• 073 - Hamilton's King George - Rick Negron

    Tune in as Michael Jamin talks with his good friend, actor Rick Negron who plays King George in Hamilton. Discover what he has to say about being the first Latino King George, doing his first show in his home country of Puerto Rico alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda who was acting as Hamilton, and his overall Hamilton touring and acting career experience.

    Show Notes

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rick_negron/?hl=en

    IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0624508/?ref_=nmmi_mi_nm

    IBDB: https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/rick-negron-107348

    The Spokesman-Review: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/apr/28/youll-be-back-in-playing-king-george-iii-in-hamilt/

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    Automated Transcript:

    Rick Negron (00:00:00):

    That's still the case nowadays for a lot of young dancers and, and musical theater types. They go to New York and they take dance classes and they take voice lessons, and they take acting classes, and they get that picture and resume ready, and they go to open calls. And if you're talented and you're lucky sometimes you, you get an equity show, a, a union show from an open call. It's tough. And you have to, you have to hit that pavement. And sometimes, you know, getting to know, being in the right place at the right time. I, I, I was mentioning to you before that I, I booked this H B O commercial and I met more a dancer on that show who said, Hey, you'd be right for the show. And one of the guys is leaving the show and they're having auditions at the theater, and you should go. And that's how I got my first Broadway show.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:50):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:58):

    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. If you are an aspiring theatrical actor, I got a present for you and we're gonna unwrap him right now. And his name is Rick Negron. And he's been my buddy for many years. He's at my wedding. We go back, Rick. Now Rick is most famous for probably, he's done a ton of stuff though, but he's probably most famous for playing the role of king George in the touring company of Hamilton, which he's been doing for four years. But he's done a ton of Broadway stuff. We're gonna talk about him. He's also done voices. I didn't know this, but he was also he does vo he did some voices in Red Dead Redemption as well as grand Theft Auto, which I wanna know all about that as well. But mostly I wanna talk about his incredible theatrical acting career. Rick, thank you so much. Thank you so much for <laugh>. For

    Rick Negron (00:01:47):

    What? Michael Jamin? I'm in the room. I'm, I'm in the room where it happens, man.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:52):

    <Laugh>, this is the room. This, what people don't realize is that I recorded some of this and I bone, I didn't, I didn't record, so, yeah. And this is, this is part two of our interview. I had a record over cuz I wasn't recording. Stuff

    Rick Negron (00:02:03):

    Happens. And you know what, Michael, you, you and I can talk till the cows come home. This is not a problem.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:09):

    This Rick's great guy, and he's gonna tell us all about. I, I, I had, so there's so much I wanted to get outta you, but first of all, what I, we were talking about is, you've been doing Hamilton, you've been King George and Hamilton, the first Latino King George, I might say, which is a big deal. And so yeah, you've been touring the country from city to city, and I kind of really wanted to talk to you about like, what is your, what is your day like when you go up on stage, you know, what are you doing before, what you're doing all before that, before you got on stage, because it's a, you've been done. How many performances have you said you're done? This,

    Rick Negron (00:02:44):

    I'm over 900 easily. I'm close to like nine 50. I, I, I don't count 'em, but every time the, the company management has like, oh, this is our 900th performance, I just kind of go, well, I've only missed maybe about between vacations and days that I've been sick. Maybe I've missed 30 at the most over a four year period. <Laugh>, that's, I've, I've done a lot of performances

    Michael Jamin (00:03:11):

    And, and we were talking about this and your character, like I, I've, I hate to make you repeat it, but how do you get, like, how do you get psyched up before each show when you do that many shows? How are you, what's your process before you, you run on stage?

    Rick Negron (00:03:27):

    Well, this, this character is a real gift in the sense that it's beautifully written. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's just three songs. <Laugh> honestly, Uhhuh <affirmative>. I'm on stage for a little over 10 minutes, but it's so well written that if I just hook into the words of, of the songs, I got 'em. Uhhuh <affirmative> you. I, I, I can, I can hook my myself into that myself, into that character very easily, just with the words. But the other gift is that I have time to get ready. So when every, when the show, when we are at places and the show starts, that's when I get my wig on. Mm-Hmm. I still have 15 minutes to do some vocal warmups and get dressed. And are you

    Michael Jamin (00:04:12):

    To being like tea with lemon? What are you sit, what are you doing that day?

    Rick Negron (00:04:16):

    Nah, nah. I, I mean, I'm not a huge tea guy unless, unless I'm having some vocal distress. And then I do like a nice warm tea with honey and lemon if I'm, if, if my voice is a little wonky or my throat's a little sore. But the main thing for me for vocal capacity is sleep. If I get less than seven hours, my voice suffers. If I eat a lot of cheese and dairy, that's gonna be a lot of gunk on the vocal courts.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:45):

    But if you're nervous the night

    Rick Negron (00:04:46):


    Michael Jamin (00:04:47):

    Hmm. But if you're nervous, if you have, if you get stage nerves and you can't sleep the night before <laugh>, right? I mean, no. Are you, are you beyond that?

