Last weekend I attended a BBC workshop aimed at giving writers some tips and advice for the upcoming Room to Write opportunity.

For Room to Write, BBC Scotland’s Comedy Production team are looking to find ‘the next wave’ of writers for Scottish Comedy for TV, radio or online. They want two sketches from people by 13 June 2014.

I’m going to distil the advice they gave us into two main points

be clear about characters – know what their status is, ensure there is someone to root for, keep action with characters you love, and make sure that there’s not too many characters on screen.

watch comedy, especially first episodes of programmes.

They also recommended a few sites to look at, including the Sitcom Geek blog. I’ve had a look at this and there’s some great stuff on there, wrt this topic I particularly recommend this Sitcom Geek post.

The BBC has a number of comedy scripts online, and although a lot of them are not for shows I watch I can recommend the Smoking Room script as a good one to read.

The Room to Write workshop has made me think about the comedy I love. While I’m an enormous fan of US comedy shows (life without Leslie Knope or Liz Lemon would be terrible indeed) I thought I would look at a few recent UK television comedies.

Inside Number 9 has been a comedy highlight of the year so far for me. I loved the way Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith played with style and genre in each episode – particularly the first few. Here’s a clip of Pemberton and Shearsmith talking about their silent episode.

House of Fools is surreal and daft, great fun to watch, and the cast supporting Vic and Bob in their antics are brilliant – I especially love Morgana Robinson. It’s been renewed for a second series, which is good news.

Yonderland is another recent programme that I enjoyed. Made by the Horrible Histories tv team, it’s as silly and fun as you would expect, and I think Martha Howe-Douglas is fantastic in the lead.

I love a lot of the ‘Classics’ from British TV: Blackadder, Fawlty Towers, the Office (that’s a classic now, right?) etc. If we’re going back a bit, to the distant days of the 1990s, Spaced is one of my all time favourite comedies.

I could watch it constantly. When I worked in a Star Wars shop I had this scene below playing out in my head constantly:

What’s surprised me while making the brief list above is that many of my favourite comedy shows seem to feature writer-performers. Hmm.

What’s your favourite TV comedy?

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3 thoughts on “On Comedy

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