On Bringing the FunnyA lot of y'all have been asking Sera about how to get into TV writing, because you envision a candy-flavored world of inspiration and fame and nice clothes and nonstop validation from strangers.
You are mistaken, of course; like any other comparatively gainful employment, writing a show involves a lot of squinting at your monitor with a feeling in your gut that's not unlike the grind of threshing spikes, along with a lot of weird politics that leave you distinctly uncomfortable; bouts of sleeplessness; prodigious ingestion of alcohol; occasional feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, friendlessness and fatness; and periodic bouts of homicidal rage.
And that's on the good days.
Now, we know that many of you apple-cheeked show-biz aspirants won't be deterred in the slightest by such non-utopian testimony, and that's just fine. Just fine. But the really good news is this: You can stop asking Sera for advice, because your nice Jewish pals are gonna give you the hook-up.
That's right: We're going to tell you where to send your comedy script so that influential professional funnyfolk will look at it and give you feedback.
Oh, that is so sweet, but please, put your clothes back on. A simple thank-you will do.
Here's the deal. There's this thing called The Un-Cabaret here in La-La Land. It goes down at M Bar in Hollywood and features comedians and comedy writers doing a very intimate, personal kind of performance. It's not about setups and punchlines; the Uncab performers get personal, finding the funny (and sometimes the poignant, and more often the foignant) in the most difficult, challenging areas of life. It's always inspiring, even when the featured performers aren't comedy superstars like Margaret Cho, Patton Oswalt and Julia Sweeney or writers of shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex and the City and The Simpsons.
Uncab was founded by two amazing people, Beth Lapides and Greg Miller. They came here from New York with an idea that comedy could be deeper, more meaningful and just plain better than the dude-with-microphone-in-front-of-brick-wall monotony that had prevailed since the '80s.
Soon their events grew so popular that they expanded, offering Uncab Labs for fledgling comedic performers, putting out CDs, gathering brilliant un-aired pilots for exhibition via The Other Network, and much more. Beth herself is a wonderful performer and writer and motivator; during Uncab nights she serves as a hilarious foil to the featured artists. She writes haikus and does yoga and is, in general, what you'd call a peach. Greg is a brilliant producer, organizer and evaluator of comedy talent, not to mention a funny, wonderful guy.
Together they run a little thing called the Other Network Comedy Contest. For a nominal entry fee (and please, no tirades about entry fees — no one owes you a freakin' contest, you whiny baby, and by the way, if you want to be in TV you'd better get a thicker skin), you can submit your stuff if it follows the following Other Network guidelines:
- Can be an original piece of writing or a 'spec' of a TV series that has aired
- Any comedy format on paper, tape, disc or file (sketch, short, animation, monolog, etc.)
- Multiple submissions & re-submissions OK (but please do a serious re-write!)
- Material that's been optioned by another network is NOT OK (this contest is about opening a pipeline for people who don't already have access to the business).
Once your work has been received, it'll be evaluated by people who actually know what the hell comedy is, because they make their living at it. This is not the Kamp Komedy Kollege of Ha-Ha. Recent winners of the contest got scripts into the hands of key execs at Comedy Central and got notes from showrunners who said they'd like to be attached to the projects. Yeah, baby. Others had their work reviewed by agents at William Morris and UTA, managers at Brillstein-Grey and TV comedy wizards like:
- Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, SNL, Tenacious D)
- Cindy Chupack(Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond)
- Brent Forrester (The Office, King of The Hill, Undeclared)
- Rob Cohen (The Ben Stiller Show, The Simpsons)
- Jon Kinnally (Will & Grace)
These folks don't promise you riches and fame. But no matter what happens, you'll get genuine feedback that actually means something from people who know what the hell they're talking about.
Nu, enough already. Just go to the contest page and follow the instructions. Just don't forget us if you get, like, all famous and junk.
Full disclosure: Very Hot Jews are an affiliate of the contest. Call us pisher.