Thursday, December 29, 2005

Displacer Beast, Blink Dog, Beholder...

Had a email from Branko Ruzic, which read:

Dear Ken*,

Just one question: What is a broken comedy? BBC in their submission guidelines say:

Sitcom, broken comedy, sketch shows, family entertainment.

While I'm familiar with other terms (who's not familiar with sitcoms) I've got no idea what brken comedy is

I'm ashamed to say that I too, have no real idea what 'broken comedy' is. I've heard the phrase, alongside stuff like 'visual grammar', and the trick is to nod politely, whilst internally reciting the names of Dungeons and Dragons monsters, and eventually the nasty people will go away.

I suspect though, that it's a description of a slightly stylized type of television comedy, where everything's slightly broken up, by editing, or visual effects, or using that weird acting technique where you stutter a lot, and have long awkward pauses while Social Embarrassment Accrues.

Chris Morris's Blue Jam is supposed to be 'broken comedy' I think, although I doubt he ever referred to it as that himself, and I never saw it, so I don't know. That BBC thing 'Man Stroke Woman' looks like the sort of thing where someone read about 'broken comedy' and said 'hey kids! Let's do it like that! Right here in the barn!', which is why although I like the perfomances, and some of the writing, I would have liked it more if they were just allowed to go for the funny. Like the pool-playing droopy girlfriend, which was very good.

Basically, 'broken comedy' feels like some term someone came up with for a Sunday Supplement, sandwiched between a Nigel Slater article on mud ('Mud! I'm crazy for the stuff! Whether reheated from the previous night, or smeared all over a linen gimp mask, there's nothing nothing so gloopy, or, well, muddy as mud!') and some overpaid hackette whinging about her au paire, and now people think it's some big new thing. But then people are wankers.

Hope that helps.

NOTE: If anyone actually knows what it means (google and wikipedia unusually unhelpful), do please comment below.

*That was my favourite bit, obviously.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

moomin baubles

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Sourced by the lovely cello - cheers m'dear. Hope everyone had a good christmas. I don't mean just people who read this blog-thing, I mean everyone. That's the kind of guy I am.

My Truro Nan (as opposed, and she usually is, to my London Gran), was laid low Christmas Day by a stomach bug, and was unable to fulfill her usual role of nodding gently to London Gran's stories whilst surreptitiously turning her hearing aid off and going to sleep, a result that usually pleases everyone.

London Gran, you see, is also hard of hearing, but covers it by talking more of less constantly. A Gran set very much on 'transmit' rather than 'receive'. I should add for the record she is a lovely lady, heart of Cockernee gold, terrible childhood, bombs etc.

Anyway, without Truro Nan acting as the immovable object to her irresistable force, KARR to her KITT and so on, I inevitably became the focus of a monologue. I turned in about half an hour later to hear:

GRAN: ... so I've got a grant for the community centre, for computer education, because I said, it's ipod this, and ipod the other and I've never even seen an ipod, so how in this day and age-
ME: I've got an ipod! I can show you!

I dash out of the room.

GRAN: (still going) ... where he thought he was driving that coach to, I've no idea..
ME: (bearing ipod) This is an ipod!*
GRAN: And would you believe, some of the other grants were over a thousand pounds!
ME: This is an ipod!
GRAN: For bingo! Went to our ethnic bretheren of course.**
ME: This is an ipod!
GRAN: Helps their counting skills they say.
ME: This is an ipod!
GRAN: Helps them count their winnings from the council I thought to myself.
ME: This is an ipod!
GRAN: So I found the organiser, scotch he was, lowland accent...
ME: This is an ipod!
GRAN: And it turned out he got married where I was stationed during the war!


GRAN: (looking at the small white shiny thing I'm holding out in my hand) What's that love?
ME: (also staring down, puzzled) I have no idea. My mind's gone completely blank.

* I hope you'll note I resisted the 'And hoo boy, there's a tale attached to this one!' temptation. Stick to the basics, with grans.
** Please note that my gran attends a west indian church, and is herself kind-of-sort-of-might-be jewish, although we can't be sure, and she'd probably deny it anyway.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

'Lost' explanation

They're all clones.

Genetically altered to allow them to live on a island made of anti-matter (hence all the light/dark stuff), implanted with the memories of the passengers who died in the original crash (hence Locke's legs working again). The weird things on the island are aspects of aliens drawn to the island's ability to exist between planes of existence.

Not that I even care that much, as it's going on too long, but if I'm right, I want my five pounds.

UPDATE: Not quite as funny as links to people rapping angrily about cupcakes and kids' films, but there's a link over at Neil Gaiman's blog to a PDF of the decision in the Pennsylvania "Intelligent Design" case -
here. Important and surprisingly readable, especially as ID/Creationsm has already taken a moronic foothold over here, and needs to be stepped on sharpish with the Firmly Laced Trainer of Fact.

