Lebara Money: “Date” TV Advert (Nigeria)

Want to send money abroad? Let Lebara help! Safe and easy to use. Our Lebara Money website and mobile app give you the flexibility you need. Send money now! Visit, http://www.lebara-money.com.

Produced by Ajay Arora of Nodachi Design
Directed by: Simon & Gregory Mills
DOP: Allen Della-Valle

Shot on Red MX, in London over two days, with restaurant scenes shot through netted Zeiss Superspeed lenses.

Edited on Final Cut Pro – Steve Couch
Graded on Quantel EQ – Catskinners

Cast:
Brother (Nigeria) – Mishael Obozua
Date (Nigeria) – Alisha Willams
Waiter (Nigeria) – Dixon Weiner
Brother (London) – Damola Onadeko

http://www.lebara.co.uk/

This content was originally published here.

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How I Knew That I Have Found My Missing Rib – Spiff reveals as he shares wedding photos

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Award-winning actor,Samuel Ajibola, aka ‘Spiff’ in the television series, ‘The Johnsons’, who recently fulfilled the traditional obligations of taking his bride home, has opened up on the signs he saw that made him tie the knot officially, with his bride. He also spoke about raising children and how his boyish looks affected him.

In an interview with Saturday Beats, the love-struck actor, who described himself as a very lucky man, said their union was destined to happen at the right time.

When he was asked the signs that made him certain that he had found his missing rib, the actor said, “Right from primary school, I knew that I was either going to settle down with an Igbo woman or a white lady. But I had an 80 per cent chance of settling down with an Igbo woman who is fair and comes from a Catholic family. Those were the traits of the girls I was usually attracted to. But for my spouse, she had some features that reminded me of my mum when she was younger and since I have so much resemblance to my dad, I knew it was going to be easy to settle down with her. I’m also in tune with my spiritual life, so I knew it was meant to be. I saw the signs and messages and I wasn’t going to take chances. When she met my parents, they were also of the opinion that she would be a great wife.

Audio: Listen to this beautiful track (Kayode – Pemi Lori Ago)

“To be honest, my fiancée is a beautiful soul full of happiness and she is a great person. So, it was not hard convincing my parents that she is good for me. My parents are not tribalists– they were open to receiving anybody. I also got a warm reception from my in-laws too. Ours was just a kingdom wedding that was destined to happen. We courted for about two years but we had known a long time that we were destined for each other. We were just waiting for the right time.”

And about his recently concluded wedding, Spiff said, “My wedding was a huge success. We shook Anambra town. A young prince from the west came in search of his own princess.

Speaking about the reactions that trailed the news of his engagement, the actor with boyish looks, said he was long overdue to settle down.

“To be honest, for some years now, I had been long overdue to settle down. But most people did not have an idea about it because I look very young and I play young characters most of the time. So, marriage was not what a lot of people or fans ever imagined for me. But I knew that I was of age and I needed to settle down soon to move on to the next phase in life.

“At the point that I knew she was the one for me, I wasn’t going to waste time anymore. As soon as we started getting along and both families had met each other, we were just counting down until when we were ready for it,” he said.

And about raising a family, he added, “I’m not considering a large family. We are planning (to have) not more than three children, considering the population of Nigeria. It’s really hard to raise children here.”

See photos from the wedding ceremony

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12 Nollywood Celebrities from the decades you must know | P.M. News

Chief Hubert Ogunde

By Funmilola Olukomaiya

The Nigerian movie industry has evolved, but this didn’t come cheap as it was achieved through a lot of hard work, dedication and persistence through the efforts of the pioneers of the industry.

Most millennials know little or nothing about how Nollywood came to be and the truth is, they really careless.

Below are 12 of Nigeria’s movie industry (both English and Yoruba) celebrities and pioneers from the decades you must know.

1.) Hubert Ogunde

The late Hubert Ogunde in one of his films

Hubert Ogunde was a Nigerian playwright, actor, theatre manager, and musician. He was a pioneer in the field of Nigerian folk opera (a type of drama in which music and dancing played a significant role). He was the founder of the Ogunde Concert Party (1945), the first professional theatrical company in Nigeria. Ogunde who was often regarded as the father of Nigerian theatre sought to reawaken interest in his country’s indigenous culture. He died on April 4, 1990, in London, England.

