Newsjack Episode 2 – Behind the Scenes

Newsjack Episode 2 – Behind the Scenes

So you probably read my blog analysing episode two.

Newsjack Series 18 Episode 2 – Analysis

Well I’ve managed to get some ‘behind the scenes’ facts about this episode.

Total Submissions

There were 451 sketches submitted and 652 one liners submitted. Although they haven’t confirmed it, I’d guess it is more like 6 X 652 (3700-ish) one-liners. Personally I think its amazing there are still so many sketches being submitted. We have seen a drop by 150 in the number of sketches and about 50 lots of one-liners. The Newsjack production team have previously said that they see a reduction in submissions as the series progresses.

Sketches

8 broadcast sketches – 3 from writers room.

I had 8 in my analysis so I was correct on this.

Brexit – Could have been anytime!
Eliminate Bullying – 8th Feb (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/pentagon-takes-on-bullying-offensive-jokes-in-new-harassment-policy.html)
Lent – Well it was pancake day…the day after the submissions
Ikea Cops – 8th Feb (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-42990341)
White Planet – This could have been any day – I couldn’t find a news article about it.
Emotional Support Animal – 8th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/08/spirit-airlines-emotional-support-hamster-flush-toilet-florida)
Heavy Falcon X Launch – 6th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/06/falcon-heavy-spacex-rocket-florida-launch)
Norweigan Olympic Eggs – 8th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/08/norway-olympics-team-orders-15000-eggs-by-mistake-south-korea)

So….could you guess which 3 were written by the writers’ room? I can’t. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that’s not for me to answer!

One-Liners

20 broadcast one liners and number crunchers – *all from non comm writers/0 from writers room.*

So my analysis of the submissions was correct…What excellent news that they were all from the Non-Comm writers. I guess the writers’ room was too busy with their extra sketch this week.

In House Writers / Writer’s Room

In the writers room twitter chat we used the phrase “In house writers” but this could be a bit clearer. Each Monday, we host a writers room which consists of 5 invited writers – these are members of the public who have submitted sketches regularly and successfully to the previous series. It’s a great way for us to meet the people who submit to the show and give them a real world experience of being in a writers room.

The writers room meets at 10am and ends at noon – this process is deliberately kept separate from the submissions we receive so that it’s a level playing field.

I’ve quoted this in full so you know I’ve not written it. Two things jump out at me.

1) 2 sketches of ‘Newsjack quality’ (whatever you believe this to be) are written by these people in the 2 hours they have for writing. Thats pretty good (in my opinion) that they can do stuff which is so full of jokes in just 120 minutes. Maybe it helps they have 4 other people to bounce stuff off of. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for one of these sessions. Mainly for my nosiness but also I love the process of writing jokes.

2) The invited writers submit sketches regularly. Thats where I fail. To me it suggests that to get into the writers room you have to submit plenty of sketches – those submitting one-liners wont get invited. I could be reading too much into it but that’s how I read that sentence.

Something this doesn’t tell us is what happens to the scripts and one-liners from Monday lunchtime on-wards. I do know a couple of script editors but I don’t know if they do it by themselves – I imagine they have an additional writers room to get the scripts thrashed out.

In Summary

Loads of submissions. All of the one-liners came from the public as did 5 of the 8 sketches. I only have the details on these two episodes but the person who gave it to me wanted me to share it with others as there has been a lot of queries over how the episodes are made.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave me a comment or drop me a tweet on twitter. 🙂

 

 

Newsjack Episode 1 – Update – Behind the Scenes!

Newsjack Episode 1 – Behind the Scenes

So you probably read my blog analysing episode one.

Newsjack Series 18 Episode 1 – Analysis

Well I’ve managed to get some ‘behind the scenes’ facts about this episode.

Total Submissions

There were 603 sketches submitted and 773 one liners submitted. Althoguh they haven’t confirmed it, I’d guess it is more like 6 X 773 (4700-ish) one-liners. Personally I think its amazing there are 603 sketches submitted. I find sketches really interesting as I fail so badly at writing stuff! 😀

Sketches

8 broadcast sketches – 2 from writers room.

My analysis was 9 sketches but one of them was a Kim Jung Un joke split over 2 sections so I will allow it. Two of them were from the ‘writers room’ – I’ll explain more about this later in the blog.

