I was sitting in Claire’s dressing room. I’d spent the last week chasing two small children. Exactly seven days previously I’d fallen into bed at 8 o’clock in the evening. Before I fell asleep I’ had just enough time to think how ludicrously early it was. Sitting at the ABC I was having a lot of trouble remaining conscious. I think I probably looked like a total mess. Ian, after telling me I didn’t have to stay for the whole of the second show, said-
“Don’t let Good News Week become the bad part of your life.”
I thought at the time what a bizarre thing that was to say. Unfortunately I couldn’t articulate my sentiments at the time because all my energy was going into staying awake. So here goes.
The worst time was in 2008. I had two weeks work. The first week was during school holidays which meant that, for the first time, I could write all day. I could start work in the morning and finish at the same time as everyone else in the afternoon. I was very excited about this and the general prospect of all of it. There was however a minor hurdle in my perfect comedic happiness- the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
One of the episodes I was writing for was an un-official Olympic special. It was, to put it lightly, absolute joke writing hell. In my two week stint there was not a single story that inspired me. The closest I came was a moderately hilarious story about a women who claimed to be married to the Berlin Wall. But that was one of the worst kind of stories- the ones that are so funny all by themselves there are no jokes you can write.
The vast majority were about China.
China. The bane of my joke writing existence. I hate China. I have no interest in China. I have no desire to write jokes about China. How many times have I been handed a story about China? Too zarking many. And let me tell you, once you’ve written for one China story you’ve basically exhausted the humour pool. As far as I’m concerned the only thing about China which lends itself to a joke is communism. I think communism is funny. But I also think that goats are funny and its very difficult to write a good joke about goats.
After 3 days I was over it in a way I never thought I would be. In fact I spent the third day watching Torchwood with beccamarsh and completely neglecting my duties. That day I wrote a lot of jokes about aliens.
I’m not complaining (you’d think I was wouldn’t you? silly you) all jokes are good jokes (even the really bad ones). Great jokes come from pushing your brain to the very limit of its endurance. Which is good. Because China makes me want to cry.
I got more jokes to air from those two weeks than from all the accumulated weeks that had gone before. And somehow that was sweeter because of the (partly literal) blood, sweat and tears that had gone into it.
Of course there have been bad days. But even the bad bits are incredible. Because even a bad day of writing jokes for television is an achievement.