a show, its great fun.
People always say
“Ohh does that mean you’re a jack of all trades, master of none?”
“Nah uh! That just means I have many useful transferable skills that will assist me in whatever I’m doing!”
What do you enjoy about writing comedy?
Writing comedy is one of the best forms of expression for me. I love to laugh and I enjoy making others laugh also. A really skilled comedy writer can take some of the darkest moments and twist them to make them funny and engaging. I’ve seen people suddenly realise the funny side of a situation they are going through, simply because a comedian has managed to flip it and turn it into something fun and positive. Writing comedy is like magic.
Tell us something that no one knows about you?
Back on the 'Johnny and Inel Show' series two, I actually had two body doubles when I played the character of Blondie. I hurt my knee really badly, so some of the dance sequences are actually other people dressed as blondie to fill in for me.
Watch it back and see if you can spot them.
What have you been up to lately?
I voiced the character of Agent A Gent in the new series of 'Zig and Zag' on CBBC.
He works for the secret government agency called P.A.N.T.S and strangely himself and agent Honey are the only people that realise that Zig and Zag are aliens. (I know crazy isn’t it?)
What do you find most challenging in your comedy or comedy writing career?
Translating your crazy and funny ideas in your head on to paper. I’m dyslexic and although I love comedy, it was one of my first hurdles to understand and get over. Before I found out I was dyslexic I always tried to avoid writing. I just wanted to get my ideas out there and create by filming my idea and bringing it to life as fast as possible. I didn’t see writing as an important step.
I was like:
“Why do I need to write it down? My idea is in my head anyway, let’s just make it." But I soon came to realise, writing down your comedy ideas is extremely important. It is one of the best ways to communicate your thoughts with people you are working with and yourself. It makes everything much clearer. It also helps you lay down the foundations and lets you see what needs work and what needs development.
Finding out I was dyslexic was actually one of the best things to happen to me in regards to my own learning. Once I knew I was dyslexic I could try to understand how I learnt, why I shied away from certain things and why I was more attracted to learning in other ways. This really helped my writing as I found alternate ways to create in order for me to get my ideas down.
My short term memory wasn’t the greatest but I found different ways to counter that and now I reckon my short term memory is really good especially with learning lines when acting.
I use several different techniques to document ideas; sometimes I dictate ideas onto a Dictaphone or use voice notes on my phone and other times I type my ideas down on a computer or in the notes section of my mobile. I keep a little notebook in my bag and whenever I have an idea I jot it down straight away before I forget it. There is nothing worse than having a great idea and not being able to remember it later. I’ve also been known to keep a notebook by my bed in case I had a really inspiring dream. You never know where inspiration might come from so I make sure I am ready when it strikes!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting to write their own comedy?
Don’t beat yourself up. Everything you write isn’t going to be super impressive and amazing, especially at first.
My advice is to write it down anyway — get as many of your ideas down on paper or computer as you possibly can. Some of the best comedy creations you produce could be made from a mish-mash of other ideas you had which didn't really work the first time you wrote them down - that is the beauty of the development stage.
Keep thinking of ways of improving your first initial idea and your comedy will grow and grow.
When writing for the 'Johnny and Inel show' for example, the character of Blondie wasn’t even a character at first. I had an idea of writing about school teachers and the type of kids they'd encounter at school. Initially the teacher (Mr Martin) was going to be the main character of the sketches but I had so much fun writing for this one particular student (Blondie) that she spawned into her own thing. That came from many other ideas put together.
If you weren't a comedian or doing your current job, what other job do you see yourself doing?
Another interesting fact about me that many people might not know, (you’re getting all the exclusives) is that I used to be a drama and theatre studies teacher. I love teaching and it is a great passion of mine. Drama and theatre studies is a great subject for students to let themselves go and discover whilst learning and if I wasn’t making TV and doing radio, I would most definitely still be doing that.
How does it feel to be a Comedy Classroom judge?
Today Comedy Classroom judge, tomorrow the world. It’s the most logical step right?
Do you think comedy is a useful way to inspire schools and young people to use and develop their reading, writing and speaking skills?
Without a doubt. The best way to learn is to learn whilst having fun, and what better way than when you are laughing and enjoying yourself. Comedy has definitely helped my writing massively. As I said before, I wasn’t always a fan of writing when I was younger, but I have grown to love it. I have always enjoyed being creative and always loved writing my own silly stories when I was little and bringing them to life. That evolved into me writing sketches I used to make online, writing jokes for my stand-up comedy to perform infront of people to being able to write sketches for my own TV show, ‘The Johnny and Inel Show’. I wouldn’t have had the skills to get to where I have if I didn’t learn about my craft whilst at school.