Two came from Australia and two came from Alabama. They all had the same accent.
One of the reason we moved from the LAX Hilton to the chic and stylish Custom Hotel (walking distance to a Ralph's market and bowling alley) is because last year the Hilton had an Anime convention during our weekend and the place was a friggin' zoo. So what do I encounter in the lobby of the more sedate and exclusive Custom on Saturday night?
Four terrific comic actors -- Andy Goldberg, Wendy Cutler, Harry Murphy, and Annie Abrahams -- performed a scene that even Ed Wood would say needed work. The scribes were broken into four teams and all four rewrote the scene Saturday night (and Sunday morning). Later that day the actors returned and performed their scenes. The difference was like Billy Carter and Jimmy Carter.
Later we had a panel discussion that featured David Isaacs, Phoef Sutton (CHEERS, BOSTON LEGAL, TERRIERS), Robin Schiff (ROMY & MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION), and Dan O'Shannon (CHEERS, FRASIER, MODERN FAMILY). I played James Lipton asking pretentious questions and fawning all over them.
Among the things the scribes learned over the weekend were:
There’s always a way to solve story problems. In my case, that's what David is for.
How do you know if an idea is any good? You don't really. But Robin Schiff has an ingenious approach. She says to herself, "IF this were a good idea, what would I do with it?"
The pros and cons of gangbanging.
Servicing actors (not to be confused with gangbanging).
Jokes are easy. Stories are hard.
It takes two to tango... at least.
Norm stories on CHEERS were particularly hard.
The importance of formatting.
Single camera vs. multi-camera: what's better?
The difference between men and women (besides that).
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 EMILY OWENS M.D. script)
Robin shared the secret for a long career in comedy writing.
The Volkswagen test.
How to handle network notes.
The FRIENDS lawsuit.
The smart way to write a dumb character.
Why a comedy writer should never wear a toupee or Hawaiian shirt (not that anyone should).
Ways to fix troubled scenes.
Working with a partner.
How to run a room.
How to get a laugh without a joke.
What's funny at 5:30 in the morning.
You don’t have to be the funniest person in the writing room to be the most valuable.
The book that explains comedy.
Should you send a spec of a show to that show?
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, Robin Schiff, Dan O'Shannon, Andy Goldberg, Wendy Cutler, Harry Murphy, Annie Abrams, Cliff Levine, Jonathan Emerson, the housekeeping staff who had to clean the four writing rooms (you might want to just seal them off for two months), and especially the attendees for making Sitcom Room 6 such a great experience.
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A few of those attendees may comment. I'm holding my breath.