Labour music festival – https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5483870/labour-to-hold-glastonbury-style-socialist-music-festival-to-celebrate-jeremy-corbyn-this-summer/ – 2nd Feb
Update Exams – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/02/01/school-textbooks-will-updated-include-sex-couples-textbooks/ – 1st Feb
Markle to give speach at wedding – https://www.hellomagazine.com/royalty/2018013045874/meghan-markle-give-wedding-speech/ – 30th Jan
Ghost Towers – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london – 4th Feb
Slang Weather Forecast – https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/met-office-forecasters-may-start-using-regional-slang-in-weather-bulletins-a3755121.html – 1st Feb
Kim Yung-un moves military parade  – I can’t find any links to this happening? Anyone got another about it being moved, not just ‘happening’?
Video Refs – https://news.sky.com/story/video-assistant-referees-to-be-used-at-world-cup-in-russia-11218645 – 22nd Jan
Kardashians – As about the baby but really just a call back to KYU.
Product Placement in Corrie – https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/30/coronation-street-product-placement-deal-co-op-costa-coffee – 30th Jan

So….could you guess which 2 were written by the writers’ room? I can’t. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess thats not for me to answer!

One-Liners

24 broadcast one liners and number crunchers *23 from non comm writers/1 from writers room.*

So my analysis of the submissions was correct…at least in count, anyway! 😀 Otherwise, there isn’t much more I can say about it. I am a little surprised that they needed the joke from the writer’s room, especially when there are 4200+ submissions, but who knows. We might have all submitted rubbish! 😀

In House Writers / Writer’s Room

In the writers room twitter chat we used the phrase “In house writers” but this could be a bit clearer. Each Monday, we host a writers room which consists of 5 invited writers – these are members of the public who have submitted sketches regularly and successfully to the previous series. It’s a great way for us to meet the people who submit to the show and give them a real world experience of being in a writers room.

The writers room meets at 10am and ends at noon – this process is deliberately kept separate from the submissions we receive so that it’s a level playing field.

I’ve quoted this in full so you know I’ve not written it. Two things jump out at me.

1) 2 sketches of ‘Newsjack quality’ (whatever you believe this to be) are written by these people in the 2 hours they have for writing. Thats pretty good (in my opinion) that they can do stuff which is so full of jokes in just 120 minutes. Maybe it helps they have 4 other people to bounce stuff off of. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for one of these sessions. Mainly for my noisiness but also I love the process of writing jokes.

2) The invited writers submit sketches regularly. Thats where I fail. To me it suggests that to get into the writers room you have to submit plenty of sketches – those submitting one-liners wont get invited. I could be reading too much into it but that’s how I read that sentence.

Something this doesn’t tell us is what happens to the scripts and one-liners from Monday lunchtime on-wards. I do know  a couple of script editors but I don’t know if they do it by themselves – I imagine they have an additional writers room to get the scripts thrashed out.

In Summary

Loads of submissions. Most of the content is from the public submissions. Some of the content is from members of the public who are invited in for 2 hours.

 

 

Newsjack Series 18 Episode 2 – Analysis

Series  18 Episode 2 – Analysis

Another week, another strike out. I thought I might be in a chance with one of mine, but it wasn’t to be.

Here is my analysis for this show

Newsjack Summary

Newsjack is a weekly topical news comedy show which accepts user submissions for oneliner jokes and sketches. The BBC do pay for all broadcast user submissions.

Analysis

I’ve listened to the broadcast and I have tried to categorise the jokes broadcast against their guidelines for what they want people to submission.

First of all, I do not include Angela’s monologue in the stats as this isn’t something that members of the public can submit to.

Secondly, there is no released details on who has written what, but occasionally they do tweet out who wrote what. If I had to guess, these are staff writers/invited writers who are paid to write for Newsjack rather than people who have, that week, submitted 6 one liners and 2 sketches.

Thirdly, this is my analysis. The assumptions I make are mine, as are the conclusions I come to. Newsjack have confirmed they don’t agree with all the conclusions…interesting use of ‘all’ there ;).

There were a couple of interesting tweets from the Newsjack team this week.

 

So 600 sketches submitted? Wow! Thats loads more than I expected. There was also 725 ‘batches’ of one-liners submissions this week. Thats 4200 possible one-liners! I’d be interested to see how long it takes to read that many sketches and one-liners.

Breakdown

The first thing we notice is that there were less one liners and sketches over-all.

2 Less Breaking News
2 Less Number Crunching
1 Less Sketch

The Sketches were about 1 and a half minutes shorter in total time. I did notice that Angela’s intro was longer by about that time. Maybe it all adds up. The Breaking News sections was pretty much the same time as the first episode. Number Crunching was 30 seconds shorter when they had 2 less jokes in.

Ignoring ‘Politics’ there was a roughly an even spread across the sections. Only 1 politics joke was probably  a conscious effort to not flood the series with Trump/May jokes.

