Stand Up !!!!


How to get ahead in humour by Jaspre Bark

Make my day punk (buy my script) !

This month we look at taking those first few tentative steps up the comedy writing career ladder. For years, you've been keeping your mates bent double with laughter, but just don't have the bottle to get up on stage. Or you're the kind of guy who not only always gets the punchline before the end of the joke, but can think of a better ending at the same time. Or maybe the idea of writing comedy for a living is really appealing to you. If this is the case then stick around, you might just pick up a few decent hints.

To begin with put away your treatment for the blockbusting screen comedy and multi part sit com just for the minute. If you want to build up a good CV and kick start your career you may have to start a little smaller.

One of the best ways to start off is through sketch writing. There are a number of venerable institutions that encourage unsolicited contributions from first time or fairly new writers. Newsrevue is London's longest running satirical stage revue. It runs for four nights a week (Thur - Sat) at the Canal Cafe Theatre in Little Venice and presents an hour of songs and sketches on topical and political themes. There are three script editors who prepare a regular list of news items and current events that are ripe for a piss take. You can get hold of a copy of this list by writing to Newsrevue, Canal Cafe Theatre, Bridgehouse, Little Venice, London and requesting to be put on the mailing list. Or, if you live in London, by attending the weekly writers meeting at the same address every Thursday at nine o'clock, admission to the show is free if you attend the writer's meeting.

If you want to break into BBC Radio you could always try attending the non commissioned writers meetings for Weekending and the News Huddlines. Both are radio sketch shows that are again based on current events. News Huddlines, starring the irascible Roy Hudd tends to go more for the cheesy (and I mean positively Gorgonzola) knob jokes, while Weekending purports to be more cutting and satirical. The meetings take place at Broadcasting House, every Tuesday at one for News Huddlines and every Wednesday at the same time for Weekending. If you can't attend the meetings you can always fax your sketches on 0171 765 3410, the deadlines for submission are twelve o'clock Wednesday for News Huddlines and the same time Thursday for Weekending. Scripts must be about news items that occurred in the previous seven days and remember to keep them as short and snappy as possible.

TV is a little more difficult but The Hale and Pace show does encourage submissions from first time writers. At the time of going to press/online I don't have all the details regarding submission, but if you contact LWT they can probably furnish you with the details. The type of material they're looking for is exactly what they're currently screening so watch a few shows first to research your market.

Other than that you could always try your hand at writing comedy routines for budding stand ups. There are a lot of acts on the comedy circuit who are willing to pay for good quality material. Either they're actors who want to try their hand at stand up to either get an equity card or to branch out and spread their wings. Or they're wannabe comedians who've got the ability to perform but having done the rounds of the clubs discover they've not got the ability to write funny material. The best way to get in contact with them is to advertise in the classified section of trade journals like The Stage or the new Comedy Review.

Well good luck and who knows in a few years time you may even be giving Richard Curtis and Ben Elton a run for their money.

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