Writers | New Writers Guidelines
Being part of The Treason Show writers team is best described as Darwinian.
Layout of script & submission protocol
What we like!
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"?
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.
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:
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 ;)
Submitting Material & Pay
Send your material by e-mail to New Submissions
Or if you are a bit of a technophobe, to:
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)
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.
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.