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Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer

06-25-2011 , 12:07 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Conz
is "man up," that show about cross dressers? If so, you're better than that. (thats of course me being a dikk without ever seeing the show)

you got a development deal with fx? how old are you if you dont mind me asking, and how old were you when you booked your first gig? I got people shooting my work that i talked to online, nothing big, and chances are nothing will come from it, but I like to pretend it's a small stepping stone.
No, that's "Work It" and from what I've seen it looks like an embarrassment to our great nation. You're right, I am better than that. Had we been offered a gig there we would have passed. Here's a trailer for Man Up:

Man Up Trailer

I don't have a deal with FX or anyone. I am contractually prohibited from developing while on this ABC show. I was just saying that if I ever did have my own show FX would be the kind of place that would let you make that joke. The major networks, not so much.

I am 33. I was 29 when I signed with my agent and 30 when I got my first job. Congrats on the stepping stone!
Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Quote
06-30-2011 , 11:56 AM
I read your pilot and enjoyed it very much and I have a quick question. Correct me if I'm wrong but a lot of the jokes come from the general theme of poverty/third world country/dirtiness –*is this your top priority when writing a pilot, to create a rich atmosphere that you can draw on whenever for jokes? I hope this question makes sense.

Also fwiw my favorite joke was when Miguel was describing the book to Maria... I've started saying "okay, cool cool..." irl
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07-03-2011 , 02:48 AM
When will the funniest posters on the Internet going to get their own show?
Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Quote
07-03-2011 , 10:33 AM
ever write a joke, and then find out later that it's an established joke? that's the worst feeling in the world. I understand there is really nothing original anymore, but I still want all of my stuff to be fresh and when someone hears it, I want them to think of me. That's something I probably need to get over, but it's really hard.

Like, I wrote a few Family Guy specs (i know, i know) and posted them here to a pretty good responce. I had a joke about the Virgin Mary and Joseph on Maury Povich (sure, it's an easy likely joke when you break it down) and my friend just sent me a youtube clip of the exact joke, almost word for word, from 2007. Now I feel like if even one person were to read that, and know of the clip, I'll look like a total fraud.

The internet sucks in the regard, anytime I think of a great line of dialogue, I google it... and half the time it comes up. Or I'll invent a funny word, only to see it on urban dictionary. Do you guys have people who check for something like that?
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07-06-2011 , 05:27 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xkf
I read your pilot and enjoyed it very much and I have a quick question. Correct me if I'm wrong but a lot of the jokes come from the general theme of poverty/third world country/dirtiness *is this your top priority when writing a pilot, to create a rich atmosphere that you can draw on whenever for jokes? I hope this question makes sense.

Also fwiw my favorite joke was when Miguel was describing the book to Maria... I've started saying "okay, cool cool..." irl
I guess it was but it wasn't as explicit as "Hey let's set it in a world that we can easily mine jokes from." We just wanted to write something out of the box. There had been a spec pilot widely circulated a year or two before about a terrorist cell. It was much talked about and we wanted to try to do something that would garner the same sort of attention. We were literally just spitballing ideas and someone said "What about a workplace comedy set in a sweatshop?"

In general though, I'd say the world should NOT be your top priority. It's very easy to just pick funny worlds out of the blue but it's much more important to have complex, interesting and relatable characters and a concept that feels fresh and full of potential stories. Admittedly, the strength of Sweatshop is the world and the characters are not that multidimensional, but at least it's funny and honestly that's the most important thing.
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07-06-2011 , 05:32 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by cash mahne
Just read some of the thread... but what if any show are you working on now? Also what is your best joke or idea that was aired?

if these have been answered thanks... also how can I get my hands on that pilot script?
Answered the first question above, but another plug never hurts. The show is Man Up and will air on ABC this fall Tues @ 8:30 before Dancing With the Stars.

