Friday, 4 October 2013

Everything's Coming up Comedy.

It's been an interesting week. A couple of years ago, 2008 to be exact, I tried to put my name forward to write some scripts for a TV sketch comedy show. It was to be a mish mash of comedy and comedy news, ala my beloved "Daily Show" - the one show in all the world I'd love to work for - possibly also Colbert! My submission to write for the show was ignored - disappeared into the wind. I wasn't given an interview, not even shortlisted and mainly because my writing resume didn't include any comedy.

We were asked to submit 10 news items from that week's news and also come up with a couple of sketches. I thought I came up with a few zingers - here's what I submitted...

Topical Jokes.

May 22nd 2008 - Kevin Rudd confirmed today the Australian forces in Afghanistan would not be pulling out. The head of the Australian defense forces said the decision would make little difference to troops as visiting model Tania Zaetta uses oral contraception.

A young humpback whale has been put down after being beached on Rottnest Island. The whale was euthanized by firearm at about 5pm and while whale enthusiasts were disheartened, producers of ‘The Biggest Loser’ watched events with interest.

Gold Logie winner and soap star Kate Ritchie has split from her skateboarding boyfriend, Corbin Harris. Corbin has reportedly been spending time with the new blonde chick at the surf club, and most expected the couple to reunite by the same time tomorrow night.

Tasmanian artist Adrian Avenell needs 438,000 cigarette butts for an anti-smoking display. Former Elders chief and smoking stalwart, John Elliot, was happy to give 2 days of his time towards supporting the arts.

The man who launched ‘N’Synch’ and ‘Back Street Boys’ was today jailed for 25 years. Facing charges of swindling investors out of more than 300 million dollars, his sentence was primarily for launching ‘N’Synch’ and ‘Back Street Boys’.

America’s democracy continues to be scrutinized like never before as Hilary Rodham  Clinton and Barack Obama face off in the Democratic primaries. With neither contender able to post a definitive lead, the party believes the contest should be decided by rock, paper, scissors. Best of three.

May 23rd - Thieves yesterday broke into the home of former Prime Minister John Howard and stole clothes and jewellery. The value of the items has yet to be established, but a Dimmey’s spokesman said the tracksuit alone could run as much as $9.99.

Veteran US senator Edward Kennedy left hospital yesterday after doctors announced he had a malignant brain tumour. US President George Bush was quick to wish the Kennedy Patriarch the best, while the rest of America wished the tumour was in George.

Courtney Issabella Bailey received a four-month suspended jail term today after pleading guilty to a relationship with a person under the age of 17. The relationship began when the boy asked Bailey for a picture of her breasts and was sent a picture of Pamela Anderson’s breasts instead. When asked if she felt the picture had lured the boy under false pretenses, Bailey questioned why this was an issue as Pamela had been doing the same thing for years.


NARRATOR: Poland, 1948. The 11 members of the Broschowski family sit down for dinner in their one room apartment.
There is a rabble of voices.
PIOTR:           Quiet! Everyone quiet. I thought we agreed during family dinners, whoever is holding the silver cup would get to speak.
They come to silence.
DOROTA:      Can I have the cup?
PIOTR:           Yes, Dorota.
DOROTA:      I think Wojtyek should do more of the housework.
BEATTA:       He spent all day looking for food.
DOROTA:      He didn't bring anything home.
PIOTR:           When he got to the front they’d sold out.
DOROTA:      That shouldn't be an excuse. It’s so unfair. (Beat) Can I be excused 
                       to go to the bathroom?
PIOTR:           Of course.
Dorota gets up and leaves.
FX: A door opens and closes. Bathroom acoustics.
Dorota talks to the ceiling. 
DOROTA:      Hello? Hello, can you hear me? I'd like to nominate Wojtyek. He 
                       never helps with anything and I heard him say he doesn't like 
NARRATOR: This has been another classic moment from the 60th anniversary of Big Brother.


