Sitcom Writer

Sitcom Writer

SitcomWriter

Los Angeles, CA

Female, 33

For over ten years, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of being staffed on several half-hour network sitcoms, rising in the ranks from Staff Writer to Co-Executive producer. My writing partner and I are now developing our own material.

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Last Answer on December 19, 2012

Best Rated

Other than the ability to write well, what are the other important attributes you look for when hiring writers?

Asked by mom w/pen about 5 years ago

Not including things like draft writing and story breaking I would look for decent human beings. You're going to be with these people for a long time so they have to be nice. I'd want people who are funny to talk to. People I would want to be friends with outside of work. I'd also want people with humility. People who don't think they know everything and are very supportive of others' ideas. I'd want people that don't think too highly of our position on the show. In TV writers are treated like we're the top of the totem pole and a lot of writers feel that they are. I would want to work with people that realize how important everyone on set is. And appreciate how hard they work. I would want people that could pull long hours. I get it if you have to leave early one day for a school play or something like that, but 99% of the time I expect you there into the wee hours of the morning if that's what it takes to get the job done.

I think the quality of the Colbert Report over the past 3 or 4 years has been through the roof (superior even to the Daily Show). Do "insiders" respect the writing on his show (and his abilities personally)?

Asked by SC about 6 years ago

Stephen Colbert is a genius. Plain and simple. I think most people in my industry with agree.

Is your job 100% creative, or do you really have know the business side of it to excel?

Asked by N*A*S*H over 5 years ago

When you are a lower level writer it can be a lot about the creative. Your main job is to pitch jokes, maybe some stories and just basically be an asset in the room. You're also not trying to sell scripts, you're trying to sell yourself so you get to write what you want to show who you are as a writer. Once you start moving up the ranks you bet your butt it's about the business. During development it's not what you think is a great idea. It's what you think they think (network and studio execs) is a good idea. The way you keep you soul alive during this process and the countless notes is by telling yourself once I'm allowed to actually write I can make it more "me". It's weird that the more you do this job the less you actually get to write.

How are new sitcoms chosen for airing? I assume it's very competitive...so why are so many of the new shows so terrible?

Asked by kristelia about 6 years ago

The final call is the head of the network. You might write the greatest script ever. Everyone loves it. It's a sure thing! Then the network president sees it and he's not a big fan of that joke on page four. So it's dead. Never to see the light of day. Transversely: If the network president gets a chuckle from men in drag then Work It makes it to the your prime time line up.

You mentioned "the journey" that many of your colleagues made to become writers. What percentage of folks venturing out to LA to become writers actually succeed in making a decent living at it?Of those who drop out, what do they usually end up doing?

Asked by ronmexico about 5 years ago

Honestly I have no idea. I can't imagine that number is very high. It might creep up toward the 30-40% mark if by "decent living" you mean any money whatsoever. There are so many more outlets now a days. Cable, internet, podcasts etc. But most of those outlets are not going to buy you a house in the hills. Actually some of those outlets aren't going to pay you enough for a studio in the valley. As for what they do when they drop out... I've seen people try to make a go at it as a standup. I've had friends take corporate jobs. I would say the biggest majority go on to get their teaching degrees. I guess it's the same as graduating from college...just a few years later.

Assuming the pilot gets picked up, do most sitcoms start with a definitive timeline (e.g. this story will take 3 seasons to tell), or is it more wait-and-see approach?

Asked by Write As Rain... over 5 years ago

Whoops. Sorry for the delay. When a pilot gets picked up nine times out of ten it is only given 13 episodes. If it does really well it gets the "back nine" for a full season. If it does badly it's canceled even before those episodes are shot. So new shows rarely think past those first 13. Also each show and show runner is different. I've been on shows where each episode is a crapshoot. And I've been on others where the first thing we do is figure out what major thing will happen to each character and decided a time line to introduce that major thing and when we will pay it off. I have never been on a show that's thought past the season it was working on more than a wistful "Maybe in season six X and Y will start dating..."

Have you ever heard of someone not "in the business" randomly writing a sitcom pilot or script that has gotten picked up?

Asked by HobbyScriptWriter about 6 years ago

I can't think of any comedy scripts where this happened. I think CSI is an example of it on the drama side. But, and I cannot over emphasize this... It is EXTREMELY hard to do.