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Stand-ups and writers

Started by Fambo Number Mive, January 09, 2022, 10:39:38 AM

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Fambo Number Mive

Do most stand-ups write their own material or does it vary from stand-up to stand-up?

I presume stand-ups have to hit a certain level of success before they can afford writers - I imagine everyone starting out writes all their own material.

Are there many cases of writers becoming stand-ups in their own right?

Apologies if these are somewhat naive questions but I don't know much about stand-up comedy.

Brundle-Fly

Quite often stand ups have a collaborator rather than just having a writer crank out material for them eg: I gathered Sean Lock would work out some of his routines with Mark Lamarr and maybe vice versa. Paul Merton also used to work with Jim Irwin a lot. It's quite often just to sprinkle fairy dust on stuff.

olliebean

If you're familiar with Paul Tonkinson's work, you can recognise bits of his old routines in the stuff he writes for Michael McIntyre.

Small Man Big Horse

I know Henry Paker's written for McIntyre as well, which I was disappointed to hear as I liked him a lot when I saw him at the Fringe in 2009 and thought he might go far.

Jack Whitehall has used writers too - https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/features/jack-whitehall-s-joke-writer-freddy-syborn-goes-it-alone-with-new-comedy-book-8917784.html

And Stewart Lee called out both of the above along with Frankie Boyle and Andi Osho - https://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2013/07/17/18306/comics_who_use_writers_are_like_sports_drug_cheats

Gurke and Hare

Lee was happy to say he bought a joke from Simon Munnery for Comedy Vehicle - I wonder what the difference is between using writers and buying jokes that weren't written specifically for you.

BeardFaceMan

There does seem to be this weird snobbery in standup where people who don't write their own stuff aren't considered the real deal, they're looked down on, there's a bit of a stigma there, I think.

Enzo

Quote from: Small Man Big Horse on January 09, 2022, 02:45:41 PMI know Henry Paker's written for McIntyre as well, which I was disappointed to hear as I liked him a lot when I saw him at the Fringe in 2009 and thought he might go far.



You should check out Three Bean Salad podcast. Paker is very good in it https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=90431.0

Enzo

Quote from: Brundle-Fly on January 09, 2022, 01:27:51 PMPaul Merton also used to work with Jim Irwin a lot. It's quite often just to sprinkle fairy dust on stuff.

Merton wrote as a writing partner with Julian Clary for a lot of the latter's stand up shows didn't he?

dissolute ocelot

There must be some comedians who simply don't want to do live gigs, long tours, work late at night, and would rather just create jokes in their pyjamas and let other people risk them falling disastrously.

BeardFaceMan

There are also a lot of funny people who are happy with the writing and have no interest in performing, not quite stand-up but Jeremy Dyson of The League of Gentlemen would fit into that category. I think standup is a harder industry to get in to if you have that mindset, though.

Petey Pate

Paul Mooney wrote for Richard Pryor but there's a bit of controversy over how much he really contributed.

Bob Zmuda also seems to take way too much credit for Andy Kaufman's material.

Small Man Big Horse

Quote from: Enzo on January 10, 2022, 01:58:45 AMYou should check out Three Bean Salad podcast. Paker is very good in it https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=90431.0

Thanks for the heads up, I love Wozniak so will definitely check that out.

monkfromhavana

I am shocked that Jack Whitehall doesn't write all of his own material.

Quote from: Fambo Number Mive on January 09, 2022, 10:39:38 AMDo most stand-ups write their own material or does it vary from stand-up to stand-up?

Most stand-ups write their own stuff, but I bet the use of writers is more common than we all think.

I've noticed that more and more Edinburgh shows by relative newcomers have a "director", who I imagine will add some material.

Does Tony Law's wife still write all his shows?

Thomas

January 10, 2022, 09:08:16 PM #14 Last Edit: January 10, 2022, 09:20:09 PM by Thomas
Quote from: BeardFaceMan on January 09, 2022, 06:24:23 PMThere does seem to be this weird snobbery in standup where people who don't write their own stuff aren't considered the real deal, they're looked down on, there's a bit of a stigma there, I think.