    Rick Negron (00:04:55):

    Yeah, I'm beyond that. I mean, I've been in the business long enough that, that I, I get nervous. Uhhuh <affirmative> and God knows, I was nervous the first time I did the show in front of an audience in Puerto Rico of all places. Right. That's where we opened, right. With Lynn Manuel Miranda back in the role of Hamilton after being a away from it for a few years. That was a dream job because I'm from Puerto Rico and I literally went back home

    Michael Jamin (00:05:23):

    To a hero

    Rick Negron (00:05:23):

    Welcome star and one of the biggest shows on Broadway with Lynn Manuel Miranda and me playing the king. Yeah. I was born like four blocks away from the theater that we were at. It was just crazy sauce. So yes, I was incredibly nervous opening night. And there was my wife, my sister-in-law, in the audience you know, yes. Really nervous. But did I lose sleep the night before? No. I slept like a baby. No, really? My nerves don't really hit me until I start putting on that costume

    Michael Jamin (00:05:51):

    <Laugh>. Really? Yeah. I see. I would imagine to me, I mean, I know it's a big deal to be star of a movie, but to me this to me seems like a bigger deal. What you, what you're doing in terms of, it seems like a you are lead in this giant freaking play that, I mean, one of the biggest plays, you know, of our, of our time on. Seriously. Yeah. Yeah. And you are these, you play this character who the minute he walks on stage, the place goes nuts cuz you hit a home run and then you walk out, you're the home run guy. Exactly. Bye. Hello. No. Expect

    Rick Negron (00:06:21):

    Bye. And by the way, no expectation. I'd literally walk on stage and the place goes bananas. And I haven't said

    Michael Jamin (00:06:26):

    A word. Right. They love you before. You haven't even said anything. I mean, what a huge, I don't know. I just think this is like, I don't know, if I were an aspiring actors, that would be the part. I don't see how you, I don't know how, where you go from here, Rick <laugh>

    Rick Negron (00:06:41):

    <Laugh>. It's all downhill

    Michael Jamin (00:06:43):


    Rick Negron (00:06:45):

    No, I guess listen, it, the beauty of it is also that I've had this really long career mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, you know, I started out as a chorus boy on Broadway and then worked myself into understudy and then did some roles. And then finally at, at a ripe old age. I've gotten this great job and I've really, I'm at the point in my life where I'm really enjoying it. Yeah. I'm enjoying the process. I'm enjoying the traveling cuz I, I, I've toured some, but I haven't toured a lot. And this tour has been to some really great cities all on the west coast up and down the west coast. Yeah, the mountain west. In the winter I got some snowboarding in, in Salt Lake City, Denver. I,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:33):

    Where are you supposed to do that with you if you break your leg?

    Rick Negron (00:07:36):

    Yeah, I'm not supposed to do that. Can we delete that from the podcast? <Laugh>? We can take that out. <Laugh>. It's in the past. I don't care. Okay. I, I stayed on the bunny slopes. I Right. I really took it easy. But then we spent summer in Canada, which was amazing. I was up in Calgary in the summer and went up to band for the first time in my life. And my wife, Leslie, who you know well, came up to visit and we stayed on Emerald Lake and I just spent two months in Hawaii. So this tour has just been amazing. Well, it started out in Puerto Rico, as I said, right. For a month with Manuel Miranda. And then we went to San Francisco and sat for a, a year in San Francisco. So I got to live in San Francisco Right. For a year and experienced that incredible city until the pandemic. And then we shut down for a year and four months before we started up again.

    Michael Jamin (00:08:27):

    And then, and then So how did you start? We, how did you start? Like, you know, take me back. I know you, I know you were, take me back to when you were a child. Did you, I mean, this is, did you dream of being a Broadway star like this? Like, what happened? Who, who dreams of that? Like who, how, I mean, you all dream of that, but who achieves it, I guess?

    Rick Negron (00:08:46):

    Well, a lot of people do. A lot of people do. And, and, and not everybody has the path that I had, but some of us get bitten by the bug early on. And I got bitten by the bug when I was 10. Right. And my mom was the drama teacher at school. And I guess I blame her for everything. But this must

    Michael Jamin (00:09:06):

    Be the be like, you must be the, the crowning achievement in her, in her in her life.

    Rick Negron (00:09:12):

    Yeah. She's, but I did, she's pretty proud. And I have ano another sister who also went in into theater and and so the whole family kind of w it was the family thing we all sang. Right. we all did mu mu musicals in the local community theater and children's theater. So it was a family thing for us growing up. But I'm the one that sort of got bitten hard. And then I got involved, like at 14 mm-hmm. <Affirmative> a choreographer. I was doing a, a mu a children's theater show, said, Hey, you've got some talent as a dancer. Come take, I'll give you a scholarship at my little dance school. And so after school at 14, I would go take ballet, jazz, tap and acrobatics after school with Susan Cable, who luckily was a great dance teacher. She had been a, a chorus person on Broadway.


    Wow. And, and, and that's what, how I started in my dance career. And then it kind of took off. And by the time I got to college I thought I was gonna be a, a concert dancer. I was in college, I was sort of groomed to, to, to possibly go into the Paul Taylor Dance company. And I actually was not on scholarship. I was a intern with a Paul Taylor dance company for a while until I realized I'm making no money. I'm working super hard and I've always wanted to be on Broadway. That was my real

    Michael Jamin (00:10:42):

    Dream. So those people don't interchange those concert dancers. Don't, they don't.

    Rick Negron (00:10:46):

    Some do it. Usually the concert dancers, if they can sing.

    Michael Jamin (00:10:52):


    Rick Negron (00:10:54):

    Will, will sort of move into the musical theater world and sometimes move back into the concert dance world. One of the great concert dancers of all time who I met when he was super young, Desmond Richardson mm-hmm. <Affirmative> he was a lead dancer with the Alban AI company for many, many, many years. I mean a God in the dance world. And now he owns his own owns, he runs his own dance company, complexions. And he's a great choreographer. And he was in the bad video with me back in the day with Michael Jackson. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:30):

    So Rick was in the, I should say for the, I don't wanna gloss over this. Rick. Rick was in the a dance for, in the Michael Jackson's bad video directed by Martin Scorsese. Yeah. Was Quincy Jones produced?

    Rick Negron (00:11:41):

    Yeah, 1985. I was, I was a chorus dancer at the time. I was in I was doing my second Broadway show. The mystery of Evan, Dr. My dance captain was Rob Marshall. <Laugh> went on to direct Chicago, the movie and many other movies since then. And, and while I was doing the show, there was this audition for the bad video and yeah, it was, it was really surreal. I took vacation from, from the Broadway show to do the video and, and, and got to meet Michael who was really sort of like, it was two people in that body. I mean, he was super shy and, and sort of very reserved, but the minute the cameras went on it, he was, he became somebody else. Right. And he was a perfectionist. 25 takes sometimes e every setup. And Scorsese was famous for just burning through film. Easy 20 Takes the video was supposed to shoot for two weeks, and I think it went for four. And this is a music video. It was the first SAG music video at the time, by the way.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:44):


    Rick Negron (00:12:45):

    Anyway, Desmond Richardson was a young dancer at the time. There were a lot of young New York dancers in, in that show. And he famously went into the Avid Ailey company, but then he also worked on Fosse the Musical. And he also worked on Chicago. The, the movie with me. I, I got to work on Chicago, the movie cuz I had this great relationship with Rob Marshall and, and I was invited to audition. I didn't get, the dancers don't usually just get the job. You still have to come in and audition. Right. But even though, you know, the people involved it just is the way it is. And, and there was, and, and Desmond and, and I, we bump into each other all the time and we have so many memories. You know, going back <laugh> 20, what is that, 85? 1985 was the bad video.


    And I, I still bump into 'em. I I've been into 'em at the opening of the new USC school a few years ago. The School of Dance there at usc, the Kaufman School of Dance, I think it's called. But anyway yeah, people go in in from the dance world into musical theater and they go back and forth. Not a lot. Actually. We have one member of our, our of our of our Hamilton company, Andrew who was a modern dancer in the dance world and then moved into musical theater. And,

    Michael Jamin (00:14:04):

    But you were telling me how, and this is kind of important cause people are gonna be like, well, how do I break in? And you were, I mean, what, as you were explaining, it's like, it's basically you had this, you were just, you were in the circle, you were just there, and then things le one thing leads to enough simply because you put yourself there. Right. So how did you, what was your first break? How did you get that? I mean,

    Rick Negron (00:14:24):

    Every, everybody, everybody has a, a different story about first breaks. And when I was starting out, it was really different. Things have changed, you know, in all these years. Now, if you go to the right school, you can get into the right you know casting director workshop. And they see, oh, really? You, and, and maybe you get an agent out of that workshop and, and you know, it's, it, when I started out it, that wasn't the case when I started out. You go to New York, you start taking dance class at all the big dance studios where all the other Broadway dancers are taking dance class mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And then you pick up Backstage. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> newspaper, and you go to the open equity calls for every show. I remember my first open equity call was for cats, the national tour, right after Cats had opened on Broadway.


    And I, I had four callbacks. I got really close to booking cats, but I didn't. And and I just kept going to open calls. And that's still the case nowadays for a lot of young dancers and, and musical theater types. They go to New York and they take dance classes and they take voice lessons and they take acting classes and they get that picture and resume ready and they go to open calls. And if you're talented and you're lucky sometimes you, you get an equity show, a a union show from an open call. It's tough. And you have to, you have to hit that pavement. And sometimes, you know, getting to know, being in the right place at the right time. I, I, I was mentioning to you before that I, I booked this H B O commercial and I met one, a dancer on that show who said, Hey, you'd be right for the show. And one of the guys is leaving the show and they're having auditions at the theater and you should go. And that's how I got my first Broadway show by somebody suggesting that I go audition and I showed up at the theater and auditioned. And that night I got the job. And that's how I got my first Broadway show. The more

    Michael Jamin (00:16:24):

    People, you know, the more you work, the more you hear and

    Rick Negron (00:16:27):

    The more you Exactly. Yeah. You're in the mix. You have to in be in the mix and you have to network. And nowadays that involves, as you know social media and getting, getting followers and, and and, and putting out videos of yourself, singing and putting out videos of yourself, dancing and putting out videos of yourself, acting. I mean there's all that stuff that's going on now that wasn't going on when I started. But is, is is the new reality of how do you get into the business really. Okay. And, and when young, when young people ask me how, you know, how do I get started? And I say, well, in your hometown, get involved. Do the, do the school musicals, but get involved with the community theater. In any way you can. If, if you want to be an actor, but you know, there isn't a role for you do the work on the sets.


    I worked on sets in community theater. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I helped my mom. She, she was makeup artist too. And so I helped with makeup and I, I did lights. I, you know, I did all kinds of stuff just to be in the room. Right. Just to see other people work, to, to network, to meet people. And and I'm glad I did because I kind of know my way around all the different elements of theater. You know, I know what Alico is. I know, you know what all the different microphones are that they use in theater. And I, I always, I always befriend the crew. I think <laugh>, as an actor, we can tend to be insular and

    Michael Jamin (00:17:57):

    Oh really

    Rick Negron (00:17:58):

    Hang out with just the actors. I hang out with the crew. The crew knows what's up. Uhhuh <affirmative>, the crew knows where the good, the good bars are in town. They, you know, the crew is, and, and they're the ones that watch your back. When you're on the road.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:13):

    Now you were explaining to me the, and I didn't know the difference between, cuz you as the king, king, king George, you have two understudies, but there's also swing actors. Explain to me how that all works.

    Rick Negron (00:18:24):

    So in the show, you usually, you have the ensemble, which is what we used to call the chorus. Yeah. And then you have the leads. And in the ensemble you usually have two male swings and two female swings. So those individuals are not in the show nightly, but they literally understudy all the f the, the females understudy, all the females and the males understudy. All the males. And that's usually a case. They have two male and two female. In Hamilton, we have four female swings and four male swings. I think I'm right. Three or four. We have a lot. And that's because Hamilton is such a, a beast of a show. It's so hard. Physically. People get injured, people get tired.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:06):

    It's like being a professional athlete. It's no different.

