TRUST ME, IT’LL BE FUNNY…

…is one sentence you’ll never hear Funnyman, Director and Twitter-Guru David Schneider say.

 

He came to BMB recently to give us a talk about Comedy, Tweeting, and the time he almost killed Steve Coogan.

It was ruddy brilliant. The only let down (as a planner pointed out afterwards) was that we didn’t nip across the road for a wheel of Neal’s Yard Cheese to wave at his olfactory organ. Because, as it turns out, David Schneider gets at least five ‘SMELL MY CHEESE’S a day.

FIVE! Not just on Twitter but in the REAL WORLD too.

Other interesting facts and tips we learned at Schneider School:

- Alan Partridge was very nearly a DJ in Milton Keynes, until Mr. Iannucci pointed out that this wasn’t quite silly enough. So Alan ended up in Norwich. Now, Schneider’s way of describing when something isn’t quite amusing enough is: ‘It’s a bit Milton Keynes’.  Which makes for a good yardstick whatever you’re writing. Is it a bit pedestrian? Can you push it further? As far as… Norwich?

- When you’re directing an actor, the worst thing you can do is ‘perform’ how you want a line to be read. Then all they’ll do is mimic it. Better to try and get them into the moment, so they get there authentically.

- Even if its a crazy idea, be as REAL with it as possible.

- In the infamous ‘Smell my cheese’ sketch, the fork was so close to Schneider’s face he almost drew blood.

- Schneider once very nearly stabbed Coogan to death. In a manner of speaking. In this scene where he plays Tony Le Mezma,during filming, he accidentally sent one of the knives flying towards him. As if by magic, the knife missed him by a milimetre.

- He’s obsessive about detail. He reckons us advert people are too. That’s one of the reasons he’s keen to direct some more of them.

- His ultimate rule: When you’re directing, always be able to explain your creative choices. Saying them out loud to someone gives you one last chance to check you’re not bullshitting. Never, ever, just say ‘trust me, it’ll be funny.’

After entertaining us with a veritable cheese-board of Alandotes, Prof. Schneider moved on to a crash-course in Hashtaggery:

- In his view, the ‘direct sell’ approach always bombs on twitter. It’s all about being tangential, like these lot. 

- Timing is everything. Being the first to react gives you instant purchase. A mediocre joke pays double if the timing is bang on.

- Twitter is a fertile testing ground for jokes. Tim Vine and Betfair Poker being two of his favourites.

- With the right ghost-tweeter, the dullest of dullard brands can have a personality. Bolts are pretty boring creatures, but there’s something amusingly incongruous about the idea of a bolt being funny isn’t there?

- 98% of Schneider’s Twitter followers think he is Ross off of Friends*.

But it wasn’t until the final lesson at Schneider School that my life-long commitment to not joining Twitter was finally smashed into little pieces.He pointed out the obvious – that 140 characters is a great way of training to be  pithier, punchier and preciser in your writing (never been my strong-point, I won’t lie). And in that sense, he argued, all copywriters worth their salt should be on Twitter.

That was me told. So, I’ve given up being a luddite and started Twittering, as has Nat. See you there over there! Brevity is the soul of wit, and all that.

 

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