Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Music Video

Okay, I can't think of anything, although I am a bit distracted, as I'm picking up the keys to the new house today, ooh blimey etc. I do really like that Weezer video (particularly when that Britney-defending kid gets THE HUG HE'S BEEN WAITING FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE (tm Scrubs), but everyone's probably seen it by now.

Anyone want to put any decent links up in the comments thread?

UPDATE: ALL THE SUGGESTIONS HAVE BEEN BRILLIANT. Will integrate them into this post later, but am out for a meal in a sec.

Maybe I should just outsource this blog to the commenters. In other news, the house really really smells of dog and needs new carpets, and lots of other stuff, but who cares, it's MINE* (well, the bank's, but still.)

* OURS, whatever.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Later I saw Dick, or possibly Dom.

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat

ME: Anyone sitting there?
ME: Anyone sitting there?
DALEK: Nooooo. Help yourself.
ME: Ta.

I take a seat, and pull out a copy of the Guardian. After a while, I sense an eyestalk peering over my shoulder.

ME: (politely) Do you want to borrow G2?
DALEK: Ooh, do you mind? I like to do the soduku.
ME: Do you want a pen?
DALEK: Lovely, ta.

I slide G2 across the table to the Dalek. The arm with the sucker turns delicately to the right page and begins filling in the little boxes.

ME: Congratulations on the Steven Moffat thing by the way.
DALEK: Ooh is that out now?
ME: Mmm, it was on the website.
DALEK: Oh thank god, I mean we all knew months ago, but the stress of not telling anyone...
ME: Oh me too. Although I shouldn't say, it just sounds smug.
DALEK: Some of the Cybermen tried to sell it to the tabs, you know.
ME: No!
DALEK: Oh yes. Won't be seeing them for a while.

A group of school children walk past, goggling at the Dalek, who waggles his sucker arm at them threateningly. They scream happily and run away.

ME: So what are you here for?

The Dalek turns his eyestalk to me, and says nothing, for several minutes.

ME: (uncomfortably) Sorry, silly question I suppose.
DALEK: No no, just trying to remember it. Some comedy show. Got Lily Allen in it.
ME: She's the voice of her generation, you know.
DALEK: Christ.
ME: What happened to the high-pitched one?
ME: On the old show, your main Dalek would shout 'EXTERMINATE!', and then one behind him would shout 'YES, EXTERMINATE!', but in a slightly higher pitched voice. He was always my favourite.
DALEK: Oh him. There was a problem with his nitrous mix, you see. Affects the voice.
ME: Right, sorry.
DALEK: He's dead now.
ME: Oh.

There ensues an awkward pause. A passer-by from the BBC Comedy department immediately commissions it for six half hour episodes.

ME: So, in the trailer for the end of the series, is that Dav-
DALEK: I can't really talk about that.
ME: Fair enough.
DALEK: (shyly) What's Stephen Mangan really like?
ME: I can't really talk about that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The toast thing is important.

Danny has tagged me with the question (originally asked by Kenny):

What revelations have you had since taking up your writing career?

So here, in no particular order, is my list of Reader's Digest-style Words of Wisdom.


Writers really like talking about writing, or writing about writing. This is because it puts off actually writing for another afternoon. Talking about writing, or writing about writing on a Friday morning before a bank holiday weekend is as good as it gets, writerly speaking.

You'll probably only get, at most, three hours of good writing done a day. That's a thousand words of prose, or five minutes worth of script. The rest of the day will consist of sighing, checking the internet, and eating toast.

You need to give up toast. And take up some kind of exercise at least three times a week, or you will become fat and mad.

The most useful skill it is possible for a writer to learn is level two touch typing. This gives you up to one extra hour a day for larking about, when other writers will be furiously trying to remember where the 'o' has got to.

When you start, you are not as good as you think you are. When you've been writing for a bit, you have to remind yourself you are probably not as bad as you fear you might be.

