Saturday, August 01, 2015

Why sign up for THE SITCOM ROOM?

I will be holding another SITCOM ROOM weekend seminar this October 17 & 18 in Los Angeles. Registration will be later this week. But it will open one hour earlier for anyone on the Alert List. Here’s where you go to sign up for that. (The list is private and will never be shared.  And you can unsubscribe at any time.)

So why should you sign up for the SITCOM ROOM?

It’s the only truly hands-on writing seminar there is.

I only hold it once every couple of years.

You get to see professional actors perform your work.

It’s something to do.

This might help you break into the business.

You learn things about yourself that you never knew. (Good things even)

You’ll learn your strengths and weaknesses.

You build lifelong friendships.

You might even find a writing partner.

You get to hear some of my old war stories.

You’ll laugh for two straight days.

No experience is necessary.

You’ll develop a taste for Red Vines.

You’ll learn different “types” of comedy and which are bested suited for sitcoms.

You’ll learn how to write spec scripts that sell.

There’s no keynote speech by Tommy Lasorda.

Even if you don’t want to do this professionally, it’s “fantasy camp” for comedy writers.

You get to live out a dream.

You get to meet some of my friends. 

You’ll forever see sitcoms in a whole new light.

I only lecture once.

You learn how to make things funnier.

Chicks love comedy writers.

You learn how to be creative on demand.

You learn whether this is the career path for you.

It’s a lot cheaper than a year at NYU.

You’ll be introduced to the business side of sitcom writing – agents, managers, job opportunities, salaries, and marketplaces,

It’s something to look forward to in October besides the World Series (unless it’s held in November this year) and Halloween.

You develop new ways of thinking.

There’s never more than twenty attendees so that everyone gets personal attention.

You’re held to professional standards.

There’s a Burger King across the street.

Former attendees have gone on to have nice careers in writing. One was on staff of NURSE JACKEE.

You get to ask me lots of questions.

You come away not just with a notebook of notes but with a scene you’ve co-written (and rewritten) and a great sense of accomplishment.

Here’s what past attendees have said (and a few more always chime in with an unsolicited comment or two), and again – here’s the Alert List. Hope to see you at this year’s SITCOM ROOM.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Questions

Let’s close out July with some Friday Questions, shall we?

GS in SF starts with a question on the spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW I recently wrote and posted.

How different do you think the process would have been had you worked with your writing partner instead of handling the task solo? Would he have offered similar comments? Or, does having a partner give you more "distance" that maybe you would have come to some of these helpful insights on your own? This may offer an excellent opportunity to dissect the pros (and cons?) of writing with a partner??

First of all, it would be better with better jokes. David Isaacs and I always write together (i.e. in the same room) so every moment and line is talked out. I don’t know specifically what his comments would have been, but we put nothing on paper unless there's a consensus.

In breaking the story, he would have had his own ideas and for all I know, they would have been the same as Bill Persky’s. And like I always say, “the best idea wins.”

Michael has another DVD Show question.

There was contention here and there in the comments sections about out of character behavior. Rob saying something someone thought Rob would never say or Alan doing something someone thought Alan would never do. Do these types of disagreements ever come up in the writers' room and, if so, how do you resolve them?

These questions come up ALL the time. At some point though, whoever is running the room – generally the showrunner – has to make the final call.

The best shows are the ones where there is a clear vision by the person in charge. Problems arise when characters are so undefined no one really knows how they’ll react in a given situation. Or everyone on the writing staff has a slightly different take on the character. You need everybody to be on the same page and that starts with the showrunner.

Where it gets sticky is when the actor says his character wouldn’t say that. Generally, I find that when that happens the actor is right. They begin to really internalize their characters and the good ones have a great barometer as to what their characters would or wouldn’t do. We writers find that annoying but it’s true.

And still another -- this one from Matthew Kugler:

Since you weren't under a deadline for this script and it was greatly for pleasure, at what point did you feel you had done your best attempt? How many drafts/revisions did you go through? And did you still feel pressure or nervousness knowing that you'd be submitting it to Mr. Persky and Mr. Reiner?

Since I knew it would never be produced I didn't kill myself.  Most of my time spent was on breaking the story.  I wrote the script rather quickly, but it helped that I so knew the characters.  As always, once I have a draft I go through and polish.  Then, just before it's done, I go back and put in five more good jokes and thin out any big speech.

And to answer your second question, sure I felt a little pressure.  After all, THE writers of the DVD Show were going to read it -- the icons I have always looked up to.   I'll be very honest, I was very relieved that Bill Persky liked it. 

Chester asks:

Ken, you recently wrote a stage play, you just completed the Dick Van Dyke spec, you mentioned another comedy you and David created and pitched, and you keep up a fairly detailed and time-consuming daily blog. My question: Where do you find the time? I'm amazed at your output. Don't you sleep? (Okay, that's a second question. You can answer either or both.) Thanks.

I am blessed in that I like to write. And I have no life. But seriously, all of my projects combined don’t even approach the amount of writing I did on a routine basis when I was working on a show. There were times when I even wrote in my sleep. I remember once, while on MASH, I dreamed I was talking to Alan Alda and David Stiers and rewriting their dialogue.

Writing is fun now because I can work on projects I enjoy. Like this blog.

Mark Raymond asks:

There always seems to be a few comments that "have been removed by the author." I'm not asking what they said, since I understand if you wanted us to see them you would have left them stay as a comment. I guess I'm just wondering what the tone or tenor of these comments are that gets them removed?

I actually remove very few comments. But if the comment is particularly hateful, offensive, or attacks one of the other commenters I will remove it. And I’m way more apt to do that if the person hides behind anonymity.

Feel free to disagree with me. Just do it in a civil manner. I’ve even been known to change my mind or apologize for things I’ve posted. (But that’s rare since I’m right so much of the time.)

I greatly appreciate all of your comments.

And Friday Questions. What’s yours?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's Official! I'm going to hold another SITCOM ROOM

For the first time since 2013, I'm conducting my 2-day Sitcom Room. It'll be Saturday/Sunday, October Los Angeles, as always.

The Sitcom Room is where I lock 20 brave souls into “writers’ rooms” for an entire weekend so they can experience for themselves what it’s really like to write for a TV sitcom.

The last time I held this event, we sold out all 20 spaces in one hour.

If you're on my Alert List, we'll let you know 24 hours before the rest of the world the exact date & time that Registration will be open...and Registration will open one hour early just for the people on the Alert List.

Bonus Questions

The Friday Questions are stacking up so I thought I would devote an extra day to them.  Hope that's okay.

Rashad Khan leads off:

In a previous blog post, you mentioned the pilot episode of "The Phil Silvers Show" to your comedy writing class at USC. If you haven't covered this topic before: which OTHER sitcom pilots would you show to anyone as good examples (provided, of course, they were available for viewing)?

I used to say the COSBY pilot but no more. I didn’t necessarily show pilots to the class, just great episodes. The series I chose besides Bilko were THE HONEYMOONERS, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, ALL IN THE FAMILY, FAWLTY TOWERS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, and SEINFELD. I didn’t show them any recent pilots since I figured they’d seen them already. MODERN FAMILY is a pretty great pilot though. So is 30 ROCK. And MY NAME IS EARL.

From Jack Terwilliger:

Loved this (DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) exercise. Learned so much from it. Mr. Persky's comments on story structure and character raised a Friday question: is writing for the stage closer to writing for television than for film? It seems as if lots of playwrights write for TV. Maybe that's just where the work is, but I'm wondering if their skills transfer more readily to one medium than the other.

