Writing knock backs are weird.
Writing knock backs are weird because they’re not personal. They’re not the kind of thing we’re looking for at the moment, they’re we already have something similar in development, they’re it’s comedy drama, Michael, and we don’t make comedy drama in the UK (always, that).
Getting something into development is about being in the right place at the right time with the right idea and the right amount of bravado to think you’re the right person to write it.
Getting something into development – to borrow one of my favourite Buffy lines – is like trying to hit a puppy by throwing a live bee at it.
Writing knock backs aren’t personal.
But writing is personal.
Monster is a script I wrote a couple of years ago. I wrote it for BAFTA Rocliffe’s New Comedy Forum, because I wanted a new comedy spec and because I needed a deadline.
Like all the things I’ve written that I’ve been pleased with, the genesis of it – the idea, the characters, the shape, a lot of the best jokes – came out in a week.
At the time, I thought it was this silly comedy about a trickster who comes along to mess with some guy’s perfect life; when I took a step back, however, I realised that it was really about men and mental health, internalised homophobia, shame, family and the way we relate to each other.
It’s about a guy called Will who loses his job and suffers a nervous breakdown. He moves in with his Dad and step mum to find that Puck – the monster who used to live under his bed when he was a kid – is still there.
Will’s uptight, a perfectionist, with his heart set on putting his perfect life back together; Puck’s a slacker, a trickster, who comes to represent Will’s fragile mental state – Will’s never sure whether Puck is real, or whether he made him up himself – and seems to thrive on getting Will into trouble.
It also has some really, really good jokes.
It did the rounds a couple of times – people like it, but weren’t sure what to do with it – and I get it. It’s a hard sell.
But it’s a script I’m really proud of, and a script that I feel like is part of a conversation we’re – finally – having about mental health and masculinity.
Let me know what you think.