Here are some Friday Questions since it's, y'know... Friday.
RockGolf leads off:
Who do you consider to be the best COMIC actor on a current DRAMA series? I'd suggest Tim Kang on The Mentalist, whose deadpan 6-year Sgt. Friday imitation slays me.
I don’t think of Tim as a comic character. I suspect he doesn’t either. I’d be surprised if anyone on the staff does. And Miguel Ferrer does a way better Sgt. Friday. Check him out in TWIN PEAKS and the original ROBOCOP.
No, for my money, I’d have to go with Damon Herriman as Dewey Crow on JUSTIFIED. Not just as the best comic character in a drama but the funniest comic character on television period. No one on any sitcom makes me laugh as hard as Dewey.
Julian Brown has a question on a post I wrote about the need for a theme and the importance of your show being about something.
This really resonates with me; I'm grinding away at a making an album, and this week I'm trying to determine what it's about.
If you feel like it, I'd be interested in what, if any, process you go thru to get to the bottom of yr premise/story/what have you.
Well, the first thing is I do is determine what the theme is before writing. The story, or in your case, album, should reflect that. Taking a finished product and sifting through it looking for gold is rather counter-productive.
This is a question I get a lot (and answer a lot). It's an important point that needs to be repeated. Sort of like a "theme."
When people tell me they just want to start writing and see where the story takes them, I tell them most often it leads to Death Valley.
Put in the time and effort to determine your theme first. And yes, I know – it’s HARD. The hardest part actually. But once you have it, the rest falls into place and it’s much easier to determine if you’re on track or straying. The theme is your compass.
Bottom line: what is it you want to say? And if you don’t have anything, then why are you even bothering?
And finally, from Jay:
I've heard and read all about how rough writers' rooms can be, and that if one wants to be a working TV comedy writer, one needs to have a thick skin and be prepared for anything. What's been your experience with a fellow writer (or, maybe it's been you) who's going through a rough time (read: depressed) and may be a little more sensitive to things? Did his or her fellow staffers been sympathetic or just see this more fodder to throw around the room?
I ask because I am going through a rough time right now and am prone to depression from time to time. I'm not a working TV writer but one of those aspiring types. I know me, and I know that when I'm feeling good and confident in myself and my abilities as a writer, I'm sharp and on the ball with a good balance of being amiable but with an edge. But during my downturns, I'm much more sensitive and distracted than I'd like. So this makes me question, do I have the personality to make it in a comedy writers' room.
Thanks for your time!
First off, Jay, my heart goes out to you. Battling those demons are rough.
What I would suggest, in your best interest, is that staff work might not be for you. You may get a supportive room; you may not. It depends on the personalities in the room, the pressure they’re all under, how well the show is working, etc.
I would suggest you concentrate on your drafts. Time was you could make a living in TV as a freelance writer. No more really. But if you write great drafts you may get a show to give you multiple assignments.
And a better avenue might be to write screenplays. Or stage plays (although there’s not a lot of money in that).
There are a lot of terrific comedy writers who just don’t have the temperament for staff work. Guys like Neil Simon. Yes, it’s harder to break in, but once you do you can create a working environment more to your comfort level. And the more comfortable you are, the better the work will be.
One last point – comedy writers who suffer from depression is more common than athletes who drink Gatorade. It needs to be addressed, but there’s no reason why you can’t ultimately enjoy a long successful career. You’re already ahead of the game by recognizing your condition. Again, best of luck to you.
What’s your Friday Question? Please leave it in the comments section. I do try to get to as many as I can. Thanks.