Tag: steve coogan

Comics make great actors

When it comes to film roles, one thing you will consistently notice is that people who come from a background of live stand up comedy can seamlessly play dramatic parts convincingly and to critical acclaim. Look at Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and Steve Coogan. When they play dramatic and/or darker characters they garner rave reviews.

Ever thought about that? It’s not something you would think works but it does.

You see, most stand-up comics make observations about life around them, they are extremely observant of people’s mannerisms. Their routines are consistently based on mimicking. Where method actors get into character, these performers do that anyway night after night over a period of years. One other person of note who transitioned successfully was Lee Evans in Funny Bones.

So when a challenging part comes along(Truman Show, One Hour Photo, Philomena) they can get the right low key performance because of their on the job training.

On the flipside when it comes to actors playing comics it’s the opposite. Take for example Lawrence Olivier, he played a comic in a role and was acclaimed for playing the character as awkward. After all, comics are awkward people in real life. When asked about the role he admitted he played it that way because he felt awkward doing the role.

Also, look at someone more contemporary like Seth Rogan. When he played a comic in Funny People aka Unfunny Film he wasn’t convincing as a live act, more like an actor awkwardly trying to play a comic. Well, I wasn’t convinced but Adam Sandler was good as he had a background in live comedy which made his part more interesting.

Next time you watch a film have a think.


BAME Moneyball

I was watching Moneyball the other day and one thing struck me, what if the same principles were applied to British Media?

The baseball concept was to find undervalued players to make up for budget shortfalls and showed that the system was working off a flawed concept.

To use one genre as an example, current television comedy is using a similar now flawed concept that is ripe for reinvention. From my experience, the talent scouts currently employed at the major production companies seem to follow the same tradition of discovering stars that translate well to television. By translate I mean the usual footlights type. This has worked previously in creating iconic programmes but for the last few years that way of bold thinking has fallen to the wayside. The output is all the same and the format is becoming stale because if it. Turn on the TV and innovation has all but stopped.

No matter where you look, these same faces appear on television talking the same comedic language.

Instead of trying to replicate the same televisual template, the Indies should be hiring people who think out of the box and stop searching for what would fit into the current lineup. Everyone is playing it safe for the sake of ratings but bold choices are for the brave and the rewards can be more enduring.

Two examples are The Real McCoy and Goodness Gracious Me that literally created an audience nobody thought existed. The Office also made the sheer boredom of office life gripping viewing and Chris Morris’s output is pure anarchy.

Obviously it’s not just down to the Indies as the commissioners need to be open to these unique ideas and be involved in the risk.  Historically there have always been “quiet slots” to try out ideas so the gamble is minimised.

I have personally met some of the most respected, innovative and talented comics on the circuit who you will never know because their attitude doesn’t fit into the current mold. The right spotter can pick this talent and nurture them into creating something truly different. I think it’s high time to shake things up and hell, if it fails what do you lose from the small outlay?

The Harry Hill Movie Poster

Currently I am seeing the largely unexciting print campaign for The Harry Hill Movie. I first saw the poster on the side of the bus and all it had was Hill on a mobility scooter and a comedy cat face. That’s it. Oh and a few names of stars to the side. Oh, the background was yellow. This is a British made movie and should be fully expectant to have the best/ innovative marketing pushes but alas it has less originality than the promotion of his famous ITV series.

Compare this to Kidulthood and Four Lions (which won a best marketing award!) as an example. They had a great marketing angle that sold the movie in its respective genre. Sorry but Harry Hill has a funny ha!ha! face but really the public need a bit more of a sales pitch if they want to actually fork out cinema money. I mean the poster explains nothing of what the film is about apart from the fact that it’s possibly a comedy with some celebrities.

I am a huge fan of Harry Hill but the initial ad roll-out really isn’t selling the genius that he is and the genius that his script undoubtedly will be and soon to be that film that people will say “well, I checked it out on DVD and it’s pretty damn funny” actually.

The marketing department has to sell every film in the same way as Miramax did, make it an event that people want to make the effort to see. That’s why the Weinsteins are legendary in selling difficult films and as this is a low budget British film going up against the heavyweight well marketed US fare, you better be creative to get the audience that want this kind of light quirky entertainment.

Diversity: The long road to freedom

So, the recent event to address the lack of diversity in media was a psuedo-success judging by the varied voices that were vocal at the current situation. I say pseudo as nothing has been set in concrete.

There were a few suggestions such as setting quotas but these ideas are made by people who have established themselves in media. What i want to express is ideas presented by a person who has tried numerous times to get his projects made and consantly been rebuffed. Essentially an outsider like me.

*disclaimer: This is not a blatant opportunity for me to get my scripts made (though it would be nice!) but a chance to level the playing field for all people*

1- Online: The various TV channels are now experimenting with their online divisions and in the case of Channel 4 they do these showcase opportunities. The latter’s last attempt was a disaster to the community as they ran a scheme called ‘Comedy Blaps ‘ where it was an open call to send in your submissions but the chosen shows were from the establishment (for the most part) like Baby Cow et al. This rendered it a dispiriting waste of time for all those who made the effort. What needs to be done is utilize these digital portals to properly showcase new talent at a fraction of the budget. Please look at the last line as i have worked on things for poverty level prices and even getting a few grand to bring something real will be money better spent.

2- Talent Scouts: I have seen numerous comedy talents in my time who are simply shut out because their face doesn’t fit the same generic people on panel shows. I am not saying put any old person on but pay attention to who can add a little quirkiness. Essentially the talent scouts should be fearless to “think outside the box” and have the backup to do so.

3- Workshops: They don’t work for the most part and it’s essentially there to make the managers sleep well at night. More thought should be made as to the point of direction and outcome for these. No point giving people a training session if it doesn’t lead anywhere.

You can certainly experiment without disrupting the core franchises. If the current mindset was applied 30 years ago there would simply be no Hanif Kureishi and he made some brilliant edgy stuff. The type that will not be made today unless change is made.

That’s it for positive action plans but three is enough right?

As for me i have set up my own website and production company and fighting on my rules (with no money!) in the hope something breaks. I mean look at Spike Lee, he did it by being angry/pushy/ focused and so am i.