Author Topic: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?  (Read 2424 times)

Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« on: September 08, 2019, 06:07:13 PM »
I only recently - while earwigging and conversing with comic/ comic fan buddies in Edinburgh - discovered how much Frankie Boyle, for example, relies on other writers. Does it affect your enjoyment or appreciation of a standup? Do you find auteur comedians “purer”?

Which comedians use writers and which don’t? For starters, I’ve always had my doubts about Tim Vine’s sole authorship. No way that book about fishes is by him...

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 06:08:36 PM »
I saw someone at Edinburgh once who was advertised as "one of Jimmy Carr's writers". she had a similarly amoral punching down vibe.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 06:25:18 PM »
I saw someone at Edinburgh once who was advertised as "one of Jimmy Carr's writers". she had a similarly amoral punching down vibe.

Rumour has it that a lot of virtually unknown comedians are 'Jimmy Carr's writers'.
Not that they're aware of it...

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 06:41:31 PM »
I know Henry Paker has written for Michael McIntyre in the past which always confused as Paker's a great stand up, whereas McIntyre's obviously not. And Jack Whitehall used writers, most of whom have killed themselves after realising what a monster they'd created.

up_the_hampipe

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2019, 06:49:44 PM »
Chris Rock and Richard Pryor used writers. It's disappointing, but ultimately whatever. At least they're not stealing.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2019, 09:23:34 PM »
I always thought Frankie did own stuff, but I guess that bleak "we're all doomed" vibe isn't that hard a voice to ape.

Lee mentioned something about the comedian Paul Tompkinson selling material to Macintyre.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2019, 09:24:39 PM »
Chris Rock and Richard Pryor used writers. It's disappointing, but ultimately whatever. At least they're not stealing.

Neil Brennan talked about writing for Rock here if you want to know more. Pretty sure I only know this because it was mentioned in another thread here which got onto this topic.

If you pay attention to 'additional material' and 'programme associate' credits on UK stand-up shows you'll notice a few others. For instance, I see Martin Trenaman has two credits on Live at the Apollo episodes - both hosted by Sean Lock. As he's worked with him on 15 Storeys High and some of his other TV work, I think this relationship has probably carried over into his stand up. I imagine this is how it usually works.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2019, 09:35:49 PM »
I always thought Frankie did own stuff, but I guess that bleak "we're all doomed" vibe isn't that hard a voice to ape.

He definitely used to use writers, and not just for his TV shows.  But whether he still does or not...

If you need another excuse to dislike him, I have it on good authority that he's not the best dad in the world either (not abusive or anything like that, just totally disinterested).


In the 90s, local-to-me Dave "Tinky Winky" Thompson claimed to have written material for several "A-list" comedians after being sacked from Teletubbies, as he wasn't making a decent wedge from his own standup and he was struggling to find other acting work.  He never named names, though.


If you pay attention to 'additional material' and 'programme associate' credits on UK stand-up shows you'll notice a few others. For instance, I see Martin Trenaman has two credits on Live at the Apollo episodes - both hosted by Sean Lock. As he's worked with him on 15 Storeys High and some of his other TV work, I think this relationship has probably carried over into his stand up. I imagine this is how it usually works.

I know some comedians use "punch up" writers - where the standup has the bones of the material, but will rope in someone else to improve the flow or come up with better punchlines.  I think that's the deal with Lock and Trenaman.  Similarly, Lock used to (co)write for Bill Bailey, and vice versa.  But I don't think that's the same thing as having writers coming up with complete material.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2019, 09:47:10 PM by Shit Good Nose »

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2019, 11:51:48 PM »
I know some comedians use "punch up" writers

Do Jim Davidson and his ilk use "punch down" writers?

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 12:43:57 AM »
Chris Rock and Richard Pryor used writers. It's disappointing, but ultimately whatever. At least they're not stealing.

Pryor wrote all of his stand-up material, he only used writers for his TV show.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2019, 01:01:00 AM »
There's a lot of comedians just using stuff their mates say, and their mates aren't writers.

up_the_hampipe

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2019, 01:35:27 AM »
Pryor wrote all of his stand-up material, he only used writers for his TV show.

Paul Mooney wrote material for all of Pryor's famous stand-up albums and specials.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2019, 08:30:52 AM »
Far as I know, Frankie Boyle only used a few writers on Mock The Week and other such shows, which is kind of par for the course.  I think his stand-up's his own.  Incidentally, he himself started out by writing jokes for Jimmy Carr.

icehaven

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2019, 09:24:12 AM »
I'm not a big fan of stand up particularly, I much prefer sketches, sitcoms and comedy films, however while I would find it disappointing to learn a stand up I did like used writers I have no such qualms about performers in those three genres not also writing it. I guess that's the thing, they're obvious performances whereas stand-up (regular stand-up anyway, not character stuff) relies partly on it seeming as if that's what they're actually like and that they're coming up with all this stuff themselves. Realistically though there's no reason why it should be any different, although it still seems more impressive if a stand-up has written all their material themselves if only because producing work solo rather than needing extra help/input just does. 

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2019, 10:27:45 AM »
I know some comedians use "punch up" writers - where the standup has the bones of the material, but will rope in someone else to improve the flow or come up with better punchlines.  I think that's the deal with Lock and Trenaman.  Similarly, Lock used to (co)write for Bill Bailey, and vice versa.  But I don't think that's the same thing as having writers coming up with complete material.

