Andy Riley |

Mentoring Scheme for a new/newish PoC comedy writer: open for applications

****UPDATE 1/6/18: I’ve made my final selection now, and I’ve emailed everyone who sent a script. Thanks to all, and sorry I can’t take on more than one. A ****

****UPDATE 30/5/18: I’ve read everything now – more than 50 scripts sent, about double what I expected. I want to give a really good re-read to my shortlist of 6 or so before I make the final selection, so you won’t hear on the 31st May; it’ll be more like Monday the 4th June. Thanks for bearing with me!***

***UPDATE TO THE BELOW, 16/5/18: Deadline for submissions has now passed. I’ve been sent quite a lot this year and it’ll take me a while to read through everyone’s stuff, but I hope to have it all done by the end of the month, and then I’ll email everyone. Cheers, A***

*** UPDATE TO THE BELOW, 3/5/18: The deadline for submissions is now the end of 15th May, 2018. Anything sent before that I guarantee I’ll read. After that date… if I haven’t made my final selection already I will try to read it, but I can’t guarantee. I’m aiming to select a mentee by the May 31st. ***

It’s time I started up another mentoring cycle. Here’s what I’m offering:

A year’s free mentoring, primarily by email, to one comedy writer (or writing partnership) from a BAME background who is/are either at the start of their career or very much wants to be.

I started doing this a few years ago because the comedy writing business doesn’t represent the ethnic make-up of the UK nearly enough. I’ve done three cycles already; my former mentees are Christine Robertson, Sammy Wong and Sophie Duker, and they’re all doing very well. Christine’s been writing for Trollied and has developed a script through the Betty Box and Peter Rogers scheme. Sophie’s had credits on Famalam and The News Quiz. Sammy’s been working in the film business.

I’ll read any comedy stuff that the writer/writers send me over twelve month period, and offer notes and advice. I can also be a sounding board, to offer advice in a more general sense about any aspect of the profession. And I may be able to give the writer one or two useful introductions to producers. I’ve written comedy for a couple of decades; I’ve experienced every aspect of the job, from creating sitcoms and films to writing sketches and one-liners. I’ve met with triumph and disaster. Some of my credits are on this site and on my wikipedia entry. Hopefully all that experience will be worth something to somebody starting off.

It can only be one person (or a partnership). As well as being a scriptwriter, I’m a cartoonist and a children’s author. That’s obviously too many careers for anyone so I don’t have acres of time. One’s the limit.

Ideally I’d prefer to have at least one face-to-face meeting, as soon as possible, as I’ve found that really helps the mentoring process. I’m based in London, so it may not be practical, depending on where you live. London bias is another aspect of the comedy business – I could go on for ages about that – but I’ll try to be as regionally unbiased as I can.

It’s not an internship. You won’t be helping me with my own work. It’s not a course, with designated work to do, and accreditation at the end. No money will change hands in either direction. It’s all informal. But I think it would be a help to somebody starting off, and when you’re starting off, any help’s a good thing. Breaking into this field is hard – probably harder than it used to be. There’s more competition than ever.

So if you’ve read this far and you’re a PoC comedy writer who likes the sound of it, here’s how to apply –

Use the email to send me:

(i) a paragraph or two introducing yourself. You can include any credits or experience you’ve got if you like, or tell me about what comedy you’re into or what sort of thing you like to write, but really you can do this bit however you like. I just want an idea of who you are. The main event is part two…

(ii) a script sample of your comedy writing work, in PDF, Word, or Final Draft. This could be some sketches, a sitcom script, even something longer – I don’t really mind what, so long as there’s enough to give me a good sense of what you write. But it must be a script or scripts written for TV, film, radio or the stage. Links to Youtube videos you’ve written are okay too. I won’t consider anything in the form of blog posts or articles. You may well be a great blogger or journalist or whatever, but this thing’s all about script writing.

There’s no upper limit to the length of your sample, but if it’s sketches you’re sending, please send three or four of them, because it’s hard to get a full view for your writing from just one or two pages.

A word about plays, because I got quite a lot of those on the last cycle. I will look at them but they’re not my favourite form of sample, because inevitably the story being told is not driving to a funny conclusion. There might be some humour along the way but the payoff always seems to be dramatic rather than comic, so if I ask myself “is this a piece of comedy writing, or is it really drama?” plays are often borderline cases. Also, if you’re looking to make it as a playwright, I can’t really help you because it’s not my world. I’m looking for somebody intending to focus on screen (or radio). Having said all that; if your play is the funniest sample I get, I’ll be in touch.

Please put your name and email on the script sample itself (use the headers or footers, or just stick it at the top of page one) so I have everything I need right there if I want to get back to you. Having to refer back to covering emails is fiddly when you’ve got to look at lots of them.

As and when I find something I’m sent that I really like, and makes me go yes, I’d love to read more from this person, I’ll be emailing you. I won’t go ahead until I’ve got that feeling.

The time frame: it depends how much I get sent and how long it takes me to read it all, but ideally, I’d like to have a new mentee all arranged by the end of May 2018, so everything sent to me before mid-May will definitely be considered.

Some provisos – please read these before you send –

– You must be eighteen or over.

– You should live in the UK or Ireland.

– You should intend comedy scriptwriting for TV, film or radio to be your main creative focus over the next year at least.

– If you’ve submitted stuff before, you’re absolutely welcome to give it another go.

– I’ll announce on twitter (@andyrileyish) and on this blog when I don’t need any more script samples, and when I’ve found someone for the 12 months.

– Just to restate the key point: this is only open to people from a minority ethnic background.

A point I have to cover, because this does come up; when throwing the net very wide like this, there’s an outside chance I’ll be sent something that’s in a similar setting to a project I’m currently developing. This sort of thing is much more common than most people think. There’s only so many situations in the world, and if you’ve thought “I’ll write about some characters who work in a Greggs!” (or in a cruise ship, or a museum, or a quirky family) you can be sure other people have too. If I think there’s a chance your stuff is too close to what I’m doing, I’ll stop reading.



Andy R