Thursday, July 09, 2015
Another writing secret to success
The style of BIG BANG THEORY is very different from KIMMY SCHMIDT and VEEP is a different style from either of them. So is SHAMELESS. So is LOUIE, not to mention MODERN FAMILY (which I just did).
So can you write a good episode of 2 BROKE GIRLS (assuming that’s even possible) and a good episode of EPISODES?
In a very competitive field you do yourself a big favor by being able to answer yes.
What this unfortunately means is extra work on your part. Don’t just write your one spec pilot and wait for offers. It’s still helpful to write scripts for existing shows. It’s still a big plus to have both a single camera spec and a multi-camera spec.
Being a “funny person” is not enough. I would hope that aspiring comedy writers really study different shows. The tone and storytelling of NEW GIRL is miles apart from the tone and plotting of MOM. You’ll be miles ahead of “Mr. Funny Person” if you learn them.
Early on in our careers, my partner David Isaacs and I tried an experiment. We decided to write an evening of one act plays. There would be four of them – all in different comic styles. We had an overall umbrella theme of Los Angeles but that was the only similarity between the pieces.
The four styles were witty romantic comedy (a la Neil Simon), shock, a one-man monologue, and a farce.
Honestly, we were more successful at some than others. But it forced us to up our game on the genres that were the weakest links. And trust me, the audience told us which those were.
But in the end, that experiment made the transition from MASH to CHEERS much much easier for us.
Agents talk about wanting writers with a fresh unique “voice.” And that’s true, but you help yourself tremendously if you can also do impressions.
As always, best of luck to all aspiring writers. Someone has to break through. Why not YOU?