Unoriginal thinking

Diane Spencer wonders why every TV comedy needs an 'angle'

‘We’re just not sure it’s original enough.’ It is a phrase I hear more and more. This is entirely my failing. I cling to the question that as long as it’s really, really good, then does it matter if it’s not an entirely new concept?

By ‘new concept’ I’m not talking about original story with original characters, I mean the format. When a glasses-without-lenses wearing producer sips his tea and says, ‘Yeah, I like the characters and the story, but how can we make this stand out? Maybe we could put in some quirky graphics or like, make everything look really cheap so it’s kind of twee and quirky… or let’s shoot everything from the viewpoint of one character who is always bored and looking out the window, so when the story and characters happen, we miss bits… that’ll make it really edgy.’

This kind of response has got me back on to the horror films. There was a period of optimism in my life when I watched comedy films, heroic action adventures and epic journeys across space and time. Now, I like to watch someone get ripped apart by a madman or an infected frothing lunatic, and I realise for the first time I’m cheering on the baddies.

Dexter is the ultimate release because he takes time, trouble and effort to research his deserving victims, stages the elaborate denouement of their crimes, for which they are acutely, guiltily aware, then he cuts their throat. On more than one occasion I’ve caught myself screaming ‘Kill him Dex’ at the screen, then being mutely disappointed he didn’t do more and really hack them to pieces.

This news that the BBC have decided to use ‘real people’ in their new sketch show, in an attempt to create a ‘whole new kind of comedy’, makes me want to plough through Shepherds Bush, Grand Theft Auto style, turning anyone to a bloody pulp who looks vaguely BBC Threeish.

‘It just seemed odd to me, Your Honour…’ I will say, ‘That there are so many people who spend their lives writing comedy and yet there seems to be this constant search out for exactly the opposite kind of person, I wish I had known this, as I would have cultivated a mothball look, a delusion of awesomeness and a catchphrase.’

I will pause for reflection here. ‘And when I had this thought, Your Honour, that was when I got out of the car and started burning people with the homemade flamethrower I’ve spent months and months working on because it proved to be a better use of my time than continuing to write jokes.’

I must think of an original concept.

Originality is proving harder than I thought. Now more than ever, I think it’s important to take LSD or any other kind of hallucinogen then collect whatever ‘graphics’ appear in front of your eyes and plaster them into your story to make it a ‘concept’.

If you are having trouble finding LSD, I would recommend eating good skunk (the mammal, Your Honour) and then downing a pint of lemonade. I find the buttery sugary THC mix really makes the ceiling run down the walls.

  • Diane Spencer will be performing Exquisite Bad Taste at the Gilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Fringe.

Published: 16 Apr 2012

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