I've been noticing lately how many UK television comedies seem to have been written by writer/performers rather than 'straight' writers. Obviously, this puts the likes of me, who despite having MASSIVE charismas to spare have never quite got round to treading the boards and so on, in a bit of a bate. But it does make sense, and rather than having a big old sulk about it, I think it's worth purestrain writers like myself taking a moment to think about how mixed-craft Mudblood writer/performers (spit) have a number of natural advantages over us, and how we might learn from their nasty sawdust and greasepaint-stained sneak-ahead advantages what are thus:
1. Performers have usually read a lot of scripts as part of their job, so they know how a script is laid out, what a good script reads like and, just as importantly, what rings the alarm bells in a poor script.
2. A lot of comedy performers are already writers as well, durr.
3. Performers are more than happy to get off their arses and arrange readings, get people in to see them, and generally promote themselves I DON'T MEAN JUST HAVING A WEBSITE WITH A MOODY PHOTO OF A HAND HOLDING A BIRO.
4. Whilst hanging around reading other peoples' scripts, they meet other performers in the same boat, so there's a built-in support community there, unlike writers, who like to noisily applaud each other on blogs or twitter, but if they actually meet in a real location like a pub, tend to stare jealously at their own feet, hoping no-one is going to one day become more successful than they plan to be.
5. Even if a performer is in a successful show what is going out and such, there's a lot of time hanging around waiting for their turn to say words/swordfight/whatever. Many actors use that time to have sexual intercourses with one another, but the smarter ones will ensure further work/sexing opportunities for themselves by writing their own scripts, thus ensuring their wretched ways will continue like some kind of twisted perpetual motion machine.
6. Some performers are annoyingly well-read, and have naturally good timing, which often translates surprisingly well to the page.
7. Many performers get to hang out with agents, producers, commissioners, runners-who-are-offspring-of-important-people, and in many cases sex them right up. This gives them an opportunity to pass on a script they have written, although hopefully after a discreet amount of time has passed, usually three or four minutes.
8. There is a lot more money in the actings than the writings, so performers will take the hit on the script fee, knowing they will get literally more times the money for acting their own wretched words than typing them.
9. The idea of pitching a series to a number of high-ranking execs will fill a performer, not with an existential horror that could cause him or her to claw out their own eyes, but with a rising realisation that they could not only storm this, but quite possibly end up sleeping with one of the execs to boot if all goes well. THIS HAS LITERALLY NEVER OCCURRED TO ANY WRITER EVER.
10. Performers usually smell nicer, at least before sundown.
So that's why.
UPDATE: Andy RIley (Big Train, Hyperdrive, Black Books) has suggested another one, perhaps the most important of all, thinking about it.
11. "When a writer/performer is pitching a show, exec just has to imagine a rectangle round their face. Makes it easy. With a writer/writer, Exec has to stretch imagination much further. Hard."
Which, durr to me for not thinking of it before, because yeah, when a writer is pitching it, the exec has to think 'but who would I cast for this? What sort of 'tone' would it have?' Is the answer to this every writer putting a note in every script that they plan to take the lead role themselves, thus putting the exec instantly at their ease?