News

Dr. Duck at Melbourne Fringe 2017

I love writing and producing comedy for an audience whose laughs I will actually get to hear. Earlier this year I produced my first live sketch show at the Melbourne Comedy Festival (MICF). Now, my sketch comedy group Dr. Duck have put together a brand new 50min sketch show, which will premiere at Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Click HERE to see the official poster.

Dr. Duck founder and my producing partner in crime, Andrew Keen, helped me put together a crack team of writers this time around. The writers met up once a week for 11 weeks, with everyone in the room making terrific contributions.

Every cast member from our MICF show had either secured paid work or already booked other projects before we could get to them. We have a brand new cast for Fringe, (Andrew aside) but having sat through some rehearsals, I think the people who come and see our show have a lot to look forward to.

Once actors as talented as the ones we’re working with become involved, it’s amazing how quickly I’m able to forget the back-breaking, often soul crushing work of writing comedy. I like to indulge in the thought that 50mins of funny material turned up with little effort. It’s the only way I’m able to fool myself into wanting to go through it all again for the next show we do.

The laughs of a live audience also help with this.

Tickets can be found here: https://www.melbournefringe.com.au/event/dr-duck

Credits
Directed by Andrew Keen.
Presented by Short Game Productions.
Starring Andrew Keen, Susie Kazda, Liam Howarth, Chloe Towan, Rian Howlett and Lara McArthur-Dowty.
Written by Andrew Keen, Dean Watson, Lily O’Farrell, Ross Purdy, Justin P Bechtold.
Additional Material by Sal Hicks, Dan Beacom.

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Giving young New Zealand comedy writers a leg up

There is very little financial support for up and coming comedy writers, let alone comedy writers who are still in high school. Trying to get paid for your work is the hardest thing to achieve for any comedy writer, especially when you’re starting out.

In school, class clowns get a bad wrap. I know this from personal experience. But the encouragement of a few people that it was okay to embrace this side of myself made the world of difference.

For a couple of months now, I’ve been running a comedy writing competition for New Zealand high school students, in conjunction with LearnCOACH. It’s called the NCEA Comedy Writing Competition.
We pay $50 every week to the student who can write the funniest one-liner about high school in under 140 characters.
Students submit their entries here.

I want to show New Zealand high school students that not only can you be funny while you’re still in school, you can get paid to do it.

Even the smallest payment for your work makes a huge difference to your confidence when you’re starting out.

Here are some of the winners with their prizes:

The response has been pretty remarkable and this article covers it fairly well.

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My First Panel

When you’ve only been making your living as a comedy writer for a couple of years, your first reaction to being asked to appear on a panel to talk about comedy is, “I am definitely not qualified.”
And since I was asked, nobody has sent me any mail disputing that.
However, I’m grateful I overcame those initial feelings of self-doubt, because I ended up having a lot of fun talking to RMIT’s latest crop of screenwriting students, alongside the other two comedy people on the panel, David M. Green and Stephen Hall.

You know I’m not making this up, because that’s the official poster.

When I was an RMIT screenwriting student (2011-2012), I remember organising one of these panels – we had Sammy J, Kitty Flanagan and Adam Zwar along.
As for our panel, it was great to have an opportunity to meet Stephen Hall. You may know him from Shaun Micallef’s “Mad As Hell” on the ABC, or as Basil Fawlty in the stage production of “Fawlty Towers“.
David M. Green is also a writer for “Mad As Hell” (not to mention, a great friend).

It was very exciting to be on a panel with two of the country’s best comedy writers. Thanks to Kirsty for asking me along and to John Reeves, heart and soul of the RMIT screenwriting program.

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Dr. Duck’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival Show

There’s nothing like the presence of a live audience to bring out the best in comic actors, comedy writers and comedy producers. Everything I’m trying to do as a comedy writer and producer is channelled towards making more things before a live audience. I believe you get a better show when you come face to face with the audience. Nowhere to hide. A sense of danger elevates comedy and what could be more dangerous than coming face to face with the people who can make you or break you?

Despite almost all of my TV experience coming in the form of shows that had a live audience aspect, I’ve never produced a show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF).

This year, I’m producing and writing for a 50min sketch comedy show with my sketch comedy group Dr. Duck called “General Quacktitioner“.

Click HERE to see the official poster.

Melbourne writer and actor Andrew Keen started the group. I saw Dr. Duck’s first Fringe show last year, which I thought had a lot of potential. Couple this with the fact I’ve always wanted to be involved in a live sketch comedy show, I was only too eager to take up the offer to write and produce one when Andrew suggested we team up.

