It’s very difficult to make a living doing something you love. Most people can’t, and end up getting a day job to subsidise their passion.
The relentless drudgery of the ordinary must eventually drag them down. I suppose that’s why they end up shaking their fist in the air, shouting at shadows and screaming blue murder on social media.
You see – working in comedy is anything but funny. It’s a life of rejection and disappointment.
It’s usually always somebody else’s fault too; that new commissioner cancelled the commissioning round, that old commissioner has got it in for me, there’s a hidden agenda or conspiracy. Or “but I was a finalist in **insert meaningless comedy competition here** three years in a row, why haven’t I got my own show?”
The truth is the vast majority of comedians, writers and producers aren’t very good.
That’s why your show never got made, that’s why you’ve never been on the TV or radio.
You’re just not good enough.
You are not original, insightful or even funny. Working in comedy gives you an over inflated sense of your ability and a belief that people care what you think.
Most people don’t care.
You’re just not good enough… yet.
You haven’t been trying hard enough. You haven’t actually written another script, met a new producer, developed a different idea, tried to do something original, found an audience, made the time to fail, fail and fail again. Picked yourself up, listened to the feedback, adapted, improved, returned better and stronger.
And you’re scared. Scared of failure, scared of rejection – scared that you might not measure up.
90% of this job is failure and rejection. 100% of it is fear. I’m terrified most of the time. It’s easier to be scared and angry than anything else. They’re life’s easiest emotions to muster.
Most of the ideas I’ve submitted to commissioners have been rejected. In fact, nearly all of them have been.
That’s just part of the job.
I run Dabster Productions, a company based in Edinburgh. I’ve had about 20 series commissioned by the BBC in the last 10 years from about 250 submissions.
I would love to be making more shows with people here in Scotland.
Michael Fabbri’s Dyslexicon was on Radio 4 this week and in the past I’ve made five series of “Live At The Stand” for the BBC. I’ve produced network shows with John Moloney, Terry Alderton, Jo Caulfield, Sarah Millican, Fred MacAulay, Julia Sutherland, Daniel Sloss, Janey Godley and others – our last three shows on BBC Radio 4 made Pick Of The Week – and The John Moloney Show was the only comedy show that made the BBC’s Pick Of The Year programme.
We’re currently the biggest radio comedy production company outside of London (true this month – probably won’t be next month!)
We’re making a sitcom right now with Gary Little, we’re on Series 3 of The Lach Chronicles and we’re developing ideas with some of the most exciting comedians in the UK.
But here’s the thing… hardly anybody ever approaches me with ideas and I really want that to change.
Jo Caulfield knocked on my door with two ideas – one of them became a Radio 4 series, one of them became a Radio Scotland series. Julia Sutherland came to me with an idea for a stand up show and we’re now on Series 6 of Funny Kind Of Life for Radio Scotland.
Not all of them happen – but some do.
So, instead of complaining about how shit everything is, send me the script you’ve written, invite me to see you perform, phone me up and babble an idea at me, email me a paragraph, some bullet points – anything.
If I like it, I’ll get behind it. Let’s try and work together.
It’s ok to fail, it’s ok to get it wrong. That’s why neither you nor I operate on people or build bridges.
You can email me your ideas – firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s see what happens.