Established 2001 from an east London flat...
London Comedy Writers was formed when Jack Milner, ‘desperate for comradeship in the fairytopia-like world of comedy writing’, placed an advert in Shooting People for like-minded individuals to meet and read through scripts. A modest initial response was enough to fill Jack’s small Leytonstone flat and so the East London Comedy Writers Group was born – so named ‘because I vainly supposed it would make the group sound more exclusive. A little like the Ludlow Cat protection League of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a small Island”.’ The group met every three weeks.
A few years and one venue change later, numbers had started to dwindle but Jack persisted. Shortly after, the group was boosted by now secretary and long-time member, Tristan White, whose passion re-energised the group. He found and has retained a relationship with our current venue, the Old Kings Head, and was an integral part of keeping the group together after Jack stood down as chairman in 2004.
The reign of Graham II
A writer named Graham reluctantly stepped in to chair until 2005 when a more natural successor was found in writer/film-maker, Graham Trelfer – much to his own surprise! Graham, a regular since 2002, rose to the challenge admirably and made his first priority to change the name of the group to reflect our new, more central location. We became the London Comedy Writers and Graham created an online presence via a web forum which, by his own admission, was ‘not very successful, although it did give people a place to check us out’. Sure enough, new members were soon attracted and even actors were getting in touch and asking to read, leading the group in a new, more professional direction. Membership grew, as did demand for script readings and so the frequency of meetings were increased to every fortnight.
Ably assisted by Tristan and now chairman, Robin Bailes, Graham diversified submissions to include sketches, and later webisodes, widening membership further still. Having outgrown the web forum, Graham created the first London Comedy Writers website and devised the fortnightly newsletter. Next, came the stage show! Sketchageddon Live, an annual showcase of the group’s best sketch work, was established in 2011 and performed by our regular actors.
Robin bails us out
Graham left behind an impressive and influential legacy when he resigned in 2015 but vice-chair Robin was well-placed to take over. Like his successor, he is already bringing fresh ideas to the group and identifying areas for improvement. He has given the newsletter a new lease of life and, with a little help from a few regular members, has increased our online presence and overseen the formation of a sketch-filming unit. Our YouTube channel has now launched.
Happily, Jack and Graham have retained ties with the group and still pop by from time to time. We are eternally grateful for the hard work and persistence that brought the group into existence and has kept it going for over 15 years.