Having wittered on about Lost, I should probably admit that I didn't even watch the second half of last night's episode, as I was distracted during one of the BILLION commercial breaks by the Newsnight special on the end of the oil era, which turned out to be the most gripping television this year. Completely fascinating, and even with some tiny piccolo notes of optimism, which is always welcome. Worth watching the video replay if you have time and broadband.

Fourth edit of the book now, and it's a biggie, as m'agent's American counterpart got back with her notes, including the revelation that if you're reading the thing not knowing what happens at the end (which obviously I do, and m'agent does as well as I told her the end before I wrote it), then there's a big chunk of the middle which doesn't seem to go anywhere at all. And she's quite right. Fortunately it's quite a simple fix, but it will require a few more days hunched over the keyboard if I want to get the thing out to publishers by mid-jan.

Other random stuff:

Royksopp's rather good What Else Is There. Spooky video, and a floating Scandinavian bird* with no eyebrows, marvellous.

That really old trailer for Jerry Seinfeld's Comedian film from ages ago, which I still haven't seen. But then I've only seen one Seinfeld episode, which I must rectify at some point.

* As in 'bint' or 'lady'. Sorry Dave

Monday, December 19, 2005


Takes a while to load (or did for me), but well worth the wait.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Well it's true.

Meandering gently through town today, reflecting on the particularly tough hand that seems to have been dealt to many of the people I know in just the past few days: multiple deaths (not the people I know, but deaths of people they knew, if you see what I mean), serious illnesses, trips-of-a-lifetime having to be cancelled due to laughable incompetence, stupid injuries that have turned really quite pointlessly nasty - lots and lots of equally ghastly stuff.

And then I caught my reflection in a shop window in town and thought: 'Good god, this is the best my hair has ever looked.'

I nearly had it cut very short last week, as well. Funny how things turn out.

UPDATE: It's back to normal now. Tch. I must walk the streets as a mortal being once again.

(mutters) Stupid mortal beings....

*kicks stone*

Friday, December 16, 2005

I would star, obviously, so the piece could remain true to my vision.

So my ipod starting working again, hurrah! And last night the extractor fan in the bathroom broke - boo - then this morning I mended it with a paperclip - hurrah!

Honestly, all this technology-based emotional upheaval, it's like an opera, one of those proper ones with horned helmets and trapdoors and shrieking (I don't really know opera).

So I should be happy about the ipod. Except... the thing is, I got back into listening to my minidisc player, which had got pushed to the back of a drawer the minute my shiny new toy arrived. I had discs crammed full of all sorts of random stuff, most of which had terribly vague titles like 'random stuff'*. And as none of the titles come up on the screen, listening to each compilation disc was like a little journey into the past, with the cut-off point being September of last year. It's like 'I heart 2004'.

Only now my ipod's back, all shiny and happy as though nothing ever happened. If this was a film, the minidisc player would be voiced by Claire Forlani, and would currently be putting on a terribly brave voice as it heads back into the darkness, replaced by the sinister white interloper (voiced by Portia de Rossi, who I reckon would be great).

So at this point in the film, I'm in a posh cafe with ipod/Portia, and she's laughing, and I'm trying to smile, but I'm secretly having a slow-motion flashback to all the time minidisc/Claire tried to tell me she loved me but dammit I was just too slow to see it.

I see Billy Crystal as the loudmouthed extractor fan, by the way. And I spent really quite a long time thinking 'Hmm, maybe it should be Jennifer Connolly instead of Claire Forlani, but I think I made the right decision in the end.

Another way of looking at this is that I've just finished the three projects I was working on, and my brain is still spinning without anything to focus on. Until my second hand copy of Mutants Down Under turns up and I can finally start working out the background for post-apocalyoptic anthropomorphic australian ninja... stuff. It's something to do.

* Seriously.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The past few days have been something of a blur.

However, I'm reasonably sure I was in London, and I think I can put some of the events into a kind of order:

Eating lots of free food and drinking lots of free drink, hurrah. Being a writer is good, and interestingly, free booze doesn't give me a hangover. However I am not, technically, a scientist, so this theory may not be entirely factual.

Staying in two unfamiliar and decidedly odd hotels. In the first I only saw one other person the whole time I was there. In the second I ate breakfast beneath a six foot embossed metal picture of a peacock, said breakfast brought to me by a russian lady wearing white cowboy boots. I'm reasonably confident this wasn't a dream. There were also lots of enormous photos of a darkish-skinned geezer with a dodgy afro, pink robes and a beatific grin. if I inadvertently joined a cult, please can someone let me know.

Talking to Maude's Creative Writing group who were funny and smart and made me feel that I was experienced enough to have stuff to tell them, but not so old that I might as well be dead. Although the rising hysteria when I realised I was talking to a group of people who possibly were born on or after nineteen ninety* nearly did me in at one point. I wobbled slightly, but I think I got away with it, although for some reason I did do a pirate impression at one point. Hmm.