Playwrights write for television because there’s way more money in it.  TV tends to be very dialogue-driven. And, I might add, more nuanced and well-written than most features. Hollywood wants comic book blockbusters while television offers sophisticated dramas and comedies that don’t require the Griswolds or Amy Schumer or Melissa McCarthy.

The irony is in the ‘50s the reverse was true. TV writers all aspired to write for the theatre. That’s where the quality was. Now Broadway means ALADDIN.

Longtime friend of the blog, Howard Hoffman asks:

The DVD experience made me wonder when and why producing/writing/directing credits got moved to the top of the show rather than at the end.

The first credit after the show has to be the director. Or the last credit at the top of the show. If you do the writing and directing credits up front then you can end the show with the showrunner’s card. That’s one reason. Another is that over time front loaded credits just became the standard. VHS won out over Betamax. (I wonder how many readers have no idea what that reference means.)

Glen K. wonders:

If there is a scene where an actor is required to drink or eat something in a large quantity, how is it done if multiple takes are required? Doesn't the actor get full, maybe even sick?

It’s a really good way to get back at actors who are difficult. (Just kidding… sort of) Most times actors will not actually eat much. They’ll push food around the plate or pick at it.

Poor George Wendt (Norm), however, had to down lots of beer on CHEERS. And it was warm 3.2 (lower alcohol) beer. Rarely did we do less than three takes.

Multiple takes also requires multiple portions of food. If someone is eating a three-pound lobster you need three or four three-pound lobsters. What that sometimes means is a feast for the crew when the show is wrapped.

My heart goes out to actors doing food related commercials. They DO have take big bites of those juicy Big Macs take after take after take.  Although, in some cases I think they just spit the food out. In the case of Big Macs that’s probably wise anyway.

And finally, Jon H wants to know:

I've noticed, from attending tapings myself, that a lot of sitcoms now seem to have a lot of prerecorded scenes, a lot of the warmup guy telling the audience to "look at the monitors" for the next scene. Do you find that prerecorded scenes help or hurt a show? Is it hard to get the timing right, in case the audience laughs too long or too short, or can that all be controlled in post-production now?

Here’s how they help a show: The audience doesn’t have to stay there till 2 in the morning. The crew can film outside scenes or scenes with complicated stunts or on sets not visible to the audience. The bad news is those scenes never play all that great on the monitors.

When I direct, if there’s a scene in a car. I’ll preshoot the scene, but for the studio audience, instead of showing that to them, I put two chairs on the set, tell the audience to imagine they’re in a car, and have the actors perform the scene. I don’t film it but I do record the audio. The laughs are always way better when the audience can see the live actors.

What’s your Friday Question or whatever day you want?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Naming characters after people you know

In Anne Flett-Giordano’s hilarious new book, MARRY, KISS, KILL there’s a character named Ken Levine. He’s a total asshole. Anne is also a brilliant TV comedy writer, having won a gazillion Emmys for shows like FRASIER. So we know each other. Unlike random people who just assume I’m an asshole, Anne asked if she could use my name. I, of course, was delighted and touched. Yes, the character is a prick but he also gets laid a lot and is young. Her book (which you really should read) is sprinkled with names of people she knows.

This is not uncommon.

It’s always tough coming up with names and always fun to send little shout-outs to friends. Or work in inside jokes that only eight people will get.

In one of the Castle novels there’s the PR firm of Levine & Isaacs. I don’t believe I screw anyone over in that one.

Isaacs and I have worked in a lot of friends, acquaintances, and pets into our scripts. In the DANCIN’ HOMER episode of THE SIMPSONS, the minor league announcer (voiced by me) was Dan Hoard who was my broadcast partner in Syracuse in 1988 and is now the voice of the Cincinnati Bengals and U. of Cincinnati Bearcats. The major league announcer was Dave Glass, my partner in Tidewater the following season. Dave Glass also shows up in an episode of AfterMASH.
Radio buddies Bobby Rich, Tom Straw, Dean Goss, and Tom Greenleigh all appear in various MASH episodes. In the “Goodbye Radar” two-parter, he meets a lovely girl from his hometown, Patty Haven. Patty Haven was a former girlfriend of mine. And as discussed elsewhere in this blog, Charles’ sister Honoria was named from a girl I dated very briefly in college.

