Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why it's cool to be a TV writer

I’ve bitched in the past about the frustrations of being a TV comedy writer -- notes, crappy food, etc.  So you might ask: “why WOULD I want to become a TV comedy writer? What are the pluses?”

Okay, how about these?

First – a disclaimer: these points apply to when you’re in a good working situation. No matter how “dream” the “dream job” is, if your boss is a monster, your co-workers are the Manson family, and the working conditions are a notch below the Triangle Shirt Factory you’re going to be in the sixth ring of hell. But assuming you’re in a decent situation (and many of them are):

You get to work in a big Hollywood movie studio (or maybe a warehouse in Chatsworth but there are still sound stages and stuff).

Parking is provided (usually)!

You spend all day working with funny people. And I don’t mean “Funny People” like the Judd Apatow movie – these people are ACTUALLY funny.

So all day long you laugh and make them laugh. Can you think of a better way of making a living once you’re too old to be a porn star?

Without having to give thousands of dollars to charity first, sometimes hot actors and actresses on your show will hug you.

You see your name on television.

People who thought you were a total loser see your name on television.

Words that you write get performed. Not by waiters but former waiters who are now TV stars.

You’re fed all day long. This is great for the first couple of years.

You hear amazing showbiz stories. Every so often one is true!

You receive a birthday cake from your agent. And, as a bonus, he doesn’t drop you!

You have scripts to donate for your kids’ school silent auction. (But do yourself a favor and don’t compare what your script brings in versus the MODERN FAMILY that another parent donates.)

As you hear other writers discuss their upbringing, you suddenly feel sooooo much better about yours.

You know the expression “women are attracted to men with a sense of humor”? The REAL expression is “women are attracted to men with a sense of humor who are getting paid for it.”

You sometimes get nominated for awards...

You sometimes win...

Sometimes a show that you write goes into syndication and pays residuals. In how many professions can you make money while you sleep?

People will follow you on Twitter.

When you have a blog in twenty years people will bookmark it.

You get show SWAG. I still get compliments on my WINGS jacket.

But most of all it’s that laughing thing. For all the hours and aggravation, being able to laugh all day is a wonderful way to your spend your life. Hopefully the bad food won’t shorten it.


Johnny Walker said...

Every TV writer always talks about LUNCH, and how important it is. I seem to remember a story in THE SIMPSONS room where Conan thought it would be hilarious to pretend to be the food guy, but only bringing empty boxes into the room.

The other writers never forgave him.

Of course, when you say "bad" food, I guess you mean, "delicious but unhealthy"? :)

Johnny Walker said...

Here's Conan's story:


Anonymous said...

TV writing is indeed fun and cool.
I am having a party tonite with TV writers. When we are done, we will go to the bars for a nice drink. I love TV writing. Deal it I say.

Dan Ball said...

People still believe you and respect you if you work in TV and your name doesn't show up in the credits. I think that's how my in-laws let me into the family when I married my wife. "You work at Channel 18? That's pretty awesome. You shall be known from thenceforth as 'Dan the Man'."

Steve Pepoon said...

My whole life growing up, I never met another Pepoon. Never heard of any others out there. Until my name appeared on TV. Then I started hearing from pockets of Pepoons all over the country. Now I got Pepoons coming out my wazoo.

Terrence Moss said...

I just saw an episode of THE JEFFERSONS from early in the second season that was written by you and David (I purchased the series box set as soon as it came out).

How do you/did you approach writing for black characters -- particularly in that era of television?

H Johnson said...

I had a Pepoon once. It wasn't coming out my wazoo, more like the back of my calf. A little ointment and all was well.

benson said...

Many years ago, in the dark ages, when dinosaurs roamed the terra firma, I got a degree in Radio and Television from Southern Illinois. Upon graduation, most of my relatives asked if I would fix their television sets, 'cept for one uncle who needed a Pepoon fixed. Needless to say, I was flummoxed. Just sayin'.

Dr Sidney Schaeffer said...

To Anonymous @ 9:17- You forgot to capitalize "done".

rockgolf said...

@Steve: Science now has a cure for Peppons coming out of our wazoo.

DrBOP said...

Steve....."pockets Of Pepoons"?

This has GOTTA be a reality show just waitin' to happen. :+)

Canda said...

If he read all the comments, Steve Pepoon has just lived 5 minutes in the Writer's Room.

Anonymous said...

And I saw your name on TV last night watching Cheers. I had forgotten how hilarious the scene was where Carla, Diane and Sam are in Sam's office laughing over Carla's son's picture after Carla had fooled Diane into thinking Geno was Sam's son, and Coach walks in, has no idea why they're laughing and starts to laugh himself silly anyway. I can't imagine the thrill of seeing your byline on the screen, coupled with classic episodes that bring huge laughs, even years later. Julie

Unknown said...

Okay, show of hands - how many of you really know the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory story? Okay, Dan Ball, Dr Bop - any others?

Joseph M. said...

I'm the one person who'd prefer the warehouse in Chatsworth. The air's very clean up there.

Sorry I haven't been around awhile, Ken. Busy with my new job.

Joseph M.