Don't forget the writers...

Jools Gregg wants some respect

Comedy writer: Comedicus Writicus, RSI sufferer and backwards cousin that no one likes to talk about…

What is it about this reclusive creature that has the comic fraternity furrowing their brows and whispering under their breath? We are shunned, feared and laughed at in equal measure. Just because we choose to shun the glitzy lights of the stage, we are treated with fear, mistrust and bemusement.

Why on earth would someone choose to spend hours placing pen to paper and forming beautiful words, phrases and punchlines when you could be melting under a spotlight, dealing with hecklers and trying to remember your set?

Who would want to sit around in their pyjamas all day, curl up with a bottle of wine and spend the evening in great company when you could be rushing across the country to deal with drunken hens, bad acoustics and broken sat navs?

Believe me, I greatly admire the hard work that goes into a finely crafted stand-up routine, and many of our finest performers are some of the best writers in the country. But why is performing seen as the only route to comedy fame and fortune?

Why can’t those of us who choose to shy away from the bright lights be treated with the same respect? Why is there no Chortle or if.comedy award for writing?

Why do comedians insist on telling us ‘oh you really should get up there yourself’, ‘there’s no way of knowing what’s funny unless you perform it’ or the classic ‘oh it’s just nerves, every writer wants to be a performer really’.

How do we decide which MySpace category we fit into? We write funny, witty, amusing sketches, sitcoms, blogs and columns but writers and journalists shun us as we rarely have the attention span to write a novel and no interest in Coleen’s latest boob tube mishap or military coup in Azerbyjesushowdoyoupronouncethat. Worse, comedians, those we choose to admire, respect and drink with, take pity on us cause ‘we haven’t got what it takes’.

Maybe some of us get as much pleasure from seeing an idea take shape on paper. A random throwaway line that makes it to the page, becomes funnier, pithier, bigger, even takes on a life of its own. Like a child taking his first steps, you hold his hand and before you know it he’s walking on his own, straight into the patio doors. Why isn’t that enough?

Do we bemoan the classical poets for not performing their prose? Do we lambaste Ayckbourn, Kureishi and Shaw for remaining behind the curtain?

Perhaps some of us prefer a well-crafted line to the ripple of audience laughter; maybe we don’t crave instant gratification and are content with a wry smile or a secret smirk over a morning paper. Our artform may not shine under the lights, sign autographs and collect gag hags, but does that make it any less worthy of a slap on the back now and again?

So a plea – comedy performers and lovers, please stop treating us as the Tonto to your Lone Ranger. Remember a comedy writer isn’t just for Christmas – he’s for Graham Norton too.

Published: 26 Jun 2008

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