So You Want To Break into Comedy Writing?

By Frank Pasquine, posted 29 May 2012

Looking around the landscape of professional comedy writers, one will find that a major breeding ground is The Harvard Lampoon. Writers like Conan O'Brien and B.J. Novak got their start from the prestigious university paper, and the hooks up coming out of their tight circle are extraordinary. But, before you get discouraged, know there are many other avenues to success.

With the advent of Youtube, Vimeo, and Funny or Die, getting content out there is becoming easier and easier. Even Amazon has joined the party with their own studio aptly named, Amazon Studios. They're currently reviewing unsolicited pilot scripts with the intention of creating online television series. The problem is no longer getting your material into the right hands, but rather maintaining the quality of your content until your inevitable discovery by Hollywood producers. Don't believe me? Fine. Perhaps you'll listen to Clark Duke, who catapulted his online series Clark and Michael into a promising writing and acting career. He and his best friend, Michael Cera, teamed up in film school with the goal of making people laugh. They weren't worrying about impressing a producer, or schmoozing at The Ivy, that would come later. Let Hollywood come to you.

So, I asked Clark if he agreed. Is the internet the best place for comic writers to break into the industry? "One-hundred percent. Yes, I mean, obviously it has primarily brought me into the film industry. I mean nobody seems to have figured out how to monetize yet. Everyone is trying, every studio, every network, everybody has whole departments devoted to web content, but nobody seems to have figured out how to make it make money yet. But as far as people trying to break in from film school - yes I mean, it's the greatest thing that's ever happened. It's just a wide opening distribution system. I'm kind of a firm believer that if something is good people will find it. Plus it's exciting to do. Like with the exception of Adult Swim there is nowhere else you can do 10 minute comedies."

While the money issue may be of some concern, I'm pretty sure Clark Duke and Michael Cera do not have to worry about that anymore. It really comes down to one thing: "the cream always rises to the top." If your stuff's good, it will be discovered soon enough.

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