    Rick Negron (00:19:08):

    Yeah. Yeah. And you're doing it eight times a week. And after a year it's repetitive motion for a lot of dancers. Oh. So I always tell those dancers, don't just do the show. Go, go and do yoga. Go do a dance class cuz you have to work your muscles a different way. Otherwise you're gonna get repetitive motion injuries. Wow. You know, like the same person that that screws on the, you know, back in the day when they screwed down the, the toothpaste cap every day that those muscles every day, all day long are gonna get messed up.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:37):

    But do they have like a trainer or doctor on set at all times?

    Rick Negron (00:19:40):

    We have a personal train PT, physical therapist right on tour with us. Most heavy dance shows will have that on tour. Because they need, they need the upkeep. The dancers, especially in this show work so hard. They, they need somebody to help them recover from injury. And, and just keep their bodies tuned up.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:04):

    And so let's say you get, you're in Hamilton, let's say you're, you're a swing or whatever, but, and then you're on tour, they what, give you a per diem? Or do they put you up in housing? How, like what is the, what is that really like to be?

    Rick Negron (00:20:15):

    So let me I'm, I'm gonna finish the whole understudy thing because Oh yeah. You have the swings and then you have the understudies, which are people in the chorus who understudy the leads. But then you also have standbys. And the standbys aren't in the show. Right. But they're backstage and they understudy anywhere between 2, 3, 4, 4 different characters. And so at the drop of the hat, they can say, Hey, you're on tonight for Burr, or you're on tonight for Hamilton. It, it can happen five minutes before the show. You can know way in advance cuz you know that character's going on vacation and stage management has told you, oh, you're gonna do the first five of, of, of the, of the vacation or the first four and somebody else is gonna do the other four. So you may know ahead of time and you can ask or tell your friends and family to come see you do that role. Right. Cause you know, ahead of time. But many times you, you find out last minute that somebody is sick or, or doesn't fe or hurt their knee or whatever. Or even in the middle of the show, sometimes somebody will twist an ankle and boom, we have a new bur in act two. It, it's, it's happened not a lot, but it's happened often enough that the understudies come in, warmed up and ready to go.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:26):

    But you explained to me even before every performance, even though you've done the same freaking songs for 900 times, you still mentally prepare yourself. You go through, you rehearse each, each song that you go through. So you walk yourself through it. But I can't even imagine if, like, if you, how do you prepare yourself for four different roles possibly. You know, like how do you do that? It's like you, it's

    Rick Negron (00:21:49):

    Crazy. Yeah. They, they, I know some of them will go over like difficult passages in the show because there's, there's moments in the show, like for Lafayette he's got in guns and ships. He's got some, some rap that are so fast. Yeah. That I, I know the understudies will go over those, what, what we called the, the, the moments when you can trip up. You go over those moments before you go on, but the rest of you can't go through the entire show. Right. Just pick and choose those moments where you can like go backstage and just go over your words and make sure they're, they're, you know, under your belt. I go over my words because I sing the same tune three times, but with different lyrics. Right. And the, and the trap is to sing the wrong lyric in the wrong song, which I had done. And it's, there's nothing more embarrassing and gut wrenching than to sing the wrong lyric in the wrong song. And you just have to find your way back. And it, they call it walking into the white room. And because literally what does that will happen and your mind will, your mind will explode, your armpits will explode with sweat. Your eyeballs will get this big, your throat will dry. It is flight or flight or flight moment.

    Michael Jamin (00:23:07):

    Yeah. And

    Rick Negron (00:23:08):

    It's so hard to, to like try to grasp the right lyric. And, and you're in, you're literally in a white room. Yeah. And you're going, oh shit. How, how do I get back?

    Michael Jamin (00:23:20):


    Rick Negron (00:23:21):

    And for me it's a little easier cuz my song is nice and slow, but can you imagine being Hamilton and you're rapping a mile a minute and you go into the white room

    Michael Jamin (00:23:29):

    And do you guys talk about that? Oh

    Rick Negron (00:23:32):

    Yeah. Yeah. Famously on Broadway, there, there, there was a something called Burst Corner. Uhhuh <affirmative> which was, I, I forget who started it, but I think <laugh>, they, they told 'em not to do it anymore. It was something where they post on Instagram or Facebook. Oh. so-and-so, you know, said this instead of what they should have said, you know, basically coming out and, and owning your faux PAs during a live show. Right. I remember when I did Manda La Mancha with Robert Gole on tour. He used to make up lyrics sometimes. And we, and one of the guys in the show started jotting them down. And at the end of the tour, they basically roasted him at a, at the closing night party with all the lyrics that he made up <laugh> throughout, throughout the entire thing. And he was not amused.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:20):

    He was not amused. I was gonna say, I

    Rick Negron (00:24:23):

    Was not amused with that one. Okay. But my favorite faux pod of his was we were in Nashville and he started singing Impossible Dream. And he's sang to dream the Impossible Dream to fight the unat of a fo to carry Moonbeams home in a jar.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:41):

    And there was like, what?

    Rick Negron (00:24:44):

    That's a big Crosby song. Oh, funny. Carry Moon Beams Home in a Jar. It's an old Bing Cosby song. And he just pulled that lyric outta nowhere and inserted it into the impossible dream. And everybody backstage just went,

    Michael Jamin (00:24:59):

    What do he say? Oh my God. That's hilarious.

    Rick Negron (00:25:03):

    But you know, I I'm, I'm, I might be roasting Robert Gole at the moment, but everybody's had those moments. Yeah. Especially in Hamilton, it happens cuz the, the words are coming fast and furious and boy, if you miss that train or you screw up, oh, it's hard to get back on.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:18):

    And I imagine if

    Rick Negron (00:25:20):

    You do, everybody does. Everybody, if you

    Michael Jamin (00:25:21):

    Do it one too many times, are you looking at unemployment?

