A telly. Remeber when they looked like that?
The many thousands of people that read my blog will know that this is the final in the trilogy of writing jokes about things I know. We skipped a chapter because I was too busy writing a blog about New Year (in January! I got something right Mum! Though I guess if I was really trying to stand out from the crowd I would write a blog on New Year in June).
So here is the last of the three. As with the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, getting to the end may require you to be blind drunk for it to make any sense. Like Godfather III, you’ll find yourself wondering ‘why the Vatican subplot?’ Or it could even be likened to Return of the Jedi ‘cos it’s probably going to be woefully substandard.
This one’s about me working in telly. Which is something I wanted to do ever since I was making television sets out of cardboard as a child (admittedly I did also make flip flops out of cardboard and even imaginary friends out of cardboard. I’m now barefoot and lonely but at least I’m living my dream).
Knightmare (Rex Features)
TV producers are freelance so part of our year we don’t work and instead lounge around the house – which makes me feel vicariously like a dirty benefits scrounger which I like to say only because it makes me feel better about the fact that I do occasionally claim benefits. And then the rest of the year I work at TV companies trying to come up with new programmes. People in my job spend half their time considering what the next big hit to follow on from the X Factor could be, whether it would be better to re-launch Knightmare or The Generation Game (Knightmare, obvs), or how to distill the popularity of the mobile phone game Angry Birds for a television audience. And the other half wondering what in hell was the point of studying Aeschylus at University. My good friends Stu and Dan, who are development bods as well as being comedians, will know exactly what I’m talking about.
So you spend your time coming up with programme ideas and pitching them to broadcasters. The fact of the job is that 99 of every 100 ideas you come up with will never see the light of day. Some people would call that Wastage. I call it Possible Material.
There was the time I pitched Sheikhs on a Plane which was not in any way a programme idea, just a really fun pun that I LOVED (if you’ve ever said to yourself ‘gah, these television producers, they must just start with a silly title and make a television programme to fit it,’ bingo, you are correct, sir). Sadly I could not make a TV show out of it, so it has now become a joke about 9/11 conspiracists. In a similar vein, I was desperate to pitch How Deep Is Your Dove? but try as I might I couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that the skincare brand is in financial difficulty. There was the time I mistyped Bear Grylls as Near Grylls and suddenly had a ready-made joke about the TV adventurer’s very own tribute act.
Basically, my job is like the Sainsbury’s Make Your Roast Go Further campaign. All the bits I don’t use in the day get rehashed and turned into jokes in the evening. And I try and mix the really shit bits in with the prime stuff and hope no-one notices.
So, in conclusion, I don’t really write comedy about the job, I use the job to write comedy (as a purely accidental and non-time-consuming byproduct – I hasten to add for the benefit of any employers reading this!). So I’m not writing what I know, which is a shame. I guess if I was an accountant or a computer programmer or a teacher everyone would know what I did. These job titles are all shorthand for worlds which we are familiar with. But what I find often is that no-one really understands what my job is (especially not my mum and dad, much to their chagrin), so unless I do a preamble I can’t really get into the topic with ease. So I leave it to one side.
But – hang on a sec! – what I have been forgetting all this time is that I definitely *do* work with a medium that everyone knows. The TV programmes listed above we are all resolutely familiar with….oh my God, why didn’t I think of this before?
Pob (Ragdoll Producciones)
So, decision made – I will write jokes about all of TV! This is an excellent day in which I discovered another rich area of life that I can talk about. And like all the other stuff it is a completely pointless area (but one that I have nevertheless made my life’s work out of). There’s the question of what type of animal Pob actually is, there’s the pointlessness of the show Extreme Couponing, there’s the extreme superness of the show Pointless and the fact that I once knew someone who went on Jim’ll Fix It. I don’t think I am EVER going to run out of material.
So thanks for coming with me on this three-part journey on Writing What You Know. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that there’s always some prime material on your doorstep, you just have to remind yourself how it is you feel about the things that are ever-present in your life. There’s no point raging about an ex-boyfriend that you actually just feel sorry for, or pretending that you hated growing up in an estuary sink town when in truth you found it quite fun. It’s our unusual and unique responses to otherwise recognisable life experiences that make for interesting material on stage. And there’s always a way to make stuff accessible – even if no-one, not even your parents, understands what you do for a living.
But do you not know anything else about life Sarah? I hear you cry. Yes I do. Here are the other things I know about:
- French music at the turn of the last century
- Every world capital (if you’d like to test me on this via Skype or summat be my guest)
- Correct use of Skype
- How to care for Russian dwarf hamsters (apart from the one that I like to think is living a very lovely life in the wall cavities of our old house in Stevenage)
- How to solve quadratic equations
- How to solve quadratic men
- How to solve quadratic quandries
- The Montessori method
- Red Dwarf
- Blanket stitch
- How to plaster a wall
- The oeuvre of work to date created by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer
- How to create a graveyard for Russian dwarf hamsters in your back garden when they all eventually die of natural causes
- I also know that the capital of Vatican city is Vatican city which means that it is the capital of itself, which to my mind creates a circular paradox that will ultimately lead to the Vatican imploding, in a series of events that will ironically resemble the apocalypse as foretold in the Bible’s Revelation of John.
If you’ve managed to read this blog full of navel gazing I commend you. If you’ve spent the rest of my blog in a seething rage over my Return of the Jedi comments, you and I probably don’t need to talk so much any more.