2.) Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipo

Duro Ladipọ was one of the best known and critically acclaimed Yoruba dramatists who emerged from post-colonial Africa. Writing solely in the Yoruba language, he captivated the symbolic spirit of Yoruba mythologies in his plays, which were later adapted to other media such as photography, television and cinema. As a teacher in a church school at Oshogbo in 1960, Ladipo scandalized church members by including bata drums in the Easter cantata that he had composed for the church and was thereafter obliged to seek a secular outlet for his musical interests. In 1962 he founded the Mbari Mbayo Club, and for its inauguration, his new theatre company performed his first opera, Oba Moro (“Ghost-Catcher King”). He premiered Oba Koso (“The King Did Not Hang”) at the club’s first anniversary in 1963 and a year later introduced Oba Waja (“The King is Dead”). All three operas are based on the history of the Oyo kingdom and are available in English in Three Yoruba Plays (1964). He died Mar. 11, 1978, in Oshogbo.

3.) Ola Balogun

Ola Balogun

Born 1st of August 1945, Ola Balogun is a unique figure in Nigerian cinema. In the 1970s and 1980s, he influenced the film industry in Nigeria like no other person and paved the way for the Nollywood boom that began in the early 1990s. The fact that he is virtually forgotten outside of Nigeria nowadays is also a function of the fact that many copies of his films have disappeared. He also ventured into the Nigerian music industry in 2001. Balogun studied cinematography at Institut des hautes études cinématographiques.

4.) Adeyemi Afolayan (Ade Love)

Adeyemi Afolayan aka Ade Love

Adeyemi Afolayan also known as Ade Love was a Nigerian film actor, director and producer. He brother to actress Toyin Afolayan and father to film actors, Kunle Afolayan, Gabriel Afolayan, Moji Afolayan and Aremu Afolayan. In 1966, Afolayan joined Moses Olaiya’s drama troupe, and in 1971, he left to establish his own drama group which went on to stage comedic plays. He appeared in Ola Balogun’s Ajani Ogun in 1976, and later produced and starred Ija Ominira, also directed by Balogun. Kadara, ‘Destiny’ in English was the first movie he wrote, produced and also starred as the leading actor. The movie was shown at the ninth Tashkent film festival for African and Asian cinema. Afolayan went on to produce and star in other productions such as Ija Orogun, Taxi Driver and Iya ni Wura. He died in 1996.

5.) Sam Loco Efe

Sam Loco Efe

Sam Loco Efe was a popular comic actor who was born in Enugu. His first experience with acting was at his school when a theatre group came to stage a play called ‘The Doctor In Spite of Himself’, afterwards, he discussed with members of the group about the theatre and performance arts. In elementary school, he was a member various groups including a drama society that performed a rendition of Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ at an Eastern regional arts festival in Abakaliki,[8] the play came last in the drama competition but Efe was noted as the best actor which earned him a scholarship to complete elementary school. After finishing elementary school, he attended various secondary schools and was active in the drama society, organizing a performance of ‘The Doctor in Spite of Himself’ and a play called ‘Vendetta’. After secondary school, he was a member of a travelling theatre group and played soccer earning the moniker locomotive later shortened as loco. He died 7th August 2011.

6.) Oyin Adejobi

Oyin Adejobi

Chief Oyin Adejobi was a very popular dramatist and seasoned actor in South-Western Nigeria. He wrote and performed in a variety of Yoruba productions on the stage, television and movies. He was especially well known for his autobiographical movie ‘Orogun Adedigba’. He also had a weekly television show, ‘Kootu Asipa’ meaning “Ashipa’s Court” on Nigerian Television Authority, Ibadan. The Oyin Adejobi Popular Theatre Company is named for him. He died in the year 2000.

