Friday, November 02, 2007


What a busy weekend. I'm conducting my second Sitcom Room seminar at the glorious Embassy Suites at LAX and preparing to strike. The object of the Sitcom Room is to give young writers the chance to really experience what's it like being in a writing room under actual rewrite night conditions. I plan on preparing them with vital survival secrets. Here's what you'd be learning if you were in the class:

To be a TV comedy writer you have to have thick skin. Generally you’re in a room with other comedy writers, all neurotics, competing against each other to get your ideas or jokes in the script. Eight puppies and one sock. Many times you’ll pitch a joke that doesn’t get a laugh or doesn’t get in. You’re out there with egg on your face. I find it’s best to develop a series of savers. As a public service, here are a few I use. (Note: if you find yourself using all of these in a five minute span consider other employment).

Hey guys, don’t all hoist me on your shoulders at once!

Okay, but you’re denying America pleasure.

Oh God, it’s my prom night all over again.

If Jon Stewart pitched that you’d put it right in.

I hear laughter but I don’t see the pencil moving.

Okay, don’t see your kids tonight. Stay all night. I’m doing this for you. Some thanks I get.

Sure, it’s not funny when I say it. But when (actor) says it…

You’re only mad because you didn’t think of it first.

Nurse! They’re being mean to me again!

The laugh machine will LOVE it.

I bet at COLD CASE they’d be hysterical.

Fine. I wasn’t meant to be appreciated in my time.

I don’t feel the love, you assholes.

You try being funny when you’re having a stroke.

See it typed. You’ll think differently.

Okay, what if they said it in a funny accent?

I’m sorry. Are there no more seats at the Algonquin Round Table?

So you’re saying perfection isn’t good enough?

Hey, you hired me!

(In Forghorn Leghorn voice) I say, I say, I keep pitchin’ ‘em, boy, and you keep missin’ ‘em.

Jesus, people, doesn’t ANYTHING make you laugh?

You all remember. I used to be funny, right?

And of course, the ultimate saver and perennial crowd pleaser – Go fuck yourself.


Anonymous said...

You can add..

"I walked a picket line for this?"

Anonymous said...

"A laugh track will make the audience simply think they aren't 'getting' the joke!"

*you say joke*
"... would be a really stupid joke to put in the show... Am I right or am I right!"

"Your turn"

"That joke sucked on purpose. This is an opportunity for us to fix it up! You call yourselves WRITERS, don't you?"

"Yeah? Well it's better than *insert opposing writer's bad joke*"

"Let me repeat...-"

"Jerry Sienfeld told me it was funny. He'd know, 'cause he just had his movie, 'BEE MOVIE', come out and it's making a killing in the boxoffice! Go watch it at a theatre near you!"
*dial cellphone*
"Hey Jerry, I did it. Yeah, of course they all heard. What, you think one of them dozed of- LEVINE, WAKE THE FRACK UP. Sorry 'bout that. Yeah, Ken fell asleep again, you guessed it. What? No, they didn't 'laugh'. What do you mean, 'why not?'! It was a stupid joke. Yeah yeah, I know, Sienfeld Sienfeld Sienfeld, you're funny, I'm not. Well, I want my 5 grand soon, I think I'm losing my job here..."

Karen said...

There's always...

"Let me finish."


"Criticism from the guy who pitched (fill in the last idiot thing pitched by the person making fun of your joke.)"

Gail Renard said...

Well it was funny when Pee Wee Herman said it.

The Minstrel Boy said...

a friend of mine had a laugh track in his cell phone. he'd pitch, it would flop, he'd hit the laugh track, hold up the phone and say "see, they get it!"

blogward said...

"I'll just get my coat, shall I?"

Karen said...

"Once again, I'm too hip for the room."

Karen said...


(turn to the writer seated next to you)

"I TOLD you they wouldn't like it."

estiv said...

And of course, the ultimate saver and perennial crowd pleaser – Go fuck yourself.

You know, I've never gotten a laugh with this line.

Anonymous said...

And of course, the ultimate saver and perennial crowd pleaser – Go fuck yourself.

Actually, that's a good one for daily living too. ;)

Cap'n Bob said...

My saver has always been: "Or..."

Anonymous said...

Don't you find comedy writers can be a very tough audience? I've known a couple stand-ups who expect everybody else to laugh at their every moronic comment but are too cool to laugh at somebody else's stuff. Even when they collapse the pretense, the response is often "That's funny"--but no fucking laugh. One guy was stone and I knew I finally got him when he couldn't take it anymore and double over and Pepsi flew out his nose.

The exception to this too cool to laugh guideline is when a comic is onstage and a bit really bombs and another comic at the back of the club let's out an insane BWAAAHAHA!which is just mean rather than trying to save him. It can be nasty out there.

On the other hand, if Lorne Michaels would just say, "That's funny" and then let the staff know he was being ironic, maybe we'd be spared the sketches on SNL that go on...and...on and...fucking...on.

Much like this post.

Robert Rouse said...

I almost pissed my pants.

Anonymous said...

“And yet I’m considered a genius in France.”

jbryant said...
estiv, I think the only way to get a laugh with "Go fuck yourself" is to say it to a hermaphrodite. Should crack up everyone, except the hermaphrodite.

Actually it killed at the unisex hair salon.

Rob said...
…the response is often "That's funny"--but no fucking laugh. On the other hand, if Lorne Michaels would just say, "That's funny" and then let the staff know he was being ironic….

On certain occasions, and under the right circumstances, and from somebody entitled to the opinion, a “that’s funny,” can not only be appropriate, but actually somewhat reinforcing. Maybe I just don’t get out much.