British Comedy Guide

The Sitcom Trials 2012 Page 9

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Kev F

  • Sunday 1st April 2012, 12:03am [Edited]
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts

The sitcoms in contention in last night's Bristol Sitcom Trials included two which have also been performed by The Sitcom Trials team in Manchester. It might be fun to compare and contrast the different performances.

This Manchester Sitcom Trials includes an alternate version of The Tragic Life of Roger Bulwark (click to play):

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.... and this features another take on Shock Treatment:

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And here, since we've started a new page of this thread on the forum, is last night's Bristol Sitcom Trials video again:

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evan rubivellian

  • Monday 2nd April 2012, 3:52pm
  • England
  • 672 posts

Did anyone else go? Any more thoughts on how the scripts went down with the audience? Oh, and will the voting be made public? I can't do any worse than the zero votes I got in the last Sitcom Trials final!

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cedardude

  • Monday 2nd April 2012, 4:35pm
  • bristol, England
  • 48 posts

Congratulations to everyone involved in the sitcom trials. I went along Friday and was really impressed with the quality of the acting.
I don't know the individual votes but I imagine the voting was pretty close as all the sitcoms went down well. I advise any future finalists to try to attend the performance if they can as you get a totally different view of your work when you see it performed.
Well done Vince, Kev and the cast.

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evan rubivellian

  • Monday 2nd April 2012, 6:58pm
  • England
  • 672 posts

I imagine all the finalists wanted to go, but, like me, couldn't make it for reasons of time or money or both. After all, what writer doesn't want to see their work performed?

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Kev F

  • Monday 2nd April 2012, 9:19pm
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts
Quote: evan rubivellian @ April 2 2012, 3:52 PM BST

Did anyone else go? Any more thoughts on how the scripts went down with the audience? Oh, and will the voting be made public? I can't do any worse than the zero votes I got in the last Sitcom Trials final!

Angie counted up the votes and was able to tell me the order of popularity, though not the actual numbers.

The Tragic Life of Roger Bulwark came 1st
White Coats was a very close 2nd
Games Night & Making Heavy Weather came equal 3rd
Shock Treatment brought up the rear, but still got votes

The show was a sellout, in fact it went a little over the 50 capacity, so those were very healthy voting numbers and weren't likely to have been swayed by friends of the writers voting en bloc.

Watching the video again I realise it doesn't do justice to the atmosphere of the evening (my Mum watched it and, rather unkindly, suggested she wouldn't have voted for any of them). The scripts all went down well with the audience, and having seen two of the scripts also done in Manchester Trials, made me aware of how much difference casting, performance and audience reaction can make to a script.

Shock Treatment had two very contrasting treatments - manic and surreal in Manchester, more realistic in Bristol - with audiences liking both. It scored proportionately higher in Manchester, though from a smaller crowd, possibly because of what it was up against or because of its position in the running order. So many things can affect an audience's laughter, and their voting patterns, and it's a common feature of the Sitcom Trials that the opening script rarely wins in the voting. But sometimes it does, it's quite unpredictable.

Roger Bulwark's Manchester and Bristol airings fared almost equally well - it won by a couple of votes on one night, lost by a couple of votes on the other. Both casts ended up with a similar tone to each other, though neither had seen the other's production. Bristol benefitted from the larger and more vocal audience which made all the more jokes hit home, it's hard to escape the way a studio audience's laughter can make things seem funnier.

White Coats was the biggest beneficiary of the accidents of the night, being in danger of being upstaged by its own props. The lines and characters went well enough, but it was the unplanned slapstick with the coats that made the audience laugh the loudest. Connecting with the audience directly, in the same way a stand-up does, breaking the 4th wall then getting back into character made the viewers remain warm to whatever came afterwards. However you can't contrive these things, indeed it would be very bad to even try. Having a cast that's at ease and confident with their materials and their performance space is all you can strive for.

Games Night had some of my favourite comic timing from the actors. The "Dave - coats!" line you can see in the video clip was perfect. That sort of spot-on delivery of a well-written script is comedy at its best.

And Heavy Weather gave the biggest hostage to fortune, having key pre-recorded sound cues played from a laptop. I was worried this wasn't going to work, but it did. Better, of course, were the funny lines, the clear story and the well-rounded characters which is really what it's all about.

All the scripts were good comedy writing to begin with, as our script-selection process had well demonstrated. Production and performance should then lift it up a bit and make it even funnier, which is what I think happened at last week's show.

Kev F

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Kev F

  • Tuesday 3rd April 2012, 10:00pm [Edited]
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts

Announcing The Eurovision Sitcom Contest May 24th

Calling all comedy writers, actors and comedians - May 24th in London sees the first ever Eurovision Sitcom Contest and you are invited to enter.

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The High Life's Eurovision episode. All you have to do is be better than this.