7.) Professor Peller

Professor Peller

Professor Moshood Abiola Peller was a Nigerian magician and one of Africa’s most renowned magicians. He was born in 1941 at Iseyin, Oyo State and he was named Moshood Folorunsho Abiola. He later picked the stage name of ‘Professor Peller’, an appellation that has stuck to him like a second skin. He started performing illusion tricks in 1954 travelling to Ibadan, Lagos and Oyo for performances. In 1959, he changed occupation and began work as a representative of G.B.O. and later moved into trading. His interest in illusion continued and in 1964, he attended a school of magical arts in India, he spent 18 months at the school and after completion, settled in Liberia. In 1966, he had his first post-training show at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos. He was later assassinated in 1997.

8.) Alade Aromire

Alade Aromire

Muyideen Alade Aromire was a popular actor and producer who was also the owner and creator of Yotomi Television, a cross-cultural broadcasting station with bias for Yoruba-based programmes. Alade was believed to have produced the first home video in Nigeria as he was the pioneer of Yoruba home video industry. He died 4 July, 2008 in an auto crash along the Lagos/Ibadan expressway.

9.) Moses Olaiya

Late Moses Adejumo, aka Baba Sala

Moses Olaiya, better known by his stage name “Baba Sala”, was a Nigerian comedian, dramatist and actor. Baba Sala, regarded as the father of modern Nigerian comedy, alongside other dramatists like Hubert Ogunde, Kola Ogunmola, Oyin Adejobi and Duro Ladipo popularized theatre and television acting in Nigeria. He was a prolific filmmaker. He started his career in show business as a Highlife musician, fronting in 1964 a group known as the Federal Rhythm Dandies where he tutored and guided the jùjú music maestro King Sunny Adé who was his lead guitar player. As a young boy, Olaiya played the class clown and sometimes dressed outlandishly to please people. While he chose to develop a career in entertainment his parents wanted a path that will lead to a professional career such as medicine or law. Baba Sala died in October 2018.

10.) Lere Paimo

Lere Paimo

Born November 1939, Pa Lere Paimo, OFR is an ace Nigerian film actor, film-maker, producer and director. He began his acting career in 1960 after he joined the Oyin Adejobi theatre group, founded by Pa Oyinade Adejobi before he later joined Duro Ladipo’s Theatre Group where he featured in a stage play titled ‘Obamoro’ with the role of “Chief Basa”. He became popular following a lead role as Soun Ogunola played in an epic Yoruba film titled ‘Ogbori Elemosho’ which brought him into the limelight. He has featured, produced and directed several Nigerian films since he began acting in 1963. In 2005, in recognition of his immense contributions to the Nigerian film industry, he was bestowed with a National award of Member of the Federal Republic alongside Zeb Ejiro by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. On May 2013, it was reported that he had a partial stroke, an attack he survived.

11.) Funmi Martins

Funmi Martins

The legendary Funmi Martins was a shining star of the Yoruba movie industry in the ’90s. She was shot into limelight in 1993 when she starred in her first movie called ‘Nemesis’ directed by Fidelis Duker. Funmi Martins before her death starred in dozens of movies. Some of her most notable works include Eto Mi, Pelumi, Ija Omode, Eru Eleru. She died on May 6, 2002.

12.) Bukky Ajayi

Bukky Ajayi

Zainab Bukky Ajayi was a Nigerian actress who was born and bred in Nigeria but completed her higher education in England, United Kingdom courtesy of a federal government scholarship. In 1965, she left England for Nigeria where her career began as a presenter and newscaster for Nigerian Television Authority in 1966. Bukky made her film debut in the television series ‘Village Headmaster’ during the ’70s before she went on to feature in ‘Checkmate’, a Nigeria television series that aired during the late 1980s to the early 1990s. During her acting career, she featured in several films and soaps including ‘Critical Assignment’, ‘Diamond Ring’, ‘Witches’ among others. In 2016, her contributions to the Nigerian film industry was recognized after she and Sadiq Daba were awarded the Industry Merit Award at the 2016 Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards. Bukky Ajayi died at her residence in Lagos State on 6 July 2016 at the age of 82.

