Rob Long’s Set Up, Joke, Set Up, Joke purports to be a no holds barred insiders look at being an American TV sit-com writer. Wait a second, does that mean there are holds barred, soft-soap stories of the tricksy world of American TV development where the secrets aren’t out in the open. Actually, wait another second: there are secrets? Surely everyone knows that US TV is a cut-throat business, where shows get cancelled all the time, demographics rule and the talent is squeezed in so many ways to leave little of the original plot left. We even know how the things are written, the team around a table bunging ideas in. All Set Up, Joke adds to the mix are some conversations with his agent, which is possibly why the book is no great leap from his previous one: Conversations With My Agent. And what do we discover from these: agents are unscrupulous flatterers…Hmm.

SUJSUJ is disappointing in that on the whole it lacks jokes. It is all set-up, and sketchy set-up around that. As a bunch of anecdotes around writing, making a pilot it would just about pass muster as dinner party conversation, but with someone who isn’t that funny. Stock situations pan out predictably, vanity and cynicism rules. Rob Long is supposed to be a comedy writer, on this evidence it is unsurprising that his shows get cancelled.