Posts tagged as comedy writing

The "NBC Playground" Contest Couldn't Find Any Ideas Outside of New York, LA, or Chicago

Remember when NBC announced its new "grassroots" talent initiative NBC Playground last year in hopes to — in the words of the network — find talented comedy writers by "reaching beyond the traditional talent labs of film schools and NY/LA comedy clubs"? Well, NBC announced the round of finalists last week, and guess where they live? Take a look at the list of finalists below:

Jeff Galante (Los Angeles, CA) – teacher at The Groundlings Tyler Hall (Brooklyn, NY) – UCB writer Melissa Hunter (Los Angeles, CA) – iO and Above Average performer Avery Lee & Bobby Richards (Chicago, IL) – iO performers Kassia Miller (New [...]

'Seinfeld' Writer/Producer Peter Mehlman Gives TV Writing Advice

"Laughter is such a strong spice, it’s hard to taste anything else. If you write something funny enough, you can get away with murder."

- Former Seinfeld writer/producer Peter Mehlman wrote a piece for this month's Reader's Digest Magazine called "How to Write a TV Show," and it's full of Seinfeld anecdotes and great advice for aspiring comedy writers.

Listen to a Young Johnny Carson Explain Humor Writing

For his senior thesis at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Johnny Carson created an audio program that explained how to write comedy for radio. You can listen to the 45 minute thesis here. (Ignore the first completely unintelligible minute or so.) Using clips from popular programs, he analyzed how to perform things like running gags and comedy duo routines. Beyond being interesting for any fan of Carson's, he does do a really great job explaining the mechanics of certain types of bits. For example: "Step 1: Call your yourself something 'the Magnificent.' Step 2: Hold an envelope up to your head. Step 3: Say an ambiguous phrase. Step 4…"

The Dan Harmon School of Comedy Writing

So you love Community, not just because it's funny but because it's impressively written. It seems each half-hour episode packs in a movie's worth of story: spending time on all 8 characters, taking them on a journey away from their study group and back, hitting a joke in each line and then along the way throwing in a parody of a deleted scene from The Terminator that you thought only you saw.

In addition to that, Community jumps genres from episode to episode — one week it's zombies, the next it's a note-perfect parody of The Right Stuff or the ridiculously intricate paintball/28 Days Later episode from season one. [...]

Bob Odenkirk's Advice to Aspiring Comedy Writers: "Don't Ever Look at What's Happening Now"

"But I honestly would tell anyone young to start looking at stories and learning story, because I think that’s the next step after people go, 'OK, I've had enough of that improvisation, I've had enough of those short comedy bits. Tell me a story, tell me a more complex story, something that lasts and maybe has a little more meaning to it.' Don’t ever look at what's happening now; look at what's coming next."

- Bob Odenkirk advises aspiring comedy writers to look beyond today's sketch show boom — which he says is "about to collapse" — in a new interview with Salon.

What's Every Former 'Kids in the Hall' Writer Up To Now?

“I got that one from the kids in the hall.”–Sid Caesar, blaming his writers whenever a joke would bomb

It's taken me many years to wrap my head around the concept of television writers. It seems like I've always more or less operated under the assumption that people on TV just wandered in front of the cameras and were cool/funny, and then they went and cashed their massive paychecks. This felt doubly true for sketch comedy shows, going back to Monty Python's Flying Circus, where each of the six members of the troupe were credited as creators, writers, and performers. Since I accepted early on that Python had made [...]

Talking to Molly McNearney, the Co-Head Writer of Jimmy Kimmel Live

One of the most hot button issues in comedy right now is the lack of women writing for late night. Molly McNearney is the only woman who currently writes for Jimmy Kimmel Live, but she is also the co-head writer. Molly chatted with me about how she got her start in comedy, her favorite bits that she’s contributed to the show and what it’s like being a woman behind the scenes. She also revealed what a day backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live looks like and inspired me to declare that my new dream job is to be a “Clip Researcher.”

Partners in Love and Comedy Writing

For nearly five years, despite the pleas of common sense, I've engaged in a steamy office romance. But it's not what you think. There aren't any break room rendezvous or synchronized trips to the water cooler. No, our workplace is our Jersey City apartment.

You see, my girlfriend and I aren't cubicle mates. We're writing partners. And although it defies logic and peace of mind, we actively choose to work together.

NBC Reaches Out to Aspiring TV Writers in New "Comedy Playground" Initiative

NBC is looking to develop brand new talent through a new initiative they're calling the "Comedy Playground." Starting on May 1st, the initiative will begin accepting video submissions from aspiring comedy writers for new show concepts, and they've enlisted a star-studded "Advisory Board" that includes Adam McKay, Amy Poehler, Mike Schur, Robert Carlock, Seth Meyers, Maya Rudolph, and Aziz Ansari to help select the winners. Two on-air winners will have up to five episodes of their show produced by the network and aired sometime next summer, while a third digital winner will have their concept produced and shown via NBC's website based on online voting.

"We are [...]

Things to Consider When Submitting to Write For a Late Night Show

This piece was originally published on SaraSchaefer.com. It's republished here with permission.

This past fall, I had the amazing privilege of hiring a writing staff for my upcoming TV show, Nikki & Sara Live. I was flattered and honored when hundreds of people applied. It was a super fun experience, but it was also an incredibly illuminating one. Reading so many packets made a couple of things very very clear: there are some really easy, basic things you can do to improve your chances of getting a job writing for TV. Before I give you those tips, however, I want to give a little context.

I think that [...]

More of the Greatest TV Writers Rooms Ever

This past summer, we ran a piece on the greatest writers’ rooms ever, taking a look at some of the most influential groups of comedy writers in TV history. The staffs of classics like Your Show of Shows, Mary Tyler Moore, and SCTV, as well as the writers responsible for The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live’s golden eras, made our original list. In putting the piece together, though, we were reminded of the sheer number of amazing TV comedies that have made it to air since the medium’s inception, each one boasting its own eclectic roster of comedic geniuses. TV history is littered with enough murderers’ rows of [...]

Weekend Update Writer/Producer Doug Abeles on Making It as a Comedy Writer

Gawker.tv has a great interview with SNL Weekend Update writer/producer Doug Abeles that covers everything from getting started in the comedy business to the writing process at SNL. To wit: "There are times when even collectively we all love a particular joke and are very confident that it's gonna kill. It's not even that it's like it's a comedian's comedian kind of joke, it's like no, this is a joke that will kill with everybody, and then it will just die, and it's inexplicable. Then other things that you didn't have as much faith in sometimes end up doing really well, and it's like well, you know, that was [...]