One of the happiest married couples I know is Bill & Sherry Grand so we used them in a CHEERS episode as a married couple trying to kill each other. Norm’s original boss was Darrell Stabell. Darrell Stabell gave me my first job.

Our tributes are not confined to people. In the movie VOLUNTEERS we needed a name for a Chinese warlord. So we chose Chung Mee, which was a Chinese restaurant in downtown LA that we frequented until health inspectors shut it down.

I’ve mentioned this before but on MASH we were always looking for names since so many patients and military personnel passed in and out of the 4077th. One year we needed four Marines for an episode so named them after the-then California Angels’ infield (Remy, Solita, Chalk, Grich). The following year (season seven) we just went down the Los Angeles Dodgers’ roster. You’ll notice Garvey, Rhoden, Lopes, Cey, etc. By the end of the year we were down to announcers (Scully) and owners (O’Malley).

And then there was the time when we were producing a series. We went down to the stage for a runthrough. One of the regular cast members took exception to a name we had given a guest cast member. “Lana Lewis is a joke name,” he said. “It’s not real. You’re just going for a cheap laugh by using a goofy name.” We nodded then introduced him to our writers’ assistant, Lana Lewis.

Now who’s the asshole?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Final thoughts on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW

Here’s the second part of my conversation with Bill Persky about my spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.   Yesterday was the first.  Tomorrow I jump onto other things.

First: some of my observations. Whenever I write a TV script I always visualize the final product on the air. I don’t pictures the actors on the stage with cameras and crew hovering. Imagining the final product helps me think of the characters, not the actors who play them. Doing the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW I realized this was the first time I had ever pictured a script in black-and-white.

I also felt that the tone was very different if I was writing a scene in the Petries’ house vs. the office. At home all of the humor is character-based. The laughs come from attitudes and behavior. At the office, however, because of Buddy and Sally and the nature of what everyone’s job is, there are lots of jokes.

So later in my script, when I had Buddy and Sally in the house, it was like a hybrid.

When Bill Persky said I captured the style and rhythm of the show, that’s what he meant. Especially at the house where writers couldn’t just rely on “jokes” to get their laughs. A home scene can be extremely funny but it requires constructing a situation conducive to comedy. For me, I was careful to make sure everyone had an attitude and a point-of-view. Otherwise, it’s just talking heads firing off one-liners. At the office however, Buddy could take shots at Mel, Sally could rattle off self-deprecating quips, and everyone could chime in with jokes and schtick as if they were pitching for the Alan Brady Show.

Finally, I asked Bill, “If this were just a spec you read on a pile of specs, what would your reaction be?” He said he would call me in, they would either send me out with a revised version of my story, or they would give me another story. So either way I would get an assignment. Now, for me that’s like winning the Triple Crown, an Oscar, and the Espy Courage Award. The number one goal for any spec script is to get you work.  Too bad my timing was off by only 50 years.

Bill said that he and his partner, Sam Denoff broke in the same way. They wrote a spec DVD Show. Carl did not like the story but did like their writing. He invited them to come in with ideas. One they pitched was based on a real life experience that happened to Bill. When his child was born there was a mix up at the hospital over flowers. That led to the THAT’S MY BOY?? episode – a genuine classic. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but the payoff produced the longest laugh ever. And that was their FIRST episode. Yikes. You can see it here if you haven't already.

Bill talked again about how my script reminded him of how innocent the times were back then. We all know about Rob & Laura sleeping in separate beds (even as a clueless callow lad I knew that was wrong on every possible level). But the whole spirit of the show was of a different era. And yet, it’s a real testament to how universal and relatable the themes were and how exceptional the writing and acting was that the show still resonates a half century later. Even in black and white (which is Millennial-repellent).

