Recently, on LinkedIn, a bunch of us were lamenting the lack of opportunities for gag writers. It got me thinking about the things I’d tried in the past, successfully and otherwise, so here is a list of places to try if you want to flex your funny bone.*
In no order, other than my ability to recall them…
The Treason Show – Topical gags, sketches and parody songs. There is a huge pool of writers and it’s run on the Darwinian principle of survival of the funniest. You get to see your material performed live (live audience, back in the day) and they used to pay for whatever they used. Over the time I was actively submitting, I made hundreds not thousands. https://www.treasonshow.co.uk/
The News Revue – Run on the same lines as The Treason Show, and in fact predates it. True story, a co-writer of the time and I got invited to submit material when we were on a train to see The Treason Show. (Because we talked too loudly about our comedy writing.) Over the time I was actively submitting, I made hundreds not thousands. https://www.newsrevue.com/
Newsjack – A BBC Radio 4 Extra (still Radio 7 in our hearts!) show that has an open-door policy for topical material. And you get professional rates too. They’ve used a couple of my gags. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kvs8r
The Comedy Crowd – A great resource for checking out paid and voluntary opportunities. https://thecomedycrowd.com/opportunities/
Comedy Wire – A largely US website with daily challenges involving wordplay, news stories, or open jokes. Adult humour welcomed. They have ‘contests’ where the website team vote for the best entry and you can win Amazon e-vouchers. The only downside, apart from the urge to spend lots of time there, is that the Amazon vouchers are for Amazon.com. https://comedywire.com
Greetings Cards – The days of sailing boats, bunches of flowers and cakes with candles are largely gone. These days, funny is on the money. I had seven gags picked up by the much-missed Graphic Humour Ltd, as well as a card gag for Selfish Kitty in the US. Card companies come and go so a useful resource is https://www.gca.cards/directory as well as old-school web searches,
Merchandise – Ephemera Inc is a popular site. As you’d expect, competition is fierce and bear in mind it’s a US concern. They made one of my slogans into a badge that I imagine is still offending people. https://www.ephemera-inc.com/
Crackers – The Gold Channel has an annual Christmas Cracker gag writing competition. Previous details here: https://gold.uktv.co.uk/article/gold-crackers-competition-2020-terms-conditions/ I was a finalist back when Christmas meant having to find excuses not to meet up with family and friends: http://alongthewritelines.blogspot.com/2017/12/pull-other-one-adventures-with-cracker.html
Film – I’m not talking about writing off to production companies because that’s like casting a pebble into the void. (Although I am still waiting, Baby Cow Productions.) That said, there are nuggets to be found out there, sometimes on freelance sites. Here’s a short comedy film called Wasabi that I scripted for someone. https://vimeo.com/122506746
Ebooks – Back in the day, a co-writer and I started our own magazine (As Above So Below, a new age satire mag). It was as regular as a blocked drain, but we had a small and loyal fan base so we kept going. Emboldened by our own brilliance, as all comedy writers should be, I approached one of those ‘little book’ companies to pitch material from the mag. The result was The Little Book of Cynics, first as a real book and then an ebook. After that, largely for the fun of it (i.e. they never sold well), I put together an occasional collection of gags – some topical, some themed and some just puns. You can find them and my novels here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Derek-Thompson/e/B0034ORY08
Honourable radio mentions for other jokes used
– Damn the Torpedoes: military themed sketch show for the British Forces Broadcasting Service.
– Watson’s Wind-up: a BBC Scotland comedy show. One of my gags appeared on their last ever episode. I’m hoping that’s just coincidence.
– History Makers podcast.
– 4Weekly Show: Anyone remember Channel 4 Radio? I do. They used 17 gags of mine as additional material. Happy days.
– Contracted writer for US radio show The Afternoon Call and for comedy app iLarious (see what they did there…). Chuffed to receive both contracts and to jump through an ITIN shaped hoop, but not so chuffed to have never earned a dollar from them.
* Not literally because that would hurt. Take it from someone who knows.