NOTE: This list is not exhaustive, do share the names of others who didn’t make our list in the comment session.

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Senator Dino Melaye joins Nollywood | P.M. News

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Dino Melaye

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Senator Dino Melaye joined Nollywood just few hours after the Appeal Court affirmed the decision of the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal nullifying his victory.

The outspoken senator will be featured as one of the key actors, in a Television series titled ‘Equity unbound,” an idea of the Pillars of Hope African Initiative (POHAI).

Other prominent actors including Linc Edochie, Victor Decke, Chief Bruno Iwuola and Paul Sambo will also be featured in the TV series.

Addressing a world press conference, the Country Director of POHAI, Chinyere Onyemekara, said the main focus of the project is on ‘equal rights and sociai justices in Africa,’ using Nigeria as a case study.

“Equity unbound TV series is a soap opera that holistically ex-ray the quality of justice system in Nigeria and its attendant effect on both the masses, the elites and the government.

“It is a mind-blowing expository drama presentation of the human rights challenges of an ordinary common Nigerian. A good example of the issues treated in this series is the recent report by BBC, on the pervasive threat of “sax for grades and sex for Marks” in Nigeria’s institutions of learning.

“A 120mins pilot episode of Equity unbound TV series has been shot with so many celebrity Actors and with state of the art equipment cum professionais and highly motivated crew.

“The idea of this is to use drama as an effective tool of communication to correct the ills and promote an acceptable social justice system in Nigeria.

“Gentlemen of the press, you will agree that Africa and Nigeria in particular is far behind in terms of perfect justice system and equitable society.

“We at POHAI has taken it upon ourselves to expose these shortcomings for the purpose of strategic attention and correction:

“We hereby call on members of the fourth estate of the realm, civil society groups, the international community, cooperate organizations, Nigerian government at all levels and well-meaning Nigerians to support in whatever way possible to bring this humanitarian project to fruition,” Onyemekara stated.

Speaking on why he joined the drama, Senator Dino Melaye, expressed happiness to be part of the series that will expose unjust act in the society.

Melaye said: “I’m happy to have participated in the series, especially as it will help correct social problems in the country. I am not a greenhorn in acting because I emerged as the best actor during my NYSC program.

“I am ready to serve this country in any capacity and I feel that participating in the series is another way of contributing my quota in correcting the social ills in Nigeria.

“If I have such opportunity again I won’t hesitate to take it,” Melaye stated.

The drama’s director said that Senator Dino Melaye acted the role of Joshua in the series, which is an assemblage of professional actors and politicians.

“The drama is all about tackling social vices in the society. The drama, he said captures such issues like corruption, injustice, bad governance and so on.”

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Melaye makes Nollywood debut in ‘Equity Unbound’ – TheCable Lifestyle

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Dino Melaye, embattled lawmaker representing Kogi west senatorial district, has made his Nollywood debut in ‘Equity Unbound’, a television series, alongside other prominent actors. 

The Kogi-born politician and senator was on Friday unveiled as lead character of the film, hours after

Melaye is expected to feature alongside Dan Nwanyanwu, the national chairman of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), and other notable Nollywood actors like Bruno Iwuoha, Linc Edochie, Victor Decke, Paul Sambo in the series.

‘Equity Unbound’ is an idea of the Pillars of Hope African Initiative (POHAI).

Speaking about the project, Chinyere Onyemekara, the country director of POHAI, said the main focus of the movie is on “equal rights and social justices in Africa”, using Nigeria as a case study.

#Dinotheactor unperturbed by today’s Appeal Court Ruling, @dino_melaye attends the unveiling of Equity Unbound, a movie series he starred in.#BuhariWedding #PresidentialWedding #dinomelaye #FridayMotivation pic.twitter.com/csntArlpfy

— ofimkofim (@ofimkelechiofim) October 11, 2019

“Equity unbound TV series is a soap opera that holistically ex-ray the quality of justice system in Nigeria and its attendant effect on both the masses, the elites and the government,” she said.

