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View topic - Thoughts on SPANK Submissions | UCB Comedy • Improv and Sketch Comedy Resource Forum

Thoughts on SPANK Submissions


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Thoughts on SPANK Submissions

Postby john_frusciante » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:51 pm

Hello. For anyone unfamiliar with me, I'm the Associate Artistic Director of UCBTNY. Part of my job is to read SPANK submissions and recommend that they be accepted or rejected for SPANK. If you're unfamiliar with SPANK, it is the process that we use for auditioning shows for regular runs at our theatre. You can read more about it here: .

I'd like to share some statistics from 2013 SPANK submissions, the general process, and what I would like to see from the community going forward.

In 2013, I received 143 submissions for SPANK. 98 of these submissions were from males and 45 of them were from females. That's less than half. I'd like to see the number of SPANK submissions by women increase by at least 20% in 2014. Yesterday was the deadline for January 2014 submissions, and of the 20 scripts I received only six of them were from women.

So what can we do about this? I can tell you that from my perspective we are actively looking for shows written by and/or featuring women, and we have been for most of the years I've been here. In fact, we're more likely to accept a show for SPANK that was written by a woman. Of the 45 submissions we received in 2013 we accepted 38. That's an 84% acceptance rate. But I can't help but wonder why we're getting less than half the amount of submissions.

I guess I'd like to make it overwhelmingly clear, in case there's any doubt, that there's no gender bias here. Submissions are not evaluated based on what I, a straight white dude, think is funny. They're evaluated based on the strength of the writing, how funny they are, how clear what the show is trying to do is from the script, and how right it is for the UCBTNY stage. These are things I've learned how to sense from scripts based on my UCB-For-Life training and mentality and I like to think I'm pretty good at it. In fact, if there is a gender bias it's TOWARDS women as when I see a script submitted by a woman or women I think, "Great! We need more female sketch shows/groups in NYC and more female voices on our stage."

So this is what I need you to do: write more. Submit more shows. Flood my inbox. Write that one-woman show you've been putting off, get together with that woman on your team or in your class who you think is so fucking funny and ask her to write a show with you. Try out bits at shows around town. Rewrite rewrite rewrite. Do the work. Nate and I want to see your work. We are 100% in support of you. There are so many hilarious, smart, talented women in this city and in the UCB community of shows and classes. Give Former Business Partners a run for their money. Be the next Kate McKinnon. Send me something I'll love as much as I loved Standards and Practices. Write something as funny and honest as Bad Bride. You can do it. I know you can do it, we know you can do it. The hardest part is getting to that laptop or that notepad and starting. No, wait, the hardest part is finishing. No, actually, the hardest part is fucking rewriting. Why does that suck so fucking much? Can't scripts just come out perfectly the first time? Unfortunately they can't.

Anyway, the point is that I want to be able to write another one of these a year from now and say we received an equal number of submissions from both genders, but I'll settle for saying the total number of female submissions increased from 45 to, let's say 55. You have a really great opportunity to develop your voice here and you have people who are actively interested in helping you out. Take it. Look, I'm not saying every submission from a woman is going to get accepted, but 2013 statistics certainly seem to indicate that the odds are in your favor and more importantly you have a 100% chance of never getting your script on our stage if you never write it or submit it. So push yourself. Believe in yourself. We haven't put up a barrier to keep you out so don't put up one for yourself or create some kind of imagined world where you believe we've put up a barrier like that. Shows written by women are evaluated by the same standards that shows written by men are and that will never change.

I know I'm a man and what the hell do I know about women and there are certainly many factors/complications to this issue. But I hope I've gotten across what I intended to say when I started writing this and I hope I haven't inadvertently stepped on any toes or kicked any hornets nests. I feel like we could be getting more SPANK submissions from women and I want to push you to help me get those numbers up. We can't write your shows for you but we can read them and help you make them as good as possible.

I'll say that of the 38 we accepted, we wound up running four of them I think. That's not a great success rate, but it's hard to get a run of a show on our stage and you sometimes have to go through the SPANK process a couple of times before you get there. I think, I think, if we increase the number of submissions from women we can increase the number of running shows created by/featuring women. That's what I'm hoping at least. I can tell you that there's no bias in that area either--in fact, when Nate and I watch shows at SPANK he doesn't even know who wrote it unless he asks me beforehand--it's just hard to get a run of a show here but I think it's worth the effort and I know that you can do it.

Let me say one last thing to drive the point home: if you're imagining there's bias, if you think anyone here is against you, if you believe you are actively being kept out or judged unfairly, you're not. I don't have time for that, I have twenty scripts to read and a schedule to make and industry emails to respond to and a dressing room to clean out because people don't know how to put their props and costumes away properly. Stop thinking anyone's against you and put that energy into creating shows. We want as much talent and funny on that stage as we can get, but it has to be good and funny so you have to do the work. There might be this kind of unfair judgement in the industry in general, but it doesn't exist here.

If you have any questions or if there's anything I can do to help you here, let me know. You can comment here or you can email me directly at john@ucbcomedy.com.

Sorry I didn't make this post funnier.
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Re: Thoughts on SPANK Submissions

Postby RoyalChickenBone » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:11 pm

Curious how you square all of this: there's no gender bias, but there is gender bias?

"I can tell you that from my perspective we are actively looking for shows written by and/or featuring women, and we have been for most of the years I've been here. In fact, we're more likely to accept a show for SPANK that was written by a woman. Of the 45 submissions we received in 2013 we accepted 38. That's an 84% acceptance rate.

I guess I'd like to make it overwhelmingly clear, in case there's any doubt, that there's no gender bias here. Submissions are not evaluated based on what I, a straight white dude, think is funny. They're evaluated based on the strength of the writing, how funny they are, how clear what the show is trying to do is from the script, and how right it is for the UCBTNY stage. In fact, if there is a gender bias it's TOWARDS women as when I see a script submitted by a woman or women I think, "Great! We need more female sketch shows/groups in NYC and more female voices on our stage."
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Re: Thoughts on SPANK Submissions

Postby john_frusciante » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:52 pm

I believe the larger point I'm trying to make is clear.
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Re: Thoughts on SPANK Submissions

Postby CharoneF » Tue Dec 17, 2013 9:03 pm

I'm still working my way through the sketch program, but I'm looking forward to the day when I submit my first show. Hang on, you'll hear from me soon.
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Re: Thoughts on SPANK Submissions

Postby WillieBHines » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:14 am

[redacted because i'm writing stuff too hastily]

great post, John!
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