Sketches

You’ll see my notes are a little strange on this. A good mix of items and an Olympic sketch in there also – EGGS!

Date wise the sketches are as follows;

Brexit – Could have been anytime!
Eliminate Bullying – 8th Feb (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/08/pentagon-takes-on-bullying-offensive-jokes-in-new-harassment-policy.html)
Lent – Well it was pancake day…the day after the submissions
Ikea Cops – 8th Feb (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-42990341)
White Planet – This could have been any day – I couldn’t find a news article about it.
Emotional Support Animal – 8th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/08/spirit-airlines-emotional-support-hamster-flush-toilet-florida)
Heavy Falcon X Launch – 6th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/06/falcon-heavy-spacex-rocket-florida-launch)
Norweigan Olympic Eggs – 8th Feb (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/08/norway-olympics-team-orders-15000-eggs-by-mistake-south-korea)

The Heavy Falcon X Launch was from the 6th of Feb – before even last week’s record! I know it was after their submission date for last week but it was a really old story. The rest of them are from the 8th feb – the day of broadcast of last week’s show! Really old news was the choice of the script collating team!

Breaking News

We had 15 breaking news one-liners to enjoy this week. 3 lots of 5 jokes a piece. Couple of really strange entries. How many listeners will know the band ‘Showaddywaddy’?  Its probably over 30 years since they were last ‘anything’ so it was a surprising Newsjack appearance. We also saw a one-liner about the ’24 Hour Ikea game’ which was the basis of one of the sketches earlier. Rarely do the Newsjack team allow two jokes on the same topic so it is surprising that one of the other 4200 one-liners wasn’t as good as the one they broadcast.

No ‘Politics’ related breaking news? It is like Politics and Sci/Tech swapped this week. We also saw 2 less BN this week which was pretty much missing from ‘world news’. And No Trump jokes.

Having not reviewed all the Breaking News I couldn’t tell you the age of all the jokes, but seeing as we got a breaking news about the 24 hours in Ikea story – we know that this was from the 8th of February, the transmission date of last week’s episode.

Number Crunching

5 Number crunchers this week. 2 less than last week. We also had another duplicate topic – the Olympic Eggs. Why did they do this? And so many duplicates in this episode. There was a Number Crunching about the Tesla in space/Uber but I think that something similar was doing the rounds on twitter about the situation/uber. For me, I’d not cover anything that I’d seen jokes about on Twitter.

Not a good mix of NC but with only 5, we weren’t going to see all the categories covered. Probably more to do with the edit rather than anything else, but I don’t think they have a huge number of good number crunching jokes. Its a poor format. Even Private Eye only has a couple in its whole magazine.

In Summary

Another episode documented and analysed. Fewer One-liners and fewer sketches makes me think it is fewer listener submissions. I’m amazed at the amount of sketches and one-liners submitted. It really blows my mind! I know the Newsjack team can’t do but I think it would be great to have a central store of these. I’ve put up all my jokes on this blog, not so anyone can actually read them (not including all the spammers!), but to remind me that I have done this and I’ve had jokes performed and broadcast.

I’m going to keep analysing the episodes as I think there is a lot to learn about what NewsJack Like and what they include. It is important to not that correlation does not imply causation so my over-the-top analysis should be taken with a little pinch of salt!

Submitted Jokes

In case you think it isn’t worth submitting due to the volume of jokes received, here are some confirmations that people DO get their jokes broadcast. 4200 one liners is a lot but they are broadcasting 20. It is worth submitting and putting your hat into the ring. Personally I think it is worth writing ANYTHING you think is funny, and it is worth TRYING to keep it within the last 7 days but it is not a hard and fast requirement.

I’ve found confirmation on Twitter of some of the joke writers. I’ve also asked a few people. Here they are!

Russian on powder and half pipe

 

Straight White Man


Amazon Jobs Losses


Army Drill Sargent/Banning Bullying


Co-Op Scratch card Joke


Russian Robot Joke Olympic Jokes

Hamster Emotional Support (like ‘totes babes’)

Newsjack Series 18 Episode 1 – Analysis

Series  18 Episode 1 – Analysis

I didn’t get anything in this week’s show. A-Boo! I hear you say. I think I should have submitted the Samsung Chips joke. Never mind there is always next week.

As you may be aware, I did some review of a couple of previous episodes and seeing as I was [s]bitter[/s] having a bit of spare time I thought I’d do this episode.

Newsjack Summary

Newsjack is a weekly topical news comedy show which accepts user submissions for oneliner jokes and sketches. The BBC do pay for all broadcast user submissions.

