Friday, November 18, 2011

Notes for a Comedy Writing Workshop - Introduction

(DAVID FROST VOICE) Hello, good evening and welcome. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER - THEN OWN VOICE) Hope you all found the place alright. I see one or two of you have made yourselves very comfortable imbibing the atmosphere all afternoon. (WAIT FOR REACTION) Thanks to Anna for organising the time and place (THUMBS UP TO ANNA) and thanks to Julian for that awful smell. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER) What is that awful smell, Julian? (WAIT FOR JULIAN TO REPLY. ADLIB CONVERSATION. SEE WHERE IT TAKES US)

Before we go any further, shall we introduce ourselves? I'm Bernard. Yes, that's my real name. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER) I was born to do comedy, as you can see. Shame I'm so misunderstood. Born at the wrong time, you see.

Right, we've started in order of beauty, let's continue in order of where we're sitting, shall we? Tell us a bit about yourselves, what you've written, how many rejection letters, your three favourite comedy shows that really make you laugh. (LISTEN TO EACH OF THE GROUP IN TURN, ADLIBBING FUNNIES)

Right, now we know who we are, what sort of things we like, except for yours truly - I'm 41 years young, divorced 5 years ago, 2 lovely kids who I see at weekends - Sorry, wrong meeting. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER)

No, seriously, I've written comedy ever since I was so high (HORIZONTAL HAND AT COCK LEVEL) I've written performance poetry, sketches, tried a sitcom in 1997, I've done stand-up totally wankered and totally sober, both disasters, open slots but you don't want to know about those, being told you're a "fucking unfunny cunt" by morons out for a piss-up and a heckle is no fun and I think that's why we're here - not being the kind of people who want to perform comedy but want to get all this funny stuff that resides up here (POINT TO HEAD) out and in the open and make our fellow human beings laugh. They say laughter is the best medicine, though I'd say it comes a close second to Night Nurse. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER)

Yeah, I've lost count of the number of rejection letters I've got but the secret of comedy writing is to never give up. If you've got talent, in the end you will succeed. (PAUSE) Look at Ricky Gervais. (WAIT FOR BOOS) The cunt. (WAIT FOR LAUGHTER)

My favourite three comedy shows? Python. Python. Python. No, you can't go wrong with Python. The other two? Today I'd say Alan Partridge and Father Ted but tomorrow it might be two others. But the thing all three have in common is that they are brilliantly written by masters of their craft.

So before we delve into what scripts you've all brought along today, I'm mightily parched and I think it's Julian's round. So over to you, Julian. Mine's a London Pride, my good fellow. (AND...RELAX)

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