Comedy writing – ways in (UK)

When you aspire to be a writer, the person you really want to hear from, is someone who has been in your shoes, but managed to strong-arm open the door of opportunity and is now paid to do what you’d love to do.  (Although I suppose it would also be fun to hear from a producer who loves your work and wants to commission a series)

Gemma Arrowsmith sends this (hardwon) report back from the land of opportunity.  This recent sketch by her got onto the Tracey Ullmann show, went viral and has been spotted by your truly on Farcebook.

“The opportunity to write for Tracey Ullman didn’t happen overnight, however. I’ve been writing sketches since I was at drama school.

After graduating, my first professional job was in Newsrevue at the Canal Cafe Theatre and I suppose it was there I started writing topical sketches. I met so many fantastic performers at Newsrevue; Cariad Lloyd, Pippa Evans, Thomas Nelstrop, Gemma Whelan, Sara Pascoe. It’s a great place to start if you want to work in sketch comedy. It was there I met Steve Mould (now inFestival of the Spoken Nerd) and the two of us teamed up and took three sketch shows to theEdinburgh Fringe. Edinburgh is a great place to cut your teeth as a writer-performer. It can be a tiring and expensive experience but you learn so much from getting your material in front of audiences every day for a month. There are other festivals I would recommend if you want to try out your material with a smaller financial outlay. Brighton Fringe is excellent and VAULT Festivalin London is a brilliant breeding ground for new comedy.”

“My advice to anyone starting out is to just get your stuff out there. Send sketches to Newsjack, the BBC’s open door sketch show. Get involved with London Comedy Writers if you’re within reach of the capital. If you’re a writer-performer, get yourself up to EdFringe or VAULT Festival. Writing courses are great; I’m a big believer in training but I do feel you learn best by doing. And failing. Failing is a big part of it. Keep failing. Get comfortable with rejection – because there will most likely be rather a lot of it – and then one day you might fail slightly less. Like I did.”

The full interview is at the link below – and news of opportunity to submit new comedy ideas to the BBC is at the writersroom in another part of the website – DO look, deadlines are tight.


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