Apologies for lack of toy-fu at the moment, just as it was picking up steam again. I have a few things on the go at the moment, and a tax bill of behemothic proportions just over the horizon that is causing me to concentrate, uncharacteristically, on getting some actual work done.

* It's just a shock, that's all. Suddenly, being born in nineteen seventy three and remembering the miners' strike on telly, and Margaret Thatcher makes me feel like I've lived through Vietnam, or the Napoleonic Wars or something. That, and the growing grey patches in my beard are starting to give me an air of venerability I'm not sure I can fully back up.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


My greatest opponent, my legendary adversary. O toast, will you always tempt me with your crumby delights? But I must stand firm. Too often has a once-promising project been derailed though a sudden desire for toast, only for my blood-sugar level to crash, leaving a random collection of letters and symbols where my forehead has suddenly encountered the keyboard.

And yet.... perhaps, o toast, you are the only one who has ever understood me? The controversial glories of Marmite are well-recorded, there is no need to dig up old battlegrounds. As the adverts so clearly expounded: some people quite like Marmite, others don't like it quite so much. A sizeable group of the population doesn't really care either way. But the delights of granary toast with chunky peanut butter and a thin layer of brown sauce... The world is not ready for such marvels. Oh the terrible bitter irony that my arch-nemesis, my greatest foe, is the only one with whom I can share my soul, my inner secrets, my true self.

But perhaps we are not so very different, you and I? Ah that times were not as they are, and my metabolism sturdier. Is it too much to hope that under those rarified circumstances, we could be... comrades? Brothers in arms? Perhaps even... friends?

But I fool myself. You and I, o toast, are locked in a hateful cycle of combat from which we can never escape, doomed to fight together through eternity. I, who am fated to devour you, will become in turn your victim. The roles we play spin and merge and weave. We fall through time, destinies forever entwined.

Bollocks, I'm hungry now.

Ooh, I got an oaty cob from the farmers' market on Tuesday.

Yum yum yu-


Monday, December 05, 2005

What Ori said...

Green Wing is up for the British Comedy people's choice award, which is decided by the public phoning in and voting. If you like Green Wing and have a spare 5 seconds, call 0901 723 02 02 and press 7.

Or text GREEN to 86633.

Green Wing Tactical Voting Team.....

(say it with me)


We want that prize. Mainly because we dropped the last one and broke it*. Also, when the GW bunch win anything, they tend to pull down backdrops and fall over and generally give even more entertainment for your comedy pound.

* This bit might disappear later on.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Two things people start asking once your blog gets to the mythical 'above four readers' level.

1. 'You're not going to put this conversation in the blog are you?'


2. 'I can't believe you didn't put that thing I told you in the blog! Was it not funny enough for your internet friends, eh? Eh? I HATE YOU.'

You can't win. So I had a couple of meetings up in London, one of which I promised I wouldn't write about. The other was with a film company which, in the time it took me to get from Truro to, ooh, about Exeter, suddenly ceased to be a going concern. Oddly enough, you get used to this sort of thing.

Hammersmith pub meet thing was fun, always good to meet new people, especially once I'd sorted out that Dave wasn't cricketing Dave but a different Dave who has a website about snacks. And other things, but I think the snack site is one I've come across before. Or it could have been a dream. And the GW wrap party was great, but tinged with melancholy - loads of people who've worked together for three years and I've got used to being able to wander into the office and talk nonsense with them. And now? Who knows.

Did have this great conversation with one of the GW runners though:

ME: (sympathetically) So this is it for you then? Off to work in retail for a bit now until something else comes along? Bookshops are hiring for Christmas, little tip for you there...
RUNNER (who is barely the age of my laptop, frankly): Actually I've set up my own production company and we're releasing a series of short films over the next few months.
ME: (weakly) Oh.

Google Video has an entire 11min episode of Robot Chicken up. Seen bits of this before, and like every sketch show ever, it's sort of patchy, but does have its moments. Particularly the Cannonball Run outtakes bit at the end, which made the whole thing worthwhile, but possibly you have to be a Cannonball Run fan to enjoy it, which I very much am. Even the second one.

More book edits to do now, looking at getting it out to publishers mid-January (when they're still all fat and woozy from Christmas I suppose), and Top Secret Script Project that I can't talk about. Although I will say that when you're supposed to be talking up a script you've written and end up saying 'I'm bored with that now, how about this thing I came up with in Pizza Express last night? I had to go out and buy a Muji notepad to write it in specially, which I think shows a certain confidence...'*, it can go one of two ways. I'm going to try and transcribe Muji Notebook ramblings into Final Draft now, so we'll find out which way it is.

* I didn't say that word for word. I'd had quite a lot of coffee, so frankly the whole thing's a bit of a blur.