I've been reading Ian Gurvitz's book Hello, Lied the Agent
I was suspicious of this book, partly because Gurvitz stole the joke in the title from Linda Obst's Hello, He Lied -- And Other Tales From the Hollywood Trenches
, partly because it sounds bitter. And it is a bitter book. Gurvitz is another one of these comedy guys who are lucky enough to be making huge wads of cash writing sitcoms -- he worked on Becker -- while whining about how painful the process is. (Is Ken Levine the only happy comedy writer in the world?)
The book won't tell you how to write comedy. But it does give you really good sense of what it's like to be a big-time comedy writer through the course of the year. If you're not sure you know, you might give this book a look.
Labels: books, reading, this writing life
Just to set the record straight: I didn't just "steal" the title from Obst's book. It was a line I put in mine that the publisher fished out as the title and by the time I'd realized the similarity it was too late to change it. As well, it was a joke I'd heard for years.
Secondly, I never "whined" about working in production. In fact, I made the opposite point: working on a show is a great job. What I did complain about was the process of pitching, writing, and producing pilots, the battles writers have to fight and the emotions that you go through. That's it.
Yeah, but Ian, you get PAID TO WRITE JOKES. That's one of the best jobs in the world.
I count myself really really lucky to get paid to write TV and movies. Sure, it's hard and not everyone appreciates my brilliance. But if I had a million bucks, I would be doing the exact same thing. So I count myself blessed. What I'm ragging on you for is the tone. Sorry if I yanked your chain too hard, but you just don't seem all that happy to be in a position that a hundred thousand people would kill to be in.
Actually, I made that exact point in the book--getting paid to write in TV is one of the best jobs in the world and it's something I love doing. But writing on an existing show is different from being in development and that's where the frustration can set in. I love my occupation. It's trying to do my job that occasionally pisses me off. And as far as being "happy" do you really know that many happy comedy writers? Or happy comedians? I consider myself fortunate to have worked on some good shows and to have sustained a career for about 20 years but it came as the result of years of unpaid spec work, along with some luck, and I'm still pitching pilots and writing spec scripts, while writing this book and shooting a movie last year on my own dime, just for the love of it, so as far as the 100 thousand people who would kill to be in my position, the door's open and always has been. Start writing.
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