Thanks to the California Supreme Court we comedy writers can continue to be vulgar and crass and sexist and infantile and crude…and do our jobs. With a vote of 7-0 the judges threw out the ridiculous sexual harassment lawsuit against certain FRIENDS writers and Warner Brothers filed by a disgruntled incompetent writers’ assistant who was fired for cause. The sexually explicit remarks made by the FRIENDS writers were not even aimed at her (although now they will be). They were directed at the actors.
Writers Rooms are not for the faint of heart. It is not the Queen’s Tea in there. Sitcom writers on multi-camera shows like FRIENDS work under enormous pressure. The writers see a runthrough at 4:00 and must fix the entire script that night, even if it means throwing out the script and writing a new one. They must identify the problems, come up with the solutions, and have the new draft ready first thing in the morning. Tough luck if the muse doesn’t come, or you’ve got the flu, or worse, had Laker tickets. And you face this daunting task essentially every night for 22 weeks.
To relieve that pressure and kick start the creative process, comedy writers need to be free to say ANYTHING. And considering we’re all neurotic, self loathing, insecure, still pining for that girl from Junior High, and funny our escape valve tends to be material that makes “The Aristocrats” joke seem PG. The only rule is everything and everyone is fair game…even YOU. The best way to prevent others from taking a shot at you is taking the shot yourself. A writers room is the only place in the world where the winner of a dick measuring contest is the one who has the smallest.
And if a favorite target is the cast, well who do you think had all the objections or tanked the material that resulted in this grueling rewrite anyway? You’re in a stuffy room eating bad Chinese food or El Pollo Loco while Courtney Cox is out for a lovely evening. Sure you’re going to talk about her genitals…for twelve hours.
Had the writers’ assistant won this absurd lawsuit the result would not be more genteel writers rooms. It would be fewer woman writers and assistants being hired. And no one would benefit from that.
One last point. If you were ever to be in one of these rooms you would likely be appalled, offended, even outraged…but you would never laugh so much and so hard in your life.
And maybe some of the Courtney Cox genital jokes were true.