Saturday, September 10, 2011

The pros and cons of gangbanging and other topics

For the first time in two years I'm going to conduct another SITCOM ROOM seminar.  It'll be the weekend of November 12-13 at the LAX Hilton.  Later next week I'll open registration.  Stay tuned.  Space is limited.  To whip you into a veritable frenzy, here is a re-post from a few years ago. 
SITCOM ROOM 3 was held this weekend at that shrine of comedy, the Los Angeles Airport Hilton. For two days twenty attendees experienced what it’s like to be on staff of a sitcom. And none left saying they’d rather sell appliances at Sears than ever do that shit again, so I considered it a big success!

Among the things they learned were:

The two “Reds” that all writers require are Red Vines and Red Bull.

There’s always a way to solve story structure. There is no way out of the parking structure.

Danielle Sanchez, Co-Exec of MY NAME IS EARL explained what they’re looking for in a spec.

Air conditioning is a good thing.

The pros and cons of gangbanging.

Servicing actors (not to be confused with gangbanging).

If you don’t have a white board to write down your story beats, you can always use full-length mirrors. Sure anyone who enters the room will think it’s Hannibal Lector’s shopping list but still it gets the job done.

Jokes are easy. Stories are hard.

Norm stories on CHEERS were particularly hard.

Lloyd Garver shared tales of working with the great Bob Newhart.

When you’re finished eating the take-out Chinese food throw everything out. Immediately!

What shows to write for your spec. What shows not to write for your spec. (hint: I hope you’re not too far along on that DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.)

Not all Hitler jokes work.

Runthrough etiquette.

The Volkswagen test.

The magazine trick.

Why a comedy writer should never wear a toupee or Hawaiian shirt (not that anyone should).

Ways to fix troubled scenes.

How to run a room.

How to get a laugh without a joke.

David Isaacs gave an inside look at how MAD MEN works.

You don’t have to be the funniest person in the writing room to be the most valuable.

Phoef Sutton of CHEERS and BOSTON LEGAL explained how the worst idea ever can become the best idea.

Nothing goes better with Oreo Double-stuffs than beer.

The rule of threes.

The best book for learning how to be funny is Improv Comedy by Andy Goldberg.

… and finally -- 5-Hour Energy works!!! (Oh wait, it’s me who learned that.)

Thanks to Dan O’Day, David Isaacs, Phoef Sutton, Danielle Sanchez, Lloyd Garver, Andy Goldberg, Mark Chaet, Barbara Howard, Mehera Blum, the German guy from the hotel, and especially the attendees for making Sitcom Room 3 such a great experience.

9 comments:

scottmc said...

An obituary for Charles Dubin was printed in today's edition of The New York Times. It is a rather extensive article. I learned that he directed the Lesley Ann Warren version of 'Cinderella', and that the MASH episode of Margret's being investigated as a possible communist mirrored his life. Part of your tribute from the other day is quoted.

Dave Olden said...

"If you don’t have a white board to write down your story beats, you can always use full-length mirrors."

Oh, I get it. Write down ideas so you can reflect on them. And network execs can't sneak up behind you.

Creativity *and* perimeter security. Brilliant.

jbryant said...

A mutual friend once told me that Larry Wilmore, Emmy-winning co-creator/producer of The Bernie Mac Show, got his big break as a writer with a spec Mary Tyler Moore Show -- in the early 90s. But I'm sure he's the exception that proves the rule.

Paul Duca said...

If Phoef Sutton participates this year....could someone ask him how a man gets that name?

Frank said...

Damn I just finished my Dick Van Dyke Show spec yesterday after working on it since the last century! Back to the old drawing board I guess.

J.T. said...

I'll bite: What's the magazine trick?

HogsAteMySister said...

And just in case you would allow a walk on...

Johnny Walker said...
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Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.