Myrrhy Christmas Everyone

I hadn’t intended to end the year with a Final Flourish and a Big Gesture but the decision to take my teaching and comedy chat off Twitter happened to coincide with a few other plans that mean it makes no sense to stay.

I still call it Twitter. This isn’t a passive-aggressive attempt to stick it to The Man, even if The Man who owns it happens to think of himself as the embodiment of a culture that sticks it to The Man. It’s that for all those 13 years I tuned in I pressed the letter T on my laptop. Still haven’t got out of the habit.

My reason for no longer posting there is a purely practical one. Since we stopped doing the Sitcom Geeks podcast I’ve been thinking a lot about what I can do – continue to do – to help new writers develop their comedy careers.

Ever since I (deep breath) “pivoted” from writer-performer to (another deep breath) “writerpreneur”- Look I’m going to stop this sentence right now. And apologise in advance for using words that in a previous century might have had me arrested for crimes against the English language.

The fact is, if you want to get on in the world of comedy writing nowadays it’s not enough to be a comedy writer. Which sounds stupid when you say it out loud. You also need to take a business-like approach.

Once you cut through the bollockspeak of self-help podcasting it’s possible to find useful information about how to become more successful in your chosen profession. And the word they’re all getting excited about these days is “community.”

It’s a word that has excited me for ages. As a politics nerd and occasional activist it’s always seemed obvious to me that if you want to make the world a better place it makes sense to start in your own community and build from there.

I’d thought Twitter might be a good place to build our comedy writing community. That we as writers would use the platform to connect and learn from each other about how to get on in the business. I’ve long since realised that this was not the case but stuck around anyway.

Over the years James and I used the platform for any number of endeavours, from plugging our episodes and courses to instigating conversations about writing, the state of sitcom and discussions about current shows. It felt like a fun distraction. Sometimes people would respond, others would come back with Wodehousian witticisms (they thought) or snippy back chat about how everything on TV is shit (subtext: no one wants to make my sitcom).

Since we stopped making Sitcom Geeks in July I’ve had one less reason to visit the site. Meanwhile the arrival of Musk had led to the reinstatement of a number of controversial tweeters.

Graham Linehan was back.

For those of you too young to be aware of this, Graham was, for around three decades, the undisputed King of Sitcom. When I started teaching comedy writing back when most of us had seen most of the well-known sitcoms, I used to ask students to name their favourite shows. It was a rare day when all three of his – Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd – didn’t make it into the top ten.

For a site like Sitcom Geeks to not follow Graham would be unthinkable. I still think the interview we recorded with him a few years ago is one of the highlights from our back catalogue:

This year, every time I have opened the Sitcom Geeks page I’ve been greeted by a string of tweets by Graham on a single political issue that is not remotely related to his wisdom and expertise in the world of comedy writing.

This is not to pass judgement on his views on the issue of trans, which you may agree or disagree with. More to say that I go to that page to catch up on the thoughts of all comedy writers and maybe a discussion about sitcom. I could have unfollowed or muted him, a simple response for all Twitter users. But removing Graham from a site devoted to sitcom seemed ludicrous.

The indulgence of his views by supporters and opponents appears to be all that keeps him going. It’s something inherently built into that platform. It was there before Musk and it’ll appear again elsewhere when Twitter ceases to be, and becomes an ex X.

The Graham Linehan of 1992-2012 is the essence of what we, the comedy writing community, are striving to become. X is the antithesis of that.

Which brings us back to community. Or rather, The Comedy Writing Community. And why I’m thinking that in 2024, the best use of my time will involve engaging properly with you. So farewell then Twitterers. I’ll miss your… hmm, come back to me in three weeks and ask me what I’m missing, can’t think of anything at the moment.

We already have two communities – this website, and you can sign up for the fortnightly newsletter on the front page here: – or join the Sitcom Geeks Patreon site.