There is no point just trying to be better than the rubbish, you have to try and be better than the best writing you can imagine.

It is highly unlikely anyone has stolen your work and passed it off as their own. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

It is okay to turn stuff down.

The fact that you seem to be increasingly on the same page as various executives does not necessarily mean you are coming into your full powers, a la Batman. It simply means you are in your mid-thirties, and are the same age, or slightly older, than most executives, and thus share various cultural touchpoints. Soon. this phase will pass.

Just judging from the television industry, social mobility in this country is nowhere near as advanced as people would like to believe.

I have now tagged Patroclus with this question, because she is also a professional writer. She will answer IN HER OWN SWEET TIME.

UPDATE: She has answered.

Monday, May 19, 2008

AND there was no trolley service.

I board the train that will take me from Truro to London, where I have a number of meetings scheduled, one of which is (genuinely) about dragons and ninjas, so I am QUITE EXCITED. On top of this, I got a bit of notice for this trip, and have managed to book first class train tickets. Agent Matt has also made good use of the time dividend, and has booked me a metric shitload of extra meetings. One comedy development person will even be buying me lunch, and frankly it doesn't get better than that.

I find my reserved seat. It is next to a Youth who, despite being, as far as I can tell, British, is wearing a loud shorts and t-shirt combo, overspilling midrifually and elbwishly into my seat, chewing Skittles with his mouth open and gazing vacantly at a wrestling DVD on his laptop. A WRESTLING DVD. Well, it is either a wrestling DVD or some kind of open-air gay porn, it is hard to tell. The youth's father is sitting opposite me. He is reading some variety of tabloid newspaper.

Astonishingly, the train does not appear to have one of those emergency brake cables. Instead, I walk up and down the coach a few times, sighing loudly, hoping someone will take pity on my plight and call the police.

Bah for the complacence and nimbyness of the British Midde Classes! No-one will help. I surreptitiously peer at the reserved tickets above their seat, and apparently they do somehow have the legal right to sit exactly where they are sitting, the unstoppable bastards. And all the other seats are reserved. And the next coach is the Quiet Carriage, and I want to listen to my Adam and Joe podcasts.

So I give up, and take my seat, having to lean a little towards the aisle, what with The Youth having his filthy elbow all over my side.

The Youth makes a fresh assault on his skittles, and marks the emotional apogee of the wrestling DVD/gay porn by breathing loudly out of his mouth. A glittering cloud of Skittle fragments hangs lazily in the air, then falls to the ground with a delicate tinkling sound.

I have born these insults for as long as I can (four seconds), but can take no more, and STORM out of my seat, snatching up my bags and stropping down to the Quiet Carriage (taking the reserved ticket out in the unlikely chance someone else might want to sit there, I am not a BARBARIAN). Adam and Joe will have to wait. And Song Wars is very entertaining at the moment as well.

Five minutes later The Dad pads quietly down to my seat.

'You left your magazine behind,' he says, handing me the film periodical.

'Hahahahahahaha!' I say. 'It's like I am trying to take up every seat on the train! What am I like! Hahahahah!'

He nods politely, and walks (quietly) back to his seat. I shrink in my seat and try not to meet the gaze of my son Joel, oh wait, that's Jon Ronson.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Music Video: The Chemical Brothers

An old one, but I never get bored of it: Michele Gondry's video for The Chemical Brothers' 'Let Forever Be'.

"We are not sure our audience would be familiar with bed & breakfast hotels, particularly those in Torquay. Many of our audience would not be aware that Torquay was a seaside resort, or, indeed, that such a place as Torquay exists. Or that there is such a thing as a seaside resort."

I liked this, an imaginary set of notes from the BBC Comedy Department of 2008 on the first Fawlty Towers script. Could have done without white text on black though.

