Car Share co-writer Paul Coleman talks about his life and comedy with us
We interview comedy writer Paul Coleman about Car Share and the life of a writer.
What was the first piece of comedy that you ever wrote?
The first piece of comedy I wrote has never seen the light of day! My first paid gig was working as Script Editor on Max and Paddy’s Road to nowhere for Channel 4. This was a great introduction to writing sitcom script and Peter was very generous to let me get involved in the first place.
How do you know that what you have written is funny for everybody and not just for you?
You think you know it’s funny, and your gut tells you it is. Problem is your gut can sometimes be off and you sometimes don’t know this until it’s filmed. You also need to recognise you won’t make everybody laugh you just need to find enough people to make it successful. I’ve met people who have told me they didn’t like Car Share – which I find a bit weird, but it’s OK. Not everybody should like it. I don’t know a sitcom that’s universally loved.
When you write with other people how does this work. Do you write independently then put ideas together?
I have worked both ways and whilst I enjoy sitting alone and tapping away at a computer, I also occasionally do a bit of writing and I enjoy doing that with others. Laughing with fellow writers is a great way to spend your day.
“I’ve met people who have told me they didn’t like Car Share”
Series one of Car Share was mainly written alone and then we came together to discuss input. Writing series two of Car Share was a process Peter, Sian and I did together, whilst this involved long lunches and lengthy discussions it also involved writing dialogue and coming up with situations.
How much are your influenced by other people’s comedy?
Massively influenced by other people. Growing up I would watch Porridge, Rising Damp, and Bilko. I knew Victoria Wood sketches word for word and at secondary school got into lots of American comics – mainly Saturday Night Live acts.
What advice would you give to a school pupil who really wants to write comedy?
Don’t do it in your maths lesson.
Did you imagine Car Share to be as popular as it was? How many series do you envisage? Have you written more than two?
We had no idea that Car Share would be successful, obviously, we hoped it would be, but you never really have a clue. We have filmed series two and it will be on TV screens early next year. Whether John and Kayleigh come back after that I’m not telling, watch series 2 and then let’s discuss it.
How much time do you spend time writing a day? Do you have set pattern?
I have no pattern. Although I do prefer to write in the mornings. It very much depends on deadlines and if you’re writing with someone else. My goal is to write something each day. This can range from a number of pages of dialogue to just a simple gag for a character.
“I knew Victoria Wood sketches word for word”
Has technology changed how you write comedy with Google etc?
I’ve tried to get my Final Draft (writers software) scripts to be visible on co-writers screens, failed and given up.
What is your view on old time comedies such as Hi Di Hi and Ever Decreasing Circles?
We, l I can honestly say I’ve never been asked that question before. I have not seen Ever Decreasing Circles for years, I enjoyed it at the time. Hi Di Hi I have seen more recently and whilst a number of the gags have not aged well it’s still funny. Comedies such as Dad’s Army continue to pull in huge audiences (often beating new sitcoms), so a market clearly exists for them.
What’s next for you?