Advice – hard to take, tricky to give.

‘Don’t go out with wet hair, you’ll get a cold!’

My mother always used to say it and I, full of my vast knowledge of science – at that stage mostly gained from SF books and comics – would laugh and go out anyway, hair soaking wet.

Advice you see, it’s always difficult to take when the reasons for it aren’t obvious. Advice, tricky to take and sometimes tricky to give too.

"I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member" - Great Advice from Groucho Marx
“I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member” – Great Advice from Groucho Marx

When I actually gained enough scientific knowledge to put ‘scientist’ on my passport (except you couldn’t by then) I still found myself in a position where advice had to taken. From people with more experience, it made sense to listen, but it was harder when they didn’t necessarily know any more about the subject than you, but were just ‘senior’. Of course, when the advice came from somebody reviewing your research paper, you had to take notice or it may not have been published. Difficult then if you didn’t agree with the referee, so you tried to appear to be bending over backwards to accommodate their advice, while sticking as closely to your own guns as possible. An interesting mixture of metaphors there, I’m sure you will agree.

After becoming a radio and TV comedy writer, the next obvious step after being a research scientist, I still had to take advice. Usually this came from a producer and of course you had to listen to this otherwise your sketch didn’t get broadcast. One, now very famous, multi award-winning, comedy producer once told me to take my sketch away and put more ‘melons’ in it. You can probably guess what type of melons he was referring to. I didn’t want to put more ‘melons’ in it; I don’t particularly like ‘melon-heavy’ sketches. I put the ‘melons’ in it though. It was broadcast and got laughs. (I still think it would have got laughs without the increased ‘melon’ count, but I’m not the one with the BAFTAS).

Now as fantasy writer I still get advice and this time it’s from an editor. So what’s the best approach to take?

Continue reading Advice – hard to take, tricky to give.

Climbing the Comedy Writing Ladder.

I had a mate in Cambridge; well he is actually still a mate – just not in Cambridge. He told me about some people who were putting on a live topical comedy show in small Cambridge venues. They needed some material, so to make a change from what I was doing (worrying and drinking mostly,) I wrote some sketches and they used them.

I was delighted – absolutely over the moon – well stoked!

Well-stoked Terry on his board.
Well-stoked Terry on his board.

Continue reading Climbing the Comedy Writing Ladder.