Monday, 7 February 2011

A Course with Yours Truly

Can comedy be taught? You can be the judge. On Friday 25 March, I'll be joining forces with experienced comedy guru Dave Cohen for a day of teaching comedy writing for radio. A week later, on Friday 1st April, we'll be in the same place thinking specifically about sitcom for television.

As you can imagine, teaching people how to funny is impossible. That said, there are lots of mistakes and common pitfalls that new writers make, which are easily avoided, both in writing comedy and trying to make your way in the industry. Dave and I hope to impart some knowledge on those fronts to give your work the best chance of success. Given the overall size of the event, it should be fairly intimate, so there'll be plenty of scope for interaction and Q&A.

If that sounds of interest, the details are below:


Award-winning writers Dave Cohen and James Cary will guide you through the do’s, don’ts and maybe’s of writing comedy specifically for radio: from one-liners, through sketches, all the way to sitcoms. Everything except how to come up with the jokes – that’s your job. The following week they will take you one step at a time through the process of creating your TV sitcom: character, plot, dialogue and visuals, creating a believable, funny world that audiences will want to return to each week. Everything except how to come up with the jokes...

Writing Comedy for Radio - 25th March 2011
Every year, BBC Radio broadcasts hundreds of hours of scripted comedy and comedy drama – far more than all the other TV channels combined. The opportunities in radio are considerable, but writing comedy is slightly different from writing for television, film or the stage.

Radio has always been a writer's medium, with hits that have become part of the fabric of British society – Hancock, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue… hit TV shows that began on radio - Little Britain, Goodness Gracious Me, People Like Us, Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop, Harry Hill’s Fruit Corner... and where writers and performers love to return to create shows that could never be done on TV –Lenny Henry, Andy Hamilton, French & Saunders.

Above all it's where new writers are given their first broadcast opportunities – Weekending, News Huddlines, Recorded for Training Purposes, Newsjack.

Writing Sitcom For TV - 1st April 2011
After a period in the doldrums the audience show is back in fashion thanks to IT Crowd, Not Going Out and the BBC’s latest award-winning hit show Miranda. Also a number of non-audience hits have revived the form, notably Channel 4’s Peep Show and Inbetweeners, and BBC1’s Outnumbered. But sitcom is a notoriously difficult form to master, and requires several different skills to be applied simultaneously.

We’ll look at the difference between writing for audience or non-audience, for the BBC and for the commercial sector, for mass or specialised audiences, and writing for one of the three growing Sitcom Writing competitions – Sitcommission, Sitcom Saturday and The Sitcom Trials.

The Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) 13 Haydon Street, London, EC3N 1DB - Map here.

Writing Comedy for Radio: 25 March 2011, 10am-4pm Writing Sitcom for TV: 1 April 2011, 10am-4pm The cost per day is £75 +VAT (Total cost £90) – this includes tea and coffee, but not lunch.


SPECIAL OFFER: Take part in both courses and pay £125 + VAT (Total cost £150) for the two days.

For further information about booking and how to pay write to

Dave Cohen has written for dozens of radio shows including News Quiz, Dead Ringers, Sunday Format and Jammin. He co-created and has written six series of 15 Minute Musical, which won Best Radio Comedy at the 2009 Writers’ Guild Awards. He wrote and starred in two series of Radio 1’s Songlines, and his solo series Travels With My Anti-Semitism. He writes for Not Going Out on BBC1 and has written for numerous BBC sitcoms including My Family and Life of Riley. He is a regular writer on Have I Got News For You and songwriter for Horrible Histories, voted Best Sketch Show at the recent Channel 4 Comedy Awards.

James Cary won a Silver Sony Award for Think The Unthinkable, starring Marcus Brigstocke and David Mitchell. Since then, he has written Hut 33, and co-written Another Case of Milton Jones, Miranda Hart’s Jokeshop and Concrete Cow. He also script edited all four series of Recorded for Training Purposes. He writes for the award-winning Miranda on BBC2, and has also written episodes of My Family and My Hero, as well as numerous TV Pilots, and Radio 4 sitcoms, Think the Unthinkable and Hut 33.

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