Shooting Stars

Hoorah! I have got two jokes in the next series of Shooting Stars, airing in the Autumn. I hope they are good jokes. I imagine it will go something like this:

The man on the left doesn’t really get it, but that’s ok, my jokes are not for everyone. He probably has a lot on his mind anyway. And if he doesn’t like the first of my jokes, he’s really going to hate the second one, I expect. But I’m not going to worry too much about him, because the man in front of him is going to lose his shit completely when he hears my second great joke, especially if it’s the one about trains.

Anyway, if you hear a joke on the next series of Shooting Stars which makes you lose your shit completely, it might well be mine. In fact, let’s assume it is and say no more about it.

Darren Aronofsky’s Rules for Writing

Writers’ Block just screened Pi at the ARC in Stockton, for the first of our monthly cinema nights there. I did a bit of research (ie tried to get Wikipedia to do my job for me) for my expert introduction to the film and I stumbled across the rules that Aronofsky followed during the writing of Pi’s first draft. They’re good rules!

1. Always move forward. If you have a problem type through it.
2. Only take a break after something good happens on the page or you accomplish a goal. No breaks for confusion (type through it).
3. Ten pages a day minimum.
4. Only go back to add something. Do not remove contradictions, just make a note.
5. Do it. Suffer, live, cry, struggle for one week. You’ll feel like a million bucks by the fifteenth.
6. Have fun.

Taken from Darren Aronofsky’s diary of the making of Pi.

The screening went well. Only ten punters, but from tiny acorns all big elephants do grow, so hopefully there’ll be a few more in for next month’s screening of The Big Lebowski, which, let’s face it, is a bit more of a crowd pleaser what with it being more about quirky characters being funny and less heavy on the maths, insects, headaches, drills and whatnot. The maths, insects, headaches and drills demographic is dwindling, man.

The Story of Grass

Gus Hughes and I have found a publisher for our upcoming ‘zine, The Story of GrassAloha ‘Ino Press. We like them because they have nice shoes and because they don’t actually exist in any meaningful way.

The zine itself is progressing quite quickly. Just had a googlechat with Gus (he’s based in Dublin so we’re doing everything remotely) about what we still need to do. Best part of the conversation:

today im facing having to draw a woman nailed to a cross behind a desk giving directions james

There’s a man happy in his work. I don’t know when it will be finished; Gus is a very busy man, and I’m very lazy, but every day Gus sends new pages and i’m just blown away by how they are looking.

Need to look into how to sell the thing, I suppose. Anyone out there had any experience flogging a zine?

Army Man

I’ve been reading Simpsons Confidential by John Ortved. Delving behind the scenes of the making of The Simpsons, it’s absolutely fascinating, particularly when it concentrates on the writers who made the show as funny as it was. Two names stand out: John Schwartzwelder and George Meyer, both of whom stamped their personality and humour on the series.

The book mentions that Meyer produced, and Schwartzwelder wrote for, three issues of a self-published comedy magazine called Army Man.

Sam [Simon] got quite a bit of his writing staff from the list of writing credits in Army Man… In a sense, that little magazine was the father of the show.
– Simpsons Confidential

Quite a claim for what was basically a few photocopied pages of jokes and cartoons.

The only rule was that the stuff had to be funny and pretty short.
– George Meyer

After reading about it, I really wanted to get my hands on a copy. Oh! Thank you internet! You can download the whole thing here: Army Man.

It’s rough, and funny, and weird and well worth a read.

And it’s sparked the idea to do something similar. Well… similarly photocopied anyway. So Mr Gus Hughes and I have started work on our own little magazine, with words and pictures and all that good stuff. It’s looking fine in our heads, but we understand that this isn’t good enough and that we need to get some of it on paper. Wish us luck!

The Global Short Story Competition

It’s a monthly short story competition, with a top prize of £100 and a runner’s up prize of £25 every month.

The downside: £5 entry fee.

Still, it’s local (Darlington), it has the backing of Bill Bryson, and it gets entries from around the world. Worth a punt. I just uploaded Them Bloody Kids, which is well below the 2000 word limit. Maybe I’ll get a prize for brevity.

Anyway, if you’re interested: The Global Short Story Competition.

One Page Play

Yay! I  got into the final of the Cambridge Menagerie Theatre One Page Play Competition.

Here’s the play what I wrote:


by James Harris 

Two middle-aged MEN face one another. They are smartly dressed, businesslike, powerful.  


Each time they play both men make the same sign. Neither man wins a single round.  

Eventually one speaks. 

Mr One           When will this war end? 

Mr Two           We play until it is done. 

Mr One           We are too closely matched. 

Mr Two           Hm. Stalemate. 

Mr One           It would seem. 

Mr Two           Suggestion? 

Mr One           We end with a draw. 

Mr Two           Cease our unending conflict with no winner? 

Mr One           And no loser. 

They consider this. 

Mr Two           No winner? 

Mr One           And no loser. 

Mr Two           Very well. 

Mr One           Shake on it. 

Mr Two proffers his hand for a handshake. 

Mr One brings up “scissors”. He smiles in triumph. Mr Two is aghast


Newsjack – showcase for new comedy writing


Newsjack Website

Newsjack is BBC Radio 7’s new topical sketch show, which seeks to comically scrutinise the news, views and issues of the day.

And they have an open submissions policy.

What they’re after:

Regular Features – Part One

We will include stand-alone sketches but are also looking to establish some recurring features, which you can write for:

Your Voice
These Vox Pops (in which we pretend to ask the great British public what they think) are a great opportunity for one-liners or quick jokes.
In the pilot we chose to theme them around MP’s Expenses. In the series we have decided they can be about any prominent news issue. These vox pops will be heard throughout the show.

From the Archive
Every week we delve through the archives and find out how a fictional show from the past covered topical events of their day.

Miles answers listeners’ letters and emails. These could be topical or just silly, long or short.

Regular Features – Part Two

Celebrity Diary
Try writing a “sneak peak” into the inner thoughts of someone who’s been in the news recently.

A nice opportunity for our cast to do an impressions. e.g. Michelle Obama or Peter Andre’s diary, Joanna Lumley’s blog.

Miles Undercover
Miles does an undercover investigation related to a specific news story, a la Donal MacIntyre

Newsjack does its own parody version of “youthy” fast-paced, bite sized news such as Newsbeat and 60 second news. Hosted by 1 male and 1 female “youthy” presenters.

Another good opportunity for one-liners. At the end of the show these ‘corrections’ pretend to address any mistakes we made in last week’s show.

But don’t let us be prescriptive: you may have characters that you would like to create, a funny movie reviewer or mad royal correspondent, for example.

We would be very happy to include any amusing characters or features that you come up with. And of course, something you come up with could become a regular item in the show.

The submission deadline each week is Monday midday – we will not look at sketches that arrive any later.

The submission deadline for the Vox Pops is later. It allows us to be more topical with those. Please submit these by Tuesday 5PM – we will not look at vox pops that arrive any later.

More info at the website…



(thanks to the credit crunch, this picture is only worth 903 words. Here are the other 97 I owe you…)

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. Sausages. I bloody love sausages. I hate art. It’s just pictures and that, innit?

Call me old fashioned, but to me art should be crudely rendered representations of buffalo and large-breasted fertility goddesses drawn on cave walls in crushed-beetle dye and mammoth poo.

Although I do actually admire the work of the Italian renaissance artists, Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Botticcelli, Pontormo, Bronzino, Campanelle, Fusille, Penne, Rigatoni, Macaroni… um…

…actually I think some of those might be pasta shapes.

Man. Who’s hungry? I fancy a sausage.