Archives for Television

6 things I’d tell my younger self about my community radio and TV days at SYN, RMITV and Channel 31

It’s 2010 and you are so excited to start your community radio journey at Student Youth Network (SYN) in Melbourne. How does a funhouse like this even exist? Is there even anyone in charge around here? You actually want to do community television at RMITV more than anything, but you’re scared of going after the thing you want most, so you’ve decided to build up your confidence first by doing radio. This is not a bad thing, but one day you will learn it’s the things that scare you the most which you must do first. It will save you a lot of time and give you courage to achieve anything you dream of faster than you ever thought possible.

Let’s be honest, you’re a pretty anxious, highly strung kid. You’re also pretty naïve and self absorbed. So I need you to listen really closely to what I’m about to say. What I’m about to tell you will make the next 5-10 years so much easier and happier. Both for you and the people around you. There are some big, really important things you should pay attention to right now as you’re starting your journey at SYN, RMITV and Channel 31.


1. Prioritise relationships. Everyone you see around you will run the industry one day.

You are surrounded by future executives, future head writers, future broadcasters. Because you’re not really a late night person and because you’re so focused on yourself, you will often pass up opportunities to get to know these people better and to help them. Instead, you should focus just as much on making friends as you do on becoming a great writer/producer. You will learn more by sharing your journey openly with others and allowing people to see your vulnerabilities.


2. It’s not all about you – while you’re busy making yourself great, help make others great

Being great yourself is only half the equation to being successful in radio or TV. The other half is helping others be great. You will never forget those who were kind to you in the beginning. It’s never too early in your career to spend some of your time helping to lift others up too. You will learn more by teaching others what you know, even when you know next to nothing. Ask yourself, “How can I give back what I am receiving?” Then do that.


3. Try everything

You have a really clear vision for wanting to work in television, but you will learn more about yourself and meet more interesting people if you try everything. Be more open to looking stupid and failing at things. Try everything. Especially if it’s paid.


4. You might not end up with a career in radio or TV, but this is 100% the place you need to be right now

It’s okay if all of this comes to nothing. It won’t come to that, but let’s say it does. Would you be okay with that? It’s okay. You’re still worthy of love even if you don’t get to write jokes for a living, even if your next opinion article doesn’t get published in The Age. Keep going after what you want with the tenacity you go after most things you want. But it’s important to be present where you are right now. Again, it goes back to getting to know the people around you better. To ground you. Be here now.


5. Ask for more help

You get a certain amount of pride when you figure things out on your own, but you’re slowing your growth and it comes across as insecure. No one wants to be friends with someone who is closed off and insecure. Allowing people to help you will make others feel good and make your life easier at the same time. When you ask people for help, ask without any expectation that they should help you. Be grateful when they agree to help, but try not to care if they don’t want to. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Ask someone else and be grateful when you get a yes!


6. Make a show about personal finance.

Radio or TV, doesn’t matter. It will help you understand how the world works and you’re incredibly naïve about that. So start now. You really know nothing about money, in fact you’re a little afraid of it. It’s no wonder you have none. It’s the things that scare you the most which you must do first. As you learn about money and personal finance you can share that knowledge with others. There are a massive number of young people like you who are entering the workforce knowing next to nothing about money. You can help these people as you help yourself. Everyone will be richer for it. And it’s okay to want to make money. You can still do what you love and have a heart and want to make money. In fact, you definitely should. 2 minute noodles are great, but they’re not as great as compound interest.

What would you tell your younger self about your community radio/TV days?

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14 Things Australian Comedians & Comedy Writers Can Do Right Now To Make Money

The 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been cancelled and many of us are upset and unsure about how we’re going to make a living for the foreseeable future.

Over the past decade that I’ve been a TV comedy writer, I’ve done a bunch of other things to help make ends meet.

So here are 14 things that people with our skill set can do right now that people are willing to pay money for.

1. Enter the Comedy Writers Association of Australia coronavirus comedy writing competition

Enter your best one-liners about coronavirus by 2pm this Wednesday 18th March.

How much can I make?
The 5 funniest one-liners will get $40 each.

Next steps

2. Host Trivia Nights

I hosted trivia for SoundStorm for 7 years and it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had doing something loosely related to comedy. The skills required to be a trivia host come naturally to a comedian. And there isn’t the pressure of having to be funny.

How much can I make?
On average, between $100 to $200 a gig (2-4hrs work).

Next steps
– Start by Googling trivia companies in your city.
– Send the owner of the company an email.

3. Write an article for a newspaper or magazine

Newspaper & magazine editors still dream of receiving well-written articles they can put straight to print. If you have opinions (and every comedian does) write them down in 500-800 words and send them to some editors.
You can write funny articles like this, or serious articles like this.
Funny articles with a point tend to be a rarer commodity on an editor’s desk, because not everyone knows how to write funny things like you do. So they can be a good way to stand out.

How much can I make?
$10 to $500 for columns or blog posts. Up to $1000 for features.

