Friday, April 03, 2015

No laughing matter

Each Tuesday for the last six weeks, at the suggestion of a friend, I've sent off proposed content for Newsjack, the Thursday night topical sketch show on Radio 4 Extra that has an open submission policy. Most of my efforts have been one-liners - some that I felt I'd nailed, others where the wording wasn't quite right, and still others where the kernel concept of the joke was there but I couldn't frame it in the right way. I did also attempt a sketch (about David Cameron making unreasonable demands in the run-up to the leaders' debates). But no luck whatsoever.

I'd imagine most people like to think they can be funny (especially among those who count themselves as comedy fans), and I'm no exception - so it's been a chastening experience to find my efforts falling upon deaf ears week after week. To be honest, I've not been bowled over by the material that has made it to air - it's been mildly amusing at best. That's not sour grapes, though - after all, it obviously speaks volumes about the relative quality of the stuff I've been submitting.

Even if its entertainment value for listeners isn't that high, Newsjack nevertheless serves two very useful purposes. First, it's a brilliant and democratic opportunity to get a foot on the first rung of the comedy-writing ladder, as numerous Newsjack alumni are keen to acknowledge. Second, it's a reminder that writing comedy isn't as easy as it might seem - especially topical comedy, to a tight deadline, avoiding all the hackneyed jokes that Twitter's immediately awash with shortly after a particular news story breaks.

I suppose it's a bit like The X Factor auditions, in that some people are plucked out as showing talent and promise, while for others it's a timely wake-up call that their self-confidence is misplaced and that they should stop wasting their time and leave it to the professionals. Maybe I should take the hint and stick to being a comedy consumer, then. But I can already see myself pigheadedly submitting contributions for the next series...

No comments: