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.

SubscribeGet emails when new questions are answered. Ask Me Anything!Show Bio +

Share:

Ask me anything!

Submit Your Question

59 Questions

Share:

Last Answer on December 19, 2012

Best Rated

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 over 12 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.

Do you prefer to write solo, or in collaboration with a group?

Asked by Junebug77 over 12 years ago

If you want to write solo, write dramas or movies. Comedy is a communal effort. Yes, you do get to write alone sometimes, but that just feels like a little break where you get to sleep in and type in your underwear. The majority of your time is being surrounded by very funny people eating snacks.

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 over 12 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 almost 12 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.

When did you know you wanted to become a TV writer? Which shows inspired you most?

Asked by Wes almost 12 years ago

In high school, I was talking to a friend who mentioned she wanted to be a doctor more than anything in the world. I assumed she meant anything in the world except a TV writer. Nope. She actually wanted to be a doctor. Up until that moment, I just assumed everyone would write TV if they could, just like everyone would rather be rich or thin. But since this was the real world and I was middle-class and chunky, I would settle for veterinarian. As soon as I realized this passion of mine was unique (ish), I never looked back (though I'm still chunky). There were a lot of shows I loved growing up: The Simpsons, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Strangers with Candy, Mr. Show ... but I think what really helped my sense of humor was watching stand-up comedians with my dad when I was really young. I'd use his stomach as a pillow and I knew something was funny when my head would shake from his laughter.

Do most showrunners or producers prefer to hire writing partners or teams as opposed to one writer? Is it true if you write with a partner you still get paid the same amount per script as a solo writer?

Asked by ColeD over 12 years ago

If you are in a partnership you get paid as if you were one writer. You split the salaries, the script fees, the residuals. I am a co-executive producer (the second most senior position on staff). There have been occasions when I take home less than the story editors (the second lowest position). That is a huge chunk of change people. Why do I do it? I have a built in joke beater. A therapist (I was horrible today - no you were great). A friend on those awkward first days. Pitching is easier/more fun with a partner to share the floor. Showrunning with someone you 100% trust is a freaking blessing. But above all I think she's an amazingly talented writer and I think she feels the same about me. As good as our writing is individually, together we're even better. As for your first question - I've never been on a show with more than one other writing team. There aren't a lot of us. (they don't last long. See: splitting paychecks above). I know some showrunners love having them. My partner and I can each run our own rooms so they really are getting two for the price of one. But I know others don't like having a pair that are more loyal to each other than the show. So I guess I wouldn't team up just to make myself more marketable. Only team up if you truly feel like the other person makes your writing exponentially better (once again see: splitting paychecks above)

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 over 12 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.