INTERVIEWER:       I’m here with the Reverend Timothy Collins who claims the Bible has been widely misinterpreted. How so Reverend?
REVEREND:             God is gay.
REVEREND:             Yes.
INTERVIEWER:       What do you have to back this claim up?
REVEREND:             He’s single and elderly and there’s never been any mention of a wife or girlfriend.
INTERVIEWER:       Perhaps God doesn’t need a partner?
REVEREND:             Then why does he live with Peter?
INTERVIEWER:       Saint Peter?
REVEREND:             Who spends all his time in the front yard tending the pearly-gates. Pearly’s a little flamboyant, don’t you think? And before Peter was Gabriel, ‘whom God loved but cast from heaven after taking his wings’.
INTERVIEWER:       You’re referring to the uprising of angels?
REVEREND:             Everyone knows when gay men break up they argue over pets and clothes. ‘Wings’ are a metaphor for designer labels, Gucci or Prada – clearly high end. And we all know Noah got the pets.
INTERVIEWER:       There will be critics who’ll argue you’re completely insane.
REVEREND:             And I would say unto them, consider the world we were given. God gave us a canvas of green and blue. But three months later he changes this to reds and yellows and flaming oranges. Three months after this he strips it bare, giving us minimalist grays and white. And then, another three months go by and we return to greens and blue. That sounds like a gay man decorating to me.

To get deep for just a moment as I reflect on my week, in life, your ethos is one of the few things you get to decide entirely for yourself. That's an extraordinary thing to remember - given, for each of us, it's the biggest thing in our lives. How we tackle each day, adversity and how we pick ourselves up to go on. 

Long ago I decided, with all the opportunities that didn't seem to be going my way, and as a writer rejection is an everyday reality, spending my time being bitter and upset and making excuses about how and why I wasn't being given opportunities would be a waste of my time. Instead I decided to look closely at what had been rejected and try to improve and get better so the next time I might reverse the decision.

Sometimes it takes a long time and many, many pieces of a puzzle to come together to see a result for all that hard work. 

As a result of wanting to write comedy and not being taken seriously, I began a series of stand-up comedy workshops. That was in 2008. Slowly, fighting my nerves, I progressed to performing. I still don't do many gigs, but I've arrived at a place where I can relax and enjoy being up there and it's a great place for a writer to test out a lot of silly jokes and ideas to see how a live audience responds.

As a result I have met and shared billing with many well known Australian and International comedians. Included among these is Lawrence Mooney.

In 2010 I co-wrote and directed a successful Melbourne Comedy Festival show for David Tulk, a very well known Melbourne comic. That and my previous work history of setting up and running drama shows for Fremantlemedia led to me getting a job as Script Producer on a new comedy show. The show didn't last long. It was called "The Bounce" - starring Peter Hellier and it was produced out of Melbourne. It would have been my dream job had it lasted - a mixture of football, comedy and sketches. One of the comedy writers on that show was Lawrence Mooney. 

At some stage, since that show ended in 2010, I had an idea for what I thought would make a great comedy and Lawrence seemed to be the perfect person to play the lead. I'd seen his two previous comedy festival shows, done stand-up alongside him and come to know him fairly well. Then this year he was named as host of his own network comedy panel show and I suddenly understood why he'd been so busy of late and unable to catch up. But he was suddenly a known celebrity network wise and this made me more determined to talk to him about my idea.

I took a drastic step, in among Lawrence's new show, his new child, his relatively new marriage and moving to a new house I wrote the pilot of the show I had told him I had in mind. It's far easier to explain something that's on a page than an idea that is still only a concept. Lawrence read - he liked, so we chatted and found ourselves both excited by what we could do if we could get this idea to the screen.   

Yesterday I had a meeting with the head of a well established production company, Renegade, who make many great productions including Wilfred and Rockwiz here in Oz. They have offices in Melbourne - a bike ride from my house! The meeting went well and, the company CEO, Joe, was open, welcoming and enthusiastic. I left feeling positive - even though the best I can say is, he didn't say no.

But in this business, someone not saying no is a so much better than the alternative. As one of my old bosses at Fremantle said when we were analyzing the reasons a network head gave for turning one of our pitches down - "A no is a no." Never a clearer or colder word spoken and it almost never gets reversed.

But my journey to this meeting, where I didn't hear the word no, took six years and many different pieces coming together to simply get through that door. It's an example of how far you sometimes have to go to make an opportunity for yourself in this business. 

Of course, way back in 2008 when my comedy was rejected, I could have sat around and bitched about being completely ignored, but as my gay friends constantly remind me - "Bitches sit alone."    

To celebrate my meeting, a meeting that didn't end in a 'no', I went out and did some stand-up ... 

Exford Hotel - Comedy - October 3rd 2013.

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