Andrew is a terrific sketch writer. I first worked with him when I was head writer of the Channel 31 show Live On Bowen. He and I, as we’ve discovered, have vastly different styles. His work tends to be very dialogue heavy, while my sketches tend to be almost completely devoid of dialogue and very physical. I think we balance each other out quite nicely and the show should be stronger because of it.

For three months, a team of writers met up once a week to write General Quacktitioner. Along with Andrew and myself, the other person who wrote some sketches that made it into the show is Melbourne comedian Ross Purdy. Additional material was also contributed by Nick Mateuszczyk, Ella Gleeson and Amanda Goode.

We’ve got a simply cracking cast: Seon Williams, Olivia Solomons, Eidann Glover, Jon Walpole, Ross Purdy and Andrew Keen.

Rehearsals have already started and things are coming together nicely. It’s always a good sign when a lot of good material ends up not making it into the show.

Following our MICF show, we plan to make a 6x30min sketch comedy TV series with Channel 31. Half of it will be shot before a live audience half shot on location. There’s nothing like putting comedy before a live audience.

I expect applications for writing positions on the show will go out during the week of the 27th March. This time we will be trying something different to how we approached assembling the writers team for our MICF show and will be putting out an open call to people who are interested. Keep an eye out for those callouts on this site!

In the meantime, come and see our MICF show!

Tickets available here: https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2017/shows/the-duck-will-see-you-now

We’ve shot some free sample sketches we’ll be releasing in the lead up to the show. The first one is called Doorknockers and it’s up now!

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Writing funny greeting cards

Greetings!

One thing I discovered I really enjoyed doing in 2016 was writing funny greeting cards. Turns out there’s quite a market for it too…in the UK.

I wrote about my experiences breaking into the UK greeting card market as a writer in the January edition of Greetings Today. Yes, they’re a magazine all about greeting cards.

My article is on Pg 60.

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How to get a cartoon published even though you can’t draw

Apparently the inability to draw is not a factor in becoming a published cartoonist. I’ve always loved cartoons ever since I was old enough to understand what the heck was going on in them. As a comedy writer with a deep love for visual gags, I thought it might be fun to try collaborating with some artists in Australia and New Zealand. After all, as many have told me, coming up with the idea is the hardest part. As far as I’m concerned, drawing the thing is the hardest part. The scene was set for what have turned out to be two great collaborations so far.

The first person I collaborated with, and the person who drew this now published cartoon, which appears in the summer edition of Meanjin Magazine, is a great New Zealand cartoonist by the name of Cory Mathis.

unnamed-2  unnamed-1

Since I moved back to Melbourne at the start of 2016, I’ve also started creating cartoons with Belgium-based Melbourne illustrator, Jack Chadwick. Hopefully we can get some stuff published in the new year.

Both of these guys are incredible artists and I feel very lucky to be working with them.

 

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News comedy TV show ‘The Leak’ and Community TV come to an end

After three seasons, tonight, the final episode of ‘The Leak’ is going to air on Channel 31 at 8.30PM. This will be the last community TV show I ever get to work on, after 6 years of working on Channel 31 shows, starting with Get Cereal TV in 2010.

The reason this incredibly valuable training ground for future screen media talent is disappearing is because the Turnbull Government has decided to stop funding it.

This article by Gil Fewster pretty much sums up my feelings about it.

Though it might not be TV as we know it, Channel 31 will continue online, though it remains to be seen how exactly that will work.

Despite the inevitable sadness about the ending of an era, I’m really excited about the future of TV in the online arena. After all, the show must go on. I hope some of the comedy shows I write and produce in the future actually air on television as we know it, but even if they don’t, in my heart I will always be writing for television.

Here’s a promo I wrote for tonight’s final episode of ‘The Leak’.

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Interview On Podcast “Uncomfortable Is Ok”

A couple of weeks’ ago I was interviewed by Chris Desmond on the New Zealand podcast “Uncomfortable Is Ok“. At no point during the interview did Chris make me feel uncomfortable. But if I did, it would have been ok.

We talked for over an hour. Clearly, what started out as an interview about my comedy writing turned into a first draft of my autobiography.

http://uncomfortableisok.libsyn.com/episode-14-honing-your-craft-and-killing-your-inner-editor-with-dean-watson

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Official NCEA Guide to Cheating

When I’m not writing comedy for TV, I’m writing it for New Zealand start-up company LearnCOACH. They make “Free online tutorials for NCEA students and overbearing parents”, as our slogan says.

NCEA is the national qualification for high school students in New Zealand.
LearnCOACH is the most used tutorial website for NCEA students in the entire country.
I love working with them.

At LearnCOACH we believe there is no wrong way to get high marks, so long as you learnt it through one of our tutorials. So I wrote the Official NCEA Guide to Cheating… for all the kiwi students sitting their exams in the coming months.

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