We speculated on how they’d do the show today. I said first of all there would be no Buddy Sorrell. Former Borscht Belt comics no longer exist – except for maybe Billy Crystal. Bill thought today they would have to go diversity for Buddy. I said Sally would become “Amy Schumer.” She wouldn’t be talking about all the losers she dated; she’d be talking about all the losers she slept with. Mel would be openly gay. And there are no primetime variety shows – Alan Brady might be a late night talk show host. Laura would be a working mom. And the Army flashbacks would be in Afghanistan.

For me this experiment has been a huge success. I always wanted to write a DICK VAN DYKE SHOW episode, and talking to Bill Persky, batting around ideas – for a few precious moments it was like I was in an actual DVD Show story conference. So how cool was that?  And my fingers are crossed that Carl Reiner will weigh in at some point and it’ll get even better. I hope it was fun for you guys too (and God forbid educational). My sincere thanks to Bill Persky for his time and wisdom. And to everyone associated with THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. You provided a lifelong inspiration, a career path, and more laughs and exploding hormones than an impressionable wise-ass teenager should be allowed to have. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bill Persky's notes on my DICK VAN DYKE SHOW script

I am truly honored that Bill Persky (far left) agreed to read and comment on my spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW. Along with his partner, Sam Denoff, Bill wrote many of the classic episodes of the series including COAST TO COAST BIG MOUTH and THAT’S MY BOY?? and he rose to the position of showrunner later in the series’ run. (In case you’re coming late to the party, I wrote a spec DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, which I posted in four parts last week. Check it out.)

Quick aside: When I starting out, writing spec scripts, there was a book on writing sitcoms. In it was printed the entire script of COAST TO COAST BIG MOUTH (in proper format even). I was in awe. That script was my gold standard. I’m still trying to live up to it. So for one of its writers to respond to my script – you can understand what a thrill it is for me.

I’m still waiting for Carl Reiner’s reaction. When I receive it I will share it with you immediately, even it means delaying a post where I again plug one of my damn books.

Okay, so first off Bill sent me this email:

Reading the script was like a time machine transporting me back to the 60's; Obviously you capture the rhythm, style and sound of the show and characters, and the jokes were great and in character- you really had Alan cold. As to the story, we probably would have handled it differently. I'd be happy, with or without Carl to have a conversation about it, Another thing that I have thought about, and is clear in what you did, is how innocent we were, and how narrow the boundaries we functioned in- even though we were tough on some issues. I don't know that you could do the Van Dyke Show today without the episode of Rob getting caught watching porn in the office. Just let me know what you would like to do, and I'll be happy to do it. Bill

Is he a mensch or what? I then arranged for a phone conversation, which lasted probably a half an hour.

He seemingly wasn’t bothered by the prostate or stripper reference. But here’s the deal with that and it’s why I keep saying “think of the big picture” – if I had turned that script in and was getting second draft notes, Bill or Sam or Carl might’ve said, “not sure we could get away with prostate,” I’d say, “no problem I’ll do something else,” and we’d move on to the next note.  Done. These are not big deals.  My spec would not have been tossed into the reject file because the prostate reference was too jarring.

When I turn in a first draft I EXPECT there will be lines, or jokes, or moments that the powers-that-be will request be changed. But I’ve found that when you’re always second guessing yourself, wondering what will please the showrunner instead of writing what you think is good, you’re going to turn in a tepid draft.

I also should mention I’m much more receptive to doing the notes given by the showrunner because it’s his show. He knows it better than anybody. If he thinks a character wouldn’t say a particular line there’s no debate. He’s right.