For the second question, I have no idea. Over the course of a season you pitch so many jokes and so many ideas and then they are changed and morphed and added onto by other people that it's difficult to point to something on TV and say "that's mine." It's hard to even remember. Sometimes it happens though and it's nice. Not to say it's my "best" joke but on Running Wilde last year there was a scene were Will Arnett and David Cross are hiking through the woods and Arnett is wearing a backpack that he just bought and has clearly never worn before. Cross asks him if there's even anything in that thing and he replies "just the hiking paper that came in it." That was mine and I thought it was pretty funny .
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07-06-2011 , 05:42 PM
Are you interested in a 2 time award winning script about Vegas?
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07-06-2011 , 06:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fsoyars
Not to say it's my "best" joke but on Running Wilde last year there was a scene were Will Arnett and David Cross are hiking through the woods and Arnett is wearing a backpack that he just bought and has clearly never worn before. Cross asks him if there's even anything in that thing and he replies "just the hiking paper that came in it." That was mine and I thought it was pretty funny .
which ep? i wanna watch!
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07-06-2011 , 08:06 PM
Also Cash Mahne - I forgot if I ever sent you my pilot or not but if you pm me your email I will.
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07-07-2011 , 04:09 AM
Man Up trailer looks ok, not great...I probably wouldn't watch it but since it's a 2p2'er who writes on it I'll probably give it a shot.

The "I asked her in the right way" joke was pretty good though, was that you?

For a show like that, do you guys (writers) come up with the premise? Or just the scenes?
Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Quote
07-07-2011 , 06:41 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misohoni
When will the funniest posters on the Internet going to get their own show?
Might be a while. The problem is that bouncing cleavage avatars don't translate well to TV.
Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Quote
07-07-2011 , 08:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Conz
ever write a joke, and then find out later that it's an established joke? that's the worst feeling in the world. I understand there is really nothing original anymore, but I still want all of my stuff to be fresh and when someone hears it, I want them to think of me. That's something I probably need to get over, but it's really hard.

Like, I wrote a few Family Guy specs (i know, i know) and posted them here to a pretty good responce. I had a joke about the Virgin Mary and Joseph on Maury Povich (sure, it's an easy likely joke when you break it down) and my friend just sent me a youtube clip of the exact joke, almost word for word, from 2007. Now I feel like if even one person were to read that, and know of the clip, I'll look like a total fraud.

The internet sucks in the regard, anytime I think of a great line of dialogue, I google it... and half the time it comes up. Or I'll invent a funny word, only to see it on urban dictionary. Do you guys have people who check for something like that?
You're probably worrying about it too much. Of course it's going to happen sometimes but usually even if you've reproduced a joke, most people won't even recognize that. And if they do, I'm sure they understand how easy it is to happen.

On the first show I was on, The Goode Family, I pitched a joke that I didn't realize had already been done on The Office. Somehow between all the other writers in the room, the execs at the studio and network, the animators, the editors, etc, not one person noticed it had been done before. It went all the way to air and then HuffPo called us out on "lifting" a joke from The Office. Of course, I didn't know I was doing it at the time, but I'm pretty sure I'd seen that Office episode and that joke was bouncing around somewhere in my subconscious. Embarrassing, but it happens. What's ridiculous is that the HuffPo writer implies that we were knowingly stealing when obviously that's the last thing you'd want to do as a writer.
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07-07-2011 , 08:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuisance
Are you interested in a 2 time award winning script about Vegas?
Yes! Where I can I find more information about this script?
Ask me anything about being a TV comedy writer Quote
07-07-2011 , 08:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by keepitreal
which ep? i wanna watch!
Ep 2, Into the Wilde

Although on second thought, I'm prouder of ep 4, The Junior Affair, bc it contains a lot of stuff that my partner and I wrote into our first draft that made it all the way to air and I think came out really funny. It's rare that much of your original material makes it through the writers room rewrites in tact.
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07-07-2011 , 08:54 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Misohoni
When will the funniest posters on the Internet going to get their own show?
seems like something tosh.0 could easily transition to
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07-07-2011 , 11:07 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by budblown
Man Up trailer looks ok, not great...I probably wouldn't watch it but since it's a 2p2'er who writes on it I'll probably give it a shot.

The "I asked her in the right way" joke was pretty good though, was that you?

For a show like that, do you guys (writers) come up with the premise? Or just the scenes?
The full pilot is better than the trailer and from what we've done so far it looks like the episodes after the pilot are going to be even funnier. Not uncommon for shows to get funnier as they go on.

