(Left to right: Lewis Cook, David Lloyd, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Naomi Carter, Tony Kennedy, Becky Brunning, Janet Adams, Laura Ollerton, Billy Quain)
Vince Stadon, producer, writes: The Bristol Sitcom Trials team performed our last show of 2013 on Friday night at the Ring O Bells, Bath, as part of the extended Bath Comedy Festival.
The winning sitcom, as voted by a good-sized audience (around 40), was...
... "Being Social" by Naomi Carter.
Congrats to Naomi, commiserations to the other writers who's sitcoms went down well with an appreciative (if sometimes quiet) audience.
The host of the show was the splendid Becky Brunning, who kept proceedings running smoothly and hilariously, and who had a tremendous rapport with the audience. ("The next Sitcom Trials show is in Bristol, apparently," said Becky, "which is a much more common version of Bath.")
The running order was:
"Arthouse" by Graeme Knowles - went down well, a good start to the show. A fast and funny script, peppered with clever references to works of art, and excellent characters. Plus, having an actress dressed in hot pants and thigh length boots is always going to perk things up (and a big thank you to Bath Comedy Director Nick Steel for his cameo role as a besotted art lover).
Cast: Billy Quain, Naomi Carter, Lewis Cook, Laura Ollerton, David Lloyd (as the terrifying Bob Sharp), Janet Adams and Glenys Leigh McIntyre.
"Bookmobile" by Chris Dennis - Chris was at the show, and it was lovely to meet him. "Bookmobile" is a much more gentle, character-driven sitcom, the perfect contrast to the frenetic pace of "Arthouse", with a cracking cliffhanger. In rehearsals, a bit of business when a character named Penny has to whack a character named Ken around the head with a book always had me speed-dialling the Bristol Royal Infirmary Accident and Emergency Department, but on the night it went perfectly with no major headaches.
Cast: Janet Adams, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Lewis Cook, David Lloyd.
"Hench" by Andrew Tate - a very blokey sitcom (James Bond, gadgets, football) with some great gags (especially about sharks) and a great villain. David Lloyd provided a John Motson-style football commentary as well as guest-starring as Wayne Rooney, to much laughter. All those 007 references made me nostalgic for earlier Sitcom Trials show, which seemed to be awash with them.
Cast: Lewis Cook, Billy Quain, Laura Ollerton, Tony Kennedy, David Lloyd.
During the intermission the audience got to work scribbling down their Pitch Fest entries, which Becky read out during the gaps between the final two sitcoms in the second half. The Bath audience, who had warmed up considerably, produced some cracking Pitch Fest ideas, including this strange entry:
Title: "Cereal Serials"
One line pitch:
"5 convicted serial killers discuss body disposal, moral injustice & finding the Jesus over breakfast."
Your name: Aileen Wurnos
You can always count on a Bath audience to display arcane knowledge.
"Being Social" by Naomi Carter - Kicked off the second half of the show brilliantly, with a great blend of character, plot and gags, leading to a frenetic cliffhanger. Tony Kennedy, playing social worker Jack, pitched his performance to a level of camp somewhere up the Himalayas, much to the delight of the audience, though my favourite bit is the non-verbal entrance and swift exit of a character named Margaret (played by Laura Ollerton) at a crucial moment.
Cast: Naomi Carter, Tony Kennedy, Janet Adams, David Lloyd, Laura Ollerton.
Finally, there was "Backstage" by Neil Tollfree - a gun, a spotlight, and Lewis Cook in his pants. Yes, LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS. That's worth the entry fee alone. This had to have been the sexiest Sitcom Trials show ever staged (Kev, any other contenders?). Another terrific sitcom, with well-drawn characters and snappy dialogue, and the perfect way to end the show.
Still reeling from LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS!, the audience voted for their favourite sitcom, and their favourite Pitch Fest entry.
The prize for the winning Pitch Fest is to have the team write and perform a mini-sitcom (about five minutes) for the next show. And we've been tasked with writing and performing...
..."You 'Aint 'Alf Hot, Mum": "Mockumentary following a middle-aged mother's daily struggle with the menopause whilst trying to fight off her incestuous teenage son's advances" by Chris Dennis (writer of the splendid "Bookmobile"). So that'll be a hoot, and something to look forward to in our next show. Congrats to Chris, who'll be given a free seat at the Wardrobe Theatre to see how we get on.
As mentioned up top, Naomi Carter's "Being Social" was the winning sitcom, and had its second half performed, bringing to close a most enjoyable night.
My thanks go to our wonderful cast - Janet Adams, Naomi Carter, LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS!, Tony Kennedy, David Lloyd, Glenys Leigh McIntyre, Laura Ollerton, and Billy Quain.
And to the writers - Naomi Carter, Chris Dennis, Graeme Knowles, Andrew Tate, and Neil Tollfree.
And to Nick Steel, Director of the Bath Comedy Festival, plus the very helpful staff at the Ring O Bells.
And to Kev F, as always.
The next Bristol Sitcom Trials show is on Friday 4th April 2014, at our usual home of the Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol. Details of how to enter your script will be forthcoming in the new year.
We'll be announcing the broadcast of the first batch of the Radio Sitcom Trials within a few weeks, so watch this space. Plus, details of our second one-act play, which will run at the Wardrobe Theatre for the last week of January.
Sadly, the show wasn't filmed. Though with LEWIS COOK IN HIS PANTS! that might not be a bad thing.
If you would like to create the next great British situation comedy, The Sitcom Trials is an opportunity for your sitcom to be seen live.