“It is a mind blowing expository drama presentation of the human rights challenges of an ordinary common Nigerian. A good example of the issues treated in this series is the recent report by BBC, on the pervasive threat of “sax for grades and sex for Marks” in Nigeria’s institutions of learning.

“A 120mins pilot episode of Equity unbound TV series has been shot with so many celebrity Actors and with state of the art equipment cum professionais and highly motivated crew.

“The idea of this, is to use drama as an effective tool of communication to correct the ills and promote an acceptable social justice system in Nigeria.

“Gentlemen of the press, you will agree that Africa and Nigeria in particular is far behind in terms of perfect justice system and equitable society.

“We at POHAI has taken it upon ourselves to expose these shortcomings for the purpose of strategic attention and correction:

“We hereby call on members of the fourth estate of the realm, civil society groups, the international community, cooperate organizations, Nigerian government at all levels and well-meaning Nigerians to support in whatever way possible to bring this humanitarian project to fruition.”

On his part, Melaye said he was elated to be part of a project that would expose unjust act in the society.

“I’m happy to have participated in the series, especially as it will help correct social problems in the country. I am not a greenhorn in acting because I emerged as the best actor during my NYSC program,” he said.

“I am ready to serve this country in any capacity and I feel that participating in the series is another way of contributing my quota in correcting the social ills in Nigeria.

“If I have such opportunity again I won’t hesitate to take it.”

In the 120-minute TV series, the legislator is expected to assume the role of Joshua, which is an assemblage of professional actors and politicians.

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Lizzo Is 100 Percent That Bitch: Todays Best Pop Star

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The Daily Beasts Obsessed
Everything we cant stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
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This week:

  • Living for Lizzo
  • John Travolta, LOL
  • Turns out: I love puppets!
  • If you thought Id ever shut up about Designing Women
  • I laughed so hard at this. You may not find it funny at all.
Worshipping at the Church of Lizzo

I had another great check-in this week with my therapist, Lizzo.

Yes, it was in part because of her songs, which play on constant loop through big-ass headphones I wear at the office all day so that no one will approach me. Her music doubles as aural antidepressantsinstantaneous mood lifterscarrying me through the most difficult parts of the week. (I spent all Wednesday thinking it was Thursday.)

But theres something about Lizzo, her music, her celebrity, her success, her specific talents, her humor, her style, her messageher entiretythat makes her the perfect pop star for this moment in time. That much was more clarifying than ever this week at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she performed and delivered a sermon in front of a massive inflatable twerking ass. (Watch it here.)

She began by singing her hit single, Truth Hurts, a capella, before melting into a dance move I can only describe as feeling yourself. Soon she was making her ass clap in unison with her background dancers, before exploding into a particularly ebullient rendition of Good as Hell. As the anthemic joy threatened to shatter the arena roof, she mounted a hot pink platform and, with her ensemble of fabulous, inclusive dancers flanking her and the 17-foot-tall butt looming behind her, preached to the people.

Let me talk to you all for a second, she said. Im tired of the bullshit. And I dont have to know your story to know that youre tired of the bullshit, too. Its so hard to love yourself in a world that doesnt love you back, am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell!

At that moment, I did. I did feel good as hell. Ive felt that way again the 47 times Ive watched the performance this week.

I dont know if it will rank among all the gimmicky, shock-value VMA performances of legendthough, what with the assless costumes, house-sized billowing booty, and expletives, it would still have fallen squarely in the all-important category of things on MTV my mother would not have allowed me to watch as a kid. But it is a spectacular, important performance, and one of the most rewatchable award show sets Ive seen in recent memory.

After the show, Lizzo posted a clip of the performance on Instagram with a caption that summed up its importance better than I could:

Every woman on that stage had a story of either why they shouldnt have been on that stage or why they didnt believe they deserved to be on that stage, including myself. Imposter syndrome is a privilege to the most marginalized group in America. Not only were we taught to believe we didnt belong in the spotlight, but when we finally get to a place [of] self-worth the world tries to knock us down. Not this time. The world smiled with us. The world sang us. The world saw our beauty last night. The world saw black women feeling Good As Hell and cheered us on.

