Creative Comedy Project — The Winners

Creative Comedy Project — The Winners

12 June 2017

Read the winning pieces of comedy and find out more about the people behind them. 

Creative Comedy ProjectWe began the Creative Comedy Project at the beginning of the year — asking you to get funny for 2017. Amongst the barrage of referendums and elections, we were very clear that we all needed some light relief. 

The Creative Comedy Project is part of this year's featured production, Meera Syal's Anita and Me, adapted by Tanika Gupta. Submissions were judged on 10 categories, including laughter, originality, enjoyment and how closely they fitted the themes of Anita and Me, which include family, coming-of-age, migration, racism, love and friendship, cultural and social change. 

Over the course of the project, we received almost one hundred submissions with funny takes on all sorts of topics and situations. The coming-of-age theme makes up all of our winners with stories on 'coming-out', being in the lunch line, forgotten PE kit and altogether innocent interpretations.

As we announce our winners, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who participated and to those were able to see Anita and Me on stage. 


Comedy Gold - Lunch LustComedy Gold — Lunch Lust by Allan Payne

What was your inspiration for your comedy?
I’m sure everyone wants to read that the inspiration behind my submission was the fact that when I was a kid I was secretly in love with my own mother and manifested these sexual desires through the devotion of a dinner lady who subconsciously reminded me of my dear Ma…well, wind yer neck in, Freud! I didn’t! I’m not in love with my mother! OKAY?!

My submission is just meant to express, in the funniest way I could, the confusion, frustration and embarrassment of adolescents, of puberty, of sexuality and finding your feet in a world that, as a child (and even as an adult) seems pretty scary and daunting. (I repeat, I am not in love with my mother!)


How familiar were you with Meera Syal and Anita and Me?
Meera Syal is a household name, everyone knows and loves her. I was around 11 or 12 when Goodness Gracious Me got big and a little older when The Kumars hit the screen. I think I was a little young to realise the importance of those shows at the time, in representing a culture so massively unrepresented on British Television, but I remember watching them with my family and I remember laughing, particularly at Ummi….and it’s thanks to Meera and her Goodness Gracious Me gang that I can say the most inappropriate things at a meal and all I have to say is ‘cheque, please’ and I can totally get away with it!

I can remember watching the film Anita and Me, and the various other popular British Asian Films that came out around the same time. At this age, I could see the importance of these stories and these characters in giving a voice to a culture that was previously ignored in British Film. I can remember being shown East is East at school, for the exact same reasons Anita and Me is used as a text to study in schools today; not only for its cultural importance, but for the way it explores identity, belonging and of course coming of age.

Allan Payne, whose submission Lunch Lust has been crowned Comedy Gold

How did your interest in writing begin?
I can’t really remember when or how my interest in writing started, I’ve just always done it, but I started taking it more seriously mid-teens, when I started making films and writing the scripts for them. I was too shy and embarrassed to show them anyone (not because they were perverse or anything!) but it didn’t matter, they were fun, and I loved making them. I then went on to study Film Production and Uni and found out making up stories was my bag. I’ve been making them up ever since, and have had some success in doing so, which is great. But I hate talking about myself, it makes me feel weird and slippery, but I have a website if you’re THAT interested! 



Second place - A Break with TraditionSecond Place — A Break with Tradition by Tom Jensen

What was your inspiration for your comedy?
Thinking of the coming-of-age theme, I remembered lots of coming-out sketches I've seen and decided to turn the idea on its head. So I imagined a son confessing a love of science to his old-fashioned parents, who are totally blinkered and arts-centred. In a way, the sketch is topical, with so many forces in today's world challenging the very basis of science.


How did your interest in writing begin?
I've always loved fiction and tried writing novels, but always gave up because my plots were too illogical. Then I got an acting role at my local theatre. In one scene I played a headmaster on a video fast rewind, eating doughnuts backwards. It inspired me to write absurdist comedy plays, which I've been doing ever since.

How important do you think comedy is right now?
Comedy highlights the absurdity in every aspect of society: family, work, politics, religion, sex, money... It's the magic ingredient that grabs our attention, defuses conflict and breaks down social barriers. I'm already bored just writing so seriously about it!  

Third place - 1989Third Place — 1989 by David Gilbert

What was your inspiration for your comedy?
The motivation to write this story was born out of my experience growing up in Coventry in the 80s ... and the terrifying ordeal of forgetting your PE kit and having to go pants and vest! The race issues were particularly prominent around this time, and being the multicultural city that we were, it was always rearing its ugly head in the schoolyard.

How did your interest in writing begin?
It began as a child, I wrote monster stories and poetry (yes, you read that right). As the years went by I didn't pursue my interest, for one reason or another, but started writing again a few years back when I spotted a short story contest online. So here I am.

How familiar were you with Meera Syal and Anita and Me
I have to admit, I hadn't read Anita and Me, but I looked it up after I saw your project. When I read up on it I could relate to the themes portrayed in the story, and the characters seemed authentic and familiar. Although I am not a little Asian girl (only on Wednesdays), I think the themes of friendship and a sense of belonging are universal, and it is that which I can relate to.

Crowd Favourite - The Gruesome TwosomeCrowd Favourite — The Gruesome Twosome by Debbie Taggio

What was your inspiration for your comedy?
My submission was semi-autobiographical in nature, something very similar happened when I was at primary school and my dad did hate all 'foreign food'.  The first time I tasted anything remotely different  from meat and two veg was when I was eighteen, had my own money and could afford to go out with friends — my first taste of cultural food was a meal in a Chinese restaurant — I think I had chicken and sweet corn soup: breaking myself in gently!

How important do you think comedy is right now?
Comedy has a massive place in society today.  I think political satire, in particular, helps to keep things 'real'.  We live in a depressive world, terrorist attacks, political instability, Donald Trump to name but a few.  Comedy can change how we feel and act, it makes us happy and in a world of such upheaval I'd say that's an essential ingredient.

How did your interest in writing begin?
My interest in writing started when I was about 12.  I'd had a Guinness World Book of Records for Christmas and in it was a young girl who had written a series of books about vegetables (Percival Pea was one I recall) anyway, I thought if she could write about something as boring as a veg and get it published then I could certainly do better than that and I set about buying a spiral bound A5 notebook from Boots with my pocket money. My debut novel centred around the kidnapping of a girl called Holly Chapman, entitled  Murder at Midnight. That was my first mistake. I believed I'd got a great title - however about a third of the way through writing the book I realised there'd been no actual murder; I was writing a book for my peers and perhaps the murder of a schoolgirl wasn't going to go down too well.  With these doubts in mind, I pressed on. My second mistake was to try and illustrate the book myself; I wasn't a bad artist, still-life being a speciality - human form, not so much. To get around this problem I decided to use one of my Mum's Beatles album covers - there being enough scope from the Fab Four for my villain.  I carefully copied John, Paul, George and Ringo onto the cartridge paper and wrote, 'Sid the Kid and his gang!'  I became concerned that my antagonist, Sid, looked a little too friendly with his winsome smile and jaunty mop-top and I needed to rough him up a bit.  I gouged a deep scar into his cheek and smudged HB pencil around his chin and nose to create a stubble-ised look.  It wasn't enough and no matter how hard I tried the illustration just looked as though Paul McCartney had had a rough night at The Cavern Club, compounded by my mother's horrified exclamation: 'What on earth have you done to Paul?'  


Anita and Me opens at Wolverhampton Grand theatre, where it plays from 14 to 18 February 2017. It then tours to Cheltenham, Blackpool, Nottingham, Bradford and Edinburgh.

Get tickets for this show by visiting our tour page