Cash for jokes?

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Clint75

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 5:59pm
  • Notts, England
  • 78 posts

Hello, I'm new.

Is there still a tradition of comedians paying people for jokes? I can remember seeing interviews with comics saying that they started out selling jokes to the well known comedians of the time. Does this still occur or is it that comedians have become better at writing their own stuff?

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Natalie Of Wicks

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 6:22pm
  • England
  • 9,484 posts

Much less than they used to, but some still do. Especially telly comics.

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sootyj

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 6:38pm
  • England
  • 51,287 posts

Thing is these days it's so easy to write jokes, find some's address and send them via email that the market is flooded. It's very hard to stand out.

And in my experience the majority of all but the most succesful comics would rather sell you gags or teach you how to make them.

The only real route is to either get noticed or get contacts.

You can of course just e-mail a comic and hope you're good enough, but that's damned tough.

More likely try,

Posting on sites like this
Posting on Facebook, Twitter etc
Entering contests
Building your profile through writing for sketch shows
Do standup loads
Joining groups like London comedy writers.

But be prepared to be going for a long time before you get surprised by your success

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sootyj

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 6:48pm
  • England
  • 51,287 posts

All the gags I wrote were by invitation after hanging about in the right places. Tony Cowards posts about getting some good radio writing gigs through standup and posting on facebook.

Any open writing oppo from greeting cards to newsjack will be massively over subscribed

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Stephen Goodlad

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 7:02pm
  • Mirfield, England
  • 3,017 posts

I got one famous comedian on face book - caught him at 1:00 am in the morning online. I showed him a few 'very good' gags and he bought some.

Another through his agent but that was a trickier route.

Short gags pay £80 each (hence my bottom line) But as said before, they have to be very good gags to sell.

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sootyj

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 7:05pm
  • England
  • 51,287 posts

Stephen you're earning 4 times the rate paid by the BBC and almost the same amount paid by card companies for something they will make possibly 1000s from. You must be quite an exceptional gag writer.

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Stephen Goodlad

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 7:18pm
  • Mirfield, England
  • 3,017 posts

Not to be immodest but the ones I have sold were very good standalone gags.
And, as I had no clue what the going rate was - the first comedian I sold to told me it was £80.

No one has ever argued with this figure

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sootyj

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 7:20pm
  • England
  • 51,287 posts

Any chance of seeing one of your gags?

Mostly I get paid a sort of day rate for my time and do more editing polishing stuff

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Clint75

  • Friday 11th February 2011, 7:39pm
  • Notts, England
  • 78 posts

Thanks very much for your quick replies everyone. :)

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Tony Cowards

  • Saturday 12th February 2011, 9:17am
  • Wiltshire, England
  • 1,762 posts

Selling jokes is very hard and the only people I know who do it are other stand ups who've become well known for their joke writing skills (apart from Mr Goodlad on this thread who could well be the exception).

Most of my joke writing work has come from showcasing my stuff on Twitter, www.twitter.com/TonyCowards and sending stuff off to various greetings cards manufacturers as well as being asked to write for a couple of circuit comedians.

So far I've managed to earn anything from £5-£100 per joke depending on who I was selling it to.

I've also contacted several very famous comedians, one of whom I know does definitely buy jokes, but have so far had nothing but polite rebuffs.

It's a bit of a murky world with no hard and fast rules but you need to convince people you can write top quality jokes and then get them in front of the prospective customers, good luck!

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sootyj

  • Saturday 12th February 2011, 10:01am
  • England
  • 51,287 posts

ive sold a gag or 2 but like tony says prices vary

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Stephen Goodlad

  • Saturday 12th February 2011, 2:26pm
  • Mirfield, England
  • 3,017 posts

£100, I was jipped (is that Gipped or Jipped?)

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Michael Monkhouse

  • Saturday 12th February 2011, 2:28pm
  • Eternal City, Italy
  • 3,938 posts

HOW MUCH? I got 25 quid per gag from BBC Radio Wales 'What's The Story' and I thought that was generous. I think BBC Radio Scotland's 'Watson's Wind-up' paid 20.
A book I highly recommend is John Byrne's 'Writing Comedy'. He talks about how the new technology is devouring comics' material and encorages writers to contact them. Mind you, the book's fairly old so...

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Stephen Goodlad

  • Saturday 12th February 2011, 2:36pm
  • Mirfield, England
  • 3,017 posts

new technology is devouring comics' material

Unless you are Peter Kay, then you can use the exact same material in the exact same order with exactly the same intonations and actions for 8 years without changing a thing :)

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mally day

  • Sunday 13th February 2011, 10:31pm
  • hartlepool, England
  • 6 posts

wow. this is interesting. I have a couple of jokes I tried out on some drunken friends in the pub and wondered if I could sell them. seems it could be tricky. im very very new to this (brand new in fact) but am enjoying reading your posts everyone.