Monday, March 12, 2007

Britcoms & multiple writers

I was amused this weekend to see Jennifer Barnes' blog post about being in England, pining for her American TV shows, while I'm here in the States, where I've never watched any of the shows she mentioned, and instead have been watching British shows all week! We watched some Extras (okay, so it's half-American, sort of), and Series VII of Red Dwarf (again), and we just rented Season One of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which we also saw years ago. But my favorite this week has been Spaced, a rather brilliant (though often crude) sitcom from the folks behind the movie Shaun of the Dead. It apparently hasn't been released on Region 1 DVDs for some reason (I guess the video store made their own copy with a multi-region DVD player or something)...very annoying as I'd love to see the DVD extras, which this version didn't have. Anyway, it's clever and sometimes surreal, which makes it right up my alley, and one of the lead characters is a frustrated writer, though she doesn't get around to much writing.

At one point in the show, the writer character, Daisy, is working in a nightmarish job at a nacho restaurant with a power-crazed boss. She finally tells the boss off, saying she doesn't belong there, cleaning the kitchen. She's a creative person, not a mopper...she's a writer. The evil boss proceeds to tell her that all the hapless employees are writers. She motions to several of them, in turn. One writes haikus, one writes scripts, and one particularly skittish employee had a short story published once, a few years back. But there they all are in this horrible nacho sweatshop. I found it hilarious, scary, and sad, all at once! Now, I have a YA manuscript about a humiliating fast food job, and I've also written a story about a taco restaurant (in the desert...), but I hope there's more hope for my writing than those fictional writers had! I did work as a technical writer where it seemed like more than half my co-workers were also frustrated creative writers (creative writers in waiting?), but at least we were writing, and our bosses weren't insane. ;-) Um, but I am about to have some nacho chips & queso. Hmm.

My husband noticed that the British shows we've watched tend to have 2-person writing teams, often writers who have collaborated on a number of projects. We also saw an interview with John Cleese in which he said that Monty Python had two 2-person writing teams with different tastes in sketches. Off the top of our heads, we couldn't think of many similar writing teams in the U.S. Which got me to wondering...have any of you out there collaborated with other writers? I think it would take just the right person and I'm still not sure I could do it. Maybe for skits, but seems like it would be harder to collaborate on something long. Once in a Musical Theatre class, my class wrote a short show together, which worked out pretty well, but that's about my only experience with it. I tried to write skits with some friends in college, but most of our writing sessions degenerated into just hanging out (which basically led to my first date with my husband!), and when my writer friends from high school tried to improvise our way into a writing collaboration, it just changed our writing club into an improv club. I have long thought it might be interesting to co-write something with my husband, but I'm not sure what it would be. I assumed it would be non-fiction, probably not a children's book--more like humor or a collection of interesting facts--though we've talked about working together on my chapter book series idea. But I imagine him contributing mostly ideas, and research, and funny lines here and there, with me doing most of the actual writing. I'm sure we'd drive each other crazy, but I usually drive him crazy asking for feedback on my writing, anyway!

No comments: