I’ve been surprised by how different making your own TV show is to helping someone else make theirs. Whenever I’ve produced TV shows in the past, I’ve always been the second in charge, helping someone else realise their vision.
Earlier this year I found out I’d successfully applied for a grant from the Community Broadcasting Foundation and was going to get a chance to make my own show.
The show is called Silent Comedy. It’s a 1 hour special for Channel 31 featuring 8 of Australia’s best established & up and coming silent comedians – comedians who don’t use any spoken word in their act.
As someone who grew up watching Mr. Bean, I’ve always had a huge love of physical, silent comedy. Over the years I’ve worked on a number of comedy shows where the producer would say ‘no slapstick’ when briefing the writers, and it always made me sad.
If I may Eat Pray Love this for a moment, it feels like I’ve discovered a super power of late – if you don’t like something about the way things are being done, you can go out and create the world you want to live in.
One of my main missions at the moment is to start creating paid jobs for comedy writers in Australia, especially in the area of one-liners. Until a couple of months ago when I was lucky enough to get to help create a new comedy show for Channel 9, all of my comedy writing work, the majority of which is writing topical one-liners, has come from overseas. I think the Australian industry is missing a step that used to exist when we had more late night and sketch shows on TV. How can we expect writers to come up with a funny 30min sitcom if they can’t write a decent one-liner?
My other mission is to keep making multicamera comedy shows in front of studio audiences. That live audience element just makes everything feel so much more alive. For the cast and the crew.
On Silent Comedy, we sold out all 80 studio audience seats a week before the shoot. The demand is there!
RMIT University Studios, where we shot the show, is a phenomenal facility. It was a privilege to play in it. They told us Silent Comedy was the biggest production ever mounted in the studio. The new ground we were breaking meant there were bumps along the way, but we had an incredible team of about 50 people who brought it all together.
Photo: James McPherson
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy the challenge of trying to hire good people.
If you ever want an organised production, I’d highly recommend hiring Mary Verikios and Joseph Betros. They were my production coordinator and production manager respectively. I loved working with them.
The other person that requires singling out is director Nicholas Bufalo. A week before rehearsal I had to find a new director. The seas parted and Nick appeared. He has that rare combination of being able to bulldoze through any problem, while also being a really nice person. I guess that’s why he’s had the career he has had.
The cast of Silent Comedy were wonderful to work with. Without exception, all of them are total professionals and you should hire them to be in your shows.
Ross Purdy also features heavily as a certain piece of fruit.
I learned a tremendous amount on Silent Comedy. I feel very lucky to have had a chance to make my own show for Channel 31 before I hopefully get to do it in the big leagues.
The premiere date is still being confirmed, but it’s likely to be the second half of November.
We’re currently in the edit and I’m pretty excited to share it with audiences.
In other news, the New Zealand comedy game show I write for, 7 Days, had its 300th episode last night. I’ve worked on 122 of those. Every week when I watch the show back, it still makes me laugh more than any other show on TV anywhere. I have a feeling that the rest of my career will be spent trying to find a job that has given me as much joy as writing for 7 Days has.
And finally, on Monday I’ll be back in the same studio we shot Silent Comedy in to shoot a brand new live half talk show called Emmylou Loves. We’re making 5 episodes. It premieres on Monday 29th October, 8.30pm on Channel 31, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.