Story: Punchline by Steve Mulvaney. The one you ripped from the unsold sit-com script, Steve; it’ll do. I wonder about the title, though. Just because it’s really just the one gag with the gopher and the mole hill and the guy in the garden in his pants, is that the best title? But it’s his life, this poor central character, isn’t it? Every day, the same rubbish happens to him. He never learns, like Bill Murray stepping in the puddle in that film about the giant clock that he smashes over and over – now, what’s that called?
2120 word version.
Submission 1. 11.12.20. Odd Socks Monday Magazine.
Quite aspirational – paying, too. Let’s go for it, huh? They do the odd sort of funny piece. If you don’t try, you don’t get.
Result: Rejected on 12.12.20. Which was…quick. So, perhaps they didn’t read it? Must get a lot of submissions. Yeah, probably snowed under. Try them again sometime.
No feedback, though. Hmmmm.
Cut to 2000 words – bit of chaff gone there. All those adverbs. Jeez. So many adverbs.
Submission 5. 12.12.20. The Bush Baby Madhouse, B & B Literary and Pickle Pancake Emporium.
Australian. I think. Eccentric, particularly that piece from the perspective of the gnat’s womb (do gnats have wombs?). But, still. Non-paying, so maybe more my thing right now. (Paying can wait.)
Do Australians get British Humour? Saw the Paul Hogan Show once. Bit like Benny Hill. If Benny Hill was bronzed and athletic – which is a thought, now, isn’t it? Is there a story in that? An Adonis Benny Hill. In Australia. Battling Crocodiles? How about a reverse Crocodile Dundee?
It’ll have been done, won’t it?
Result: Rejected on 24.12.20. Christmas frickin’ Eve! Bastards. Should have known Ozzies wouldn’t get my humour.
Perhaps it could do with a bit of cutting down, however…?
Cut to 1897 words (bit of a weird odd number – will they mind that?) Few more adverbs gone. Got rid of a few “he saws” and “she noticeds”. Just show us the stuff happening, that woman (Brande?) said. We know the character sees it because it’s there in the writing. Think – like a camera. Like a camera. “What we attend to says who we are…” (Who said that? Need that on the wall in the study. Next to the tennis player scratching her bum. Motivation, that’s what we need here, Steve. Motivation).
Submission 30. 25.12.20. The Barnacle Bean Bestiary.
No clue where these guys are from? The Mid-West? Albuquerque? (Memo to self – look up Albuquerque. Got a feeling it has something to do with Bugs Bunny).
Result: No response. Nothing. Nada. They’ve got less of a sense of humour than Bugs Bunny, then, that’s for sure.
Cut to 1500 words – better, huh? Rules you in to a few more places, doesn’t it? Perhaps best to steer clear of the ones with the self-consciously silly names, though – perhaps there’s some kind of back-to-front logic thing going on there? The sillier the name, the less of a sense of humour they’ve got. And this is a funny piece (I’ve re-read it. It is. Damn it, it is).
Submission 45. 29.01.21. The Oompa Loompa Humour Rumour.
How could I resist?
Result: How could they resist “Punchline”?
Easily. Really, very easily.
Sod them. Nothing wrong with it. Nothing, I tell you.
Cut to 982 words – maybe this is better as a flash piece?
Submission 68. 01.02.21. The Louise Belcher Bunny Ears Review.
Result: It’s Submittable, Steve; you know the result before you submit.
I do wonder if “Punchline” is too much as a title…? It tells the reader you’re meant to find this funny. It tells them to expect a gag. What if there isn’t a gag? How would I know? I only wrote it.
Thought – maybe people find gophers in the garden less amusing than I do?
Cut to 798 words and retitled to Rinse and Repeat (which has nothing to do with being really quite pissed off with this now, Steve – oh, dear me, no).
Submission 75. 11.02.21. Seriously Literary.
Email. Not risking Submittable again. Non-paying.
If it’s as unfunny as I think it is, then perhaps – dear lord, perhaps – I’m actually more the literary type.
I’ll take it. If that’s what it is, then I’ll take it.
Result: Very…personal rejection, that. Not repeating it here.
75 rejections of this sh*t now. What else am I supposed to do?
S’pose I could send it out to a Beta reader?
I’m going with the Ozzie Benny Hill Crocodile Dundee. What’s that site I saw the other day? Might be
perfect for it. What’s the name, now?
Oh, yeah, The Daily Drunk.
Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers!