'It took me four years to write a joke'

Victoria Wood on Desert Island Discs

Victoria Wood has admitted it took her four years to learn how to write a joke.

She said: ‘It took from ’74 to ’78 to work out how you wrote a joke. I remember the day I was writing a sketch and suddenly found how to construct a sentence that people would have to respond to with a laugh at the end.

‘I can’t describe it and I wouldn’t if I could. People don’t need to see the wheels go round.’

The 54-year-old comic was speaking on today's Desert Island Discs, in which she also discussed her childhood torment.

She said she felt overwhelmed when she transferred to Bury Grammar School For Girls at the age of 11. ‘I was always top of the class, and when I went to grammar school I couldn't deal with everyone being as clever. I went under,’ she said.

‘I was a mess, a bit of a misfit really. I didn’t have any friends, let alone try to be funny.

‘I didn’t do any work, didn’t have clean clothes and didn’t wash. If I didn’t have any money I’d steal. Looking back, I feel really sorry for that little girl.’

However her outsider status did help develop her comedy instincts. ‘I did a lot of observing,’ she says. ‘The good thing about being isolated is you get a good look at what goes on.’

And she said that she discovered her calling when she joined Rochdale Youth Theatre at 15

‘It was like the sun came out,’ she says. ‘I was in the right place and knew what I was doing. When you haven’t known what you’re doing and people despise you for having the wrong socks and name tapes on your shirt, being somewhere where your personality is of value is fantastic. I felt comfortable.’

Her choice of music on the show included Birdland by Weather Report, Mr Scruff’s Get A Move On and Tom Waits’s Misery Is The River Of The World because it ‘makes me laugh even though it is so gloomy’.

Her luxury would be a bumper book of Sudoku – with every other page left blank for her to write on.

Published: 23 Dec 2007

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