A lot of stand-up comedy shows these days seem to have credits for directors or similar positions. I just found this article about how Phil Nichol and others direct shows; there's a lot of aspects to their work including mentoring young comedians, working on structure, tone, and all kinds of stuff (that may not necessarily involve writing gags). Much like how most sitcoms have a script editor, often a talented comedian or writer, or most bands/singers have producers partly responsible for their sound.

icehaven

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #15 on: September 09, 2019, 11:20:35 AM »
A lot of stand-up comedy shows these days seem to have credits for directors or similar positions. I just found this article about how Phil Nichol and others direct shows; there's a lot of aspects to their work including mentoring young comedians, working on structure, tone, and all kinds of stuff (that may not necessarily involve writing gags). Much like how most sitcoms have a script editor, often a talented comedian or writer, or most bands/singers have producers partly responsible for their sound.

Makes how deceptively simple stand-up looks even more deceptive than it appears. The differences between an unknown amateur band and one with a label and team behind them are usually numerous and immediately obvious, a person on a stage with a mic, less so (other than the size of the stage.)

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #16 on: September 09, 2019, 11:20:57 AM »
There's a lot of comedians just using stuff their mates say, and their mates aren't writers.
there's so much difference between saying something funny in a pub and working something like that into a stand-up set and performing it to an audience, so I don't see anything wrong with that in principle

same for writers, I suppose. if it's for a good performer, then in principle, who cares.

but people like macintyre and carr are just lazy hacks getting people to ghostwrite their hackery

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #17 on: September 09, 2019, 03:54:21 PM »
Paul Mooney wrote material for all of Pryor's famous stand-up albums and specials.

Mea culpa, so he did. I find that quite strange, though, as so much of Pryor's material is autobiographical. It's a bit like finding out that Billy Connolly wrote all those routines about growing up in Glasgow with someone else (he didn't, but you know what I mean).

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2019, 08:23:51 AM »
I'm not a big fan of stand up particularly, I much prefer sketches, sitcoms and comedy films, however while I would find it disappointing to learn a stand up I did like used writers I have no such qualms about performers in those three genres not also writing it. I guess that's the thing, they're obvious performances whereas stand-up (regular stand-up anyway, not character stuff) relies partly on it seeming as if that's what they're actually like and that they're coming up with all this stuff themselves. Realistically though there's no reason why it should be any different, although it still seems more impressive if a stand-up has written all their material themselves if only because producing work solo rather than needing extra help/input just does.

For me I sometimes get a pang of disappointment when I see sketch shows that are under someone's name/s and they have writers, it seems a little disingenuous to promote something as "The X & Y Show" or what have you when there's actually many other people contributing to the material itself.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2019, 10:22:01 AM »
I've got no problem with it if it's just jokes.

If it's personal stories, then that's more problematic. I don't know why, because I'm fine with watching someone telling clearly fictional stories. But it crosses over the line from fictional to false when you are telling someone else's stories and passing them off as your own. If that makes any sense.

On the other hand, writing with someone is much more fun than doing it alone.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2019, 11:39:39 AM »
I would assume that the comics with story-based material are still telling their own stories, the writer is just punching it up.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #21 on: September 11, 2019, 01:20:20 PM »
Bobby Thompson was a why-aye auteur.


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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #22 on: September 11, 2019, 04:30:03 PM »
For me I sometimes get a pang of disappointment when I see sketch shows that are under someone's name/s and they have writers, it seems a little disingenuous to promote something as "The X & Y Show" or what have you when there's actually many other people contributing to the material itself.

Nearly all sketch shows use writers. I can only think of Python, Fry & Laurie, LOG and Little Britain S1&2 off the top of my head that didn't.  Mr Show? Morecambe & Wise would have been fucked without writers.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #23 on: September 11, 2019, 04:33:54 PM »
Interesting discussion with Stephen Grant about this on Richard Herring's podcast. Grant said that some were comics were so busy they did not have time to write their own stuff for TV, to which Herring suggested that perhaps they should turn down work and leave it for people who did have time to come up with their own material.

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Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #24 on: September 11, 2019, 04:35:04 PM »
Nearly all sketch shows use writers. I can only think of Python, Fry & Laurie, LOG and Little Britain S1&2 off the top of my head that didn't. Mr. Show?

There's also Limmy's Show, which is the only sketch show I'm aware of that was exclusively written by one person.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #25 on: September 11, 2019, 04:39:23 PM »
There's also Limmy's Show, which is the only sketch show I'm aware of that was exclusively written by one person.

John Finnemore?

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2019, 05:02:40 PM »
John Finnemore?
Victoria Wood wrote all of Victoria Wood as Seen on TV and was sole writer on some of her other shows, apparently.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2019, 05:07:32 PM »
Nearly all sketch shows use writers. I can only think of Python, Fry & Laurie, LOG and Little Britain S1&2 off the top of my head that didn't.  Mr Show? Morecambe & Wise would have been fucked without writers.

Does LoG count? What with Jeremy Dyson being a writer only.

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2019, 07:12:10 PM »
Don't mind one person doing one person's material but if loads write it there should be loads standing up to do it

Banging on aboot sketch comedy is a bit different I reckon cause it's almost always ensemble shite to some degree (if only down to performances and not script)

Re: Which stand ups use writers, which are auteurs?
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2019, 07:29:04 PM »
Paul Mooney wrote material for all of Pryor's famous stand-up albums and specials.

I was quite surprised to find Barry Cryer did writing for Pryor as well.