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Diary of a Comedy Writer: Dead Bear through a Letterbox

Diary of a Comedy Writer: Dead Bear through a Letterbox

9th September 2014

We are sitting in a circle and as Funny Women guru Lynne Parker explains how to beat stage fright I'm sort of trying to hide behind a pillar.

I stab myself a bit with my pen but no this isn't a nightmare. I am indeed at the Stand Up to Stand Out workshop at Leicester Square Theatre where Lynne is teaching us cunning comedy techniques for world domination. There is a very real possibility that at some point I'll have to perform in some way.

"I'm not a stand up," I tell Lynne firmly, more than once. "I'm a writer. I watch, I observe, I lurk at the back and scribble."

"Just write your name on this sticker and sit down," she says. …

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Diary of a Comedy Writer: Fringe Blurbs Forever

Diary of a Comedy Writer:  Fringe Blurbs Forever

26th August 2014

It’s not hard to find the queue for Pam Ayres at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. The comfortable shoes, the rimless oblong glasses, the stowable waterproofs – they’re my tribe and I know it.

I love Pam Ayres. I’d like to say ‘not in a stalkerish way’ but well, that urge to run up and gush: ‘You’re my comedy hero!’ is a bit too strong to dismiss. I’d write ‘I luv you’ on my eyelids for when she looks my way but let’s face it, none of us in this room has the eyesight for it.

I interviewed her once for a national newspaper and she was so, so nice. Just as warm and friendly as you hope she’ll be. It a…

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Vintage Funny Women Awards: Hattie Jacques

Vintage Funny Women Awards: Hattie Jacques

28th July 2014

Each month I take a look at Funny Women from throughout the 20th Century – stating their case so that you may decide which to vote your favourite Vintage Funny Woman. So far we have looked at Fanny Brice, Lucille Ball, Yorkshire’s Marti Caine, Music Hall star Vesta Tilley and the great Judy Garland. This month we are looking at the Carry On star Hattie Jacques.

Carry On films now feel dated and sexist to put it mildly, but there were two pillars of strong woman-hood in Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques. There was no messing with these ladies but Hattie did also have a soft side and she played the sex-kitten much better than Barbara Windsor ever could.

Hattie Jacques wa…

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Diary of a Comedy Writer: The Key to Heaven

Diary of a Comedy Writer:  The Key to Heaven

14th July 2014

"So is wife-swapping the same as that swinging, then?" I ask.

"I think so," says Andy.

"You live and you learn," I say, taking a sip of cappuccino.

These are the kind of zeitgeist lingo discussions we playwrights enjoy in our salons. Well I say salon, this writers group consists of me and Andy Moseley in the Rose Theatre cafe in Kingston. We met via the oneACTS Festival in Tolworth last year and now enjoy regular coffees to discuss matters theatrical.

We're talking about his play ‘Casual Encounters’, which is at Surgeons Hall at the Edinburgh Festival from 1-16 August. It's a dark comedy about a couple who go for marriage g…

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No one wants to see the clown cry

No one wants to see the clown cry

8th July 2014

The adage is that tragedy plus time equals comedy. In 2012 Tig Notaro stood on stage at Largo and told an unsuspecting audience that she had that week been diagnosed with breast cancer. "I am just at tragedy right now," she said. However what followed was a set of courageously honest and blisteringly funny observations of the horrific past few months of her life, culminating in her cancer diagnosis. It would seem that the only 'time' she needed to get to comedy, was the time it took to work it out on stage before her enthralled onlookers.

We are all familiar with the cliché that comedians are damaged, moody individuals who retreat from the spotlight after each…

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