Sitcom Writer

Sitcom Writer


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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59 Questions


Last Answer on December 19, 2012

Best Rated

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 almost 7 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)

What made you choose to become a writer? What would you reply with when people said it was too hard to make it as a writer?

Asked by Hunter about 6 years ago

I always knew this is what I wanted to do. I assumed it's what everyone wanted to do. And since everyone can't be a sitcom writer they "settle" for being a doctor, lawyer, indian chief whatever. Imagine my surprise when I discovered people actually want to be things like doctors and save lives instead of writing dick jokes. Crazy. How would I reply to being told it was hard to make it as a writer? I guess I'd say I can't imagine doing anything else. This is my dream job. It's worth putting in the effort. Someone has to be the lucky one who gets to do it. Why not me? But I'd also say that I'm not under any illusions of this being a cake walk. I came to Los Angeles knowing that if I didn't find meaningful writing work in five years I'd go back to the East Coast and re-think my career choices. I wanted to be a writer. I didn't want a career as a want-to-be writer.

What do you think was the most underrated sitcom of the past 10 years?

Asked by Trevor almost 7 years ago

This is tough. I think Strangers with Candy, an old Amy Sedaris show on Comedy Central should have gotten the audience of a 2 and 1/2 Men. I think Spaced a British show starring Simon Pegg is close to perfect. Actual American Network Sitcoms? Right now not enough people watch Community (perhaps too insider?). And not enough people watch Cougar Town (perhaps they still think it's a show about an old woman humping young boys?) in my humble opinion.

Do fights about jokes in the writer's room get heated?

Asked by Sue about 6 years ago

OMG yes. Hours are long. Deadlines are fast approaching. You're tired. You're stressed. What's the best way to take it out? Argue with someone over which dick joke is funnier. It happens all. the. time.

What's one current sitcom that you think is really pushing the envelope in ignoring typical formulas and breaking new ground?

Asked by francine almost 7 years ago

This is a hard one. Maybe I've been doing this too long, but everything feels done. Some do it better than others (30 Rock comes to mind), but no one is breaking any new ground.

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

Asked by funnygirl almost 7 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.

How much room do actors have to improvise lines or give input on their character's plotline?

Asked by jojo almost 7 years ago

It depends on the show and the clout/fame of the actor. Speaking for the shows I've worked on - we want the actors to do the lines as written. If you want to pitch a joke/change a word you can do it for a take - if it's funny we'll use it. But do the lines as written at least once. 99% of actors are not as good at improv as Steve Carrell but a big percent of actors think they are. As for plotlines - if the star of the show is a big name they usually will come in and talk to the writers about where they see their characters going. Everyone else usually finds out what's happening when the scripts come out.