Very semi-briefly: This was my thought process on how I broke the story. I thought it would be fun to have Alan Brady be an unwanted houseguest. Selfishly speaking, I wanted to write that character. I think my all-time favorite scene in THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was the Alan-Laura scene in COAST TO COAST BIG MOUTH. (If you haven’t seen that episode you really need to.  It's on YouTube.  Go and come back.)

I created the car accident to establish Millie as a blabbermouth so she would ultimately pose a threat.

I needed a reason for Alan to hide out at Rob’s house. I wanted it to be scandalous but 1960s appropriate. And I wanted it to be a funny situation. So I thought of him being caught with strippers. Still, it needed a comic spin so that’s when I came up with the funeral angle.

Once Alan got to the house I wanted to introduce a flip. The audience would be expecting the obvious – he’s pushy, overbearing, obnoxious.  I wanted to do something unexpected and yet plausible. That’s why I structured it that he cooks them dinner, is nice to Ritchie, will sleep on the couch. The twist is Laura sees he left the kitchen a mess and is not a good houseguest at all.

And what seemed like a nice gesture to Ritchie is actually corrupting him and by sleeping in the middle of the house Alan's snoring is keeping everyone awake. I also had Rob explain that Alan must be in real pain having to keep up this facade. So Alan’s niceness is not out of character, it’s a conscious choice.

To make matters worse, Buddy and Sally were summoned the next day. More upheaval and another chance to write Buddy and Sally.

I was building to Laura having to make a tough decision – sacrifice her reputation or throw Alan under the bus? The new car was to help make her feel more guilty.  Always make it harder.  I personally love constructing stories where characters have to make tough choices.  They're relatable predicaments (which is why a DICK VAN DYKE SHOW episode still connects with viewers decade after decade) and their decisions really help define who they are.

It also tied into the other storyline because Alan knew their car was heavily damaged in the accident. Back in those days it was almost customary for the star to give people cars as a way of thanks. Desi Arnaz used to do that all the time. Producer Danny Arnold would give a writer a car if he had to write a script quickly and didn’t sleep for two days. So Alan Brady giving Laura a car seemed justified to me.

I wanted Alan to have to make a big decision too. Let Laura take the fall or fess up? That's why I had Rob lay out the consequences of Millie thinking their marriage was in trouble.

Would Alan step up and let Laura off the hook? He let her off the hook in COAST TO COAST BIG MOUTH. Judgment call – I thought he would.

Okay, so that was my game plan.  Now let's see how much better it can be. 

As Bill said in his email, he had problems with the story. He felt the car accident didn’t really pay off. I used it as a device, but he felt I could have done more. I can't argue with that.  In fact, he thought it could be expanded into a whole episode.

He said, what if Laura was driving somewhere and Millie was following her? Then the two of them get into an accident and the issue becomes which of them is at fault? Put Rob in the middle. The show becomes about two best friends who have a falling out. Could Ritchie still play with their son?  It's simple but universal.   Who hasn't had a falling out with a close friend?  And again, the star of the show is in the middle of it.  Much better than what I had.

Another option is to keep the accident as part of the Alan Brady story but let Alan get involved. Let him have some take on the accident and argument.

Bill said they probably would have let me say that Alan was having an affair. That’s the advantage of working out the story with the writers. As a freelancer I would not have known that. But then again, unless they’ve established that already as part of his character, they would not expect me to know that.  Oh, he thought the funeral/stripper angle was funny.

Bill felt I didn’t need the scene in the writers room. Alan could have just barged in on Rob & Laura and announced he was staying for a few days. This would have amped up both Rob & Laura’s reaction and given Rob less time to prepare. It would have been a more fun surprise for the audience too. He’s totally right. If I went in that direction, however, I would like to find an alternative scene in the office. Those office scenes are always fun.

I mentioned to Bill that the character I had the toughest time writing was Rob. Did he and the writers feel that way too? He said, no, not at all. And if I had trouble it’s because I didn’t give him enough to do. Providing him that little physical (choking) routine wasn’t enough. Putting him in the middle of an argument between Laura and Millie would be better. Or, in the Alan story, let Rob be the one to do all the dishes and try to clean up Alan’s mess. As he was saying all this I thought to myself, “Jesus, of course that’s better. Why didn’t I think of that?”

