So I am in the uneviable position of appearing in not one but two fringe festivals this summer. On Monday July 29th I am appearing for one night only at the Exeter Fringe Festival and then in August (15th, 17th and 19th) I am back in London for the Camden Fringe Festival with my new show, “Celia Delaney is..Angelic?”.
I am thrilled to be bringing my show to these events – it’s an honour to have the opportunity to do what I love on stage but the flip side is that I have to WRITE the show!!!
Now if you have ever had to write something and just found yourself staring for what seems an eternity, at a blank page, you will know where I am coming from here. Last week, I found myself in this position when, after the first run-through of my new show, my director gave this bleak note:
It just needs more jokes.
So, I mused for a while on this but kept hitting a wall at “Just?” Isn’t that the whole crux of a comedy show? The jokes? If that is missing what do I actually have? A novel? A radio play? The inner ramblings of a forty-five year old woman?
Still, I resolutely set off to create more jokes for the show – only to find that the more I did this the more the Law Of Reverse Effects (you know the one that says “the harder you try, the more difficult everything becomes”) reared its head. I “just” seemed to move further away from funny.
The only solution – and as it transpired it was a great solution – was to go and get some food! It was my birthday and I met my wise friend Mal Wharton, (who incidentally has just launched The Humour Works – do check it out) in London. He outlined for me his writing process distilled from over ten years of working with comedians.
- Once you have an idea for a topic, or subject, take one aspect of it and then keep going with the same premise until you have exhausted it. Don’t give up on it until you’ve written at least five ideas for jokes. Often the fifth joke (or sixth, or seventh) is the best. It gets you to move beyond the obvious first joke and think harder than other people probably ever will.
- Get out into nature. Sit in the park and think about the show, and write down anything that comes to you. Sit on a different bench each day to get a new perspective.
- Work for an hour before bed and then ask your subconscious to work on it overnight. The next morning start straight away and see what it’s come up with. Two one-hour bursts with a sleep in between are superior to one two-hour stint at the computer.
The happy coincidence that it was my birthday, so I felt more chilled, combined with the fact the sage advice I was given was based around napping and being outside – my kind of work ethic – I no longer sit at my desk with blank page staring back at me chanting, “write something funny…write something funny” relentlessly.
Thank you to the ComedyCrowd.com for this quote which sums it up for me:
“Four-fifths of everybody’s work must be bad.
But the remnant is worth the trouble for its own sake.”
– Rudyard Kipling
I am progressing my work in progress and look forward to bringing it to audiences this summer. Of course I’d love to see you at either festival to show you the results of my labours so do click here to book tickets for Exeter Fringe and here for the Camden Fringe. And in the meantime, keep writing!