Comedy, eh? It’s all improvised, isn’t it? They just think of it and say it, right? No. In a show that’s running over multiple dates and venues, the comedian will have written the material, and a broad outline of the script, and although the exact words might change each night (thus requiring live subtitling rather than captioning), the punchlines and overall structure will stay the same. Part of their skill is making it sound spontaneous.
The first thing you need is an audio-recording from the venue, ideally taken from the mixer. They might also be able to supply you with a video, however this is usually done from a free-standing recorder at the back of the room, so the audio won’t be as good. The files can usually be shared via Dropbox or Wetransfer, or by last resort sent on a DVD/CD in the post. Two recordings from different nights would be ideal.
Then you have a three-stage process:
During your prep work, some queries may have come up: stylistic, when you can’t quite understand what they said, or “what would be funnier”, for example when trying to write out a pun. (eg “I’ve moved to Norfolk, now I’m a Norfolker/Nor-fucker”). Write a list and check with the comedian before the show. Also check with them whether there is any new material/topics, or if they’ve decided to omit some bits of the show? Reassure them that you’re writing live and won’t pre-empt punchlines. Write all the short forms on your machine to check there are no duplicates and they’re all in your dictionary.
Put some words up on the screen, if possible using all the space that will be used during the show, so caption users can work out where best to sit. Use wording like. “This event will have live captioning, please sit where you can see the screen clearly”. If there are other events in the series, or a next captioned show at the venue, you could output that as well, toggling between the two.
Claire started her steno training at Smith Bernal (now DTI Global) in 1994, started working in court in 1995 and attained Accredited LiveNote Reporter status in 1996.
Since becoming freelance in 2004, she has broadened her competences to include all the areas where verbatim realtime reporting can be used.