If you haven’t read part 1 of this blog, then basically, I sent off a lot of jokes and sketches to the BBC for Radio 4 Extra’s ‘Newsjack’ series that recently aired. I got a couple of hits, but a lot more misses. So, in these blog entries I am sharing some of my misses… (For more info read the intro to part 1!).
So here we go again!
This first one highlights the trouble with ‘gags’. You see a news story, you realise there’s a gag in there, but you worry it’s just too damn cheesy. Then you panic because you want to get something in for the deadline and include it anyway!
“Guerilla Knitting groups in Leicester are hoping to reduce crime by hanging pom-poms from trees in notorious crime spots to make the areas look more cosy and safe. So far the scheme has been a success and the police are hoping other communities will soon cotton on.”
I mean – it’s not bad I don’t think. Perhaps part of the problem with this one is that the news story it’s based on was just so damn weird in the first place! They may not have believed it was genuine. You see, you always find yourself looking for the quirky local or magazine style stories that offer up these kind of angles.
Next up – During the time I was writing these jokes, Justin Beiber was all over the press as he was touring the UK. I was slightly loathed to have to read the articles and enter into that fake-pop world, even briefly, but then this wasn’t about me, it was about the news, and the news was full of him.
“There was anger this week amongst music fans and parents when after a delay of two hours at the 02 academy, Justin Bieber actually turned up.”
I think on a good day this could have got through, but it was probably one of several hundred Bieber jokes they had sent in. There was at least one in a few of the episodes, so it was worth a punt.
This next one is an example of where I think it could be funny, if the delivery was right. So there’s no big punchline or gag, but the performance could carry it through. Problem with that is that you need whoever reads the scripts first to recognise that. I obviously have every faith in the performers of the show to realise anything they were given, but didn’t get chance to find out if this one would have ‘worked’:
“In a rare newspaper interview, Syria’s embattled President Assad has accused the UK of ‘bullying’. Foreign secretary William Hague has responded with new sanctions to cut off the President’s supply of milk and dinner money. In a statement he said ‘Are you going to cry? Are you? Who’s a little cry baby?’”
Okay, one more for now I think. This is another where the idea was there but perhaps not the wording. I imagine (and the tips on the BBC website make this quite clear) that if you don’t get your wording spot-on, your gag is unlikely to make it through unless the concept and idea are so strong it’s worth a re-write… Well…
“The Lancet has published a report saying that the UK is lagging so far behind the rest of Europe when it comes to health that they think it has probably sat down for a minute or two to catch its breath and then gone to the pub for a pie and a pint instead.”
In my head, I had the idea of the various Europeans running a race and Britain lagging behind with a stitch and deciding not to bother. Perhaps I didn’t get this across, but it was worth doing anyway to see how it came out. As I said in part 1, you may as well get something in. The worse that can happen is some script reader just puts it on the slush pile and moves on to the next writer. You’re not going to get blacklisted or penalised for something that doesn’t get made! (I think, unless your material was really inappropriate!)
So there we have it. Some more jokes that failed to hit the mark, which was good for Mark (bless him), but not so good for me.