I dont know about other people, but Lizzo resonates with me, yes, because of her message of self-love and positivity, and the refreshing humor and vulgarity with which she wields her affirmations. (My favorite tweet on the subject: Im so done with being insecure I cannot be letting Lizzo down like this anymore.) But its not a tunnel-vision mindset.

Shes not saying that the things about her, about ourselves, that we are insecure about or feel dismissed because of, dont matter. Shes acknowledging that they do, that it registers constantly what people say, think, or judge about us, and overcoming that is a daily, moment by moment decision. That we make that decision is worth celebrating, because we deserve to make that decision.

Whats so great about Lizzo and her songs being so cheeky and playful is that she has the indisputable talent to back it up. Her lyrics are genius wordplay. (Why men great until they gotta be great is *chefs kiss* brilliant.) Her vocals are fantastic. She has exceptional instincts for stage presence and wit. (Calling it the Tiny-ass Desk Concert, I mean) Oh, and shes a classically trained flautist. (If you dont follow her flute, Sasha, on Instagram, you are missing out.)

Im not sure that, in a vacuum, I could have known, or certainly not articulated, that the pop star I would want most in 2019 is one able to pause a dance break to riff on her flute while twerking. But, oh my, is it that exact thing.

Speaking of the VMAs…

John Travolta, for some reason, presented at the awards this year. Gen Z: Huge fans of Welcome Back, Kotter. In any case, He Who Birthed Adele Dazeem continues to be the most tragic celebrity award presenter whenand this is so good you just cant make it upTaylor Swift won an award for her You Need to Calm Down music video and he tried to give the trophy to the drag queen that plays her in the video instead.

Its just the most wonderfully embarrassing thing ever, but also the most uplifting. Good for you, Jade Jolie! Swift reportedly laughed it all off. I mean, with such CONFIDENCE, Danny Zuko tries to give this drag queen the award. He is so certain that it is Taylor Swift. Or, as he likes to refer to her, The talented and lover-ly, Trudy Schrump!

Im Shocked By How Much I Like Netflixs The Dark Crystal

I have never seen The Dark Crystal, the cult 1982 film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz that takes place in some dark fantasy Lord of the Rings-meets-aliens world and stars a bunch of puppets. When Netflix announced a new prequel series to the film that sees the Jim Henson Company revisiting The Dark Crystal universe but this time with all the modern advancements in puppet and CGI technology that 2019 affords, I thought, Hm. Sounds great. Not for me though!

Well, based on word of mouth from critics I respect, I watched advanced screeners of the first half of the new show. It turns out: Very much for me!

Im gonna use some hyperbolic words now. Know that I recognize this. That said, it is one of the most astonishing technical achievements and most visually wondrous television series I have ever seen. The puppets, people, the puppets! There is gorgeous CGI, of course, for the scenery. But the characters, the puppets, are all real and practical. The world-building is so smart and creative that it made no difference at all that I had never seen the movie and had no idea what the hell I was getting into when I started watching.

More, this prequel, titled The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance, boasts a stirring, resonant story, one with themes of oppression, fascism, the hubris of power, gaslighting, and the abuse of the marginalized that are, ahem, PRETTY TIMELY. That something this whimsical could still be so dark without losing an ounce of tenderness or spectacle is admirable. Then again, thats Jim Henson for you.

Watch Designing Women, You Jerks!

Everyone keeps asking me what my Labor Day plans are and Im offended, taken aback that not only are my plans not obvious, but that everyone else does not have the same. I will not be moving from my couch until I have finished bingeing every single episode of the seminal 90s sitcom Designing Women, which has finally been made available for streaming on Hulu.

If you have not seen this show beforeHOMOPHOBIA!!!it stars Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts (aka the four women who will be meeting me when I cross through the pearly gates of heaven) as headstrong steel magnolias working at the fictional Sugarbaker design firm in Georgia.

