Let’s talk about Newsjack

Let’s talk about Newsjack, baby. Let’s talk about you and me (and the 598+ other people who submitted this week*).

What is Newsjack?

The BBC say that it’s:

The Radio 4 Extra topical news sketch show, which anyone can write for.

Cool! Tell us more…

Irreverent and satirical, Newsjack is the scrapbook sketch show written entirely by the Great British public, and then bought to life by a revolving cast of sketch performers.”

Newsjack is the best.

It genuinely is a way to get your work read, performed, credited, and your name known by comedy pros.

Just in case you focussed your attention on all of the glory in that sentence…I want to point out the word WORK. This is important. I’m going to come back to this a lot.

Newsjack is a gym.

You sign up for six weeks of intense joke and sketch training. By the end you will have improved as a writer. The more you do it, the stronger you will become. Writers of any level could benefit from this kind of workout. This is part of the reason why I get annoyed when people refer to “Newsjack level writers.

The truth is, Newsjack writers regularly work harder than commissioned writers. They’re competing against at least 600 other people and have no guarantee of a credit, yet consistently demonstrate a massive amount of passion. We should all aspire to be “Newsjack level writers.

There’s LOADS written about Newsjack. I know. Each new series (there are two a year) I find myself reading most-all of it. I read the blogs, forums, tweets and articles. I flick through Dave Cohen’s latest book. I listen to the Sitcom Geeks podcast (this and this). I click the links in the Comedy Crowd newsletter. I watch the Writersroom videos where producers, hosts and script editors share their insights. I soak all of it up because it’s all useful. It’s all part of the work.

At this point, if you don’t know much about the show, please visit some of the linked pieces and whatever else they lead you to. At the very least look at the submission guidelines and learn the terminology as I’m not going to explain as I go along.

…Okay, done?

When you read everything there is on Newsjack, you start to notice that these really useful pieces are seemingly all written by people who:

  • Have worked for the show.
  • Have written since series one and now get invited in for writers days and pub meetings to get the inside scoop.
  • Wrote for a similar programme back in the day as a steppingstone into their career.
  • Are crazily enthusiastic but can’t catch a break.
  • These are all essential voices to listen to but I can’t help but feel there’s a gap in the market here. (Ignore the unnecessary bullet point here. It’s my first day.)
  • I have two Newsjack credits. One for a one liner and the other for a sketch.

    That’s it.

    It’s very likely that you have more credits than I do. I have absolutely no business writing a blog on Newsjack so I’m not going to do that.

    Update: I now have more credits.

    I’m going to write five.

    1. What is Newsjack? (That’s this one)

    2.What isn’t Newsjack?

    3.The 5 F’s of Newsjack.

    4.Headline to broadcast.

    5.What YOU shouldn’t write.

    (6.) Whatever else I think of along the way that I can’t squeeze into the previous blogs.

    Newsjack is back and YOU can do it

    Writers talk Newsjack

    *The Newsjack team received sketch submissions from 400 people and one liners from 600 (series 20, ep 2).

    The Comedy Loser