    Rick Negron (00:25:24):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>? No. Really? No. Yeah. I mean, nobody does it one too many times. Uhhuh, <affirmative>. I mean, some understudies have more bumps in the road than others. Uhhuh. <affirmative>. But you, you, you know, we give them a lot of grace because being an understudy is really hard. Yeah. And so when somebody's honest and understudy you, everybody has their, their, their side view mm-hmm. <Affirmative> just because they, they might be in the wrong spot in a certain moment or cross a little differently than the usual guy. So you just have to have some grace. Don't get upset if they're in the wrong spot. You know, just maybe nudge them a little bit or pull them or, or, or just watch out for them and don't bump into them because, you know, somebody is on. I, because I've understudied so many in so many shows, I have a lot of empathy for, for understudies and swings and, but I, I, I don't, in my experience, and I've been in a ton of shows, I haven't been around somebody who's messed up so much that they've got gotten fired. Usually when somebody's not up for the task creatives know during rehearsals that they're not cutting it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then so somebody will get, will get let go. Right. the only other time I, I remember somebody lost their voice and, and took time off and came back and lost their voice again. And it was just a situation where they couldn't do the job. Their voice just, wow. Their voice just couldn't ha hack it. And so, you know, those are tough and difficult moments. They don't happen often, but it happens.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:09):

    Wow. Yeah. And now you were also telling me, which I thought was fascinating, is that your character, because he's the king, you were talking, you know, how, how your character has evolved, you playing the same exact part has evolved over, over all these years of you playing it.

    Rick Negron (00:27:24):

    Yeah. It's, it's been a gift. I'm, I'm, you know, I've realized early on that theater really is my thing. Even though I did some TV and film when I moved to la I, I didn't, I didn't really love the work. Right. It sort of felt a little bit empty just in the sense that, you know, you sit in a trailer for hours and hours and then you get a couple of rehearsals and you shoot and you're done. And that's it. You know, and it's on, it's out there for posterity and you walk away from the, from the gig going, oh, I could have done this, I could have done that. But in theater, you get to redeem yourself every night. You know, if you screwed up the night before, you, you make it better the next night. And I love that about theater.


    And and so for, for me I just get better over time and people say, oh, but don't you get tired eight times a week a year. I don't. I I like to, I like to tell people that it's, it's almost like being a potter. You have the same, you know, square block of clay and you're making that same pot. But every time you're doing something a little bit different and you're learning from the, the, the, yesterday when you made that pot, today you're making the same pot, but you learn something new, you discovered something new, making this pot, it's still the same pot, but you're, you may be doing a little filigree or a little curve here, or a little something different. So every night you get to shape this pot a little bit differently. And that's, for me, that's the, the beauty of it.


    That's the challenge. I remember early on with, with this, with this character, I was in rehearsals and the the associate director Patrick Vassell said, you know, Rick, this is interesting. Most guys come in with a really large, over the top take on the king. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you're coming in with a very spare low-key take on it. I mean, we're gonna build you up, which is usually not the case with this character. And build, build him up. Not make him bigger, but just give him more depth. Okay. And that was the rehearsal process for me. And then when I started working with Thomas Kale the, the director of Hamilton right before we opened in Puerto Rico, he said, the trick to this guy is to make him, make him as simple and as small as possible because the king can, with one finger kill a whole community. Right. Know, he just has to say, those people are gone and they're gone. So he doesn't have to do much. He has all this power. So that, that was like the best bit of information for me. And so the challenge is over time is to do less.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:14):

    Right. And

    Rick Negron (00:30:14):

    Still with all the homework that you've done and the character work that you've done, but do less. And I, and I was telling you this before, that you walk out on stage Yeah. And the audience goes crazy. And, you know, there's all this expectation and sometimes you get suckered in by this adoring audience to do more. Right. But you have to fight that feeling and do less. And that's,

    Michael Jamin (00:30:38):

    It sounds like though you got conflicting notes though. No. They directed the eight. Well,

    Rick Negron (00:30:43):

    I think because in rehearsal I was still sort of finding my way with him. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And instead of making this broad fabish character, which is how somebody who starts with King George and thinks, oh, I'm just gonna do this and make him big and fabish. Right. that's sort of a two-dimensional view of, of the king. And I came in with a lot of research about the guy and thinking, I, I, I don't wanna make him this two-dimensional caricature. Right. I really wanna make him a, a guy who is number one dangerous

    Michael Jamin (00:31:21):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>,

    Rick Negron (00:31:21):

    Who has a lot of power and who, who is feeling jilted, but won't allow you, you can't break up with me. Right. I'm breaking up with you. You know, that kind, that kind of dynamic in this, in the first song specifically. And so I came in with that and he said, that's great. Now we're gonna just work and put more layers on him, but not necessarily make him bigger, but just give him more layers.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:52):

    Let me ask you the, because when you're in, when you say, you know, you're the analogy of making a pot, are you going into the performance thinking, I wanna try this today? Or are you so into character you forget and, and somehow it it organically arises?

    Rick Negron (00:32:10):

    I try to stay in, in the more organic realm.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:13):

    Uhhuh, <affirmative>,

    Rick Negron (00:32:14):

    Because I think that's where the really good stuff is. The stuff that just pops out of you.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:20):

    But you can't make that happen. That's the problem. Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:32:23):

    If, if, if I plan something

    Michael Jamin (00:32:26):


    Rick Negron (00:32:26):

    <Affirmative>, I, I feel like it, it feels fabricated a little bit. Right. And so I, I try not to, but sometimes I'll get a note from, we have a resident director that travels with us, and also sometimes the director or the associate director will show up to whatever city we're in and will watch the show and give us notes and say, you know, in this moment, maybe try this or try that. And so I really pay attention to those notes and I try to implement them, but I try not to I try not to quote unquote fabricate them or, or, or think too much on it. I try to, maybe, maybe the best thing that I can say is I'll tr I'll try on my own four or five different ways to achieve that note. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. I can, I can, I can make it more dangerous in this section if I lean into this word or if I, you know, take a pause or whatever it is. I'll come up with four or five different ways to get the note across and then let whatever which one pops out pops out when it, when I do the performance. So I give myself some choices. So I don't, so I don't get, I don't pigeonhole myself into a specific choice, which then feels fabricated and fake.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:51):

    Right. But do you ever get into the part and then n notice, oh, I, I just slipped out of it. I, I'm, I'm, I'm observing myself now. I'm not in the part

    Rick Negron (00:34:00):

    Happens all the time.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:02):

    And what do you do? How do you get back in

    Rick Negron (00:34:04):

    The words the text will save you for every writer out there. Thank you. Because the text will save you. You have to get back into, into what it is you're saying. When, when

    Michael Jamin (00:34:16):

    You, but the words are in your head that you don't, you're not reading something, they're in your head.