As with our regular show The Sitcom Trials, we will be showcasing five mini sitcoms (live on stage at The Camden Head in London) and letting the audience vote for which one they like best. And for this show the added twist is we want sitcoms with a European or Eurovision theme.

A couple of the scripts will be performed by writer-performer teams who are working on their work independently, and in the spirit of the Sitcom Trials' mission to showcase new writing talent, we are now putting out the call for fresh sitcom scripts. From you.

If you want the chance of having your sitcom showcased in the Eurovision Sitcom Contest, all you need to do is write 10 minutes of situation comedy, with a Eurovision theme. There's a Sitcom Trials format to write to (see below) but most importantly we want it funny and we'll try and do it justice.

Deadline for script entries is Sat 5 May. Then the deadline for voting (where readers and writers get to help choose the scripts) is Sun 13 May. You upload your scripts to the SitsVac files at: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/files/ First read The Brief below for guidelines.

If you have any questions about the Eurovision Sitcom Contest or The Sitcom Trials you can ask at
The Sits Vac Forum
The British Comedy Guide Forum
or Facebook

The Sitcom Trials present: THE EUROVISION SITCOM CONTEST

Thu May 24
The Camden Head
100 Camden High Street London NW1 0LU
8pm - 10pm £3

THE BRIEF for submission to The Sitcom Trials

The Sitcom Trials wants situation comedy scripts that a small group of actors can perform in a live environment with minimal stage in front of an audience, who will hopefully laugh. Ideally these sitcoms will be so marvellous that the TV & radio industry representatives in the audience will snap them up immediately.

THE FORMAT:

Your script must have a first 'half' of no more than 8 minutes This first half should end in a cliffhanger, or something that leaves the audience wanting more.

It must then have a final scene of 2 or 3 minutes long. This will be performed only if your sitcom is the winner on the night

Your script must have NO MORE THAN 4 CHARACTERS. Ideally 2 boys 2 girls. If you can write a script with just 2 or 3 characters, all the better.

The sitcoms we are to test out in our regular pub theatre shows with an eye to them being developed for TV must be
PERFORMABLE LIVE (ie no filmed or location inserts)
ON ONE MINIMAL SET.

Think in terms of a radio script.

WRITER-PERFORMERS - INCLUDE YOUTUBE DEMO

We are particularly interested to hear from writer-performers, especially those with an on-stage track record (eg Edinburgh) who would present their own sitcom as a self contained package. To demonstrate your live potential we would need to see a video, ideally a link to a YouTube video, which we can judge alongside the script. Please include the video link as part of the script.

UPLOAD SCRIPTS TO THE FILES:

Upload your entries to the appropriate folder in the files section of the egroup: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/files/

Deadline for script entries - see latest SitsVac egroup notice or sitcomtrials.co.uk.
Deadline for reviewing and voting for scripts - see as above.

VOTING

All members of the SitsVac egroup, you included, will be invited to read, review, and vote on all scripts in contention. Vote YES, MAYBE or NO as to each one's potential and add a short one paragraph review. Send reviews including Yes/Maybe/No votes either to the Sits Vac TV group message board: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/SitsVac/ or to the British Comedy Guide Forum at: https://www.comedy.co.uk/forums/thread/22124

Writers are welcome to vote on their own scripts.

Votes are then totalled thus; Yes = 2 points, Maybe = 1 point, No = minus -1 point. This way we draw up a shortlist for a script reading, from which we select the items to go into the stage show.

Any questions, ask the egroup so we can all benefit from the answers.

Happy scribbling

Kev F Sutherland
Producer and Presenter
THE SITCOM TRIALS
http://sitcomtrials.co.uk

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evan rubivellian

  • Wednesday 4th April 2012, 12:15pm
  • England
  • 672 posts

Have to say I'm not blown away by the thought of a "eurovision" theme. What was the reasoning behind this one, Kev?

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Kev F

  • Wednesday 4th April 2012, 9:49pm [Edited]
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts
Quote: evan rubivellian @ April 4 2012, 12:15 PM BST

Have to say I'm not blown away by the thought of a "eurovision" theme. What was the reasoning behind this one, Kev?

In the past the Sitcom Trials has set writers the challenge of a theme, with some great results. Most memorably the Shakespearian Sitcom Trials in 2005 which gave us two shows worth of good material as well as inadvertantly giving birth to the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

Since the next London show takes place in the week of the Eurovision Song Contest, I thought this title would look good in the Time Out listings and has an attractive spin. If anyone else wants to rise to the challenge of writing a Euro-themed sitcom, then we'll have some competition. Already we have a French team and an Israeli team on the case. And yes, Israel is a Eurovision country. (Mind you we had an Australian team in the running for a while, who can't now do it because of gig commitments, so the remit is pretty variable).

Would any theme be popular with the writers out there? Or would everyone prefer non-themed events? Remembering there's a Manchester Sitcom Trials coming up in July for which the script call will be happening soon.