Geoffrey Perkins (ex-BBC comedy commissioning editor) has the original set of reader's notes (which aren't much less negative, and certainly don't recommed it get picked up as a series) on Fawlty Towers framed in his office at Tiger Aspect. A couple of years ago I had a meeting with him, in which he turned down a sitcom outline I'd written, but was kind enough to take down the letter to show me, to make the point that producers often miss works of genius, and that I shouldn't take it personally.

I didn't work, obviously, and I stewed for a year, concocting ELABORATE SCHEMES OF REVENGE, but it was a nice thought.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sketch Competition

Forgot to say, Dumbfunded are running a new sketch competition, with the theme "Man Versus Woman" (interpret that any way you like) with a closing date of 23rd May. Which isn't long. So go to it.

UPDATE: anonymous asks if I'm judging this time. I sort of am - like last time, the Dumbfunded chaps get it down to a shortlist of twenty or so, then I suggest which ten would fit together best, to make two varied halves, oh yes I'm like a scientist of mirth. Then last year, they ignored some of my suggestions anyway, and put completely different sketches on. My point is, if you made it to the shortlist, but not to the final ten, it may well have more to do with how well your sketch fitted in with all the others, which I kmow is annoying and unfair, but so's life.

Some of the sketches might have to get cut for time a bit this year. The advantage of this is they might be able to put twelve or so on in total, which is more fun for everyone - better to have twelve zingy sketches than ten that go on for slightly too long, I reckon.

If, like me, you think the world of British television sketch comedy is totally blimmin' moribund and stagnant, and, I dunno, jejune at the moment, here's a sketch from Stephen Colbert and Amy Sedaris's "Exit 57" sketch show that shows just high the bar can be set. It might seem a little slow at the start, but bear with it. It builds.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

This couldn't wait until friday.

From the mighty popjustice, Sonny J's 'Handsfree (If You Hold My Hand)', which ticks all my boxes by having a) a lady with superheroish powers, and b) cool dance routines.

Now mum's back home, I seem to have settled into a pleasant routing of going for a swim in the morning, then wandering over to mum's after lunch, so she can have a nice kip without having to worry about phones, people popping round and so on. And because there's no wi-fi over there, I actually have to get on with work, which means I've finished the first draft of the second ep of my Teen Drama Project two weeks early, woo hoo!

I'm also helping out with the gardening.

MUM: Try a bit of this rocket lettuce.

I nibble on it. Mmm, rather hotter than I'm used to, but very nice.

ME: Mmm. It's rather hotter than I'm used to, but very nice.
MUM: Oooh, try this.

She hands me a differently-shaped green leaf. I nibble it, cautiously.

ME: Hmm. It's a bit sort of ... soapy.

I chew away thoughtfully for a bit longer.

ME: And slightly bitter. What is it?
MUM: I don't know.

Slight pause.

ME: Bleeeeuuuugh.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Well I'm delighted Boris Johnson was voted in as mayor of London.

Because that means no-one from our fair capital CAN EVER BE PATRONIZING ABOUT CORNWALL AGAIN.

Sample conversations:

PRODUCER: You live in Cornwall? Hahahahaha, I bet it's all inbred down there.
ME: Yeah yeah, but at least we didn't vote for BORIS FUCKING JOHNSON, you retarded fuck.

PRODUCER: Your agent tells me me you're actually based in Cornwall? Come up to find out what roads and technology are like, ahahahahaha
ME: Well at least I don't know anyone who'd openly use the word 'picaninnies' LIKE BORIS FUCKING JOHNSON.

PRODUCER: Cornwall eh? Oooh piskies, ooooh-
PRODUCER: Yes, I still can't believe that one, to be honest.

I mean, jesus h (for 'Herbert') christ, I cannot believe London voted for a man who uses the word 'picaninny' and compares homosexuality to bestiality. Clearly the collective power of voters FROM THE NINETEEN FUCKING THIRTIES has long been underestimated.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday's Music Video: The Ting Tings

I'm going to try and put up a music video every Friday from now on. Until I forget.

Anyway, I bloody loves me this song, I do.

'That's Not My Name', by The Ting Tings.