Jane Bussmann is a Londoner who failed her A-levels but luckily met Johnny Speight, the creator of Till Death Us Do Part’s Alf Garnett (adapted by Norman Lear as All in the Family’s Archie Bunker). Johnny was a brilliant bloke and a very good writing teacher. Jane gave up on her plans to retake her A-levels and become a research physicist. She began her writing career at the age of nineteen for the Guardian newspaper with her column ‘On the Razz’. She became a comedy writer for the BBC a couple of years later following Johnny Speight’s principles.
Jane went on to write for South Park, the Emmy-winning Smack The Pony, The Fast Show, Armando Iannucci’s Friday Night Armistice and Chris Morris’ legendary satire show Brass Eye. (Bussmann was ‘Named and Shamed’ in the News of the World newspaper as one of the writers behind Brass Eye Special, the most complained-about program in British television history). She worked on over fifty shows and developed comedy for NBC, HBO, the BBC, ITV, Granada and Channel4 among others.
Jane also works as a newspaper columnist, writing travel pieces for the Mail on Sunday. She wrote the columns ‘Letter from America’ and ‘We Heart Los Angeles’ for Red and The Face, and celebrity features for The Huffington Post, the Sunday Times, Harpers, the Independent, GQ, Esquire, Glamour and InStyle. In 2006, her live comedy show Bussmann’s Holiday, about her adventures following peacemaker John Prendergast to a Ugandan war zone, was a four-star hit at the Edinburgh Festival with a subsequent sold-out London run at the Soho Theatre, going on to play in New York, Sydney, Latitude and Frontline receiving rave reviews. Bussmann’s Holiday was nominated for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Awards and won Best Comedy at Perrier rivals the Tap Water Awards.
The show tells the unlikely story of how Bussmann grew so fed up with interviewing celebrities in Hollywood that she went to Uganda to investigate someone she Googled as ‘the most evil man in the world’, Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, wanted on charges of rape, murder and the kidnapping of ‘somewhere between’ 20-64,000 children.
This is a lie. Jane went to Uganda to impress John Prendergast, a very attractive American peace activist. When she arrived, for reasons too irritating to go into here, Jane was forced to actually investigate Kony. The resulting show shone new light on an appalling war crime. Bussmann’s Holiday became the book The Worst Date Ever or How it Took a Comedy Writer to Expose Africa’s Secret War.
Today Jane lives in New York writing comedy.