Why I chose to study Comedy Writing online
04 July 2022
This piece was written by Anna Calandra, MA Comedy Writing (Online) graduand.
I had a hard time in 2019, so I started hibernating with Netflix before it was cool.
Grieving a family member, a long-term relationship, and a job that actually gave me purpose was seemingly too much for my rose-tinted glasses (which is a pity because I got them in the 90s, so they would totally be back in style by now).
Stand-up comedy, sitcoms, and comedy-dramas got me through that hard time, and thanks to my patient, middle-class housemates and parents (shout out to my privilege), I found my Ikigai. I chose to study an MA in Comedy Writing so that I might help someone who feels like I did back in 2019.
When I was looking for master’s courses in comedy writing, Falmouth was actually the only university that offered one! However, it was the university’s reputation, the course prospectus, and course leader Simon Nicholls’s smiling face that sealed the deal (don’t tell him though, let’s keep him humble).
The way that the online learning materials are organised means that going back to revise things from previous modules is super easy. The structure that Simon encourages us to use – from visualisation to pitching to commissioners – is outlined so well that every time I have a new idea, I can just check the notes and get to work.
In early 2020, alongside my MA application, I got creative with remote work opportunities. Working as a self-employed Media Production Specialist, I helped small production companies create award-winning radio plays for the BBC, Radiotopia and Audible. In 2021, I pitched my business at Falmouth's Dragon’s Den competition and won. I was grateful to receive funding and advice from the panel of alumni entrepreneurs and the then Vice Chancellor, and was thrilled to be invited back this year as a judging panelist. Falmouth really is a beautiful place, and the university staff are lovely.
I chose to study an MA in Comedy Writing so that I might help someone who feels like I did back in 2019.
The Dragon’s Den experience gave me the skills and confidence I needed to win a place on the Roundhouse Business Accelerator course, which included pitching to Tom Connaughton, Managing Director of Spotify. It was Tom who suggested that I put together my passion for audio, my love of comedy, and my familiarity with the gaps in the industry to create my own production company – Serious Face Productions. If you’re wondering about the name, make a serious face and look in the mirror – you can’t help but laugh. We are currently producing a podcast called That’s Actually Funny, in which I educate my bewildered boyfriend Alex in the ways of comedy.
Studying this course has also led to a personal discovery: I have ADHD and I had no idea. I thought I was careless and absent-minded, but I have come to understand that the things I struggle with most are not personality flaws, but symptoms. The staff at Falmouth have been so helpful and understanding in this process. My supervisor Nicko Vaughan has been particularly encouraging. I have learned about comedy and writing over the past two years, but this discovery is still the most valuable thing I have taken away from my experience.
I would recommend the MA in Comedy Writing because it’s flexible, fun, and made up of a community of people who want you to succeed. I’m currently working on a sci-fi comedy-drama series called Attention, Please. It’s about a God with ADHD who accidentally breaks the cardinal rule of the Meta Galaxy: ‘do not under any circumstances, allow characters from different media to meet’.
My intention is to make Attention, Please a meaningful, funny and well-produced comedy drama for young and diverse people - currently under-served audio audiences. I’m in the process of meeting with investors and commissioners to make that happen.