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Writers | New Writers Guidelines

Being part of The Treason Show writers team is best described as Darwinian.
The best approach to follow is the scattergun. Write as many short and topically funny sketches as possible. This will improve your 'hit rate'. Songs will always stand more of a chance than sketches, we urge new writers to initially think of trying to write a song when they get an idea before writing a sketch. We prioritise parody song writing because it forms the skeleton of the show, then we go for the sketches, the more topical the better.

 

Layout of script & submission protocol

  • Standard script writing principles are required.
  • Double space typed pages.
  • Minimum size 12 point in a clear font.
  • Send each item separately in WORD format.
  • Name of each sketch/song in the e-mail subject field with a copy pasted in the body of e-mail. This is so we can correctly file and edit your material and print efficiently. When writers don't paste into the body of e-mail or type the name of the sketch it gets lost and can lead to writers not being credited or paid correctly.
  • (Statement of the bleeding obvious but you would be amazed at how often new writers don't do this) Always put your name on your material. (Durrr!)
  • Separate e-mails for each submission. (We get hundreds of submissions per show we have no time to edit your layouts or search through long documents)
  • Character names to be separated by tab from the lines they speak. (Basic I know but we still get sketches where the spacing means it's difficult to speed-read in rehearsals and we've abandoned material if we can't clearly differentiate character names and the lines they speak).
  • Spelling. Please spell check.

What we like!

  1. It's funny.
  2. It's topical.
  3. It's got a punchline.

NB: You stand more of a chance of getting material in if it's a song. We love the up tempo pastiche's of modern songs. With sketches if it doesn't have a punchline it rarely makes the cut. (Although it has been known!)

 

Question: "Why doesn't my work get into the show"?

  1. Hasn't got a punchline (Cardinal rule)
  2. Too much waffle to get to the end point/punchline
  3. Not topical (Or funny!)

In the case of songs.

Golden rule must have a parody of the 'hook'.

Tip: The 'Hook' is the part of the song that you remember. Eg: That's Amore = That's Mugabe.

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that... er... thing.

Other factors

  1. Cast balance. Sometimes the blokes have too much stuff and the girls have hardly anything. So when a great sketch comes in and the blokes are overloaded its harder to put into the show.
  2. Time constraints, the actors got it too late to learn in time for the show. If it's coming in late keep it SHORT.
  3. Rehearsal process shows it to be good on paper but not on stage.
  4. Sometimes it's a great sketch that just doesn't work with the talent at our disposal. Never take rejection personally. As a writer it's part of the process.
  5. Basically, if you write funny topical sketches with a punchline you'll stand the best chance of getting your material in the show. The Treason Show has a policy of judging all material on it's merits, whether you are a brand new writer or an old hand it's not who you are that counts it's your writing!

 

Writing songs for The Treason Show updated: Feb 13

How is it done? It should be easy, but somehow it's not always that straightforward.

The trick is to take a familiar song (the most well known ones work best) and parody the hook first,. It's not the only way, other writers have different ways of thinking, but I find it's the most efficient way for me. Then you fill in the lead up of the song (verses etc) to get to the hook. What is the hook? It's the bit that makes you remember it, usually the song title. So, for example take the song Stand and Deliver by Adam and the Ants. This song was successfully parodied in the show when a pilot landed his plane in the Hudson River. The parody of the lyric was Land on the River, then the rest of the lyrics merely fill in the story. If you can do the lead up to the hook (or pay-off, in gag writing terms) then so much the better, often you may then find you can gag up the remainder of the song. Another example: Son of a Preacher Man, which we parodied as follows: (The song was about the horrible smelly burger van in Churchill Sq, Brighton. Lyrics below) "The only thing that can stop me shopping, is the smell of the burger van". The closer you can make the parody words fit the original, the better the parody. If you think of it this way, it might help:

Notice the other words all have the same number of syllables as the original, or beats, they all still have to make sense as a sentence and be singable within the music by the cast, the words have to fit exactly. So, in an ideal world, you're not only parodying the hook, you're parodying the rest of the song as well. If you can do this and tell the story or communicate what you think is funny with a whole new narrative, then you are well on the way to writing a funny parody song.

When the audience laugh, it is because they put together two separate elements in their minds, one that is a known element, a familiar song or a character let's say, then put something introduced to them by a line or an idea or in this case a song hook, and they put them together in their mind, this connection "explodes" the laugh. The shortest cut to this event usually makes it funnier and the more juxtaposition you can introduce in the combination of story angle and song, the funnier your song will be.

Hence: George Best sings "New Liver" to Moon River or "Every time I need more pie, I go to Lidl" (Which may not be the title but it's the familiar hook from "Everytime you say goodbye", so you end with "Everytime I need more pie" as it completes the story.

