I did an early morning row (I think it’s the 12th one, but I might have lost count) and then went into London for another day of programme consulting. Again I managed to do a little bit of work on the sitcom on the way in, maybe as much as I would have achieved if I’d worked on it all day at home. It’s still going pathetically slowly though.
The jokes didn’t come as easily today. It was hot and I felt pretty tired (maybe the row hadn’t been a good idea) and inspiration was in short supply. It’s still fun to be collaborating on something and the host of the show I am working on is such a naturally funny comedian that I am partly just a sounding board for him. And even coming up with a potential feed line means I am still doing my job. I did manage some jokes too - it was just like pulling teeth today. But I guess pulling teeth is occasionally funny too.
Getting back into a job which is basically all about the mechanics of comedy- trying to come up with pithy one liners in the main- is really interesting. There is an existing script that some other writers have put together, but mostly the jokes they have put in to it barely qualify as jokes. Just at the basic technical level. And the ones that pass the joke detector are usually so route one that they aren’t any use (even as inspiration for something that incorporates a second thought).
I get it. I used to write for other people’s TV shows too and it’s easy enough not to put in your A grade stuff - yet if you do then you will find you get a lot more work. There may be jobs in show biz where you can bluff your way through, but writing isn’t one of them. Not for long anyway.
The show host (I am probably allowed to say who it is, but won’t do just in case) has the sharpest comedy brain where he is able to find the thought or phrasing that is tangential enough to work for him. Even though he was not firing on all cylinders today either, a cylinder or two was all that he needed to create unexpected one liners and to rephrase my jokes so they effortlessly worked for him. We have a very similar sense of humour and when something works it makes us both giggle for ages - and I know we’re finding the joke funny for some particular bit of phrasing or suggested idea. It’s very nice to be in tune with someone like this. It just felt a bit frustrating that we only got to hysteria a couple of times today. But that’s what writing comedy is like.
And six solid hours of trying to come up with jokes about celebrities that I largely hadn’t heard of took its toll. Some of you may have spent the day down a mine or on a building site or looking after violent offenders, but none of you can know how tough my job is. I nearly fell asleep in the cab that the production company had paid for to take me home. Nobody can have as tough a working day as this.