I had nothing to do with the pilot. The writing staff is put together after the pilot has already been written and shot and the show has been picked up to series. Once the writers are assembled, as a group we come up with the ideas for episodes and the scenes as a group.
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08-02-2011 , 05:18 PM
Quote:
Cross asks him if there's even anything in that thing and he replies "just the hiking paper that came in it." That was mine and I thought it was pretty funny
FWIW i'm pretty sure i actually loled at that joke when i watched that episode.
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08-02-2011 , 06:24 PM
Which American comedies use one or two writers rather than a room full of them? Pretty much every British comedy uses the former. Thoughts on the difference between the two?
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08-02-2011 , 07:03 PM
moved
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08-02-2011 , 07:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by PartyGirlUK
Which American comedies use one or two writers rather than a room full of them? Pretty much every British comedy uses the former. Thoughts on the difference between the two?
I think most American comedies have at least 4 or 5 writers. Most network sitcoms have 10-15 but some smaller budget cable comedies have much smaller staffs. I don't know of any that are only 1 or 2.

I prefer smaller to larger. It just becomes counterproductive to have too many people in a room. Only so many people get heard anyway. If had my own show I would love to keep my staff under 10 writers. And when you have more than that I think it's best to break up into multiple rooms of fewer people working on different tasks.

I'd imagine having only 1 or 2 would be hard though. For one thing, it's just a lot more writing that has to be done by those people and there are so many other things to deal with on a show besides writing. For another, it's just helpful to have multiple voices and perspectives when looking for jokes and story ideas. The best scenario is to have a showrunner with a clear, definitive vision for the show, who knows what he wants, who can hear pitches from many other writers and still not have any trouble deciding which he likes best.
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08-02-2011 , 07:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yeti
moved
Thanks Yeti.

Just to update this thread since the OP: After working on Running Wilde last year, my partner and I wrote for Beavis and Butthead, which is returning to MTV this Fall. While we were on that, we were taking a lot of meetings for staffing for this Fall's new shows (BnB was set to wrap before then). We met on 30 Rock and Community, both of which were pretty stressful interviews and both of which we wanted pretty badly, but unfortunately didn't get either gig. Although it was cool to meet Dan Harmon and Robert Carlock (the head writer on 30 Rock). We ended up landing on a show called Man Up which is a new comedy for ABC this Fall. Luckily for us it was one of the pilots that we really liked, so we're happy with it. We've been there for the past two months. The show will premiere in October.
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08-02-2011 , 07:39 PM
You landing Community would have been so sick .
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08-02-2011 , 08:20 PM
Glad this thread got bumped.

Got another question that is a little deeper into the inner workings. It's a topic that my show is about to be discussing. How does the division of labor and credits go? There are:

screenplay by
story by
teleplay by
written by

There are more of course, but these are the ones I'm dealing with.

Who is considered what based on what they did? If the show runner doesn't write one word, but gives millions of notes, are they considered co-writer or co any of those?

For my show, there was a place, a time and a handful of characters given to me. And that is what I built the pilot off of. I came up with a large portion of the main arcs that make the show what it eventually becomes. There were notes a-plenty, but I'm the only one who actually wrote anything. For the pilot, I'm co-writer and co-screenplay by, but nothing for story by. I'm fine with that for the pilot, but the rest of the episodes are almost all my creation with a few notes here and there.

My contract for the pilot is fine, and if we end up making the show, these are some of the questions that will be flying around the room. I'm not too worried what I will be considered to a point, but it's one of those things where if they are considered co-writers, then shouldn't I be co-story by?

Also, and this is the last one for now, what is the difference between written by, screenplay by and teleplay by?

Sorry if I over did it
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08-02-2011 , 08:44 PM
are there any decent comedy writing gigs in NYC? (lie to me if there isnt)
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08-03-2011 , 01:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by stabn
You landing Community would have been so sick .
Maybe, maybe not. From what I've heard the hours are horrible and Harmon isn't the most fun guy to work for. Apparently a lot of their staff from the second season opted not to return. But it would definitely have been a cool show to be a part of.
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