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Home » Archives » March 2007 » Comedy Concentrate -- Just Add Pie!
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03/17/2007: Comedy Concentrate -- Just Add Pie!

Okay, here is another chapter in the continuing saga of whether or not you're going to need some other kind of material in addition to your specs of existing shows.

I've reported here before that writers are being urged by various agencies around town to have short stories, short plays and scripts for short films available in addition to traditional specs. But this week I heard a new spin on this.

Aspiring comedy writers are now being urged to have short comedy pieces available for busy executives and even show runners to read. And we're talking really short, like a few pages!

The kinds of things that are being used for this seem to vary. Parody pieces suggest themselves immediately: a spoof of a catalog, or of a children's book, or of a museum guidebook, or of a MySpace page, or of the "Harper's Index," or of the "cuteoverload" website, complete with pictures? ... maybe an excerpt from a scholarly analysis of The Pussycat Dolls... maybe a school-lunch menu that devolves into a rant from a clearly deranged lunch lady. A parody of a travel guide or an obituary...? A funny series of newspaper retractions that build off each other...? An amusingly bad translation of The Rosetta Stone...? I assume comedy sketches and funny short stories would be good for this kind of purpose, and I could also see a humorous dialogue written as an exchange of emails, or as a series of text messages. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if soon execs are just given the address to the YouTube clip you've written and produced for them. Maybe we're already there.

Be creative in thinking of your approach to what you pull together for this. If the concept itself is unique, that in itself might just be the thing that opens that door. Take a while to decide what to do, take a few practice passes at it. When a piece is short, it often takes far longer to write than something long, because every word of it has to be precisely right.

Now, recall that this does not replace a script. You will still need a spec script of some kind. Possibly a spec pilot, although I still advocate also having at least one spec of a show currently in production. So write your spec "The Office". And then keep writing just a little bit more.

The idea, if this isn't clear, is that reading a script takes time and concentration. Gems can be missed because the reader is rushed and tired. Something short and punchy that shows off your comedy skills in a concentrated fashion is going to have a heck of a lot of appeal.

Lunch: "Eggs Ranchero" at some random restaurant on the 3rd St. Promenade.


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