Analysis

I’ve listened to the broadcast and I have tried to categorise the jokes broadcast against their guidelines for what they want people to submission.

First of all, I do not include Angela’s monologue in the stats as this isn’t something that members of the public can submit to.

Secondly, there is no released details on who has written what, but occasionally they do tweet out who wrote what. If I had to guess, these are staff writers/invited writers who are paid to write for Newsjack rather than people who have, that week, submitted 6 one liners and 2 sketches.

Thirdly, this is my analysis. The assumptions I make are mine, as are the conclusions I come to. Newsjack have confirmed they don’t agree with all the conclusions…interesting use of ‘all’ there ;).

Breakdown

There we have it. About 21 minutes of the 28 minute show can be submitted by members of the public. Much better stats than some of the previous shows I’ve looked at – there has been an increase of about 30 seconds to both Breaking News and Number Crunching. The Sketches have also increased by nearly 2 minutes! Great news to the writers.

Breaking News continued to have 3 sections in the show and there remains only 1 Number Crunching. I predicted we’d see a strong lean to Politics (Trump and May) but really we saw only 4 oneliners/sketches in the politics bracket. Perhaps the last series used up all the trump jokes. I think it probably has been affected by The Mash Report but I guess we’ll find out.

World News was the largest section with 12 items. Its like WN and Politics have switched places! 😀 Apart from Science & Technology, the others are all pretty similar.

Sketches

I think sketches are the hardest to write. A topical sketch based on a news article within 1 week of the submission date? Hard work indeed! Add in that most of the sketches are 2 minutes or more, not an easy thing to write. So the ‘man on the street’ has to find a news story and write something very funny and the advice is ‘make it a recent event’. Everyone I know who submits does so with some news story within 48 hours of the submission deadline. Submission was Monday 5th so I’d think that people would search for stories from Saturday at the earliest. Saturday is the 3rd.

Labour music festival – https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5483870/labour-to-hold-glastonbury-style-socialist-music-festival-to-celebrate-jeremy-corbyn-this-summer/ – 2nd Feb
Update Exams – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/02/01/school-textbooks-will-updated-include-sex-couples-textbooks/ – 1st Feb
Markle to give speach at wedding – https://www.hellomagazine.com/royalty/2018013045874/meghan-markle-give-wedding-speech/ – 30th Jan
Ghost Towers – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/04/anger-over-glut-of-posh-ghost-towers-london – 4th Feb
Slang Weather Forecast – https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/met-office-forecasters-may-start-using-regional-slang-in-weather-bulletins-a3755121.html – 1st Feb
Kim Yung-un moves military parade  – I can’t find any links to this happening? Anyone got another about it being moved, not just ‘happening’?
Video Refs – https://news.sky.com/story/video-assistant-referees-to-be-used-at-world-cup-in-russia-11218645 – 22nd Jan
Kardashians – As about the baby but really just a call back to KYU.
Product Placement in Corrie – https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/30/coronation-street-product-placement-deal-co-op-costa-coffee – 30th Jan

The oldest article I can find is the 22nd January – 2 weeks before the submission date! Then there are two from the 30th and two from the 1st of Feb. I don’t think the producers/script collators would accept user submissions 2 weeks old, and I’m not sure they’d even take items based on Thursday 1st as these would be a week old by the time it is broadcast. I don’t even think they’d accept something based on events from Friday 2nd. Based on this, and the dates I can find (strange I find nothing about the movement of the military parade), 6 out of the 9 sketches are from news events that happen well before people submitting would choose to write about.

The first episode of Newsjack probably wants some strong sketches so I think most (if not all) of the 6 would have been written by staff/invited writers and not submitters. I’d love to know from the production team whether my calculations are close.

Breaking News

Three sections on this show. A good amount of time for one-liners. A mainsplaining joke is a bit old-hat, in my opinion. And referencing Lewis Hamiliton’s dress wearing nephew in a joke pushes the boundaries of a recent reference. But it does up the ‘sport’ category for jokes so there is that.

Talking about how old some of the jokes were, Disney buying Fox was from DECEMBER 2017. I really don’t think thats topical anymore. I also struggled finding a link to the Hummus story but the one I did find was from 28th of January. Is that topical? Probably close enough but I feel that anything NOT within the last 3 days before the submisison deadline probably was written by ‘staff/invited’ writers.

I think maybe the FTSE joke was written last week, but luckily the market is collapsing so it was still topical!  😀

The breakdown of topics for Breaking News is as follows;

A healthy number of one-liners for Breaking news. No science & tech this time (although maybe the Samsung joke could be moved there from world news). Not lots of trump jokes but a cool reference to the Mash Report’s cartoon.

