British Comedy Guide

How do you get on TV?

Avatar

Lukas

  • Saturday 13th February 2016, 12:42pm [Edited]
  • London, England
  • 58 posts

Now I know that you have to have an agents, managers, names and friends with names but, I believe there must be some random people who got their sitcoms/sketches on TV?

I am really trying to aim at Comedy Central or BBC Three with my sketches "DiSparrow: The Short" ( http://lukasdisparrow.com/DiSparrowTheShort.html ) which could be developed into 20min show but, I'm nobody and know nobody. Does being "discovered" really exist? Or you're only "discovered" if you have important friends in L.A or N.Y.? (or live there)

I know you have to have a name for producers to put money on you but... I don't have it.

Are there people on this forum who actually work in the industry and can tell me how this thing works? Who do I need to sleep with? Cool

AvatarBCG Supporter

A Horseradish

  • Saturday 13th February 2016, 4:29pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 7,387 posts
Quote: Lukas @ 13th February 2016, 12:42 PM GMT

Now I know that you have to have an agents, managers, names and friends with names but, I believe there must be some random people who got their sitcoms/sketches on TV?

I am really trying to aim at Comedy Central or BBC Three with my sketches "DiSparrow: The Short" ( http://lukasdisparrow.com/DiSparrowTheShort.html ) which could be developed into 20min show but, I'm nobody and know nobody. Does being "discovered" really exist? Or you're only "discovered" if you have important friends in L.A or N.Y.? (or live there)

I know you have to have a name for producers to put money on you but... I don't have it.

Are there people on this forum who actually work in the industry and can tell me how this thing works? Who do I need to sleep with? Cool

I've been on TV twice. The first time I was picked up at a petrol garage by the owner of a television station in Ohio. He filmed me for 25 miles from a black limousine and adjoining trailer on wheels as I was sandwiched between two of his staff on an old crock between Coulsdon and Gatwick. The second time I was talking to a person chained into a wheel chair at Heathrow. I was scolded by political managers for allowing myself to be placed in a compromising position and the cameras were switched off but not before BBC London news had got the footage. This led to a sarcastic standing ovation by colleagues when I appeared on the screen in a canteen at 10.31pm. I had always said that my nose would be a prohibiting factor but on both occasions was proven wrong.

Avatar

Paul Wimsett

  • Sunday 14th February 2016, 2:15pm
  • Folkestone, United Kingdom
  • 3,379 posts

BBC3 will stop being TV very soon!

Avatar

Nick Nockerty

  • Sunday 14th February 2016, 3:06pm [Edited]
  • Greater Manchester, England
  • 656 posts
Quote: A Horseradish @ 13th February 2016, 4:29 PM GMT

I've been on TV twice.....This led to a sarcastic standing ovation by colleagues.

How spooky, I was the standing ovation on that very day. Do you remember me Horseradish? You never did write and I've still got the clap.

AvatarBCG Supporter

beaky

  • Sunday 14th February 2016, 3:41pm
  • Malaga and Brighton, United Kingdom
  • 2,703 posts

I think if you're good enough and have lots of determination you'll succeed. The difficult thing is getting over the rejections and persevering.

Avatar

george roper

  • Sunday 14th February 2016, 4:56pm
  • in the back on stan butlers bus ., England
  • 4,039 posts

i have been on Tv three times I have been in the Audience of Celebrity Juice that was fantastic watching it live to

Avatar

Paul Wimsett

  • Sunday 14th February 2016, 5:22pm [Edited]
  • Folkestone, United Kingdom
  • 3,379 posts

You mean you're not talented enough to be in a team? :O

Avatar

Michael Monkhouse

  • Monday 15th February 2016, 12:24pm
  • Eternal City, Italy
  • 4,702 posts

F**k a producer. It always amuses me when female celebrities flirt with being lesbian - Katy Perry, I Kissed a Girl etc, Britney kisses Madonna... You're a successful female celeb. This means you've let more pricks in than the X Factor. It's like Hitler saying, 'I am now working for race relations. Genocide was just a stage. What'm I like?'
For what it's worth, I was on Italian telly 2 years ago in a ''''''''''''reality''''''''''''. I got it cos I was doing an acting course and the organiser passed my name on. I got an audition and they kept my details on file and called me when a suitable role came up. (Fat, alcoholic tosser.)

AvatarBCG Supporter

billwill

  • Monday 15th February 2016, 4:53pm
  • North London, England
  • 5,820 posts

First get known by doing radio scripts. You have many local radios in the USA so the market should be bigger. Radio is said to be easier to start on than TV.

Then with several radio credits you can start looking for an agent.

AvatarBCG Supporter

DaButt

  • Monday 15th February 2016, 5:13pm [Edited]
  • The Lone Star State, United States
  • 13,775 posts
Quote: billwill @ 15th February 2016, 4:53 PM GMT

First get known by doing radio scripts. You have many local radios in the USA so the market should be bigger. Radio is said to be easier to start on than TV.