    Rick Negron (00:34:19):

    You're in your head, but in your head. I've been doing this so long that I can be in the middle of my performance and going, Hmm. That wasn't good. Right. Like, I'll be criticizing myself while I'm doing it,

    Michael Jamin (00:34:31):

    But that's not good. Now you're out of character.

    Rick Negron (00:34:33):

    Now I'm out of character. Now I'm in my head. Right. And the first thing that I'll do is I'll, I'll bite something. I'll bite a word or I'll, I'll make a gesture. Or basically I'll snapped my myself out of that.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:47):

    Do it.

    Rick Negron (00:34:48):

    I guess. I didn't silence my phone.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:51):

    That's okay. So,

    Rick Negron (00:34:52):

    Interesting enough. That's, that's the resident director of Hamilton just texted me.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:57):

    <Laugh>. He can wait. It's not important.

    Rick Negron (00:34:59):

    No. She, she, luckily this is she. Yes. Better. Sherry Barber. Amazing director.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:05):

    So we that's my next question though. I wanna talk about that. But, so, all right. So you snap so you, you, you get back into it with a physical, something physical, a gesture or something.

    Rick Negron (00:35:14):

    Physical or, or, or, or vocal. Yeah. Or some different intention. Yeah. Just mix it up. Right. Mix it up. Yeah. Do something different that, that's gonna get you outta your head.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:27):

    Right. I mean, I mean, I would think that we, that way my fear is going up, going up, forgetting, oh, what, what's my line? Line? Oh,

    Rick Negron (00:35:34):

    It is, that's every actor's fear. And, and, and if anything keeps me nervous, it's that, it's the fear of, of messing up. But the, and people say, oh, how do you get over being nervous? And I always say, you, how, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Yeah. Practice, practice, practice. Confidence comes from being, I can sing that song with another song, playing over a loud speaker. That's how well I know that song.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:04):

    Really. With another song playing. There's

    Rick Negron (00:36:05):

    Another song playing over the loud speaker. And I can sing my song while that song is playing. That's how much in the bones in my cell that song is. See, I just have to, I, I rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:18):

    Do you think it's possible to over rehearse?

    Rick Negron (00:36:21):


    Michael Jamin (00:36:22):

    Uhhuh. <Affirmative>. Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:36:24):

    But I mean, for me, you know, every actor's different. For me, my comfort, what gives me my comfort zone is, and, and gives me confidence, is feeling like I, I know this inside out, left, right. I, I know ev Yeah, I know this. I got this Uhhuh <affirmative>. That's how I get

    Michael Jamin (00:36:46):

    There. But, but you don't feel that way in opening night cuz you haven't done it 900

    Rick Negron (00:36:49):

    Times. No, no, no. You haven't done it 900 times. So you just, you you, I go back to my yoga and I, I I do some deep breathing mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and I try to focus on the intentions of the character. What is he trying to do?

    Michael Jamin (00:37:05):

    Do you, do you sometimes kick yourself? Like, do you feel like, oh, I wasn't in the Tonight Show. I was, I tried. I wasn't in it. I wasn't in it. Oh

    Rick Negron (00:37:14):

    Yeah. I walked out, I walk off stage sometimes and go, Ooh, that was terrible. Or whatev, you know, I'm, I'm my worst critic. Right. And sometimes I walk away and go, oh, that was good.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:26):

    Right. Because you're just

    Rick Negron (00:37:27):

    Lost. I don't pat myself on the back as often as I should. Uhhuh <affirmative>, I'm usually more critical of myself. And, you know, and now I try, I try to not beat myself up as much as I used to. I try to be a little kinder to myself, but yeah, I totally walk away sometimes going, oh, that was, that was not your best.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:46):

    <Laugh> <laugh>. And, and so these, these directors, like, what do they, what's their job? Because they didn't direct the show. The show has been choreographed. It's been directed. Now they're just jo they're just there every night to make sure it doesn't go off the rails.

    Rick Negron (00:37:59):

    Yeah. Pretty

    Michael Jamin (00:38:00):

    Much tune things.

    Rick Negron (00:38:01):

    Yeah. And the really good ones, like, like sh like our our resident director Sherry they're there to keep it fresh. And so she's constantly feeding you ideas. Hey, what, what if we do this? What if we do that? How about, how about, you know, and, and that's, she, she's great at bringing new ideas to something that we've been doing for four years,

    Michael Jamin (00:38:27):

    But I'm not sure how much I would wanna hear that if I were you. Like, you know what I'm saying? Like, oh, I love it. This is what I You love that.

