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14 May 2024

Posted by Harley Truslove

Comedy Writing

Today we were looking at comedy writing. Holly read us an extract of Sayaka Murata’s book Life Ceremony: a story called “A First Rate Material” wherein characters debate the merits of using human in clothing. Our writers were asked to jot down one or two phrases which stood out and write around them. Pieces ranged from diary entries to the absurdities of afternoon tea.

Holly then got our writers list all of the boring things they’ve done this week, then challenged them to think about anything funny or weird stemming from those tasks, going into as much detail as possible. When our writers had completed this, Holly challenged them to talk through their piece through to themselves and then write it down as a monologue, not to worry if it wasn’t funny, but maybe try and up the stakes for the situation. She showed everyone a short clip from James Acaster talking about oven gloves to explain.

Ella wrote about unhinged bus drivers; Eve talked about her old oven and her house burning down; Megan talked about turning your house into a maths problem. 

Holly then got us to play a game called “it’s not about that”, where the writers would read their piece to each other in pairs, and the other would interject with “but it’s not about that, is it?” and encourage the speaker to change subject and dive deeper into what the issue might be - for example, discussing rightmove.com being a masterclass in advertising you’re a murderer became it’s actually about the fact that I’m afraid of change, became it’s actually about the passage of time. 

When that game was done, our writers rewrote their first monologues but with the subtext of what they uncovered in their game fuelling it, giving them the bones for a stand-up piece.


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