British Comedy Guide

Writing Radio Sketch Comedy

Writing Radio Sketch Comedy. Copyright: BCG.
  • Writing
  • £105
  • Next: 16 Jun 2020 (5 x Tuesday evenings)
  • Online

Radio is a great medium for comedy and is one of the main ways into broadcast comedy generally. This is the course for you if you’re a fan of radio comedy, or indeed if you haven’t yet got into it but are aware you really should know more about it. There is also an optional recording/production dimension so it’s great too for audio enthusiasts and people looking to make comedy sketches for podcasts. By the end of the course, you’ll be set up to write and record your own sketches and also you’ll be in a stronger position to submit sketches to radio shows that invite submissions.

What’s more the great thing about radio sketch comedy is you can write and record sketches that set ANYWHERE in the world (or the universe)... AT HOME! So NOW is a great time to get into radio sketch. On this five week course you will:

* Develop your radio sketch writing skills and write lots of new sketches

* get started (if you haven’t already) with audio editing - we’ll use the brilliant and FREE Audacity package

* listen to and analyse some brilliant radio sketches to uncover techniques and get inspiration (and entertainment)

* get professional, helpful and inspiring feedback on your work

* and write, perform and record radio sketches at home.

We will cover:

* Structuring sketches, writing dialogue and finding punchlines!

* Sound effects in comedy - and how sound effects can be punchlines.

* The specific demands and opportunities of radio comedy.

* Multi-rolling in sketches.

* Formatting radio sketches and an introduction to the industry.

Explore a range of inspiring starting points for sketches including making use of radio’s ability to easily conjure up far flung and extreme locations, personification (or anthropomorphic) sketches where animals and things come to life and parody sketches where sound effects and music can conjure up things like the news or a big budget drama to be lampooned.

At the end of each session the homework task will be to write, and optionally to record too, a sketch where you work with the comedic techniques we have explored in the session. There will be a number of options as to the subject/angle of the sketch to get you started – and you are always welcome to go in a different direction if you are inspired to.

Dates and booking

Subscribe to BCG Pro for discounts on courses, workshops and services. Find out more

June 16th - July 14th 2020

Tuesday 16th June 2020, 7pm - 9pm (5 x Tuesday evenings)
Standard BCG Pro
£105 £99.75 Sold Out

There are no places left on this course, but you can join the waiting list.

Sign in to join waiting list

September 9th - 7th October

Wednesday 9th September 2020, 7pm - 9pm (5 x Wednesday nights)
Standard BCG Pro
£105 £99.75 Book

Sold out? No suitable dates? Sign up to get updates from Chris Head. Notify me

SESSION 1
BACKGROUND, THE INDUSTRY & SOUND EFFECTS

This week we’ll discuss how a lot of great TV comedy shows started on radio and how ironically one of the main routes into radio is performing live comedy. I’ll also point you to advice from the BBC about getting into radio comedy and will talk about the BBC Radio 4 sitcom I recently worked on. We’ll also look at how to lay out radio scripts and where to find templates and how radio recordings work, discussing the approaches of studio based or in front of a live audience. Our other main topic of the week is: SOUND EFFECTS ON RADIO. We’ll listen to and analyse example sketches from: Laura Solon & Katherine Parkinson, Mitchell & Webb, The Consultants. And we’ll discuss SOURCING AND WORKING WITH SOUND EFFECTS


SESSION 2
VILLAINS-CRIMINALS/ SPOOF CURRENT AFFAIRS
AUDIO RECORDING & EDITING

This week we’ll take criminals and villains as our theme for the sketches we analyse and write, and we’ll introduce news and current affairs parodies. This week we will listen to sketches from Blue Jam, Kirrin Island, Lee Mack and The Mary Whitehouse Experience, all of which will be about villains and criminals and will illustrate a range of ways of creating comedy on this subject. This exploration will also explore principles that can be used with any subject matter. We will also explore recording, editing and adding music and sound effects to a sketch – by making a sketch about a robbery in the session! And if you are new to audio editing there will also be follow up links to online Audacity tutorials, including an introduction, a one with a bunch of handy tips and changing voices in Audacity. 


SESSION 3
DRAMA, DANGER & BATHOS

The theme of this session is extreme, remote and challenging situations and how easily they can be conjured up in radio with sound effects, dialogue and music – basically all situations that would be difficult to do if filmed. The comedic concept is BATHOS. Firstly this is simply where something is built up and then knocked down, and also we will look at how a dramatic scene, or one with grandeur, can be undercut with something ridiculous. You will create survivalist/ wilderness type scenes, bathetically undercutting the situation. Then we will also work with war scenes where again the very real danger is undercut with absurdity in some way. Shows we’ll listen to for examples of this in action are Small Scenes, The League of Gentlemen, Cowards, Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The Goons.


SESSION 4
PUNKS & PIRATES

In the session we looked at cool and scary characters and undermining them bathetically, in particular working with punks and pirates! We’ll also bring in other kinds of music stars and other exciting types like spies and astronauts look at juxtaposing something banal or mundane with exciting characters, ‘deskilling’ them and working with pomposity and anachronisms. Examples of the techniques in action will be from the Million Pound Radio Show, James Acaster’s Findings, Milk Run, Mitchell & Webb and John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme.


SESSION 5
PERSONIFICATION & SURREALISM

This week explore we’ll anthropomorphic comedy – personifying animals and things – as well as surreal and bizarre comedy generally. Firstly, personification is a technique radio is particularly well suited to as all the images are in the listener’s minds and so don’t require costume and setting and these same qualities allow all sorts of bizarre situations and images to be readily conjured up. We’ll personify animals and objects, as well as working on mad absurdist comedy situations. Our clips will come from Mitchell & Webb, Cowards, the Mighty Boosh and the Goon Show. In this closing session we’ll also review where you can go next with your radio and podcast comedy work.

 


This course is run by Chris Head.

When booking a place on this course or joining a waiting/notification list, your name and email address will be shared with the course provider, who may contact you about this and/or future courses. Your payment details are not shared.