On the 26th September something happened. Something that hasn't happened for 15 years. Something I wrote, was broadcast on National radio. The unique occurrence this time, was that the joke was credited to me, under my real name and it was performed in front of a live audience. I heard people laugh at something I wrote, for the first time.
I've had a lot of material read out in the past, but never under my own name. I 'sock-puppeted' a lot, mostly because I was writing in character and indirectly, I think I preferred being slightly anonymous. When I decided to have another serious go at this writing business nine months ago, I decided no more sock puppets, hence this blog, website, twitter feed. I even have business cards now (although who uses business cards these days). If you want to know more, have a look at my profile on 'White label Comedy'
BBC Radio 4 Extra's Newsjack is one of the few shows out there that take material from the general public. There are quite a few of us trying to get on it and hear our name read out at the end. The show takes a maximum of two sketches (deadline noon Monday) and six one-liners (deadline noon Tuesday), per writer, for recording on Wednesday and broadcast at 10:30pm on Thursday. On Thursday at 6pm, Newsjack send out e-mails to a) Those who made the script but did not survive the edit and b) Those who made the script and got included in the broadcast show. For six-weeks, twice a year, writers in various locations are staring at their InBox in anticipation. Competition is tough and there is even a growing #RejectedGag on twitter (some of those are really hilarious). Last Thursday at 6pm I got my first "Happy Newsjack Day" e-mail. I'd made the show for the first time after eight attempts. It was quite emotional.
A bit like my first "Televisual Gag" (see previous blog post), we were 'on the road', this time having a cheeky mid-week break in Derbyshire. We were also celebrating my wife's birthday and curiously, my first televised gag (see previous post) coincided with my father's. I just hope this isn't a trend and my material only gets broadcast on family birthdays, I don't have a big family.
So we sat down at 10:30pm and waited. It's interesting to note that I found the show much funnier knowing I'd made the script. Then at 10:50pm, one of my one-liners was read out and then the laughter. That's when I realised why I am doing this now. I enjoy making people laugh, all aspects: the creativity, the process, the result. A few minutes later, the credits were read out, alphabetically. It was quite emotional.
And of course. On Friday morning the Newsjack cycle starts again. Gathering stories, looking at quirky tales and taking a little sideways glance at the news. Sketch writing at the weekend, one liners later (just to get them as fresh as possible).
I'd recommend to any writer to get disciplined enough to write and hit those deadlines each week. It's sharpened my approach to gag writing. Thank you Newsjack for my first broadcast credit (sort of).