Monday 19 September 2011

The Value of Comedy Courses

So let's deal with the money issue head on: I'm British - and therefore unable to discuss money without acute embarrassment. I'm a writer - and therefore find money an irritating necessity. I'm a human being - and therefore intrinsically greedy. I have kids - and therefore I can justify any paid act as being for their benefit. And I'm a farmer's son - which means I'm frankly lucky to be paid to do anything at all which doesn't involve shovelling cowpats off the diary yard.

Interest Declared. Now Moving On...
With all that in mind, I'm running a comedy writing course with Dave Cohen (Have I got News for You?; Horrible Histories and much more besides), like I did earlier this year. It costs some monies. The first one, on 4th Nov, is about writing Comedy for Radio, which is something I have a fair amount of experience of, having written stuff like Think the Unthinkable, Hut 33, co-written Another Case of Milton Jones and Miranda and script-edited Recorded for Training Purposes. The second one, on 11th Nov, is specifically about sitcom, primarily for television, which, again, I have some experience of (Miranda, My Family, My Hero and those radio sitcoms - as well as a bunch of stuff in development). More details about the course, bookings and Dave Cohen here.

Hang On, A Minute...
A few blogs ago, I questioned the value of writing courses. I was referring mainly to year-long, academic, university-type courses that take ages to teach you everything. I stand-by my statements, not just because I'm proud and pig-headed. I really do think writing is best learnt through, well, reading, writing, rewriting, failing, rewriting, listening, improving and, most of all, living a life that gives you stuff to write about, so that it has that essential honestly and truthfulness about it, even if the entire thing is invented.

Just One Day?
So if year-long courses are to be avoided, what can be achieved in a day or two? Quite a lot. Most of all, it's the compressed downloading of lots of experience, hints, tips and ideas. One or two key bits of advice could make a massive difference and save you days, if not weeks or work that was either unnecessary or needed to be undone. There's no cast-iron secret formula to sitcom we can let you in on. There kind of is. I sort of wrote one here that obviously isn't so secret. And then I slightly unpicked that article here. But talking these things through for a few hours can be really stimulating, useful and lots of fun. (Well, 'fun' to the likes of you and me who want to hear writers and directors talk over DVDs with the commentaries. Most normal people don't want to analyse comedy for hours on end.)

Well, there it is. Bunk off work and join us for the day for some really practical tips about writing comedy and sitcom, as well as some useful industry info - and who knows you might be a Galton and meet a Simpson who's as serious about writing comedy as you.

And what venue could be more fitting and comedic than London's hottest canal museum?


  1. "Another Case of Milton Cow"? ;)

  2. I was really considering attending very hard indeed. Shame it's a weekday as it makes it tricky for us people with "proper" jobs!

    Then I remembered - I'm in a play that night! Can't be done. Bum. But in a bizarre link it's a staging of "Steptoe and Son" which will be attended by Galton and Simpson!

    Are you planning to run the radio one again in the next six months?

  3. So are the courses open to anyone? Or do you have to over 18 to attend.

  4. You don't have to be over 18, I don't think. Follow the link to Dave Cohen's site, contact him and we'll see what we can do.