Today is the day when we find out if what Jim and I think is funny is funny. It’s the recording of our first episode of the sitcom we have created “Everyone Quite Likes Justin” for Radio 4. We did a pilot last year and it seemed to do well. People laughed, and the good people of Radio 4 decided to give us a series. It revolves around a warmhearted Manchester radio DJ whose life is a little bit stuck. He’s divorced, passed his best years, a father and trying to improve his life. It isn’t based on my own life. Honest. It’s really not. Despite the facts that scream out louder than a Navy Seal who has just realised he’s become the biggest hero in the United States since that bloke who discovered peanut butter and jello sandwiches are lush. It’s just co-incidence. I’m nervous, excited, proud and wired all at once. There is no feeling like the one you have just before you do the read through with the cast. Seeing if the words you have sweated over, argued about, modified, cut and put back, forgotten and remembered work. Is this funny enough? That question has been at the very forefront of our writing since Day 1. We haven’t forgotten all the way through what our primary objective has always been – to make it laugh out loud funny on every page. Of course we have to have stories, and we have, but for me the jokes have to be thing that keeps people listening. It’s very much in the vein of an audience sitcom on the TV. I wouldn’t say old fashioned, but I think you know what I mean. The ones where if you don’t like them get called old fashioned. If you do like it, you call it traditional. If you are stupid and don’t like it, you bandy phrases round like ‘canned laughter’.
So tonight we have an audience, Paul the BBC sound man and his van (genius), producers, co-ordinators and a brilliant cast. I’m well chuffed. Returning from the pilot we have Lloyd Langford as Bryn, Paul Copley as Ray my father in law and Anne Reid as my Gran. Playing Tanya my ex-wife is Susan Cookson and playing Lisa my will he/won’t he love interest is Christine Bottomley. Also appearing tonight is Caimh McDonnell as a Priest. He’s very funny and has made the sacrifice of selling his Dylan Moran tickets he got for his birthday to do it.
And me. And Jim playing ‘Waiter’ – two lines, watch him milk it.
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