This is a sad story. The closest I ever came to having a proper career in writing was almost ten years ago now. Now, excuse me if I’m a bit lax about the details but I might have the opportunity to work with some of the people involved again sometime and I’d rather not screw it up twice.
I won a comedy writing competition and part of the prize was being allowed to submit sketches for a new show. You had no guarantees of having your work accepted and I was delighted to be one of the lucky ones; two characters I created were to be regulars in the series. One of them everyone loved, no problems there, but the other the producer wanted re-writes on. No worries; I like being given re-writes to do, makes me feel professional (don’t know why). But then there were more rewrites taking the character in a very different direction, a direction that I did not think was funny. I talked to the producer, he was adamant, I did the rewrites. But apparently I didn’t take it far enough, they wanted to ‘push the boundaries’; more rewrites. By now I felt the sketch had gone beyond unfunny into just uncomfortable, and it had my name on it, and I only got paid if it was used in the broadcast show, which meant the audience had to laugh at the recording, which I was sure they wouldn’t. I phoned the producer, I made it clear that I would do the rewrites but under protest because this wasn’t funny anymore. Of course the producer stuck to his guns and I did the rewrites. The sketches died at the recording and were cut from the finished show.
So I was right, but because the sketches were cut I didn’t get paid for all that work. The producer was wrong, but he was on salary. And the question I ask myself is; why did I do it? The producer was always going to get his own way, why did I make trouble? The sketches never had a chance but if I’d shut up and done what I was told then I’d have been remembered as a guy who got the job done instead of a troublemaker.
The show itself was pretty awful and there was no second series for me to work on but I’ll always wonder, for the rest of my life probably, if that producer would have got back to me if I had kept my temper. He still works, producing other shows, could I have been a writer on one of those shows? He might never have got back to me, but I could have called him to pitch ideas if I hadn’t burnt that bridge.
I have a short temper, always have had, but these days I try to keep a lid on it around people who can affect my career. It may be too little too late.