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Griff Rhys Jones: What's the difference between a pizza and a comedy writer?

What's the difference between a pizza and a comedy writer? A pizza can feed a family of five. That was one of the key lessons in Griff Rhys Jones' keynote speech at this year's London Comedy Writers Festival.  He spoke without notes for an hour about his experiences writing comedy, and gave some insight from his roles in producing, writing and acting.

Griff Rhys Jones at the London Comedy Writers Festival 2011

Griff Rhys Jones at the London Comedy Writers Festival 2011. Photo courtesy of Chris Jones

Jones was part of Cambridge Footlights and his first job was producing Frankie Howerd. Around 1970-5, Jones got a job in BBC comedy when a whole generation of ex-army BBC radio staff came up for retirement at the same time. "I doubt anyone else will get that lucky again," he said. He later starred in sketch shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones, both of which co-starred Mel Smith. In 1982, Jones and Smith co-founded independent production company Talkback, which went on to produce The Day Today and I'm Alan Partridge, among many other shows.

He described his career as "thirty years looking at a piece of paper and wondering what the fuck do I write?"

Here are the top lessons I picked up from his talk:

Find more advice on writing comedy here.