Number Crunching

There were 7 number crunchers in this episode. The Bitcoin joke was a good one – better than the one I wrote! I’m just annoyed I didn’t write it! Some of the topics were a bit rubbish – Dry January, best sex at 65, and £20 valentines Maccy D’s meal. I wonder if this means there can be no valentine’s day jokes in the 2nd episode?

I still think that Number Crunching is a section that doesn’t have long to live. Back when it was ‘vox pox’ there were two sections in the show, but Number Crunching still only has one. The 300 stray dogs story has recently resurfaced but I think this is something that has been around for a while. The rest were fairly recent stories so I think they were submissions from the public.

No political NC or Sports NC – Which when you consider the Superbowl was on, I’d have thought they’d have had something on that. I’d have thought there was also something in Politics that could have been pick up but they decided against it. By having more than 1 Number Crunch section they could probably fit in 10 during the shows.

In Summary

I think at least half of the Sketches were written by staff/invited writers. I think most of the Number Crunchers were from submissions – based on there being less of these and the staff/invited writers being happy to not do these. Finally I think the one-liners are probably mostly submitted but a few of them, based on the story dates, weren’t.

It will be really interesting to see what episode 2 is like. I doubt there will be any jokes based on 2 week old (or older!) stories.

What are your thoughts on the first episode of the new series of Newsjack? Let me know in the comments? Did you write some of the jokes? I’d be interested to know which ones 🙂

*please note that I realise that I spelt ‘Markle’ wrong in some of my tables. I just couldn’t be bothered to fix them!

 

Submission 15 – NewsJack – One-Liners

My Brain farts weren’t working.

I have submitted my submission for this week. Hopefully they do ok. I am a bit annoyed that I forget to check my brainfart I uploaded earlier in the week as I really liked the Samsung chip joke. I probably should have submitted that but I didn’t

Breaking News!

  1. Stagecoach East Coast rail franchise to end early. Passengers kicked off at Newark and to get bus replacement service.

Something which felt like the start of a joke but certainly not the end of the joke. I think this is where having a comedy writing partner probably helps. But I don’t have one and so I have to make do with me. And I’m an arsehole. The set-up is sound, but the punchline is lacking.

  1. Inspirational quotes are being shared at underground stations by tube worker. Unfortunately none of them are ‘your train will arrive on time’

This one was a struggle. Just a news story on the beeb about ‘feelgood quotes’ and I felt I needed to crush any feeling of goodness and remind people the tube is shit. Another acceptable feedline but dreadful punchline.

  1. Silvio Berlusconi to deport 600,000 illegal immigrants from Italy. He said he will allow 61 to stay….sorry, that reads ‘Sexy Ones’ to stay

Who’d have thought we get the oppertunity to make Silvio Berlusconi jokes in 2018? It was a shame that I struggled to find breaking news. Also that I didn’t submit my samsung joke as I think thats the best of all 6 I wrote! What a twazzock.

Number Crunching!

Still, the Newsjack team are keeping with this format. I wonder if it really does have legs?

  1. £500,000 – My current personal holdings of Bitcoins.
    £1,000,000 – My current Lloyds Credit card statement after I bought them before the price collapsed.

A bitcoin joke. The market is tumbling and if I had to guess I think there will be a breaking news joke about Bitcoin (or even a sketch), I doubt they’ll waste a NC joke on bitcoin. But I guess we will see.

  1. 9 Months – Length of time Kylie Jenner hid her pregnancy from the public.
    9 Months – Length of time you could search and still not find my interest in it.

This is just for me. I have no interest in the this story so I thought I’d put a joke about it. So I did.

  1. 6 Nations – One of the greatest sporting competitions of the year.
    1 Nation – Most disappointing sporting competition once we’ve left Europe.

I do like a brexit joke, good or otherwise. I imagine that NJ is going to be chok-a-block with Brexit & Trump jokes so I have joined in. I didn’t do a Trump joke. I watched ‘The Mash Report’ the other day and it looks like they will have the monopoly on Trump/Brexit jokes for the series.

I think I tweeted online about The Mash Report being ‘Newsjack with pictures’ and I stand by that comment. It isn’t a slight on TMR or NJ – but with Nish fronting it, it certainly feels like NewsJack episodes of time gone by.

There are plans afoot for this series of NewsJack for me…I wonder if I can get broadcast this series?

