I got an email yesterday from the BBC – never a good sign. A month or two ago I sent in two sketches for their latest competition Sketch Factor; the general aim being to find new writers for a new Radio 4 sketch show: Recorded for Training Purposes.
I don’t usually bother with BBC Talent competitions, for several reasons:
1) Judging by the latest comedy offerings, the BBC and I don’t really agree on what’s funny any more. The last BBC sitcom I had any time for was HELP, which was buried in the back end of Sunday night where no one would see it. This difference of opinion usually extends to the winners of their competitions, I just can’t believe they are the best the country has to offer. I’m not saying I’m any funnier, I don’t think I am; but there must be some aspiring comedy writers out there who can actually write comedy, surely? The last few competitions have been about submitting material to shows I really, really don’t find funny. Writing comedy in a style you don’t find funny is really difficult, or at least it is to me.
2) I feel a bit weird about submitting to these competitions. By their standards, I qualify; I haven’t had a radio or TV commission. I do however make a small living out of writing; I am technically a professional writer – I get paid to write. I can’t help feeling I’m not complying with the spirit of the competition somehow.
3) I don’t actually like writing sketches. I do a lot of it, because it pays the bills; but I don’t actually enjoy it that much. I certainly don’t think I’m very good at it.
So initially I thought I wouldn’t bother.
Then I thought again. Recently I’ve been having a lot of success with sketch writing. The Treason Show and NewsRevue certainly appreciate my material. I’ve sat in the audience of The Treason Show and watched people laugh at my material; I know I can make people laugh – consistently, month after month.
So I changed my mind. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
And yesterday I received the response:
Many thanks for your entry to the Show Me The Funny Sketch Factor competition. We are sorry to let you know that your sketches have not been shortlisted for the next stage of the competition.
I honestly believed I stood a chance this time. I even sent one of the sketches into The Treason Show, where it was performed and people laughed. They thought it was funny, they can’t all be wrong. Can they?
It’s been a while since I’ve been rejected by anyone, I’d almost forgotten how it feels. I know logically it doesn’t mean I’m not funny. It doesn’t even mean the sketches aren’t funny; it just means there were other sketches which were a) funnier and b) better suited to the show format.
Still stings a bit.
On the plus side: I got a call this morning about GROOVE BRITANNIA, a short film I wrote with Marian Kilpatrick. It has been filmed and is currently in post-production; hopefully there’ll be a screening sometime in the new year.
I also got an email from Andrew Senior, one of the guys behind THE EVOLVED; they want to start on a new project as soon as possible. Great news, these guys may not have much in the way of resources, but THE EVOLVED was filmed and available in the shops inside of a year. As good as it is, the new project is going to be much better. They gained a lot of experience from the last shoot and I gained a lot of insight from the Cannes screening. I really think we can make this new film exponentially better.
I’m choosing to see yesterday as a good day. It may rain occasionally, but the sun always comes out afterwards.