Comic Relief

I’ve had mixed feelings about Comic Relief since the arms trade scandal in 2013, and it makes me wonder where that story went. It’s all a bit Orwellian.

In Animal Farm, the animals start a revolution, emancipating themselves from human domination, but by the end become just like humans.

The Comic Relief scandal was like that, but instead of animals, piles of cash.

Here’s the plot:

Evil piles of cash create inequality and suffering in the world.

Good pile of cash is assembled to fight injustices created by evil piles of cash.

Good pile of cash ends up being just like evil piles of cash.

I think the moral of the story is that we need to keep assembling giant piles of cash, and then maybe one day, one of them will end up being nice.

Or maybe the moral of the story is if you enfranchise enough potential critics, memories fade.

Makes me think of the Milan Kundera line:

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”


Red Face Day And Joke Writing

Happy Red Face Day! It’s a day I set aside to celebrate being exactly one month early for Red Nose Day. I hope more of you will join me next year.

I look forward to all the comedy on telly later (in a month’s time), but until then, here’s a tip for the jokers out there…

I came across a book once that had one piece of advice that stuck. It’s this acronym:


If a joke isn’t working or could be better, does it have these elements?

TARGET. All jokes need a target. Could be person, or an idea, or anything.

HOSTILITY. Is it a target people can get behind, and build up hostility toward?

REALITY. Is the joke based in reality? Of course you can still be surreal…

EXAGGERATION. Exaggerate/heighten (even go surreal) the reality in your joke as much as you can without breaking it, so you can heighten the…

EMOTION. If the target is something or someone the audience can build up hostility toward, go for it! Make your Greedy Banker a maniacally laughing, top hat-wearing baby-eater…

SURPRISE. If they can see the punchline coming, it just won’t work.

Bear in mind, as I said earlier, there is only one piece of advice worth anything in this game, so feel free to disregard/improve the above.

Also, this is not a formula for synthesising jokes from the ground up, it’s just an idea to throw at stuff you’ve already created to see if you can improve it.

Form is there to guide, formula is just too proscriptive and probably unhelpful wherever it rears its ugly head.

And finally, they say the secret to comedy is timing. A month early is probably not right.

*(I want to credit Mervyn Helzer for this, but can’t find him anywhere on the internet.)