Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Knowing when to quit


As a writer, searching the Net for work is a hit and miss affair, a little like searching for a piece of hay in a needle factory. In my experience, much of the freelance writer jobs are from the USA and usually stay there. But, with a refined search, you can often find little gems.

One such nugget was the writing team of the iLarious phone app, which delivers topical news gags direct to the user. As a compulsive gag writer myself, this seemed like a match match in cyber-heaven. Even better, when submitted material is used, the writers are paid proportionately, based on the number of subscribed users to the app.

I was thrilled to be offered a contract and signed my John Hancock (signature to you) before you could shout comedy connections. The writing team is headed up by Fred Graver, a seasoned US writer whose track record reads like a who's who of comedy.

So far so good, but you know me too well dear reader. 'Where is the custard pie?' I hear you shout from your seats. Rest easy, it's coming. The gags, naturally enough, are based largely on American news. No problem there because I've written material for an American stand-up before and I'm an international kinda guy.

However, after 38 gags submitted (plus 14 samples) and no material used, it was time to face the music, because the lady of ample proportions was already launching into an aria. As everybody knows, there is a huge difference between British humour / sensibilities and that of our American cousins. I knew that but I thought I could write my way around it. On this occasion, I was wrong.

So, rather than bang my head against a cultural wall, I've drawn a line and asked for my profile to be deleted on their site. If there's a lesson here, it's that sometimes things just don't work out however amenable and positive people are. Fred's been great and I think the idea is a brilliant one. And if anyone is thinking of starting something similar here in the UK, drop me a line. I can definitely do British humour, honest! Below were some of my submissions...

Pop star and professional child-catcher Madonna has visited a school in Malawi. A spokesman denies rumours that she was carrying a colour swatch so she could collect the set.

The 18 year-old amnesiac found in Times Square NY has been identified. Someone had to break it to her that we’re still in a recession.

McDonalds is shutting its business in Iceland because of the global credit crisis.
Health officials are drawing up plans for emergency feeding stations, for the Icelandic obese.

Madonna has visited Malawi for the construction of a new school for girls. She cut a ribbon and planted a tree, before declaring the drive-thru officially open.

A British drug dealer has finally been charged after refusing to go to the toilet for 16 days, to avoid producing ‘evidence’. A spokesman said: “The situation was creating a real stink for the prosecution team and a backlog in the cells.”

The owners of the world’s oldest dog, 20 year-old Otto in Britain, have put his longevity down to Sunday dinners and vegetables. And having a big enough straw to suck them up.

The Walt Disney Company is offering a full refund for anyone who bought Baby Einstein DVDs but failed to end up with a genius child. George Bush senior is said to be reading the small print.

Two Washington teenagers have been barred from their school, after they used turf to draw a swastika and spell out racist messages, in a car park. They’ve been set community service and ordered to attend the Holocaust Museum. Hopefully the courts won’t combine the two and assign them to garden duty.

Elizabeth Taylor has declared the Michael Jackson film ‘This Is It’ the greatest documentary ever. Mind you, she thought ‘Cat On A Hot Tin Roof’ was a documentary about Animal Welfare.

Japanese officials have high hopes that president Obama will visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki. The idea has given local communities a warm glow. That and decaying Uranium 235.

Hillary Clinton has criticised Pakistan for its failure to capture extremists. She said it was hard to believe nobody in the Pakistani government knew where they were. In an unusual role reversal, Bill Clinton is staying tight-lipped.

After an historic deal, the US military will get access to seven Colombian bases. A spokesman said it was an opportunity not to be sniffed at.

America is now officially out of recession. Next up: genuine evidence of the lunar landing.

Christians in Kentucky are up in arms over plans to rename the Frankfort Christmas Tree as a 'Holiday Tree' to be more inclusive. Unusually, that's a bitter sting for KY Christians.

An Iraqi immigrant in Arizona has been charged after running his daughter over for being too westernised. He was unrepentant and said if she hadn't been wearing high heels she'd have made it to the sidewalk.

The White House says that federal stimulus has resulted in 650,000 jobs. And most of those jobs are in the 'print more money' industry.

Dr Martin Luther King's daughter has been elected president of the civil rights group he helped to found. Critics have called it a shining example of affirmative action and nepotism.

President Obama is lifting the ban on HIV sufferers entering the country. He said not only was it time to end the stigma, but there were a whole lot of quality pink goods available on special.

Halloween has been politically corrected. 'Trick or Treat' will now be known as 'Developmental Non-Confrontational Challenge or Appropriately Nutritious Reward'. Not only will it be better for kids but only the literate ones will be able to cope with it.

Hillary Clinton insists that Washington remains firmly against Israeli developments in the West Bank. She said the US stance has firm foundations, much like the lovely new homes in the West Bank.

The city of Vallejo, California is voting on whether to tax text messaging, in a bid to raise funds. If it's approved, there will be a further monthly text poll.

Aghanistan's president Karzai is celebrating after winning an election where he was the only candidate, after the opposition withdrew. Yeah, it's a victory for democracy, in the same way that sending yourself a Valentine's Card shows how attractive you are.

Two Tower of London Beefeaters have been suspended after allegations of harassing the only female beefeater. Moira Cameron from Argyll said “I’m not usually one to complain but I won't be squeezed between two buns for anybody.”

The Czech Republic's constitutional court has endorsed the EU reform treaty, despite President Vaclav Klaus's Euro-skepticism. One critic descirbed it as giving burglars the keys to your house so they don't scratch the paintwork.


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