Brain Firing Session 1 – NewsJack 2018 New Series

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. Samsung Enters the Crypto-currency chip business. Experts think this will cause an increase in Phishing leading to a tasty Friday supper.
  2. Librarian jailed after selling stolen books on eBay. She was sentenced to 8 months and her borrowing card will be held onto until the books are returned.
  3. Roy Orbison to return as a Hologram for a new UK tour. Although it was technically difficult, the IT team involved said, “Anything you want, you got it”
  4. Birds Eye Fish Finger advert banned over concerns from safety groups after showing kids jump off a boat into the sea. Wow! It wasn’t due to old bearded men using food to tempt children into a boat.

 

NUMBER CRUNCHING

  1. 14.8 Million : The number of Nintendo Switch console that has now outsold the Wii U
    14.8 Million : The number of Nintendo Switch consoles that wont be turned on in 3 month’s time.
  2. £205 : What some unique £1 coins are worth.
    £205 : what all £1 coins might be worth soon after Brexit
  3. $3Billion : Amazon’s 2017 Pre-Tax Profits
    $3Billion : Amazon’s 2017 Post-Tax Profits

NewsJack is back (again!)

NewsJack is Back

I’m looking forward to submitting more stuff for the show. There was a good Q&A session on Twitter today for people to get more information about the show and what needs to be included.

Something I’m going to try to do is write a page of submissions each day. They may not be good. They may even be bad. But hopefully it will get my brain going.

Lets see how it works.

Newsjack is Back!

After seeing both Nish and Angela at ARGCOMFEST I was thinking it was about time that Newsjack came back on the radio. Today I was emailed by the BBC to say it is back.

First show is the 13th September so I guess submissions will be around the end of the first week of September.

Time to get into the writing mindset.

ARGCOMFEST 2017

If you don’t know what ARG*COMFEST is then you have missed out. ARG*COMFEST (Actually Rather Good Comedy Festival) is a show that has been going for 6 years and keeps going from strength to strength.

Last year I was ill and I only managed 3 shows before I had to come back home and I slept the rest of the weekend. This year I wanted to make sure I saw more than 3 shows and with the line-up they had planned, I really wanted to make the most of my super-advance weekend ticket.

When I arrived at 12 on Saturday they couldn’t find my details. This has been in my calendar for months and I then had the horrible feeling that I’d not actually booked any tickets. A search in my mailbox for ‘ARGCOMFEST’ didn’t bring up any email confirmation either. It then dawned on me that it would be a sad bus journey home but at least I’d have the weekend to do stuff. A final attempt to find the tickets had me thinking about other searches search of ‘Shoreditch’ brought up a ton of emails, within which there was the 3D Barcode I needed. Joining the back of the queue again I got scanned and made my way inside.

The line up of the Saturday looked like this;-

First show of the day and it had to be Sofie Hagen. I’ve not seen here before and I knew I wanted to. This was her new show ‘Dead Baby Frog’ and although I couldn’t get a seat, I stood in the doorway to the Garden Room and had a great view of the stage. I learnt a little Danish (Mormor / Morfa) and that it is possible to visit shame-town (I’m suprised I’ve not been before). Based on this performance I will grab her previous show (Shimmer-Shatter) from her website here.

2nd show for me had to be Grainne Maguire. Grainne did the first comedy course I ever attended (I’ve done 3 now, who wants to touch me?) and I do enjoy her podcast ‘Whats Has The News Ever Done For Me?’ When I was here last year, Grainne’s show was one of the few I saw and although I wanted to see new acts this time, not only did I want to be loyal, I also find her really funny. I grabbed a seat at the back of the room and followed her on the journey from being a ‘Grainne’ to her perfect Liam Neeson accent. The time flew by and the room was howling with laughter.

Next up was a choice I had made in advance but really did set a stage for the rest of the afternoon. Lucy Porter is of the first comedians I can say I ever remember seeing on TV. I’ve never seen her perform a full show before (I think I saw her do 20 minutes at a benefit gig a few years ago) so I had to stay to watch her. She was in the same room Grainne had just performed in so meant I could stay in my seat. Lucy covered topics such as arguing/conflict with her husband, being married to her husband and even had some audience act-outs of a discussion they’d had. The show was interupted at one point by someone looking for Garrett Millerick’s director. This was really poor show by the team at ARGCOMFEST but Lucy handled it expertly. One thing I will say – of all the performances of the weekend, Lucy’s was by far one of the most polished, even if she did have some notes. She worked the crowd brilliantly and perhaps that just comes from (cough) years of performing live. Her set ended with a reading of a Bertrand Russell essay from 1933…..makes perfect sense.

Ed Gamble was my next show. In the same room again. I promise this was out of choice rather than laziness! He spoke about his love of heavy metal music and how that doesn’t match his persona. He also has a tattoo and loves Halloumi. His 5 minutes on Halloumi has to be heard to be believed! At one point he did explain how he’d kill a donkey – that was quite unexpected (and not the way I’d do it). He spoke about the trouble with sports massages after eating and places you’d find your girlfriend’s hair. There were other things he spoke about but I wont ruin the surprise.

