Life - the need for money to pay bills, kids and all that stuff - has a mad way of misdirecting you and taking you away from your original goals. Waaaay back in the olden days, all I ever wanted to do was produce comedy. Comedy films, comedy TV, comedy theatre - I wasn't fussy as long as it was comedy.
I was obsessed. The only prize I received at school was a book about Footlights (the Cambridge University group that had birthed Monty Python, Fry and Laurie and the rest of my heroes). I bought comedy shows on VHS (I told you it was the olden days!), scripts (Withnail and I was the first screenplay I ever read), religiously watched pretty much anything made by Hat Trick. I think I even thought about applying for a job there - found an address, looked them up and everything, but probably got sidetracked with work...
I spent a lot of my spare time working at [Chirpy Chappie's] Comedy Cafe which was run by Dave Johns (yes THAT Dave Johns) at the Tyne Theatre. Watched and met some amazing stand ups who've gone on to become bone fide stars: Jack Dee, Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Lee Evans. Then I moved from theatre into film and got completely rerouted - even though I LOVED comedy and comedy scripts, they generally didn't get funded (at my level) so I just stopped following it - time is limited Dear Heart - especially when you have young children.
So what's the point of this? Sparks has not only helped me gain my first TV commissions as a producer - but it's allowed me to reconnect with my true passion. So last night - for the first time in a lifetime, I went out to watch some stand up comedy at The Stand in Newcastle. It was a Red Raw night (so new comedy) and therefore a mixed bag - but overall it was marvellous and hilarious and just great to get back to my roots. Ostensibly I was there for work - imagine that. Laughing my ass off for a living. It's like a dream come true!