    Rick Negron (00:38:34):

    I love it. I love trying new stuff. I love messing about with that pot that I'm creating. Oh, what about, why, why don't you do a lip on, on, on the top? Oh, yeah, yeah. Do it. We'll curl out the lip on the top. I've never done that before. Right. Why don't we do that? You know, I did something a few months ago at the end of the song, the song I famously go, famously I should say the, the king famous famously says, and no, don't change the subject. And he points at somebody in the audience and he gets, he, it's a rare moment where he gets upset. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And that's, and, and if you've seen the Disney Plus, Jonathan Gruff famously just spits all over the place. It just is, it's, it's an explosion of saliva. And it's, it's a brilliant moment. I think. I think his take on the king is, is wonderful and he sings it so well. And and I usually point, they want you to usually point in sort of the same area of the, you can point anywhere, but they, they usually take point over here. And I always point over there, and one night, man, this is maybe about four or five months ago, one night at the end of the song, I went, I went,

    Michael Jamin (00:39:45):

    I'm watching you

    Rick Negron (00:39:46):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>. Like, I pointed to my eyes and I pointed to that person who I had pointed to earlier in the song. And no, don't change the subject as if that's my one nemesis in the room. And I'm just saying, I'm watching you <laugh>. And it got such a reaction, right. That I kept it, it's been my new little bit until I, until I decide I don't want to, or until, you know, the associate director walks in and goes, you know what? I don't like that thing that you do at the end, cut it. And I'm like, okay, it's gone. Right. Well, think of something else. You know, unless there, there's always, there's always something right. That I can think of. And that's, that's the fun part that I can always improve it, I can always make it better. I can always have fun with it.

    Michael Jamin (00:40:29):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (00:40:53):

    I'm surprised you, I mean, I, I would wa I'm curious like, but you allowing yourself to watch, you know, Jonathan Grots version as opposed, you know, is that, are you, do you, you know, what's that like, you know, cause character yours

    Rick Negron (00:41:08):

    Now. Yeah. I saw him do it originally on Broadway when I saw the show in previews. And then of course I saw him do the Disney Plus version. And then when we were in rehearsals in 2018 for our company, we were the third national tour to go out when we were in rehearsals, they said, oh, you you know, you can go stand back in the, at the back of the house at the Richard Rogers and watch the Broadway company. And at that point, the king was Ian I'm forgetting Ian's last name, but he's, I think he's still the king right now. He's been there for a long time. He's brilliant. Uhhuh <affirmative> as the king. And I watched him play the King while I'm in rehearsals for the King. Right. And for me, I wish I could see all the kings really? Because really they all do something different. And, and you, and, and the stuff that's really good. You wanna steal it, man. You wanna, but can you, I mean, love that,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:00):

    But can you

    Rick Negron (00:42:00):

    Take it from the best baby steal from the

    Michael Jamin (00:42:02):

    Best stuff from the best.

    Rick Negron (00:42:04):

    Interesting. Yes. I mean, you gotta make it your own. You can't do the exact same thing. Right. But, but it, for me, it feeds me as an actor. I'm like, oh, what a cool idea. I should, I can do a version of that or Right. Or so. Oh, that makes me think of something else. You know, I, I I, yeah. I I love it. Do

    Michael Jamin (00:42:20):

    You get together and talk with the other kings at all? Yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:42:23):

    I've met the king that's on on Zoom, actually. I haven't met him in person, but the guy Peter Matthews who, who does the Angelica tour and he's been doing it for a while. Most of the Kings. It's a, it's a nice gig. So yeah, you stick around right. As long as you, you know, want to, or as long as they'll have you. Right. And Hamilton's been really great about, you know, letting us stay. But Peter Peter's really a funny guy and I haven't gotten to see his king because obviously I'm doing it at another part of the country while he's doing it. But I would love to see him play the King. Really. yeah. And Rory O'Malley, who played it here in la, he did the first national, he I think Tony Winter for book of Mormon. Fantastic guy. I met him in San Francisco when he came to see our company. I'd love to see his cane cuz he's a great singer and, you know, everybody's got their, their their take on him. And I, I find it fascinating to see what somebody does with, with this character.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:25):

    Right. Cuz there's so much, there's so much. Yeah. That's so much how much constantly reinvented fun,

    Rick Negron (00:43:29):

    Fun role and,

    Michael Jamin (00:43:30):

    But by still, but you still gotta remain true to what the words are and what the intention of the words. But it still can be interpreted while still being true to those

    Rick Negron (00:43:38):

    Words. Which, which is the beauty of, of, of, of Hamilton and, and I give a lot of credit to the creative team, is that yes, you have to sing the words and sing the melody, but you get a lot of creative license to, to make it your own Uhhuh <affirmative>. And so if you see our company of Hamilton and then you see the Broadway company of Hamilton, it's almost like two different shows. Right. It's the same show. But because you have different actors in those roles, it's pretty remarkable the difference in the companies.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:10):

    And tell me a little bit more about some of the other Broadway and traveling, because you've had such a resume, man, such a resume.

    Rick Negron (00:44:17):

    <Laugh>. Well, you know, I, I started back in the eighties as a, as a Chorus Boy and, and doing some really cool shows. Man La Mancha, the Goodbye Girl, the

    Michael Jamin (00:44:27):


    Rick Negron (00:44:27):

    Girl leader of the Pack. I, I did, I did In The Heights on Broadway Right. For a couple of years. That's when I, I actually did a workshop of In the Heights in 2005 with Li Manuel Miranda and the whole gang, and I got to meet them back then. So they've been good loyal friends since then. Yeah. And, and have kept me employed for many years. I hand, you know, hats off to them <laugh>. Oh, I do have hair by the way, but it was kinda messy. So I put on my, my hat. You

    Michael Jamin (00:44:58):

    Could have worn your wig, your powdered wig

    Rick Negron (00:45:01):

    <Laugh>. Oh yeah. I

    Michael Jamin (00:45:02):

    Used to wear, Hey, I'm always in character

    Rick Negron (00:45:04):

    <Laugh>. Yeah, A actually I have I'm, I have a few weeks off right now, which is why I'm home in la Right. Because we just did Hawaii and, and the show had to pack up and, and be put on the ship to come back to the us So they shipped, the show changed and that's how we, how it got to Puerto Rico too, which is why it makes it kind of difficult to send those shows to the, the Islandss because they have to ship it.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:29):

    But even still, how long does it take to set up for them to build, you know, build the set?