Next steps
– Go to a big library, where it’s free to read magazines and newspapers.
– Think about what you like and what you’re good at. Then see if there’s a magazine for that. I once wanted to be a golfer, so when I was starting my writing career I wrote for golf magazines.
– Flick through some Australian magazines and newspapers. Decide which ones you think you could write something for.
– Note down the editor’s or submissions email, which can usually be found a few pages in on the contents page.
– Send your article to the magazine you most want to get published in. Follow up with a phone call in a week if you haven’t heard back.
– If they pass, send your article to multiple publications.

4. Write comedy for companies who have a sense of humour or that you think are cool

A few years ago I was walking along the street when I saw a truck drive past. On the side of the truck was a joke about pasta. So I got in touch with the company (a food ingredients company) and asked if they wanted some more jokes about food for their trucks. They did. They bought two jokes about food for $1000.

How much can I make?
$5 to ∞

Next steps
– Keep an eye out for companies that use humour in their advertising or marketing.
– Think about things you love and if the companies that make those things could use some humour in their marketing.
– Get the company’s email off their website or Facebook ‘about’ page.
– Write them an email saying that you love what they do and that you’d love to help.

5. Read The Barefoot Investor

The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need’ is the best book I’ve ever read on money. The author speaks our language (he’s from Victoria) and his book has been the best selling Australian book of the last decade.
The tips in the book can make you money right now, but they’ll make you even more in the future.

Coronavirus isn’t the first time the livelihoods of people who do what we do have been threatened and it won’t be the last. It’s absolutely worth becoming good with money so that the next time something like this happens, you have enough money saved up to see you through any unexpected loss of work.

How much can I make?
As much as you want.

Next steps
– Go to a library and borrow ‘The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need’.
– Read it!

6. Make a voluntary contribution to your super

If you are a low or middle-income earner and make personal (after-tax) super contributions to your super fund, the government also makes a contribution (called a co-contribution) up to a maximum amount of $500.
How good is the Australian Government? Just kidding.

How much can I make?
From $20 to $500 per financial year, depending on eligibility and how much you voluntarily contribute.

Next steps
– Check out this link to see how much the Government will contribute to your super fund.

7. Cold Call

Most people are too lazy or too scared to pick up the phone and pitch themselves cold. It is scary! But I’ve found you tend to overcome your fears when you realise that even in 2020, it’s still the most effective way to quickly get work. There are countless businesses all around Australia who would love to work with someone friendly, funny and reliable who has the confidence to pick up the phone and ask for the gig.

Next steps
– See tip No. 4.
– Pick a company to call. Find the name of the person you want to speak to.
– Decide on what outcome you want from the call.
– Write a short list of the things you want to say.
– Pick up the phone and make the call.
– If they don’t have anything for you, ask them if they know of anyone who does.

8. Write jokes for online crowdsourcing platforms like Pitch app, Comedywire and Write Label

These platforms buy jokes and ads from writers all over the world. It’s nice to be a part of a global online community of comedy writers, plus if you put in the time, you can actually make a bit on the side by writing for one or all of these platforms.

How much can I make?
US$10 to $100 per joke or ad.

Next steps
– Visit the sites and see what you think. There may be others.
Pitch app
Write Label

9. Write Greeting Cards

I was in a gift shop one day looking at funny birthday cards, when it hit me that, “Oh yeah, someone needs to write that.” In my experience you’re more likely to sell lines to UK and US greeting card companies, but it’s always good to reach out to some local makers of funny cards first and see if you can do some writing for them.

How much can I make?
$30 to $80 per card.

Next steps
– Visit some gift shops, newsagents or markets. Check out their greeting cards.
– Any that you find funny, note down the name of the company that makes them. This info can be found on the back of the card.
– Google funny greeting cards.
– Reach out to the companies and ask if they’re open to submissions. Most will have something on their website about whether they are.

10. Online surveys & market research

Companies that conduct this research are always looking for smart, articulate people to provide feedback on everything from new products to advertising campaigns.

How much can I make?
$10 to $100 in cash or gift cards.

Next steps
– Google ‘paid online surveys Australia’ & ‘paid market research Australia’.
– Try reaching out to the companies that facilitate this research directly.

11. Collaborate with a cartoonist

Some people are great at drawing, some are great at coming up with great visual jokes (ie. you). Combine the two and you can create funny drawings that newspapers and magazines may want to publish.

How much can I make?
$50 to $200

Next steps
– Read some New Yorker cartoons for inspiration.
– Find an Australian cartoonist whose work you like, but whose work is going under the radar. Work with someone your age or thereabouts, so you can work your way up together.
– Introduce yourself and suggest collaborating to create some humorous cartoons.
– Send the cartoons to publications you think they’d be suitable for.

12. Set new boundaries around what you will and won’t do for free

Comedians or any other sort of artist are often the first people to be asked to work for free. No matter how experienced we are, we all need to work for free sometimes. Maybe we’re learning a new skill or writing something nobody will pay us for, but will lead to paid work.