What do I mean story? Surely it's just a song? Yes, but like a sketch, a song should have progression. It must have set up, confirmation and pay off, like a gag or sketch, basically told as a story. So don't repeat choruses, ever. You can't always "punchline" song, but you can complete with the hook again in the absence of a gag ending. One of my favourite endings to a song was "Where the Streets Have No Name" about "Buying shit in the Laines". It had a terrible ending so we used a totally different song hook to complete it, switching to . "... and I still haven't found what I'm looking for".

Having the idea in the first place.

This is a tricky one, it's a knack. But you can teach yourself this knack. When you're looking at the newspaper (which of course you do every day, don't you?) Then as you read, think of the songs you know, you'll be surprised what can pop up in your mind. Another method I use, is to scan through my itunes collection and just look at song titles (Or look at the backs of your old CD's, compilations work best) and let the song titles swill around your subconscious. If you're aware of a topical news story or a character you feel you want to write about often your subconscious will do the work for you and a connection will pop up in your head. All you then have to do is write it up to repeat the effect for the audience.

Another method I use is to pick the most popular beat combo's (ABBA, Blues Brothers, Queen, Beatles, Stones, 80's music, 70's music, sixties music, Simon and Garfunkle and see if any hooks jump out at me. Other songs styles that lend themselves to Treason parody are any songs that have a verse/chorus/verse/chorus middle 8 then chorus end. The songs from Music to Watch Girls By (compilation again) always pop something up in the mind) as do 80's pop songs and some 90's. The desire is always for more modern hits but as the current music scene is so crap at the moment it's hard to do. But if a modern catchy tune does become well known enough, I'd be delighted to feature it. (Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehosue has been used in the past and works well as they tend to do quite poppy, verse/chorus based stuff with a catchy hook.)

Lastly, try and recall your favourite songs, that's always a good idea as you know them so well, you stand a better chance of getting the number of beats or syllables right. Don't be too daunted by counting these by the way, the best thing to do when you have written a song (and helps as you write it) is to sing aloud to the original, then you'll not only see what fits you'll have new ideas springing from externalising the words. When you finish a song, make sure it fits the original, bad scan means it usually fails at the sing-through stage.

What if I have no ideas? Sometimes, when the show is stuck for songs, (Not enough of our writers come up with songs) then I have dredge up a parody song from somewhere. You'd be amazed what your mind can do when it's desperate. I may not have written classics, but when I hit a red-hot topical story and parody it with a half decent hook and gag up the couplets, they usually work. (Badgers to the Archers theme was a case in point, not a classic, but a crown pleaser all the same).

What do I mean by 'gag up the couplets'?

Have a look at this parody of The Archers theme tune:

BADGER KILLER SONG by Mark Brailsford

FOUR MAD FARMERS SING TO THE THEME FROM THE ARCHERS.

Farming folk we all agree
lets shoot all the badgers
I don't care about their fate
what a bastard I am
they're cute and furry
taste nice in curry
and we like eating 'em raw
give us back our hunting rights
we're Tory tooth and claw

U turns they are everywhere
from Clegg to that George Osbourne
but that Boris Johnson bloke
he give my misses the horn
it's such a bummer
that Selywn Gummer
ain't got the job anymore
he was shit but not as thick
as the bird we had in before

the minister in charge of all this mess
has had to fess up and confess
and it is plain to see
he's fucked up on the policy
and 'now we're going to have to change our ways
so we'll replace them all with gays
but that would mean the end of Liberal Democrats
ALL Liberal democrats?
they're a bunch of twats

The minister in charge of us
has cocked up the announcement
first they say lets kill them all
then they call it off
MP's not badgers
remove their nadgers
so they can't breed anymore
let's treat the bastards to a dose
of yokel shock and awe.

ENDS WITH GUNSHOT

This was inspired by a wonderful writer named Ivan Shakespeare who came up with the Gummer rhyme years ago, he' sno longer with us so I put it in as an homage to dear old Ivan. Notice the use of Selwyn Gummer (even though it's a bit of an old reference) merely so we can get the laugh out of rhyming (quite cheaply, never be afraid of cheap, a laugh is a laugh) bummer with Gummer. I've also rhymed badgers with nadgers for want of any other rhyme. (Hard to find anything that rhymes with badgers!)

Rhyming is a vital tool, we respond to poetry and rhyme as children and we never lose this knack, it's the simplest way to get an idea into the head of an audience.

When I'm getting stuck into the full lyric writing stage, I use the intraweb thingy, I use Rhymezone, it's a tool that generates a rhyme for you, so type in nadgers you get badgers, then I try and find a way to incorporate it into the song.

