I can’t believe I did it. I applied to NBCUniversal to be a comedy writer.
Well, not exactly. I applied to be accepted to a workshop that would take place in New York City at 30 Rockefeller Center In March 2015.
I have not heard back yet. What I do know for certain is another door to a room filled with possibility opened in my mind. I could write comedy. I could be a comedy writer.
Initially, I laughed at the application that someone forwarded to me. It called for the following:
- 1-2 pages of Monologue Jokes
- 1-2 pages of middle of the show bit descriptions, similar to Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You” notes, or David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks.”
- and, 2 Saturday Night Live (SNL) style skits, one with an original character and about pop culture, or something on current events or life.
An optional letter of recommendation could also be included, but it had to be from a real person, not an original character. In so many words, the submitter could not write a letter of recommendation from a figment of their imagination. This is the part in which I burst out laughing during my first reading of the application guidelines.
Finally, NBCUniversal required that you sign away all your literary and copyright to the content that you submitted as part of the application. The long and the short of it was that NBC, the members of the writers’ rooms at 30 Rock, and/or anyone else that read my content could use it. (If I see any of my ideas on air, I will be sure to let everyone know.)
I went back and forth on whether or not to apply, then I thought: “What do I have to lose?” I’m not a comedy writer. I’m a fair-to-middling sports writer that currently is not getting paid. Why not throw my hat in the ring? People think I am funny. I know this because most of them laugh when I tell stories, or throw out a one liner.
The final thing that convinced me were my recent thoughts after watching an episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, and a few recent sketches of SNL. My thoughts were “anything would be better than this crap.” I laughed only at some of the old SNL stuff, but none of the newer skits. And as for Seth Meyers, let’s just say the man needs help. It takes a village, and that village is not in the “Late Night” writing room.
Here is a sampling of what I submitted (following fair use guidelines to the best of my ability, of course, because I no longer hold the rights to this material)
Paddington came out in theaters today. It’s the story of a bear that was left at a train station with a sign that said look after this bear. In the modern day retelling, Paddington gets left at the airport where he is subject to a TSA full cavity search, and it costs $25 to check his bag when he tries to fly United.
Boyhood, featuring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, won the Golden Globe for best film. I’m looking forward to the sequel “Never-Ending Adolescence” starring Scott Disick.
Taken 3 opens in theaters on Friday. It wasn’t bad enough that they made Taken 2. How many more people does Oscar Schindler have to save?
Middle of the Show Content
Uber confessions – Riders and drivers tell their wildest tales of using this service (A cleaned up version of HBO’s Taxicab Confessions.)
Online Dating Profiles – Review online dating profiles. Ask person to come on to the show to help improve the writing of their dating profiles, or talk to them about the success of their dating profile. Bring on someone who is completely fabricating information in his or her profile, from images to how answered questions.
Sketches (I’ll include the whole sketch. This is an area of my submission that I am confident will never see the light of day. If you can believe it, the other one is worse.)
MASTERTEXT THEATER – AN AUTOCORRECT ADVENTURE
The camera focuses in on a fireplace and moves to the HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER. The music from PBS Masterpiece Theater plays in the background.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (earnestly): Welcome to MasterText Theater. Tonight we will tune in to a couple deciding what to do on a Friday night.
The two characters, a MALE AND a FEMALE, appear in split screen possibly (pre-recorded), phones in hand. They are dating It is Friday night and boyfriend text messages girlfriend about plans for the night.
MALE (texts on phone appears on the screen just below Male’s face, appearing similar to the IMessage App) (voice over of his voice says) Hey, how about Chinese and moving in tonight?
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Surprised, scared look on her face) (FEMALE voiceover say) We have only been dating for a month. I’m not sure I am ready for that level of commitment.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER He meant movie. How about a movie tonight?
MALE (Text notification noise) (Confused look on his face. Then realizes his mistake, hits head with hand, and Laughs to himself.) Oh no, I meant a movie.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Laughs to herself. Types on phone.) K, that sounds even much better. How about The Hummer Games?
MALE (Text notification noise) (shocked look on his face followed by mischievous grin, and excitement. Fist pumps in the air.). Are you sure you want to watch that? My buddy has it.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (Rolls his eyes) She meant The Hunger Games. (Sarcastically) Oooo, burn.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Shocked, grossed out face):Oh Autocorrect! I meant the Hunger Games.
MALE (Text notification noise) (Appears bummed, sighs, shakes it off, steadies himself, texts her back): Right! Right, Duck, autocorrect, I don’t really have a friend with that movie. Do you want Chinese, Mexican, or Thai?
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Texts back): I want chin rests.
Male: (Rolls eyes) Do you mean Chinese?
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (matter of factly) She meant Chinese.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (texts) Yes, sorry. This phone just says what it wants. I’ll see you latter day saints.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (matter of factly) She meant to say, I’ll see you later.
MALE (Text notification noise) (Agitated now…mouths “what” laughs in aggravation. Angrily texts.) Duck these phones. Duck them all to helicopter. I can’t tall like this any larger. C u toenails. J
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (shakes head, hesitantly, but matter of factly) I think he’s excited about their date. Uhhhhh! Yeah, we’ll go with that.
(Slightly horrified, rubs left temple with left hand) We will see you next time on MasterText Theater. For now, good night.
(Male and Female appear in split screen, and look exasperated, Smiles, shake their heads.)
Why I Did It?
And now, I continue to wait like I have for the past few weeks. The workshop takes place from March 20-24. There are people whom have been writing comedy far longer than I have, which was basically for two weeks, that probably want to be part of this workshop. In addition, some of my fellow competitors may have agents, and television writing credits. Not me, I am just happy to throw my hat in the ring. Happy to be able to be strong enough to do something so filled with uncertainty that a year ago I would have dismissed it out of hand. Why? Because I had no control over the outcome.
This is messy. Life is messy. I cannot allow this messy life to scare me.
The possibilities are exciting only if you see them, and realize you have nothing to lose.
Therefore living messily, living in shadows of the grey unknown, IS exactly how I want to live. Anything less is just existing.
If you are not living a life filled with your passions, or reaching for the brass ring, a new experience that feeds your soul, stop everything and look around. Find an opportunity where you have nothing to lose. Then go for it.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out, but for right now I am content living in the unknown because I am better for having had the experience.