My Comedy Career: Phil Clarke

Phil Clarke

As Still Up, a comedy series about two best friends bonded by insomnia, prepares to launch on Apple TV+ this Friday, executive producer Phil Clarke takes on our My Comedy Career questions.

Tell us what you do in your job.

I am Joint CEO of Various Artists Limited and executive producer on Still Up. The exec producer sells the show to the broadcaster, supports the producer(s) on the show through script, production and post-production, and liaises with the broadcaster until delivery.

The misconception is that executive producers do little or nothing apart from insisting their partner (usually younger partner) would be perfect for a part in the show.

How did you first get involved in the comedy industry?

I was in a comedy double act in the '80s. I then joined the BBC radio comedy department as a trainee producer in the early '90s.

What key skills do you need to be able to do your job well?

You need to be able to handle rejection.

Still Up. Danny (Craig Roberts)
Still Up. Danny (Craig Roberts)

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Impossible to say. You're only as good as your last show.

And what has been the biggest challenge/disappointment?

Having the Radio 4 series Eamon Elder Brother Of Jesus, banned for blasphemy by the then controller of Radio 4. Having been identified as a blasphemer, I overcame the problem by moving from radio into television.

Talk us through a typical day.

Every day is different. It could involve being on the set of a shoot, being in the edit, meeting with broadcasters and agents, or going over scripts with writers. It is unpredictable and exciting. It can be stressful, but it's never boring. It is very difficult to achieve a work life balance in TV. It's an all-consuming way of life rather than a job.

Tell us a trick/secret/resource that you use to make your job quicker/easier.

Learning how to go back to sleep. Lying awake at night worrying doesn't sort out the problem(s).

If you could change one thing about the comedy industry, what would it be?

There'd be more slots on television for scripted comedy.

What tips would you give for anyone looking to work in your area of the industry?

The best tip I can give is the Churchill quote: "Success is not final and failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts."

Still Up is on Apple TV+ from Friday.

Published: Thursday 21st September 2023
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