Patreon is a cumbersome beast and it doesn’t feel too welcoming. But it is a good place to catch up with news and a useful place to offer course discounts and new podcasts or YouTube videos, should I get round in 2024 to either of those ventures.

Also those of you who are Patreon members get to chat among yourselves on our Discord and Facebook pages. Neither of those platforms are perfectly geared to our needs – but I am going to try and bring some clarity and communal help to both those sites.

This week I’ve been holding my end-of-year coaching sessions. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with everyone, I’ll write a more detailed post when I’ve spoken to you all but for now I shall concentrate on the key word that emerged from the discussions which is… Focus

We all have exciting plans for 2024, and invariably they amount to more than the time we have to achieve them. Me too. A typical aim for next year I’ve been hearing is “I’d like to get a BBC radio credit and write a couple of scripts.”

That sounds like a reasonable goal, depending on how much spare time you have. I’ve been suggesting instead that you consider focusing on one script. And that you block out six weeks in your schedule to work on trying to get a credit for a radio show, in which you’re doing nothing else apart from that show.

This brings great advantages in your journey of writing improvement. It forces you to stick with the one plan of writing jokes every week to order, to grimace through the crushing weekly disappointment when your jokes haven’t been used and return, each week, to try again.

You may not pick up any credits but when it comes to the later drafts of your single script, you’ll find that the six weeks you spent trying to think of jokes, and only jokes, will help you increase the joke count in your script. And we all know one of the biggest problems with sitcom and comedy drama these days is – not enough jokes.

So yes let’s make 2024 the year of meeting more people, writing more scripts, better jokes, and funnier observations. And think about how we’re going to answer these two questions:
1 How can we help each other more?
2 How can we bring proper focus to our comedy writing desires?

Your Week of E Mails
And, as if by magic, here’s a handy guide for you to come up with some of the answers. Last week I ran a series of emails offering suggestions about how to plan for 2024. If you’d like a copy of this series then contact me

Courses for 2024
Meanwhile, I’m running a series of courses and all-day events in February and March. If you sign up now, for one week only you can get them at 2023 prices.

Pick up a BBC Radio Writing Credit From mid-February we’ll be running our highly successful six-week course in which we help you pick up your first credit for Breaking The News or The Skewer. (Warning – both shows run at the same time and it’s better to only go for one). We’ve helped more than 20 writers in the last two years to achieve their first credit – including Ellie, who is now helping us bring new writers through. These courses go up to £125 on 1st Jan but are currently yours for £99. (1) 

How to Pick Up Radio Writing Credits Tuesday 5 March: Canal Museum London If you don’t yet feel ready to throw yourself into six weeks of production brief notes or staring at YouTube for hours, come and spend a day with me to discover everything you need to know about writing for topical shows – including the most important point which is that you don’t need to be interested in the news to write topical comedy. These courses go up to £99 each on 1st Jan but are currently yours for £60. Live Teaching at the London Canal Museum – Dave Cohen 

How to write Jokes Monday 11 March: Canal Museum London Sitcoms, stand-up, screenplays, novels… I can’t make you funny but I can show you the many types of jokes and the many ways you can bring them to whatever you’re writing. By the end of the day you’ll have a thorough understanding of the structure of jokes and how best to apply them. These courses go up to £99 each on 1st Jan but are currently yours for £60. If you want to sign up for both it’s just £99 (going up to £150 in 2024) Live Teaching at the London Canal Museum – Dave Cohen 

Sketchwriting Masterclass Monday 4, 11, 18, 25 630pm GMT Online Sketch shows are back! Radio 4 is now taking sketches for a number of shows including DMs Are Open and Please Use Other Door. Meanwhile the appetite for online sketches is increasing. This is where I get to work with a small group developing your sketch ideas and helping you to hone them for radio or online production. This course goes up to £125 on 1st Jan but for one week only is £99. (2)

Happy holidays and look forward to meeting more of you in 2024!