Comedy writing tips for newcomers

BAFTA winners and new writers, Andrea Hubert and Ryan Cull, tell hot about-to-be-new-writers their secrets of success. Listen up:

Community TV Seriesby Andrea Hubert and Ryan Cull

We don’t feel comfortable with advice. Taking it can be hard enough for egomaniacal comedians, but freely handing it out seems insane considering we’re still exceptionally new to TV writing ourselves. Instead, here are some of the things we’ve learned from our short time in the business.

Write with someone who makes you laugh

It’s hard to write a script by yourself, but it’s equally hard to find the right person with whom to write. We met after doing a standup comedy gig; we made each other laugh on the train on the way home. If someone genuinely shares your sense of humour and writing ambition, it’s a great start. But first make sure you work out who’s the “all-powerful head writer” and who’s the “lowly co-head writer” – it’s the source of 99% of our fights.

Enter writing competitions

When we entered the Bafta Rocliffe New Comedy Showcase we figured that just getting the judges’ eyes on our novice pages would be a huge win. We were shortlisted that year and won the year after.

But what if we hadn’t won? Our script would still have been read by a lot of UK producers, which meant that we legitimately could email them to discuss working together in the future. Who knows how long it would have taken to get them to meet us if we hadn’t entered? Plus, your mum will tell everyone she’s ever met that you’ve won a Bafta and that’s really fun for her, if massively untrue.

Have another script in your back pocket

When we were first told that one great script isn’t enough, we were horrified – one script was all we had and it felt like all we’d ever have. But we know now that people looking to work with writers often hear about a project that’s already taken, so they’ll ask: what else have you got? It’s pretty embarrassing if your answer is a sad little “nothing”.

Watch TV relentlessly and without guilt

We prefer being in our living room to being sociable, which is why we insist our obsessive viewing of sitcoms to be research or inspiration. We learned so much from episodes of It’s Always SunnyCommunity orArcher that we have the blueprint of a sitcom script burned into our subconscious.

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