Britain's Got People, created by Have I Got News ForYou writer Dave Cohen, which aired online all last week, is a daily dose of satire that's sticking two fingers up at those who said that the UK couldn't produce something as on the mark as The Daily Show. But producing the funnies every day - that's pretty hard right?
I started writing comedy in 2009, I'd never considered it before, didn't really know the first thing about it but saw it as a challenge, a discipline worth taking up. I sent my first topical offerings into Newsjack shortly after and was stunned to get something on straight away. My path was set; I was a comedy writer.
But it hasn't really been until this year that I've started taking the thing seriously. Before I would kid myself that I was a writer. I would dutifully submit to Newsjack when it rolled into town twice annually. I would write diligently every week, sticking to the deadlines and the guidelines and if there were tramlines I would have stuck to them too. And every time, as the Newsjack train puffed away from the platform for another six months I'd say to myself, 'Marc you need to keep up this momentum now. Not slack off and pick up again when the NJ Express hits town again.' But I didn't. I'd dabble in the odd character development here and there, have a half-arsed attempt at a sitcom and then diddle about with something I wrote several years earlier that I hadn't been able to let go of. But this year I snapped.
This year I said, "Marc, it's now or never." I'd seen Twitter pal, Andrea Mann rise to great heights in practically the same time that I'd spent messing about and thought "where is she going right where I'm going wrong?" I blamed living in the sticks of Norfolk, I blamed not having people I knew "in the know" but I never blamed myself. So I started following her example. I began writing stuff for The Treason Show in Brighton and Newsrevue in London. These shows run weekly and all year round. They're your reason to rifle through the papers every day, your reason to bash out line after line of drivel until the good stuff starts to flow.
I now writing every day, hitting the news feeds, reading, taking notes, turning the TV off.
Writing funny stuff about the news isn't easy. I've tweeted about it a lot. But it's hard; most of my stuff still doesn't get picked up by shows. The news never sleeps, Britain's Got People understands this. The spoof is out there, you've just got to catch it while it's hot and tickle it's feet.
I always start with a headline that shows promise. Some general stories are tricky to get a handle on, but others like Jockeys striking over the whip regulations is something that immediately has a set of characters to work with. I wrote a sketch for Newsrevue about those young boys who were discovered cage fighting on Youtube. I based it on Fight Club and it was one of those rare times when I literally just wrote down what I saw in my mind's eye and it needed little or no rewriting. This is not normally the case.
When I wrote a sketch about Arnold Schwarzenegger's memoirs for Newsjack I paced around the garden furniture, notepad on the table, saying out loud everything I could associate with Arnie and memoirs. Governor, Terminator, Muscles, Austria, Biography, book, binding, cover, diary etc. Then I started playing with those words, Terminator, Worminator, Perminator... whatever, just to break down the cell walls of rational thinking, to see past the straightforward story, get at the truth of the words. 'I'll be back', 'paperback', 'almanac'.
Then I started thinking about the reports about love children. I had a nice triplet about how his memoirs charted his careers in body building, acting, and populating the world with little Arnie Juniors. But in the end I used none of that. I continued along until the most famous line, 'I'll be back' became 'I'll be bare-back', a dig about him not using contraception. This formed the backbone of a sketch in which Arnie reads an excerpt from the book. The Newsjack team were working on something similar where Arnie uses his 'I'll be back' line in several different scenarios. They recorded part of my sketch and included it in theirs but unfortunately it got cut. A lot of work went into it but that's the game.
Writing every day is hard. Being funny every day is harder. Being funny and topical every day? That is the goal.
You can watch Britain's Got People here:
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