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

Charlie Sheen chaos aside, what on EARTH is so special about "Two-and-a-Half Men" that's made it as successful as it's been? Seems just as by-the-numbers as the next sitcom, what is it that's created such a huge audience?

Asked by JP almost 6 years ago

Sometimes I like to be the bigger person and think why do I get to decide what sitcom is funny/original/worth the ratings? I mean if millions -MILLIONS- of people love Two and a Half Men they can't all be wrong. Then I watch Two and a Half Men - and I'm as stumped as you are. My best guess is that it's easy. You get home from a hard day at the office and sometimes it's nice to not have to think. The characters are basic. You know what they're going to do. The plot lines are easy to follow. You know what's going to happen. And it's chock full of extremely dirty jokes that we're not allowed to do on other shows so it send those "They went there" shivers down your spine. Also there are fart jokes.

What types of shows have you written for?

Asked by Netta_D almost 6 years ago

I’ve written everything from crappy multi-cameras that didn't make it through the first season, to Emmy award-winning single-cameras that I am proud to have on my resume.

Do most sitcom writers start by being a writer's room PA or Writer's assistant?

Asked by funnygirl almost 6 years ago

Short answer -If not most at least a good chunk. If you're starting from scratch it is the easiest (not easy) way to get on a staff. Most of the shows I've been on the most senior writers' assistant gets to write a script. If it's good you might even get moved up to staff writer. At the least you learn the ins and outs of a writers' room. You meet all the writers and if you have any talent we are all dying to help you out. (that is 100% sarcasm free - we know how hard the assistants work and we want them to succeed) I would say the second most common way to get your foot in the door is through one of the fellowships or writing programs some of the networks and studios offer.

Given the explosion of so many great hour-long dramas (e.g. Breaking Bad, Homeland, Justified), is there any concern that shows like these will start eating into sitcom audiences?

Asked by walterwhite almost 6 years ago

No. You know what's funny? When I started working in sitcoms (about 10 years ago) I was told I just missed the sitcom Boom. The era of Friends and Seinfeld etc. where sitcoms were king, sitcom writers got huge deals and you had your pick of jobs. It's not like that anymore. It hasn't been for a long, long time. But recently I've seen sitcoms getting a little more heat. Modern Family - CBS's whole line up - The New Girl. Sitcoms are getting ratings again. So I would say it's kind of the reverse of the question. I have faith sitcoms are making a resurgence.

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

Asked by Wes about 5 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.

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 almost 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.

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... about 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..."