I stayed in the Annexe again for Tez Illyas. Recently Tez had been on Mock the Week and I’ve learnt that comedian’s shows can be very different to how they appear on Mock The Week. Tez started with a routine about taking his nephews to the cinema and a mis-pronounciation of a snack item. He talked about his allopecia and how it was in his beard and is now on his head. He did explain that the rest of him was really hairy and gave a great description that had everyone in stiches. Racism was touched on slightly however always in a comedy context (well nearly always) and the show didn’t feel policital (which was a theme touched on by many at ARG) but had people laughing through-out.

Whats that? Stay in the Annexe again? It must be time for Ellie Taylor! Not just an excuse to stay in the same seat, I’ve wanted to see Ellie for a while but been unable to make her shows previously. Great for ARG and even better for me! The show was loosely themed about the move to the next stage in her life. Buying a house with her husband and whether they will have kids. It was interesting to hear that TV comedians also have secret whats-app groups with their friends about the strangest of things. Having only seen Ellie on TV I was suprised by her act-outs and impressions (husband & family were great). There was one moment when she was demonstrating something on a chair that I was glad I had a side-on view!

Another show in the Annexe (I’m not just super lazy) for Elenor Tiernan. I’ve seen Eleor Tiernan before so knew what to expect. She started with a video about a self-help yoga treat where it was clear to see what everyone in it was. This got a massive laugh from the audience. The rest of the show talked about an intervention and move to the UK. We were treated to her housing woes, flatmate issues and ended with trying to guarentee her place in the UK by making an impression on the judging panel of Economic Migrant of the Year. Feedline/Punchline comedy this was not but its another great thing about ARG is that it is not just ‘mainstream’ comedians.

The final show of the day for me would be Nish Kumar. He is someone I’ve seen a few times (last year’s ARGCOMFEST and plenty of episodes of Newsjack) but knowing that he wasn’t taking a show to edinburgh meant that it could be perhaps a little more relaxed in performance worrying about what works/doesn’t. While waiting for show to start (still in the Annexe) the fire alarm went off. The whole audience sat there deciding they would probably risk an actual fire against losing their seats. Maybe 5 minutes of the front of house staff chatting on their headsets and we were all asked to vacate. Outside there was much confusion and people were wondering if the show would continue. A fire-engine turned up for some excitement but no sooner had they arrived, they had done their check and they were off again. We were allowed back inside and the person on the main door was tellign everyoen to go back to their original seats. However this message didn’t make it to the staff in the room who told people to fill up from the ends. Disaster! The seat I’d been keeping warm most of the day now had someone else in. It also meant I’d be taking the seat of someone else – it would be a domino effect of people taking other people’s seats.

I was now in the front row and although I was right infront of the stage ( and Nish) it was not as comfortable as my previous seat. Nish’s set was very politically themed although not always in a direct way. His dad telling him to get a haircut/beard cut after one of the London attacks.  He then went on to talk about how he had met a lot of politicians through fluke….his night bus home went through Kennington which is where lots of MP were given homes.

The show continued with its political bent. Fully expected by Nish and there were a few set peices I’ve seen before from him but seeing as he isn’t taking a new show to Edinburgh, this isn’t something that can be complained about. The Annexe was packed full of people, even with the fire alarm delaying the start, and Nish’s set went from serious to funny to serious, completely seemlessly and the audience followed him on his journey/ramblings (depending how you feel about them). If you get the chance to see Nish perform live then do it. He has a new TV show coming up (The Mash Report) so expect him to be a regular on your TV from now on.

The night ended and I jumped in an Uber home. It suprised me by only being a tenner, late on Saturday night. Tomorrow would be another day of comedy….what will it entail? Probably more in the Annexe knowing me…..

 

Sunday was a hard day to choose. So many acts I want to see perform but they were at the same time so I’d have to make a choice. First show of the day I would have been happy seeing any of them but chose Garrett Millerick as I’d recently seen Bec Hill and Elanor Morton and I’d never seen Garrett

Garrett started with talking about his move to Kent from London. This had the audience chuckling away (with confirmation bias? Who knows) and gave a very physical and active performance. He covered a trip to Oz when his bank card was stopped just after landing for ‘fraud’ reasons. He covered his personal therapy and his family’s intervention. How he was forced to go the gym and stop drinking. He ended by explaining our new god. If you’ve never seen Garrett Millerick before then you really should. His hour long show is ace but could easily be 3 great 20 minutes.

