Friday 10 June 2022

To write a sitcom, all you need is... love?

If you’re thinking about writing a sitcom, what do you need? What do you need to do?

I can tell you – and I’ve put it all in a 12 Lesson video course that launches on June 16th – but a professional athlete or life coach will tell you what’s really important: mindset.

That’s what I’m going to be thinking about over the next few posts on this blog: what mindset do you need to write a sitcom? What are the qualities?

The first might be most surprising, but is obvious: love.

You need love. Love is not all you need.

But you do need to love sitcoms. Do you watch sitcoms? Do you like them? Are you passionate about them?

Do you have five favourite sitcoms and you can’t decide which you love the most. For me, I’m torn between Yes, Prime Minister, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, the Larry Sanders Show and Red Dwarf

Those are my favourites – which is not the same as shows I most admire, like Frasier which is a masterclass in sitcom writing.

Loving Characters

But while I love those shows, some of my favourite sitcom characters (After George Costanza, Hank Kingsley and Kryten) are from sitcoms which aren’t quite in my Top Five. They would be Ron Swanson (right) from Parks and Recreation.

I also love – and am slightly in love with - Liz Lemon from 30 Rock.

You need that love of the sitcom form because if you’re about to embark on writing a pilot sitcom script that you're proud of, then you are facing a giant labour of love.

Sitcom Are Harder Than Movies

Writing a script is not a question of opening Final Draft and typing. You already know that in your heart and your head. But that 30 page sitcom script takes more work than a movie script, because a movie is just one linear story (unless you're Christopher Nolan). Your pilot sitcom isn’t just a tight, funny, surprising story with great jokes: it's a template for another hundred just like it.

To write that, you need to know what your show is about, who the characters are, how they interact, and what story you’re going to open with. And then you need to plot, plan and develop that story before writing, re-writing and editing it. It's a lot of work.

Trial by Sitcom

To go through this trial by sitcom, you need to really love sitcoms.

Writing a sitcom makes no logical sense. Sure, dozens are being made every year across the channels and networks, but only a few dozen. Not hundreds.

But tens of thousands are having a crack at it. And they are competing with the likes of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ben Elton, Romesh Ranganathan - and me.

So, if you love sitcoms so much, and can’t not write one, then I can teach you a system and a method and a process to do that. I've developed a 12 lesson that will be launching on 16th June.

The best way to keep informed about it, and other webinars I’m running, as well as instant access to videos I’ve already done, is to join the Situation Room Mailing list.

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