Then with several radio credits you can start looking for an agent.

I suppose they exist somewhere, but I've never heard a written comedy performed on American radio. I don't think we really have any radio comedies like you have in the UK. The closest we come are morning radio DJs like Howard Stern, but most of their stuff is talk radio sprinkled with a bit of humour.

EDIT: Wikipedia sez:

Although traditional comedy was once a significant part of American broadcast radio programming, it is now mainly found in the archives of Old Time Radio enthusiasts and on the Internet streaming of comedy recordings. The majority of mainstream radio comedy now consists of personality-driven shows hosted by talk-radio hosts such as Howard Stern or comedic duos such as Armstrong & Getty and Bob & Tom. Exceptions to this are WSRN's "Audience of Two", Garrison Keillor's work on Minnesota Public Radio: A Prairie Home Companion and Comedy College, and NPR's Car Talk, a comedy show thinly disguised as car advice, and Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_comedy

Avatar

Carlos Manwelly

  • Tuesday 16th February 2016, 3:17pm
  • Wales
  • 1,223 posts

I'm sure I saw you on TV in the Sky programme called The Spa?
You were outside doing aerobics?

Avatar

swerytd

  • Thursday 18th February 2016, 10:42am [Edited]
  • Guildford, England
  • 7,524 posts

I (co-writing) with two others on here have had a couple of TV credits. I started writing in 2005 and it took till 2014 (last day of the year!) to get the first one. And it's not exactly rolling in opps since then, it must be said.

The path we took is basically write for open submissions shows, get a lot of credits, get together with other writers and collaborate on a podcast, get friendly with talent, talent introduces you to other radio producers, other radio producers asks you to submit to shows, impress producers with more radio credits, one producer passes your name on to other (TV) producer, write an absolute shitload of material for TV producer, they use a line of it. You're a TV writer!

By the way, it is not 'linear', despite how that path above looks. Every bit of that path has its own branches that you follow up on: ie talent also introduces you to other talent for gag writing and their contacts etc etc. The 'lots of credits' bit at the start, means you already have lots of producers contacts to contact as you finish your sitcom that you may never finish to an acceptable standard.

Traditionally though, the route is: get lots of (non-comm) radio credits, write a f**king good sitcom (this bit is *much* harder than you think it is), approach the producers of those shows (as they will remember your name) asking them to read your sitcom, they are blown away, invite you in to develop your sitcom. Have three or four series of sitcom on Radio 4. BBC think it's a good idea to develop a pilot for TV. Then a series. Then America want to make a pilot version of it. If it's successful, America go to series (at which point, if you haven't already, you have to relinquish control.) BTW this is the only point at which any of the venture makes any significant money.

Jon Plowman said at one of the comedy writer conferences that you will only make money after about the third or fourth series of your sitcom (I assume he was talking about radio rather than TV).

Bill Dare has said, at the last BCG comedy conference, he's never known anyone with a 'career' making it in comedy. They've always had 'jobs' (ie waiters, bar staff, stuff of a transient nature that you don't have to put 100% effort into). (The way we personally collaborate is supposed to offset this small problem!)

Facetiousness aside, the most important things I've learnt are:
-- (David Isaac's advice of) follow up on every opportunity, however small it seems. EVERYTHING! And do lots of stuff for free.
-- collaborate. It is much, *much* easier collaborating with people to get stuff made. Also, your sketches get edited by the other writers and are, by definition, better, funnier and more appealing; and you'll have (number of people)x as much stuff to submit! A corollary to that is, collaborate with people who have a slightly different sense of humour to yourself, so your stuff is not just funny to people with your sense of humour.
-- find a writer with a 'can-do' attitude. They'll soon realise they're a producer, not a writer! :) -- try get stuff made. Loads of great actors out there trying to get work and willing to do stuff for free (especially when they realise you are doing it for free too!). Approach them after shows (like News Revue, with its constantly rotating cast) and get to know them, tell them you've written stuff and suggest they'd be great for one of the roles, meet up and record it. Edit it in Audible, put it on the web. Repeat, do it better. Ad infinitum. You'll get better, they'll get better, someone will spot it. If they don't, the public will and advertisers will and you might make enough off advertising to fund future projects. Don't give up.
-- it is not in the least bit profitable, or cost-effective.

Hope that is in some way helpful.

Dan

Avatar

alex ross

  • Monday 22nd February 2016, 9:03am
  • london, England
  • 10 posts

good advice here. cheers!

Avatar

Jennie

  • Tuesday 17th May 2016, 10:29pm
  • England
  • 2,767 posts

I was on Jim'll Fix It as a child. That used to be a cool story.