“Which bit did you write?”
I hate that question. So don’t ask me. The first time I wrote for GNW that question was the plague of my existence. The answer, a lot of the time, was ‘none of it’. Of course, I never actually said that. People think you’re an idiot if you say that. I prefer the long answer-
I wrote rather a lot of stuff actually. Pages and pages of stuff. Then I sent the pages and pages to Ian and 85% was cut. Sorry, 85% on a really good day, on a really bad day that ends up at about 99%. Because even really good writers (which I’m not yet) write a lot of crap. The remaining material is then formed into a first draft. The first draft of a GNW script is about 45 pages long. This goes to a script read. Through the feedback from this read and a number of super secret processes the first draft becomes the final draft. This draft is less than half as long as the first draft. This goes to shotting. The filmed footage is then edited. More material is cut. A sliver of the original jokes reaches your lounge room.
So no, this week I didn’t get anything to air.
That’s a fairly difficult thing to come to terms with. Getting a joke to air isn’t what the job’s about. The job is about writing good stuff. A script is a collaborative thing. Sometimes several writers write the same joke. Sometimes a joke is edited to make it better. Sometimes good stuff gets cut for crap reasons. What’s hard is that most people have no concept of that. They want to see result. They want to know which bit you wrote.
Now I’ve done it a few times I’m facing a rather different problem.
“Which bit did you write?”
“Umm…are you easily offended?”
Because it turns out I’m pretty good at tasteless.
The first full joke I got to air was on the 2008 Melbourne International Comedy Festival Great Debate. The topic of that debate was “reality is better on TV”. I was sixteen. The joke was- “Is it just me or do a lot of reality TV shows sound like pornos? I Takes Two? Newlyweds? Its Me or the Dog?”
It’s a good joke. (Technically it was my friend Scott’s idea. But that’s another point entirely.) The issue here is that I watched that Debate with my parents and younger brother. And there’s a moment when I have to make an awkward noise and murmur ‘that one’s mine’.
I’m not particularly looking forward to this year’s Debate. That’s a lie, I can’t wait. What I’m not looking forward to is the ‘mine’ moment. Of the two jokes I have in the final draft (obviously pending editing) one is sexist and the other is pretty dodgy. Mind you, I’m actually rather proud of them.
And if you are tempted to ask that dreaded question- stay tuned. A full run down of the Great Debate has been written, and will be posted as soon as it goes to air.