I think I subscribe to the snobbery you describe. I'd be disappointed to buy a picture from an artist I like, only to overhear later that somebody else does all the painting and he just puts his signature in the corner. I know it's not the same, but it's sort of the same (not the same).

For me, part of the joy of a solo stand-up performance is thinking 'where do they get their crazy ideas' 'this smart cunt has a great mind'. Admiring how they manage to get a whole room laughing with their thoughts and observations. I'm always disappointed when I learn that somebody else - some unadvertised,1 invisible funnyperson behind the scenes - has actually conceived and fed them most of the content that they're winning a room with.

Yes, you might give the performer points for delivery, as we might credit actors for bringing a screenplay to life - but a major organ of the actual comedy is entirely absent. For me.

1 It might be this element that makes it rankle, where an apparently 'solo' comic is concerned. An open collaboration feels very different.

BeardFaceMan

Quote from: Thomas on January 10, 2022, 09:08:16 PMI think I subscribe to the snobbery you describe. I'd be disappointed to buy a picture from an artist I like, only to overhear later that somebody else does all the painting and he just puts his signature in the corner. I know it's not the same, but it's sort of the same (not the same).

For me, part of the joy of a solo stand-up performance is thinking 'where do they get their crazy ideas' 'this smart cunt has a great mind'. Admiring how they manage to get a whole room laughing with their thoughts and observations. I'm always disappointed when I learn that somebody else - some unadvertised,1 invisible funnyperson behind the scenes - has actually conceived and fed them most of the content that they're winning a room with.

Yes, you might give the performer points for delivery, as we might credit actors for bringing a screenplay to life - but a major organ of the actual comedy is entirely absent. For me.

1 It might be this element that makes it rankle, where an apparently 'solo' comic is concerned. An open collaboration feels very different.

I can see your point more when it comes to a point-of-view comedian, but if it's just a straight gag merchant like Time Vine, does it matter if he doesn't come up with every joke himself? He still has to win the room with his delivery and presence. When Steve Coogan does character stand up the stuff is always better when he has writers helping him. Not quite stand-up, but when Stephen Colbert does a monologue on the Late Show, does it matter that he has writers, or is it ok because they get a credit at the end of the show? I suppose it depends what you want from stand up, really, I'm able to enjoy a good performer as much as a good performer/writer.

jimboslice

Quote from: BeardFaceMan on January 10, 2022, 10:04:20 PMI can see your point more when it comes to a point-of-view comedian, but if it's just a straight gag merchant like Time Vine, does it matter if he doesn't come up with every joke himself? He still has to win the room with his delivery and presence. When Steve Coogan does character stand up the stuff is always better when he has writers helping him. Not quite stand-up, but when Stephen Colbert does a monologue on the Late Show, does it matter that he has writers, or is it ok because they get a credit at the end of the show? I suppose it depends what you want from stand up, really, I'm able to enjoy a good performer as much as a good performer/writer.

But even with a point-of-view comedian, a lot of those observations might arise or be hammered out when you're in the company of other comics. Not really the same as having "a writer", but still a collaborative effort. I guess if a writer is independently handing you your opinions, then it gets a bit dodgy.

As much as I dislike Jack Whitehall's stand-up, it does just sound like he's sitting down to write with his mate. I bet loads of stand-ups do that to a less formal extent.

Petey Pate

Quote from: Wayman C. McCreery on January 10, 2022, 07:52:05 PMDoes Tony Law's wife still write all his shows?

From what I understand, she 'wrote' his shows in the sense that he would talk her through his material and she'd help him structure it.

Jack Shaftoe

Which is what the (admittedly small number of) directors I know who work with standups do. More of an objective observer to suggest moving stuff around, changing the pace, that sort of thing. I do know one standup who asked if I was interested in writing for them recently, but their stuff has more of a theatrical vibe, so that wouldn't feel like 'cheating' in way it would if you found out Eddie Izzard, for example, used writers.