Funny business

(‘reator of Rub C. Nesbilt. the funny-bone of Scottish comedy lan Pattison speaks to Eddie Gibb about the sobering effects of an increasing workload and his latest forays into the Glasgow psyche.

8 comedy writer Rob Long a veteran of the Boston bar-room sitcom ('lu't'rv —‘ was in lidinburgh recently talking about the nightmare of The Room. In return for mega- bucks salaries. American TV writers are subjected to a form of ritual humiliation vv hereby every gag that shoots otit of their months is tested on the other room-mates. If it doesn‘t raise a laugh the line dies right there —- the etiquette of The Room dictates that no joke is offered twice.

But even if the joke survives The Room. it may still be ditched by a powerful star like Roseanne. vvhose 'input’ can ensure the writer never works on the show again. The Hollywood joke about the dumb actress who knew so little about the 'l’inseltown power structure she slept with the writer is even truer itt 'l‘V than the movies.

Ian Pattison: ‘l‘ve never hit anyone over the head with a baseball bat.’

14 The List l7-3() May l‘)‘)(i

In Britain. comedy writing has traditionally been a Ioner's pursuit. though there are some notable writing duos such as (roll and Perry whose credits include Dad's Army and [Ii-IM- llt'.’. There are even some signs that The Room is being introduced here too. with massively

successful sitcoms like Bin/s ()f A [Tut/m-

employing teams of writers. However. comedy output from Scotland remains disproportionately iii the hands ot‘one man Ian

l’attison. best known as creator and writer of

every episode of /\’(t/) (i. Nev/iii]. l'iol' some years he has been BB(’ Scotland‘s goose that laid the golden gag. liven by the standards of l’attison's prodigious output he is a busy man at the moment. His first comedy drama Bad Boys. which adds an extra twenty minutes to the standard half-hour sitcom format. begins its six-episode run “3:4 later this month. while shooting

K34... has started on his next comedy “51:”. . . , -

g ._ 4” project :ll/I/(‘llt‘u l’ur/tt'k about a 532:3: pub football team. On top of tha

.\'esbitt in the not too distant future. Perhaps team work »— even the dreaded Room looks tnore appealing after all'.’ like other people. I've looked at (livers and thought that is terrific] he responds. ‘but I don’t want to be part of a production line. I can appreciate that very good - comedy can be made that way —- I just don't want to be part of it. American producers would probably say the important thing is that the show is good and you check your ego at the door. but I think really your self-respect goes there too.‘ ;\s it turned out. li’ttt/ “(HIV had to be written by different writers who took on episodes when it became clear l’attison was too busy to turn otit

television drama by himself.

he has to deliver a sixth series of

five hours of

He wrote the opener and one other episode. while taking a lead in script meetings. Although l’attison accepts this was inevitable. his tone suggests mixed feelings about losing creative control over the series be devised.

"l’here will be good things that come out of that. such as a sense of energy will transmit itself.‘ he says. ‘but against that the grace notes of characterisation may not be all I might have wanted them to be. On balance it‘s something I have to live wilh.‘

While Ru!) ('. :V'r's/n'tt was a spin-off from a character in BBC' Scotland's sketch show Naked lit/m. the two lovable rogues at the heart of Bad Boys first appeared in a Mcliwan‘s lixport ad. l-‘reddie Boardley is a well-known Scottish character actor who has appeared in Nesbitl. among other things. while (‘ockney wideboy Karl llowman is probably best known as the work-shy husband in TV ads for Flash cleaning fluid. .»\s liraser and Wayne. they play two ex- cons trying to go straight(ish) on the fringes of (ilasgow‘s upwardly-mobile gangland. In one

‘Like other people, I’ve looked at Cheers and thought that is terrific, but I don’t want to be part of a production line. I can appreciate that very good comedy can he made that way - I just don’t want to be part of it.’

of the best lines Pattison's in the first episode. this high-tech world of mobile phones and pocket calculators is described as the domain of the ‘lnterned‘.

Fraser and Wayne. meanwhile. still use those old-fashioned tools of the trade the baseball bat. the claw hammer and the crowbar. It‘s a comic caper involving sharp dialogue and cartoon—strip violence cleansed of blood or guts. .-\s with M's/tilt. much of the humour lies in putting elaborately convoluted lines in the months of people who are rarely that witty in real life. A working knowledge of Glasgow patter would also be helpful - presumably the BB(‘ assumes that Rab‘s lessons in ‘parliamo (ilesca’ have brought linglish audiences up to speed.

‘I suppose everything I do is from a Scottish perspectiv e. and further on from that a Scottish. working-class (ilasgovv. (iovan perspective.‘ says l’attison. "l‘hat‘s what I am. that's where I come from and everything I do will be informed by those roots. I write about the things I know about so to that extent it‘s from direct experience. but that doesn‘t mean that every incident that occurs in Bad Boys or M's/2m has happened to me. For instance. I‘ve never hit anyone over the head with a baseball bat but I know people who have.‘

“(HI li’nvs begins" on lliv/nmv/uv 2‘) May on l§l§('/.