Consistency is Key – A Guide to Failing at Comedy Writing

I believe I am funny.

Probably more so than is entirely sane. In fact, looking back I feel as though most of my ways of thinking about the world may well be derived from sitcoms. As for my twenties, in hindsight, they begin to look like some form of experimental absurdist comedy where I was trying the most pretentious form of Brechtian theatre of alienation imaginable. I’m not sure whether there is any other explanation for having a student hoodie in Scotland, with the nickname “English Cunt” on the back other than advanced comedic stylings.

Or because it’s true. Whatever.

After far too many podcast episodes of Stuart Goldsmith’s ComCom Pod, I would love to try stand up but for various reasons (geography, cowardice, him telling us not to, geography, cowardice to name a few) that was non-starter really.

But, my novel was finished and sitting waiting to go out to agents while I gather courage (see above as to my level of bravery when taking on the world) and I needed a project.

Enter Sitcom Geeks. Another podcast, this time run by James Carey and Dave Cohen, crammed full of helpful writing tips and how to break in. And, basically, their main advice was Newsjack.

OK, heard of Newsjack – that’s a start.

Even listened to the show before – tick.

Listened to all the podcast episodes dealing with submitting to Newsjack and the people who make the decisions – tick.

Inflated sense of entitlement and unverified belief in sense of humour – tick, for sure.

Okay, more “research” (“Hey is research another word for procrastination?” “Shut up, Inner Monologue.”)

A bit of googling and I discover the work of Chris Douch and his work at the Comedy Loser blog. And he’s great. He has some really insightful tips on writing for Newsjack and the submissions process.

I contact a friend who I know has had stuff on before. I ask if she would like to team up for this series. She does not seem enthusiastic. In fact, I’m not sure she is talking to me any longer, which is a shame because she’s really nice, I’ve known her for years and now I appear to have infringed some societal contract which I don’t understand so… that’s not a great start.

Upside, from Chris, I enter a Twitter rabbit hole and learn: there are loads of us! All wanting to write comedy, all sharing failures and, weirdly, all being really open and friendly. I am suspicious – after all I’ve just lost a friend over a clumsily worded approach but, here we are, sharing our jokes which have been rejected, encouraging and supporting. It’s really nice, a little writing community.

From Newsjack to Breaking the News.

I am consistent.

I am consistent in failing to get anything on any of the shows.

But I consist. I file my wee one liners every week. I only submit one sketch. My brain doesn’t seem to work like that and I’m learning still but, every week (bar one) I send off my jokes. I get nowhere.

So, what have I learnt?

I’ve learnt I may not be as funny as I thought (you did not see that coming, did you?)

I’ve learnt that there is a comedy writing community of aspiring writers who are really nice and supportive.

I’ve learnt I am terrible at trying to recruit my friend to collaborate and I worry too much about the offence I accidentally caused.

I’ve learnt that this was good writing gym regime and I’m going to be back next season, plugging away and probably failing.

But failing consistently. And that is the key.

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