Writing a weekly Tv quiz show has become for me a new way to write humour. And if writing humour is always a harrowing task, being in charge of all the writing plus the research and choosing the right questions with the right level of difficulty is trickier than it seems. In my case, doing it in English makes it no easier either, as it involves constantly checking the vocabulary. But, on the flip side, it’s one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done.
Finding rather than creating
It’s not easy to get a laugh from the contestants, let alone the audience. And my jokes miss the target more often than I care to admit. Now, quiz shows or panel games have a fantastic aspect, which it’s pretty evident. For all the mentioned difficulties, as a writer you are not the only responsible for the content. It is already done for you. Other than the participants and the presenter, the core of it is the information in terms of questions and answers in a variety of rounds. So you don’t have to come up with this information, only to find it, choose it and present it. That research takes time indeed and you certainly need some criteria to select the questions and the stories that match the tone of the show, but not so much creative talent as common sense.
That’s why getting interesting, funny and surprising content is a very important part of it. So I’ve imposed on myself the duty of always looking for content that I find fascinating. The result? Well, of course when you’re churning out scripts on a weekly basis and you dare to watch the result you see sometimes bits you like, typically, when the presenters improve one of your lines, or they simply improvise. It may make you sad you that you didn’t write with that line, but if you see it from a broader perspective, you created the situation.
Then you see things that you think could have been better and well, a few things you wrote that you wished you had never written, but that is part of the job. The overall impression, though, is what counts. That, and the possibility to improve on the next script. Yes. That is one of the marvellous things of weekly or daily shows. You get to learn because you have the opportunity to make mistakes.
Not too many, I hope.
In case you want to see an example. Here’s one of the quiz shows I’ve written, as part of my duties as the scriptwriter of the programme ‘The Weekly Mag’ (La Xarxa de Comunicació Local). It’s a panel game called Guess What, inside the magazine show. Have fun.