2nd show on sunday was Stu Goldsmith. I’ve been listening to his podcasts for ages (from the beginning? I’m not sure. But I remember the drinking game of ‘street performer’ before Stu started mentioning it himself!) but I’ve never seen him perform live before. He has got himself a baby AND a wife so the show was to be about one or the other or both. We heard about baby swimming, baby papouses, walking the baby about, glastonbury and baby food. You can see the theme here. A great thing that Stu did was similar to the ‘talking offstage/off mic’ thing lots of people did. I didn’t see a comedian NOT record their show and Stu had his mobile on the table recording. Occasionally he would give a running commentary to the phone about silences (eggy pauses?) and weird reactions of the audiences. A great re-working of an old technique and one I’ve not seen anyone else do.

Next up was Sarah Kendal another comedian I’ve not seen before. Sarah’s show had a structure that started with Haley’s comet and the impending divorce of her parents (don’t worry, it is quickly resolved in a way that might surprise you!). We are taken on a journey of friends beating cancer, austistic children, two grans, aliens and an old people’s home. Two phrases stuck in my mind from this show and I’ll include neither here. Go see the show, it was properly ace.

Still in the Annexe (I could have slept here last night and saved me a tenner), I wanted to see Angela Barnes. Angela is the current host of Newsjack and I’ve seen this live a number of times but never seen her perform stand-up. Today I’d break my ABSUC (Angela Barnes Stand-Up Cherry) and I’m so glad I did. Something I couldn’t understand is the room wasn’t packed but that was their loss. We learnt about Angela’s love of Nuclear bunkers and how she spent her 40th birthday. I’m a little bit older than some of the people in the room but I recognised the books she brought out about what to do in a nuclear attack and a Raymond Briggs story. We also learnt about her not having children and how people keep asking her about it.

Finally! I’ve escaped from the Annexe. I really wanted to see David Trent do a full show as I’d only ever seen him do 20/30 minute spots. He was going to be in the Garden Studio which is where I’d seen my first show yesterday. This room got busy early and really struggled with the heat. The show started (or, more correctly didnt start) and David was quick to jump on a guy on his phone. This guy did point out that he’d just been told, by David, that the show hadn’t started yet and he was reading about a flat fire in Bethnal Green. The show started properly and we were treated to his children’s favourite online video that looks like the kind of thing you’d see in a film being played to people with their eyes being clamped open. 320 Million views so far….scary stuff! “Open your mouth! HA HA HA!” We were treated some great tax-deductable items that David uses in his shows and a great 10 minutes on the bakers who wouldn’t bake a cake for some people because they were gay. A tech issue meant that the final punchline didn’t hit as hard as it should but it was there enough to have the audience laughing along. A great show you should also definitely see.

Another show in the Annexe? It is impossible I tell you! I had planned on seeing Ingrid Oliver who was to be in the garden studio. For some reason, probably because the Annexe had been missing me, the rooms had been swapped around and I was to be back in the Annexe for Ingrid’s show. I’d not seen Ingrid before. Well thats not entirely true as she has appeared in a couple of episodes of Dr Who. I didn’t know what to expect and her comedy show was a selection of characters/sketches. I particularly enjoyed the Brexit Translator who was trying to do live translation of the european parliament while handleing the break-up with her partner. There was some audience participation with the Film Studies teacher who talks like it is and pointed out the age-gaps between lead actors and supporting actors/love interests. Ingrid’s show ended with a Ted Talk that felt like the conclusion of the opening sketch (which I guess it was). Her whole show was very different to anything else I watched over the weeked and something which could have also just been a set-list for a stand-up.

Although there were another two possible shows for the day, I had to call it quits at this point and headed home. I missed out on a personal recommendation from Andy McH for Stuart Laws but I think I was all comedied out.

As I headed home I thought about all the excellent shows I’d seen and how I’d love to write more comedy. So I will. I also almost threatened myself with not attending any further comedy until I’d performed again. Except I really want to see Tez when he performs down the road from me on Friday. But after that, I might put myself on a self-imposed comedy block until I’ve at least written 5 minutes and performed it.

Were you at ARGCOMFEST 2017? Who was your favourite act that performed?

 

Theresa May-Bot on Twitter

I enjoy a good twitter bot. I follow a couple but recently one of the guys from B3ta created a Theresa May-Bot.

I had quite a good chat with her and some of her replies, especially the one about John Barrowman, came out quite well. It got retweeted a couple of times and so I thought I’d put it on here.

 

I really enjoyed that chat. I might have to go find other bots on twitter to talk to!