The very first show which paid me for my very first bit of comedy writing was NewsRevue.
NewsRevue is the world’s longest-running live comedy show – #fact – and writer-performers like Rory Bremner, Alistair McGowan and Bill Bailey cut their teeth on it. It takes place every weekend at the Canal Café Theatre in London – the cast (of four) and director (of one) change every six weeks – and the show consists of comedy sketches, jokes and parody songs based around the latest news events.
As a budding comedy writer five years ago, their open door policy on submissions was exactly what I was looking for. And as a musician, the words ‘parody songs’ were, well, music to my ears.
So my very first bit of paid comedy writing was for a parody song about the US midterm elections, set to the tune of Stuck In The Middle With You. The chorus went “Clowns to the left of him/Jokers to the right/Obama/Just blew the midterms, it’s true” and you’ll have to take my word for it that it wasn’t as awfully shoehorned in as that sounds. Because it got performed in the show – and my day, nay week, nay year was made.
Since then, they’ve continued to perform sketches and songs (and the occasional joke) of mine in NewsRevue, and I’m forever indebted to them – not just because they provided me with my first break, but because they continue to provide Real Live Actual People Performing Your Stuff (AND Paying For It) for comedy writers both new and experienced. I also particularly love them because they’re one of the rare places that do perform parody songs, and those are, in some ways, my very favourite comedy things to write. I’ve written a song about the World Cup in Qatar set to the tune of Do They Know It’s Christmas? (chorus: “FIFA’s world/We’ll move it to Christmastime”), a song about Liz Kendall set to the tune of Alright by Supergrass (“She’s Blairite”) and countless other silly songs for NewsRevue, and they’re a labour of love.
So here are a few things I’ve written and had performed there over recent months. A spoof of the film Room (which I loved, by the way, and it’s a crime Jacob Tremblay didn’t get an Oscar nomination for it)…
A spoof of Adele’s ‘Hello’ (because the world needed more of those, right?)…
And a song about Obama trying to push through gun control…
If you’re ever in London, I highly recommend the show, which is always performed by ridiculously talented people (they’re usually learning scripts super-quickly AND can sing); and if you’re a comedy writer, I highly recommend submitting to them. Whether you want to see it or write for it, all the info you need is on their website.