The Funny Women Awards season has come to a close and a new batch of comedy winners have emerged. Meet Carol Walsh who won the Comedy Writing Award for her script Savages.
Writing about tragedy is easy – it’s comedy that is hard. We laugh at jokes but we don’t always appreciate all the hard work that goes behind it. Often comedy writing is not given its dues, which is why writing awards like this are so important to acknowledge our unsung comedy heroes.
Carol Walsh is obsessed with family and uses it as a backdrop in her award-winning script Savages. The protagonist Cat has to move home in the pilot episode and finds herself in the midst of a hilarious and dysfunctional family drama involving three generations of women living together and trying not to kill each other. We caught up with her for a chat about the Awards, comedy, and her winning script Savages.
TT: CONGRATULATIONS, CAROL! HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THE AWARD?
Surreal, mad, and great. I’ve been working in drama but my heart is in comedy so winning helped me feel validated. It’s also absolutely terrifying because now I really need to get a move on and WRITE!
TT; WHAT IS YOIR SCRIPT SAVAGES ABOUT?
Savages is about three generations of women, each with their own issues, living a shared life and resisting the urge to kill each other. My main character, Cat, is forced to move home in the pilot episode and that throws any balance in the family out a window. I love shows where the main characters are stuck with each other in hilarious and unhealthy ways so I wanted to have some fun with that.
TT: WHAT INSPIRE YOU TO WRITE THE SCRIPT?
I’m obsessed with families. I love seeing where people have come from, what their town is like, what their parents are like. I started with the idea of Cat, a smart woman who is running from her mistakes and keeps messing up, and I wanted to know how she got there.
TT: WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FUNNY WOMEN?
That is a long, long list. Caroline Aherne is up there. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Joyce Grenfell (especially in the original St Trinians), Nancy Mitford, Bridget Christie, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman, Olivia Coleman in anything, Jessica Hynes. Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant are killing it on SNL right now. I’m forgetting so many. Like I said…it’s a long, long list. My absolute favourite funny woman of all time is Julia Davis. In Hunderby, in Nighty Night, in Human Remains or Gavin and Stacey. I love her work. Lizzie and Sarah should have been a much bigger deal.
TT: TAKE US THROUGH YOUR WRITING PROCESS. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE JOKES?
My writing process involves long amounts of procrastination. Way, way too much procrastination followed by fevered bursts of intense writing where I’m bunkered down in my bed and basically just type until I smell bad. It’s ain’t a glamourous profession kids, study law! Joke-wise, I don’t spend a lot of time crafting one-liners. I come up with characters I like, throw them into horrible situations and let the humor come out of that. Basically, if I’m laughing when I’m writing it then I know it’s going somewhere.
TT: HOW DID YOU GET THROUGH THE DREADED WRITER’S BLOCK?
I’ve never had writer’s block where I can’t come up with ideas, the blank page doesn’t scare me that way. My problem with is the fear that the writing won’t properly wrangle those ideas into being, that I’m fecking everything up. I think this is a common enough problem with writers. The only way to deal with it is to write through it. Seriously, think of it as a marathon. Get the first draft. Then a second. Keep going. Keep working. It gets easier.
TT: WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL COMEDY SCRIPT?
Brilliant characters, genuine storytelling and fantastic plotting. But you knew that already, right? Basically any episode of Seinfeld, Black Books or Peep Show. Read scripts. You can find lots online. The more you read the sharper your instincts will be.
TT: WHAT’S NEXT FOR SAVAGES? WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?
Well, part of the Funny Women prize was a script option with The Comedy Unit, so I get to work on Savages with people who know their stuff. Very excited about that. I’m working on some other projects too, an animation and a children’s book. I’m also looking into cheese mongering. Seriously. Someone needs to monger cheese, why not me?
TT: ANY ADVICE FOR INSPIRING COMEDY WRITERS?
Watch a lot of comedy, read a lot of scripts, keep a notebook, don’t give up and work hard. Write stuff that makes you laugh first and foremost. Oh, and enter the Funny Women Awards. Obviously!