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An iconic comedy character is often about wish-fulfilment. You as a viewer want to be that person, saying those outrageous things or having those great friends.”


“If you wait to feel funny, you could be in for a long wait. There is a ‘zone’ of total concentration, but it’s really hard to find. I’m afraid it’s really down to grafting away until solace or inspiration comes from coming up with one joke or dramatic moment that you’re really happy with.”


“With sitcoms, sheer density of good jokes has to be the most important comedy technique.”

“Only show anyone a script before you send it out if you know there’s something wrong with it that needs fixing, or if you have enough confidence in the work to handle any undue negativity. You’ll get plenty of opinions coming at you anyway — from producers, script editors, directors, broadcasters. And if the show gets on, also from actors, taxi drivers, drunks in bars, even drunker TV critics…”


“How do I tackle writers’ block? Weep. Walk the dog. Switch to another project.”


“A line that looks great on the page doesn’t always work in an actor’s mouth. Mind you, some work better.”


“Film screenwriting differs from TV partly in the sheer endurance of writing over 100 pages rather than 30 for a sitcom, and maybe 60 for a drama. And a certain feeling of expansiveness not unconnected with a movie budget normally being much bigger in television. I was writing a screenplay once and was asked to ‘spend more money on the page’, which isn’t something you hear in TV.”

“Making yourself laugh is all you can do, rather than imagine any mass response.”
“You know you’ve found a winning comedy concept when producers ring you up and ask you to do another identical version of your successful show.”


“Do I have any golden writing rules? No werewolves.”


Anna Smith


Simon Nye’s comedy Down Dog, starring Nick Moran and Jason Durr, is in cinemas now.