You have not lived until you have seen Dixie Carter torpedo her way through a righteous, hyper-feminist monologue; or marveled at how Delta Burke humanizes a ditzy pageant queen; or lost your breath laughing at Jean Smarts beleagured line deliveries; or felt seen, regardless of age, gender, or the thickness of your southern accent, as Annie Potts triumphs through life as a hardworking, fast-talking working mom.

The show is responsible for two of my favorite episodes of television ever, Killing All the Right People and The Beauty Contest. If youre not sure if the show is for you, start there. Happy Labor Day.

This Is the Funniest Thing Ive Seen All Week

Youre either going to die laughing and rewatch 100 times, or have no clue what the hell anyone who made this Twitter video go viral is thinking. (Watch here.)

What to watch this week:

The Dark Crystal: Did you not read my review?

Wu-Tang: An American Saga: The story of the greatest rap group ever, now available for your bingeing desires.

What to skip this week:

Carnival Row: Great fairy wings, beautiful wings.

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The truth about comedy writers’ rooms

Grubby banter, sexless flirting and the smell of pizza and ambition … writer Sarah Morgan reveals the funny business that goes on behind the scenes of your favourite shows

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In the recent movie Late Night, Mindy Kaling plays a naive young comedy writer joining the writing team on a late-night US chat show. The staff are exclusively white, male, expensively educated and surly a running gag is that every one uses the womens restroom to defecate because no women work in the office. Kaling, as a perky diversity hire, shakes up the show and drags it into the 21st century. Its a wish fulfilment comedy: what would actually happen, with just one woman or person of colour in the room, is that the lads would carry on being sexist and racist but would then swivel their heads at her like ventriloquist dummies to check that she was cool with it.

US writers rooms have a feral romance to them, as seen in shows such as 30 Rock, which was inspired by Tina Feys real time as head writer on Saturday Night Live, when her male peers would pee into jars on their office window sill and call it sun tea. In the UK, were a little more embarrassed at the idea that comedy is written, and feel it should be hidden away, shamefully and quietly. (When a writing partner and I asked for an office at the BBC in which to write our radio series, we were grudgingly offered The Jill Dando room, an 8ft sq office in TV Centre featuring a King-Kong-at-the-window-scale mural of the tragically murdered TV personality. We laughed. Writers are horrible.)

Recently, ITV announced an initiative to aim for gender-balanced writing teams on its comedy shows, which came as a shock to some people who claim to passionately love comedy but dont know how it is made. People who think Morecambe and Wise came up with all their own material, and Angela Rippon just started doing all that mad stuff with her legs on the day. You know what though? Its sort of OK comedy writers feel deep down we are doing our job properly when you dont know were there, like God. No, not like God: we dont have that level of self-esteem. Were like people who pump out the toilets at music festivals. Thats it. Gag writers are like the portable loo people, quietly keeping your entertainment entertaining. We know that no one at home cares if Simon Cowell is being genuinely spontaneous, or if his quip about David Walliamss trousers was crafted by a sweaty nerd on a 600th of his salary. Were just happy to be in showbiz.

I love my job. Ive worked in more than 50 writers rooms, not including the shows I helped develop that never made it to air. Some days I pinch myself that Im being paid to laugh my head off. On Horrible Histories you get free lectures from historians its like being paid for school, only youre actively encouraged to make fun of the lesson afterwards. Some shows Ive proudly worked on for decades, some were just a fleeting engagement in a production company office that smelled of pizza and ambition. Food is vital to the workings of a writers room. If a producer offers to buy lunch, everyone will immediately order the most expensive thing possible, because comedy writers are tiny children, and also because you know a free lunch means you are working through lunch.

The job has changed a lot in 10 years, but some writers rooms do still feel loud and gladiatorial, as in Late Night. Often in the UK they are dominated by male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids (some of my best friends are male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids, etc, etc). Writers are generally sensitive and insecure. If you put us together in a room we will overcompensate like the advice given to someone on their first day of prison, punch the biggest bloke in the yard.

There was one pop-based panel show writers room so notoriously toxic, the survivors talk as though it has been entombed in concrete like Chernobyl. A half-formed idea would get cut short with a Thats shit or Not funny. The writers assistant would get sent out with a complicated sandwich order and a grave warning that the star would lose his shit if she got the order wrong. (Of course, the sandwich shop didnt exist. She was terrified! Lol!)

