Rob Gilroy

My time Jesting About

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This week, BBC Newcastle announced it would be launching Jesting About 3.

As somebody that played a part in both Jesting About 1 (at the time just called Jesting About) and 2, I feel I’m in a good position to voice my opinions on the scheme. Despite the fact, this very website chose to omit me from their list of past candidates who have gone on to achieve great things!

I bloody write for them, the dicks.

The producer behind the scheme, Steve Drayton – a man I’m not afraid to call an occasional acquaintance – responded to some concerns that Jesting About was a waste of time for any up and coming comedians. It also featured a less than flattering photograph of me in a tight-fitting polo shirt. They didn’t omit that, did they? Bloody dicks.

So I thought I’d throw my two-penneth (about 8 quid these days) into the ring and give you the low down on what to expect if you apply to a scheme like this.

It will frustrate you.

I thought I’d go in negative, hope that doesn’t frighten you off. But if it does, good. Comedy doesn’t need you.

At times this scheme will really wind you up. You may submit an idea that you think is perfect, the next Dead Bird or Three Spoons sketch, perhaps. You’ll plonk it down in Steve’s inbox and wait for the praise to flow. Someone will find issue with it. And trust me when I say this; it will drive you up the bloody wall. Get used to it bucko.

It’s a very big shock to go from writing sketches in the comfort of your spare room, or being in complete control of your material on stage, to working with other people on a joint effort. Because that’s what it is – a collaboration.

Despite the fact that you will disagree with some people, or not enjoy their material; you have to work together. Like the Jackson 5. It can be tough, it can be frustrating, but it’s also some of the most fun I’ve ever had. And I’ve been to Chessington World of Adventure three times.

There’s nothing like that first day, turning up and meeting the others – maybe getting free sandwiches, but don’t hold me to that – and feeling like you’ve made it. You’ll think you’ve hit the big time even though you’re working out of a disused milk-rendering plant in Gateshead. Treasure that moment, because it starts to feel like work really quickly.

That’s no bad thing, though. If you want to write and perform comedy for a living this is your boot camp – proper boot camp; with mud, drill sergeants and homoerotic subtext, not X Factor boot camp with singing and Sinitta. Your comedy muscles will get a real work out.

When someone comes to you and says; do you think we need this third Musketeer character? Can we not mention Jacobs Cream Crackers by name? Do you have to dip your nob in the coffee, Rob? You’ll have to work fast to find alternative jokes and I guarantee you’ll find better, funnier ones.

I was very fortunate that, after the first two Jesting Abouts, I was afforded some incredible opportunities. Really big stuff. Massive, they were. There was also a lot of smaller stuff that no one will ever remember (like writing for these dicks). But all of it has been invaluable. I’m not saying you will get these opportunities if you apply for Jesting About 3 but I know for a fact that you won’t stand a chance if you don’t go for it.

I’m still a long way off where I would like to be, and that can be frustrating at times, but ultimately the only thing that has ever stood in the way of me achieving my goals is me. Whether it’s through not trying hard enough, being too cautious and unwilling to put myself out there, or losing confidence in my voice and my ideas – I am the only one that has held me back. It certainly wasn’t Jesting About.

Jesting About encouraged and supported me. It gave me a platform to do my thing in front of people who have the potential to help me develop. It also made me work hard. It stopped me sitting in cafes scribbling down ideas for sitcom that I would never write, it stopped me putting ‘Comedian’ on my Twitter bio despite the fact I only gigged three times a year, and it forced me to confront my career and do something about it. And it had free sandwiches, but like I say that may not happen.

If you’re concerned that Jesting About isn’t for you, then you’re passing up on an amazing opportunity. The BBC do a lot of great things to support new comic minds, but the chance to have these opportunities on your doorstep are rare.

If you’re a North East comedian, looking for a chance to showcase yourself and you turn down Jesting About, a North East-based scheme looking to showcase comedians, then you are just another one of the dicks.

You big dick.

If you would like to be considered to take part in Jesting About, email Steve Drayton on [email protected]. Tell him a little about yourself, along with an audio or video clip if you have one. Successful participants will be asked to take part in a live recording at The Stand Comedy Club in Newcastle on the 12/13 April 2015.