Kev F

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Badge

  • Thursday 5th April 2012, 12:19am [Edited]
  • London, England
  • 9,490 posts
Quote: Kev F @ April 4 2012, 9:49 PM BST

Would any theme be popular with the writers out there?

How about "sitcom"?

Seriously Kev, if your remit as Sitcom Trial creator is to find the next Fawlty Towers, the next Yes Minister, the next IT Crowd - maybe you shouldn't narrow it down to the next Eurovision-based sitcom because (ahem) "this title would look good in the Time Out listings and has an attractive spin"? Go creativity! (oh, look, it's gone already)

And oops, "it doesn't matter if there's no Eurovision aspect because we wanted these Aussies in and it's a shame they're not, so bear it in mind that it doesn't really have to be Eurovision." (I paraphrased this one)

What do you actually want, Kev? And who's producing/doing the work this time? :)

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Kev F

  • Thursday 5th April 2012, 7:17am
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts
Quote: Badge @ April 5 2012, 12:19 AM BST

How about "sitcom"? ... What do you actually want, Kev? And who's producing/doing the work this time? :)

I want people to enjoy making comedy and for the audience to have a laugh watching a comedy show.

The Sitcom Trials began life as an extension of the work I was doing as a stand up, in regular comedy clubs, and because of the work I was doing as a writer, sending my sitcoms off to be read by TV companies. I wanted to give my writing, and the work of my fellow writers, the same opportunity that my stand-up was getting, namely an audience. The Sitcom Trials voting format was a way of keeping the audience entertained and involved.

I am producing this one-off London show, the Eurovision Sitcom Trials, delegating to the various directors and teams who are in charge of their sections of the show. The scripts will be selected democratically online, as we've done with the last few Sitcom Trials shows so they won't be limited to one or two script-readers' opinions, and they'll have the chance to be widely read and reviewed.

Now that there is the Sitcom Mission giving a regular competitive prize-winning showcase for sitcom scripts, and the Sitcom Trials in Manchester and Bristol giving a regular opportunity for sitcoms of all types to be read and possibly performed, I thought it was about time we had a go at something we've done in The Sitcom Trials many times over the year and that is to challenge the writers to write something new.

So a Eurovision theme (and, again, I'd remind you it's a pretty loose European/Eurovision/some-connection-with-a-European-country remit) is your inspiration. If anyone out there is the sort of professional or semi-professional comedy writer who can rise to the challenge of writing to a brief set by a producer, then you're welcome to enter.

If anyone out there is the sort of writer who never wants to write to a brief set by a producer then I don't think you want to work in television or radio.

Kev F

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evan rubivellian

  • Thursday 5th April 2012, 4:58pm
  • England
  • 672 posts

So if I don't fancy the Eurovision element, would it be okay as long as I set the sitcom in a European country?

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Badge

  • Thursday 5th April 2012, 5:12pm
  • London, England
  • 9,490 posts

I'd love to know what the brief actually is. Presumably Allo Allo or Mind Your Language would qualify - even Fawlty Towers because "he's from Barcelona" - but something like The Office or Porridge wouldn't. Is that it?

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Kev F

  • Friday 6th April 2012, 11:39am [Edited]
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts
Quote: evan rubivellian @ April 5 2012, 4:58 PM BST

So if I don't fancy the Eurovision element, would it be okay as long as I set the sitcom in a European country?

That would be fine. Take the sitcom you'd already written and pretend the protagonist is Belgian. To be honest I can't see why that wouldn't work. I am hoping to get the feel of different countries being represented by different sitcoms, but I will settle for people producing funny sitcoms which the audience enjoy and that get their moment in the spotlight. It's a sitcom showcase, if you want to be part of it we'd love to have you.

Quote: Badge @ April 5 2012, 5:12 PM BST

I'd love to know what the brief actually is. Presumably Allo Allo or Mind Your Language would qualify - even Fawlty Towers because "he's from Barcelona" - but something like The Office or Porridge wouldn't. Is that it?

And if you want to analyse it to death, that too is valid. The brief is "Eurovision". Respond to that as you see fit. And, most importantly, have fun.

Here's an early sneak glimpse of the Irish entry...

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evan rubivellian

  • Friday 6th April 2012, 11:41am
  • England
  • 672 posts

England is a European country. Can I set my sitcom in England?

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Kev F

  • Friday 6th April 2012, 11:45am
  • Bristol, England
  • 689 posts
Quote: evan rubivellian @ April 6 2012, 11:41 AM BST

England is a European country. Can I set my sitcom in England?

I see no reason why not. Other themed nights are available. We've done Christmas themed shows, a historical themed show, a Valentine themed show, and Shakespearian themed shows. In all of those, there were sitcoms with a tenuous link to the brief. Funny will out every time.

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