All this is all well and good, it might depress you to think there's so much to do merely to write a parody song. Usually the best songs come to you in a moment of inspiration. Your subconscious does this for you, you just have to create the conditions for this inspiration (In latin inspiritus, to infuse with spirit) to pop up. You let the stories in the news infuse your mind, think of songs as you go through your day and let the thought come to you. Sometimes in a shop, the music may give you an idea or the radio playing from a pasing car window, be open to these auto-suggestions (geddit?) Another expample: a while ago, I thought, hmmmm, John Prescott, he's great character, eats a lot probably. People find him funny when we do him in the show. (Mr Chufftastic to Mr Bombastic, because we always had Prezza saying 'chuff' was a fun one.) I then heard The Stroke's Dry Your Eyes Mate and up popped the parody lyric, "Try Some Pies Mate". I then thought Prezza could sing it to Gordon Brown to cheer him up. This led do "Try Some Fries Mate" and as Brown gets more and more depressed, Prezza suggests "Try some pints mate" etc and this went on, building the hilarity until the song completed.

In short, it's more complicated in my breakdown above, but you can do it, just tune your thinking towards the big topical news stories and run through the songs you can think of in your head. You'll be surprised and delighted with some of your ideas (Others may be awful, but it's the same as sketch writing, some work some don't).

Just give a go and keep a notebook handy when you think of a hook, get a few going and then write up the ones fancy. Good luck, and I hope this helps as we are desperate for more songwriting in the show! (So you stand a much better chance of getting material in and it pays more than sketches ;)

Good luck!
X
Mark Brailsford

BURGER VAN

When I go shopping down in Brighton
I get to the place where I sing this song
I catch a whiff and it stops me walking
the smell of onions, me it's stalking
not going back cos now I'm baulking
that's why it's no surprise
the fumes get in my eyes

the only thing that can stop me shopping
is the smell of a burger van
it's a whiff that overcomes me
its the smell of a burger van
yes it is, it is, oh yes it is.

eating well isn't always easy
lord knows how hard I tried
then they started flipping burgers
something 'offal' that just died.
that's just gone off and been deep fried
if I eat it 'gonna be eight feet wide.

it's the only thing that can stop me shopping
it's the smell of a burger van
in Churchill Square there's wino's quaffing
there's no bench just a burger van
yes there is, there is, oh yes there is.

MID 8

now do you remember
there was a stall that once sold pies
it was parked there on the sly
by a has-been, past his prime
serving burgers with his slime
highlights tinted slightly fey
you got it right it's Dave van Day

So from now on I'll do my shopping
far away from the burger van
I'll shop online, at home I'm stopping
far from the smell of the burger van
(Repeat last line) yes the stench of the burger van

 

Submitting Material & Pay

Send your material by e-mail to New Submissions
Your material is seen by the script editor that month and the director.

Or if you are a bit of a technophobe, to:
Submissions, The Treason Show, Treason Productions, 115 Western Rd, Brighton. BN1 2AB.

 

Payment for your material.

Times are tough at the moment and the show is moving to a new smaller venue from January 2010 (The Pavilion Theatre, Brighton) and there are fewer shows so the writers pool is now between £250-£500 (depending on the number of shows per month) and is shared by the writers who get their material into the show. The current average is as follows: (Approximate figures)

Songs £10-20

Sketches £7-15

One-Liners or Captions £1-3

 

The writers money works on a points value system.

2 points for a song, 1 for a sketch, half a point for a one liner/caption.

If it's a longer show (more material than usual) then it's a lower fee per item.

There is a bonus in the form of the Christmas show.

The Christmas show is a "best of the year show" with some new material thrown in. If you get material into the show during the year and its great, it may be used again in the "best-of". You then get a fab repeat fee so it's worth contributing regularly to the show to stand a better chance of getting material in the "best-of".

You retain copywrite over your material and by sending us your song/sketch/gag etc you are agreeing to license us to perform it when we do the show for as long as the show is running.

The Treason Show pays our writers up to four weeks after the last date of the run. (Eg: We tour after the Brighton shows so payment is made up to 4 weeks after the last show of that particular month). We pay our writers through BACS transfer or cheque. The writers credits are also finalised after the whole run to allow for new material to be credited (and paid for) such as voice-overs or new sketches added for the tour dates. Please don't expect running orders to be final until the administrator has compiled and sent the post show credits.

 

Running Orders

A running order is sent out by the director during rehearsals and constantly changes and is a work in progress list so that writers have an idea of what's in so far. The definitive one is the one sent out by Carol Kentish (Admin) after the run.

 

Tips.

  • Read it yourself (aloud if possible) and imagine what it's like for a performer to read in a fast moving script rehearsal. If it's a muddle it stands less chance of surviving the read-through.
  • Some material we get is just too long, a page is usually enough, if it runs to two, it had better be funny, if it runs to three it's likely to be too long for our show format, unless of course it's the best thing ever written!
  • Everything gets read. Your material is judged on its merits. If it's funny and topical it stands the best chance of getting into the show. Please prioritise songs. Unless the show has a strong skeleton (the songs) the rest of your wonderful sketch writing may bomb. So go for them first.
  • Oh yes, and............ "Be Funny"