Tina
Tina Fey in US sitcom 30 Rock, which was inspired by her time as head writer on Saturday Night Live. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

 

These rooms are raptor pits, according to Andy Riley, co-creator of Year of the Rabbit, who has compiled a glossary of writers room terms on his website How to Talk Comedy Writer. There is loads of secret lingo, such as Die-dia (from Kat Sadler), an idea that you feel dying in your mouth the second you start pitching. A bad room will crush a die-dia dead (thats not funny), a good room will toss it around a bit to see what other ideas it shakes out. A die-dia is from the same family as the bad version, which is a much derided term that a higher-up might use when pitching the shape of a joke, but not the joke itself. We need a funny reveal for what the dog is chewing. The bad version is a dildo? I dunno, youre the writers. Honestly, pitching the bad version is actually really useful, but its a thing that producers say so writers make fun of it. We dont often get to feel lofty.

Sam Bain, co-creator of Peep Show, says: Comedy writing rooms should be like improv Yes, and Rather than Thats shit. When a room is good, its heaven, a sort of sexless flirting where colleagues bat ideas back and forth and nothing is off-limits. A certain amount of inappropriateness is actually vital to the health of a room.

Executives who pop in can be startled by the filth and off-topic banter. Its our way of getting to know each other. Jason Hazeley, co-creator of Cunk on Britain, calls this doing scales the practice gags that warm you up for the real work. Ive also heard it called clearing the pipes or getting the poison out. Its not pleasant, but it is funny, if dead-baby jokes before 10am are your thing. Quite why were allowed to get away with this Im not sure, theres no other job where its expected that you need to be appalling before you can do your job properly. Sure Ill bring in this 747, but I just have to snap the legs off this heron first. Its my process.

When the Times Up movement hit Hollywood there was concern that some people wouldnt feel comfortable with the anything goes approach. There was a famous lawsuit where the writers assistant on Friends (the only female and person of colour in the room) sued because of the eye-wateringly inappropriate conversation among the chief writers (including speculations about a female cast members genitalia). The decision went in the shows favour, with the judge referring to the Friends room as a creative workplace focused on generating scripts for an adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes.

Sarah
Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment Sarah Morgan. Photograph: Karla Gowlett

 

Ive never felt unsafe or intimidated at work, but Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment. There was a day in a small room where the head writer delivered a monologue about inserting Cadbury Mini Eggs in the non-traditional orifice of a lady friend. I didnt feel especially harassed (I almost certainly yes and-ed with egg puns) but I cant speak for the young woman whose job it was to sit and take notes all day. Crucially, Im not sure it was a super-productive way to write in-house sketches for the website of a luxury car brand.

While no one wants to think about how the sausage is made, its a fact that most shows have writers rooms panel shows, award shows, sketch shows, topical news shows, a chat show for a popular fake TV judge they are all team written. Though youd be forgiven for not knowing that if you look at the credits. Writers arent much of a thing in comedy, outside sitcoms. They are credited as programme associates (or additional material). Programme associates are the modest heroes thinking of funny captions for a photo of a puffin, or writing questions about Boris Johnsons hair, or coming up with sketch ideas a talk-show host could do based round a giant papier-mache vulva that had been commissioned by the production company for another show but didnt get used. (These are all things that have happened on programmes I have written on, sorry, been associated with.)

But the title may not be around for ever. The Writers Guild of Great Britain is starting a campaign to scrap positions such as programme associate and credit writers for their writing. Writers should always be credited as writers, says Gail Renard, former WGGB chair and member of the guilds comedy committee, or else they stand to lose their residuals, pension contributions, and other payments theyve rightly earned. Why should we be hidden in the shadows like some dark comedy secret?

Well, theres lots of reasons why comedy writers should be kept a dark dirty secret see above but a reluctance to give proper credit isnt one of them.

Late Night is showing in UK cinemas.

 

 

 

 

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