Calling all comedy writers! Newsjack, the topical sketch show hosted by Nish Kumar, that anyone can write for is back for its thirteenth series and they need you to send in your comedy gold! Every episode is packed with sketches and one-liners submitted by aspiring comedy writers. You don’t need to have any credits or previous experience to get your work on air, just be really funny and believe in yourself…
Well, don’t just believe in yourself, as Nish said, he doesn’t just want a load of bits of paper saying you ‘believe in yourself’.
Newsjack is known to be the first rung on the comedy writing ladder, with writers such as James Kettle, Gabby Hutchinson Crouch and James Bugg starting their careers submitting material to the show.
One of Writers Room’s fantastic contract writers, Gabby Hutchinson Crouch has some tips to help you during the writing process:
- Look through the news at the weekend for stories to use, especially on a Sunday night or Monday morning if you have the time to then. The sketch deadline’s Monday at noon, but the show doesn’t go out til Thursday, so the fresher the story the better. Unless it’s a massive story, if it happened any earlier than Saturday I treat it as old news.
- Don’t just look at the big political stories, lots of people are going to be doing sketches about those and they’re not going to broadcast two sketches about the same story. I find going through the Science, Environment & Tech sections particularly useful, as well as Arts & Entertainment. Last series we were also noticeably low on Sports sketches, so that’s worth having a crack at, even if you don’t know much about the sport in question, as long as you can find what’s funny about the story. I know very little about horse racing, but one of the Newsjack sketches I’m proudest of is in the form of a horse race commentary.
- Good sketches are joke-lead. If it doesn’t contain at least one joke per line (or one short line that’s a set-up followed by a punchline) then it’s going to die. Newsjack’s recorded in front of an audience of about 200, your sketch has to have them laughing out loud throughout.
- Be as brief as you can. Make your point in as funny a way as possible, and then get out quickly. I aim for sketches to be under 3 pages. Chances are, if it makes it through, it’ll be cut to under 2 pages anyway.
- Write a short introduction for the host. Introduce the story, add a quick joke, set up the sketch and you should be away.
- Remember that there will always be a cast of 2 women and 2 men. You’ll be surprised how many sketches we get with 5 people in, or 3 characters that have to be played by men, or sketches where there’s one woman who’s just there to feed lines to the male voices. We’ve got some brilliant female talent on the show, and the producers are going to want material that makes good use of them.
- Know how your sketch is going to end before you start writing it. You need to go out on a strong punchline or funny twist, it helps to have the backbone of the sketch planned out first so you can get the structure right. It’ll save you a lot of staring at a three page sketch wondering how the Hell to make it stop. I speak from bitter experience here.
Extra extra writing tips:
- Decide on the angle or point of the sketch before you write it and make sure everything in the sketch serves that point.
- Try not to go down the obvious route with a news story. If you have an idea, it might be worth searching Twitter to see if the same idea has already been told by 1000 people on there already. If it has, then it’s probably a good idea to think of a less obvious joke.
The first deadline for submissions this series are:
- Sketches: 12.00pm Monday 7 September 2015
- One-Liners: 12.00pm Tuesday 8 September 2015
- Then at the same times each week for the following five weeks.
Please note that submissions submitted after the deadline each week will not be read. All submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full submission guidelines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/writersroom/entries/70ee2996-fff6-43e2-b552-b01ded7756bc