Friday, May 20, 2005

Writing topical monologues

Channel 4's new comedy writing competition requires entrants to write a three-minute topical monologue. To help newcomers to the form, we asked comedy writer Dave Cohen for his top five tips.
1. Read the newspapers. Not as daft as it sounds, sometimes a sentence jumps out at you and you come up with an instant punchline.
2. Try and avoid the obvious or the ongoing old story - if there's another joke to be had out of the Blair-Brown leadership battle that hasn't been done yet it'll take you too much time to think of it.
3. Look at the quirkier stories in the news - you can find them in newspapers, on the net, even on ceefax. Often there'll be a simple gag off the back of them.
4. Try and be different. Go off on a tangent, find a topic where you hear the same obvious jokes being made and try and look at the story from a completely different angle.
5. Listen to shows like News Quiz and Parsons and Naylor, the current topical shows on the radio. You can catch up with them on the net. Watch Have I Got News For You. Don't nick the jokes (instant disqualification, because everyone else will have heard them,) but get the feel for the structure of a gag, and listen to how the professionals tackle the week's stories.
Dave is currently working on Have I Got News For You and will be doing a stint on The News Quiz in June/July. He has also written for Rory Bremner, Dead Ringers, Spitting Image and many more.

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