Tag Archives: comedy

Hurrah Edinburgh!

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I’m in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the world’s largest arts festival or Glastonbury for culture vultures. It’s my first time here though I’ve visited vicariously through friends for decades. I’ve know people who’ve come here and bag a Fringe First Award and never look back, career wise – I’ve also had friends who have had their hearts broken here, lost their shirts and all other sorts of clichés. Some have partied for 25 days, others have honed their craft, been inspired, made contacts, others have been mistreated by slave driving ego monster directors. But everyone comes away with an Edinburgh story and everyone tells me I should go. So, I’ve heeded their advice at last, deciding I’ve definitely got to see the Fringe before I leave the UK for good. Moreover, I’m hoping to bring my own stage play here next year, so this is also a rekki of sorts.

I’ve only booked four shows in advance, preferring to wait to see what was buzzing when I got here. I’ll report on highlights and must-sees but please, please, please any suggestions on what to see (or avoid!) would be gratefully received. And, as I’m a first time Edinburgh visitor, any other tips regarding the Scottish capital are most welcome.

Good veggie restaurants? Hidden café gems? Cool bookstores? Meet ups, gatherings etc… You never know I might bump into one of you here.

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It’s The Way You Tell ‘Em

Jokes! Jokes are a great source of plot ideas. An established writer gave me this tip years ago and it has served me well.

Jokes, you see, are plots in miniature. Stories sealed up and ready to go. You’ve got your beginning, middle, end, your conflict, your characters – flaws and all. All you’ve got to do is flesh it out. Expland on it. Change gender and setting if possible. And no, it doesn’t have to be funny because many jokes (indeed, stories) need an element of tragedy to make comedy (and vice vearsa) and you can just crank up the aspect you want to emphasize.

Here’s a joke that gave me an idea for a short story recently shortlisted for a competition:

“It was Ryan’s funeral and the pallbearers were carrying the casket out from the church. When they bumped into a pillar, one of them heard a moan from inside the coffin. They opened the lid and found Ryan alive. He lived for another ten years before he properly died. Another funeral was held for him and, as the pallbearers were carrying out the coffin, Mrs Ryan shouted “Now, watch out for that pillar!”

OK, it’s the way ya tell ‘em… But the point is that they don’t have to be the funniest jokes – just so long as there is a story in there, a universal truth with which your readers will react and engage. Wordplay/puns won’t work so well, go for the story…

Here’s another one you can chew on for a story idea (it goes down well in the creative writing classes I give in an English prison…)

The defendant knew he didn’t have a prayer of beating the murder rap, so he bribed one of the jurors to find him guilty of manslaughter. The jury was out for days before they finally returned a verdict of manslaughter. Afterward the defendant asked, ‘How come it took you so long?’ the juror said, ‘All the others wanted to acquit’.Image