Richard Sandling

Richard Sandling

Winner of the 2007 So You Think You're Funny? new act competition
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'Editing ruined BBC's new comedy' the warm-up comic

The BBC’s new sitcom The Persuasionists has been ruined with heavy-handed editing and the sloppy use of exaggerated laughter – according to the warm-up comedian who worked at the recordings.

Richard Sandling says that the sitcom, whose stars include Iain Lee, Jarred Christmas and Adam Buxton, could have been the ‘BBC’s answer to the IT Crowd’ – but was shocked to see the version that was broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday had been stripped of the humour he saw in the studio.

In an article for Chortle’s Correspondents section, Sandling wrote: ‘The shows had all the pauses and pacing edited out them.

‘It is one of the oldest maxims that comedy is about timing… if you then undermine this by editing out all of the pauses and silences you have ruined the timing, delivery, impetus and impact of the scene and it won’t – and can’t – work as well as it should

‘Another thing that the post-production people do is add additional laughter over the piece, which completely ruins and undermines the show, it invalidates any genuine laughs for bits that are good because we, as an audience, subconsciously assume all the jokes are weak. The inappropriate and misplaced laughter often bleeds over dialogue and, more damagingly, punchlines.’

Sandling, who performed the studio warm-up at several of the recordings, added: ‘It ended up like watching the Sixties Scooby-Doo episodes where they put canned laughter over anything a character says.

However, Iain Morris at Bwark, who produced the show, said that no artificial laughs were added, and that the pacing of the scenes were exactly as recorded.

‘The episodes needed to be 28 minutes long, and we recorded them at 34, so we did cut some scenes, but we didn’t alter the timing at all. Our editor worked on The Office and the director worked on Alan Partridge and Pulling, so we’ve all been doing this a very long time, and we know that shaving seconds of scenes is a false economy.

‘Every laugh was genuine. In fact, we did redo the audio because there were too many laughs, so we thought we’d better take some out.

‘Some of the laughs may have been high in the mix, but they were all genuine. It doesn’t do anyone any good to add false laughs, especially when audiences are so sophisticated these days.’

Click here to read Sandling’s piece in full.

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Published: 15 Jan 2010


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