When you take an unpaid gig, make sure you’re very clear on why you’re taking it. Every time you say yes to something, you’re saying no to another opportunity that hasn’t come along yet.

Setting new boundaries around the type of unpaid work you take on can be incredibly liberating. Saying no to any old unpaid work and saying yes to meaningful unpaid work will lead to more regular and satisfying paid work in the long run. Start doing this now and the next time you experience temporary loss of income, you’ll have made and saved so much money from all the paid gigs you’ve allowed into your life that you’ll be able to ride out the rough patch.

How much can I make?
As much as you have the courage to allow yourself to make.

Next steps
– List all of your unpaid gigs.
– List all of your paid gigs.
– For each unpaid gig ask yourself, “Why am I doing this gig?”
– If you can’t come up with an answer that is going to help you reach your goals, stop doing the gig.

13. Get some counselling

When you’re in a good place mentally, everything in your life seems to come to you, rather than you having to chase it. Money included. It’s weird how confronting, processing and eventually coming to terms with the relationship you have with your parents can lead to more gigs, but it happened to me and could absolutely happen to you!

How much can I make?
Almost as much as a psychologist.

Next steps
– Ask yourself if there is an inner or outer problem in your life that you are unable to solve on your own.
– See if you’re eligible for the government’s Mental Health Care Plan.
– Even if you’re not, invest in yourself – get a referral from your GP and see someone who’s job it is to help people like you be the best versions of themselves.

14. Hire a comedian or comedy writer

You never forgot those who give you a gig when you need it most. What goes around comes around.

How much can I make?
Smiles, hugs and future jobs.

Next steps
– Think about any projects you have ongoing right now that would benefit from some extra comedic minds.
– Hire comedic minds.

For more support, join the Comedy Writers Association of Australia here.

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Dr. Duck’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival Show

There’s nothing like the presence of a live audience to bring out the best in comic actors, comedy writers and comedy producers. Everything I’m trying to do as a comedy writer and producer is channelled towards making more things before a live audience. I believe you get a better show when you come face to face with the audience. Nowhere to hide. A sense of danger elevates comedy and what could be more dangerous than coming face to face with the people who can make you or break you?

Despite almost all of my TV experience coming in the form of shows that had a live audience aspect, I’ve never produced a show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF).

This year, I’m producing and writing for a 50min sketch comedy show with my sketch comedy group Dr. Duck called “General Quacktitioner“.

Click HERE to see the official poster.

Melbourne writer and actor Andrew Keen started the group. I saw Dr. Duck’s first Fringe show last year, which I thought had a lot of potential. Couple this with the fact I’ve always wanted to be involved in a live sketch comedy show, I was only too eager to take up the offer to write and produce one when Andrew suggested we team up.

Andrew is a terrific sketch writer. I first worked with him when I was head writer of the Channel 31 show Live On Bowen. He and I, as we’ve discovered, have vastly different styles. His work tends to be very dialogue heavy, while my sketches tend to be almost completely devoid of dialogue and very physical. I think we balance each other out quite nicely and the show should be stronger because of it.

For three months, a team of writers met up once a week to write General Quacktitioner. Along with Andrew and myself, the other person who wrote some sketches that made it into the show is Melbourne comedian Ross Purdy. Additional material was also contributed by Nick Mateuszczyk, Ella Gleeson and Amanda Goode.

We’ve got a simply cracking cast: Seon Williams, Olivia Solomons, Eidann Glover, Jon Walpole, Ross Purdy and Andrew Keen.

Rehearsals have already started and things are coming together nicely. It’s always a good sign when a lot of good material ends up not making it into the show.

Following our MICF show, we plan to make a 6x30min sketch comedy TV series with Channel 31. Half of it will be shot before a live audience half shot on location. There’s nothing like putting comedy before a live audience.

I expect applications for writing positions on the show will go out during the week of the 27th March. This time we will be trying something different to how we approached assembling the writers team for our MICF show and will be putting out an open call to people who are interested. Keep an eye out for those callouts on this site!

In the meantime, come and see our MICF show!

Tickets available here:

We’ve shot some free sample sketches we’ll be releasing in the lead up to the show. The first one is called Doorknockers and it’s up now!

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News comedy TV show ‘The Leak’ and Community TV come to an end

After three seasons, tonight, the final episode of ‘The Leak’ is going to air on Channel 31 at 8.30PM. This will be the last community TV show I ever get to work on, after 6 years of working on Channel 31 shows, starting with Get Cereal TV in 2010.

The reason this incredibly valuable training ground for future screen media talent is disappearing is because the Turnbull Government has decided to stop funding it.

This article by Gil Fewster pretty much sums up my feelings about it.

Though it might not be TV as we know it, Channel 31 will continue online, though it remains to be seen how exactly that will work.

Despite the inevitable sadness about the ending of an era, I’m really excited about the future of TV in the online arena. After all, the show must go on. I hope some of the comedy shows I write and produce in the future actually air on television as we know it, but even if they don’t, in my heart I will always be writing for television.

Here’s a promo I wrote for tonight’s final episode of ‘The Leak’.

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