You're never too old to learn.  

MORE TOMORROW including his final thoughts on my script and the age of innocence that this series was produced in.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Network" notes on my DICK VAN DYKE SHOW script

I may get some angry comments but so be it.  I list these not to embarrass anybody but to illustrate what it’s like to get network and studio notes. I do appreciate all of your comments, I really do. And these serve to give you some idea of what TV writers face. On the surface it may seem absurd, but trust me these are exactly the kind of notes writers receive. That’s why I’m doing this. These notes are a perfect example of what we must address on a routine basis.

Some background to put these notes in perspective: We spend hours, maybe even weeks, working on the story. Is it interesting enough? Are the stakes high enough? Where is the fun? What are the emotional beats? Are the emotional beats earned? How can we tell the story in a fresh new way? Can we put in some unexpected twists so it’s not predictable? How do we get out the necessary exposition in a way that’s not dry and boring? How do we service all of the characters? How do we do this while still staying within budget… and time? Every beat is discussed, every motivation.

A draft is written. Then is carefully scrutinized. Can this line be funnier? Does this scene feel too long? Is there a nice flow? Does each actor have enough good things to do in the scene? Are the jokes spread around equally, or is one character primarily asking questions or laying out exposition? Are the payoffs big enough? Is the story easy to track? Is there still a better way of telling this story? Will the actors be happy? Is there any repetition? Is the act break strong enough? Is there enough physical comedy and movement or do we just have talking heads?  Is it too predictable or cliched? 

And after all of that discussion and polishing when we feel we’ve produced a well-crafted script that satisfies all of those conditions, we send it to the stage… and network… and studio.

And these are the notes we get:

It all rings true - except in the early 60s, I think Ritchie would have said "Hi" instead of "Hey"

Does anybody actually say "brunt" in everyday conversation? To me, it's one of those words that people occasionally write, but sound awkward when spoken informally.

People did not say "My God" in 1965 sitcoms.

Most of America is probably unfamiliar with haggis.

Pretty sure that kaddish would not have been mentioned back then, either.

I also query the insurance rates comments: my recollection is that they didn't go up as promptly or as much back then.

I don't get the line when Alan says to Mel :I don't like it when you speak normally. That doesn’t have the right ring to it.

I never remember Buddy getting off less then a fast 2 or 3 shots at Mel as soon as he appeared. A single shot seems lame for him

"Breaking out of Alcatraz" though time-wise right, is also too detailed a reference.

I think "Canada", rather than Poland seems more from Laura's world.

Do you think they would have used the term exotic dancers instead of strippers?

About the bagel thing, if this is going by 1965 lifestyles, would "plain Bagel" be a term that would be used and did the "goyim" even know about bagels?

The part with Alan making dinner rings untrue.

Wouldn't a motel room be cheaper than a car?

How do you buy a car and have it delivered early in the morning, before you make your bed/couch?

Wouldn't the racket of destroying a kitchen to make french toast wake her up earlier?

Alan Brady never once wrote with the gang.

I think Alan's joke at the end is anachronistic.

One clunky sentence I would change: "She's going to ask for all the things you borrowed back." Would change it to: "She's going to ask you to give back all the things you borrowed."

And my favorite, where they’re actually rewriting jokes:

The dollars left over from the funeral, while a great joke, still seems post-60s. Maybe "I got a bunch of singles from the funeral. I sold autographs during the eulogy." Or "I didn't tip the pallbearers this time." Or "They passed the plate for his favorite charity and I took change."

Now put yourself in the writer's place.  Makes you want to order a big drink or write plays, doesn't it?

Tomorrow: Bill Persky. You’ll see the difference.