A funny thing happened on the way to Hollywood

In which our heroine becomes a professional comedy writer

So my New Career Direction – see blog post below – is coming along nicely, although not quite in the way I expected.

I expected to be concentrating on my screenplay. But that’s sitting in a slushpile of one right now, awaiting its first rewrite after feedback from a few screenwriter-reader-types made it clear what I need to do in order to whip it into shape. All quite exciting, but feels slightly daunting. I mean, how do I add a plot twist that sees our heroine (jazz singer Angela Hann) swallowed by the evil Godzilla-like monster and regurgitated to find she only has a one-octave range?  Not easily, that’s how. Especially not in 3D.

So. Anyway. Yes, my screenplay is currently on ice (with a twist). But in the meantime, a rather exciting development has taken place.

I’m writing comedy material. And selling it.

In fact, the two happened pretty much concurrently. As in, I pitched my first lot of jokes (and a comedy song) to a show, and they took them. Just like that! In return for performing them. And paying me. There’s lovely.

The show is Newsrevue – a live topical comedy show that’s performed weekly in London, and which has been running for years (its writing alumni include Alistair McGowan, Rory Bremner and Billy Bailey). And no sooner had I submitted jokes and songs to them, than I did the same to The Treason Show – a similar live topical show, but monthly, and in Brighton. And lo! They liked my stuff too, and invited me to join their team of writers.

The songs I’ve been writing are parodies of pop songs based around news and celebrities – so, say, ‘Cheryl’ set to the tune of ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay; a song about the Beatles going on iTunes called ‘Hey! You’ve Got To Sign In Now To Pay’; and, to my slight shame, a song about Phil Collins’ depression set to the tune of ‘Easy Lover’, called ‘Suicidal Drummer’ (for truly, I have sold my soul to the devil. But he does have all the best parody tunes, doesn’t he?). Anyway, that sort of thing. I had no idea that growing up listening to Gilbert And Sullivan, Tom Lehrer and Flanders And Swann would end up paying such dividends. Not forgetting Hinge And Brackett (I grew up in a middle-class dream).

And the jokes? Well, the jokes are one-liners about the news. As a result, I find myself sitting in pubs and cafes with the papers (for truly, this is a dream job) and writing things like…

So Prince William has announced his engagement to Kate Middleton. It’s so hard to tell the difference between the sound of a thousand girls’ hearts breaking and the sound of a thousand terrorists’ minds whirring.

A hacker has brought down the Royal Navy website. Well, you know what they say: loose links sink ships.

Lidl have caused outrage by selling reindeer meat in the run-up to Christmas.  Customers are being warned that side effects can include isolation, a red nose, and the overwhelming urge to join in reindeer games.

Olympic security officials have admitted they’ll be battling terrorist threats to street parties in 2012. “It’s a tug of war,” said one. “Also, an egg-and-spoon race and a face-painting competition.”

Warner Bros have bought the Harry Potter film studio for £100 million. Or to put it another way: 100 million quidditch.

They’re making a movie about the Rubik’s Cube. Apparently, there’s an amazing twist at the end.

Two hundred gays staged a kiss-in during the Pope’s visit to Barcelona last week. ‘We wouldn’t have minded,’ said a Vatican spokesman, ‘but they never asked us for time off from their dioceses’.

After a man leaks details of 10,000 convicted paedophiles online, police are warning parents to be vigilantes.

With the launch of the shuttle Discovery approaching, NASA has admitted that it doesn’t know what the future of the International Space Station is. “It’s completely up in the air,” said one official.

Twitter ‘hoax bomber’ Paul Chambers has lost his appeal. In keeping with his crime, he will now have to serve two short sentences.

And speaking of Twittter: my move into writing jokes is, truly, 99% down to that little 140-character-forming web space.  I suppose thoughts and jokes like those above whirr away in my head anyway (lord knows, puns do and always have) – but it wasn’t until I joined Twitter that I started to vocalise them, and think of more. Twitter sometimes feels like being in a room full of comedy writers – you’re surrounded by funny people (and not all of them are professional comedians or writers, by any means)  and it spurs me on to be funny. Not in a competitive way, but in an ‘inspired’ and ‘I am understood’ way.  And not only has it got me into the habit of writing jokes, but it’s an amazing endorsement if you are funny. Because total strangers tell you that you are. Which is very, very lovely.

The plan for next year is to get into the world of  radio and/or TV comedy writing. In the meantime, I’m writing more gags and songs; getting my credits on Newsrevue and The Treason Show; and reading as many books on comedy writing that I can lay my funny little hands on. I’m also meeting up with other comedy writers and picking their brains – and in the case of one (who’s written for comedians and shows like Jimmy Carr and Have I Got News For You), pinging my jokes over to him to get feedback and learn how to better craft them.

In short, I’m what I believe The Kids call ‘psyched’. And I’ve never been happier.

PS. Some of my jokes will be showcased this coming Friday (3rd) at 4pm on the ‘Twandup’ show on Twitter. Just go to the @Twandup Twitter feed here at that time to read them – and those of the brilliantly funny ‘headline’ act Gary Delaney.