Since I've started writing a new sitcom spec for radio I thought it would be rude not to blog about it. Presently it's called, Owen Crumb Lives With His Mum and does what it says on the tin; I'll not go into it too much, right now I'm at the very early stages of learning who the characters are; their likes, their dislikes, their whalebone dildo collections...but I've also been thinking really hard about what I find funny. This may be something I should have always done, you're thinking.
I've always written stuff that obeys the 'rules' of comedy like that little triplet about the dildo collection back there, but I rarely sit and just think about exactly what makes me laugh and even more rarely make myself laugh. So alongside the character building I've been trying to make myself laugh, not just a wry smile of satisfaction but a real gut busting guffaw complete with tears. I've had some successes and plenty of failures and I'm not quite sure how it's helping but it is. Maybe it's because I'm drilling right through the outer layer that we present to other people and tapping into the truth of what tickles me, and not trying to please other people or appear 'clever' to my peers. Yeah, I think that's it.
So there you go; it helps to break down the walls of...what? Sanity, sensibility, sophistication even. The cleverness comes when you're rebuilding the ideas in a script with people doing and saying things. But for the laughs, at least to begin with, just tickling my funny bone with no rules or direction gets me to that funny place where I need to be to write comedy.
As well as writing a sitcom I'm writing a detective/sleuth calling card script and for the first time, plotting with index cards. It's working well and it's great doing the two different types of script in tandem because the story telling part of scriptwriting is something I've always struggled with as far as sitcoms go. I've written scripts that I planned and plotted that weren't full of jokes, and I've written joke-laden characters-in-a-room stuff that had no story, but found it incredibly hard to marry the two, essential to a sitcom I'm sure you'll agree. But I'm hoping the index card method - which is working great for the drama - will also break the deadlock between story and laughs for the sitcom too. Watch this space.
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