    Rick Negron (00:45:36):

    Well the shipping of it took a, takes about two weeks.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:40):

    All right. But once you're,

    Rick Negron (00:45:41):

    But then once it all gets there, our crew can, can put the set up in day and a half.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:47):

    Wow. Okay.

    Rick Negron (00:45:48):

    It's, it's like, it's all been carefully crafted. It's like Lincoln Logs, everything fits together, but

    Michael Jamin (00:45:54):

    Stages are different sizes. That's what I don't understand.

    Rick Negron (00:45:57):

    Well, they ahead of time, the, the production management and, and, and, and company management, they sit together and they go, okay, these are the cities that we're doing, which is the smallest theater we're in Uhhuh <affirmative>, that, those are our dimensions. We can't, we can't get bigger than that.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:15):

    But you can put a smaller on a bigger, on a stage, you can put a small,

    Rick Negron (00:46:19):

    Yeah, yeah. And the show, I mean, the show was made for the Richard Rogers, which is a pretty small theater. I mean, it's an old 1920s Broadway theater, Uhhuh <affirmative>, that seats about 1300. So it's pretty small. And the stage backstage is kind of small too. So most of the theaters that we do on, that we go to on the road are much bigger than the Richer Rogers. Okay. So they just, you know, they just do black baffling on the sides and just make it more of a letter box. And it works. It works. As long as we're not in a place that's smaller than our set. And some shows have what they call a jump set, which means that while we're in one city, we have a, a second set that goes to the next city and gets built. And so that we close in, in Boise on a Sunday and we open in Salt Lake City on a, on a Tuesday, you know, but let's say one day.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:13):

    But let's say that you're doing a dance number and the stage is this big and your's, the dancer, you know. Okay. Six pace steps to get my next mark on a bigger stage. It's, isn't it more steps <laugh> or No,

    Rick Negron (00:47:23):

    No, no, because you're, you're, regardless of the size of the stage you are set. It remains the same.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:30):

    Okay. So no one will go out of that.

    Rick Negron (00:47:32):

    Yeah, no. Yeah. We'll, we'll we'll never stretch it. Right. The set itself never gets stretched. If anything, the, the theater will come in with, with black you know what the, what they call the legs, those are, you know, a break a leg comes from

    Michael Jamin (00:47:48):


    Rick Negron (00:47:48):

    Literally they, you know, break a leg is good luck. But it literally means the legs are those black drapes that come down in the front and also in each wing.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:59):

    Okay. So

    Rick Negron (00:47:59):

    When you, when you, when you go on stage, sometimes you have to move that drapery to get on stage or to, if you're gonna go in front of the, the, the in front of the curtain, you, you, you move it with your arm, you break the leg.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:15):

    So you're not, so you're not literally break. Okay. So you're,

    Rick Negron (00:48:18):

    You're not literally breaking the leg, you're not breaking anything. Parting, parting the drapery to go on stage.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:23):

    Oh. So this is very interesting. This is gonna be, yeah.

    Rick Negron (00:48:25):

    Yeah. It's a little theater trivia for Yeah. The, the folks out there.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:30):

    Fascinating. Now. Okay, so on a regular day, you go to a town, your new, your your new city or whatever, and they give you a per diem to Yeah. Goodbye lunch and get out apartment

    Rick Negron (00:48:42):

    Diem. The union sets a weekly per diem. And that is for you to spend as you wish. Uhhuh, <affirmative>. And then also company management way ahead of time will say we have three or four different hotels that we've negotiated a special deal for and choose which one you want to stay in. And these are the prices and these are the amenities and people choose from that list of hotels. But a lot of people nowadays are doing Airbnb, especially on a tour where you sit in a city for four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. The shortest stays we've ever had have been two weeks. But we've, we've done six weeks. And so a lot of people do Airbnbs cuz you have a kitchen and you have a washer dryer and more, you know. But is

    Michael Jamin (00:49:26):

    It, is staying in a hotel more fun? Is that dorm living, is that more fun for the cast?

    Rick Negron (00:49:31):

    Some, no, I don't think it's more fun for them. Some stay in the hotel cuz it'll be right next to the theater. And that's convenient. Yeah. Especially if we are in Denver and it's seven degrees outside. Being, you know, li living right near the theater is really cool when it's, when the weather's bad. But most people, a lot of people nowadays, they're getting Airbnbs and they're rooming together. So three or four people can get a really cool house.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:57):

    But I'm picturing <laugh>

    Rick Negron (00:50:00):

    And, and they save money because they're rooming together. Right. So, you know, the rent, their ability to pay rent, I mean now they can use their per diem to live on, not just for their place to stay. They can

    Michael Jamin (00:50:12):

    Have you shared, have you shared apartments or No. Does the king, does the king have his own place now?

    Rick Negron (00:50:16):

    <Laugh>, I'm too old to have roommates. You're too

    Michael Jamin (00:50:18):

    That crap.

    Rick Negron (00:50:18):

    I had roommates in my twenties and thirties. I'm done. But the only roommate I have is my wife. And Cause

    Michael Jamin (00:50:24):

    You're right.

    Rick Negron (00:50:24):

    But she's not really my roommate. So

    Michael Jamin (00:50:26):

    My like, my naive opinion of what it must be like is like in high school when you're in the play it's like, you know, or even at a high school, you know, community, you are like, Hey, it's the, we're all the, it's the group, we're the gang, we're doing everything together. But once you become a pro, that's not the way it is. Huh? It's not like

    Rick Negron (00:50:45):

    It is at first it is, it's the honeymoon phase

    Michael Jamin (00:50:49):

    Real. Okay. Where you're like hanging out together

    Rick Negron (00:50:51):

    Where we all just meet and Oh, I know that person. We did a show together a long time ago. And so we become a little bit of a clique and then the, the cliques start happening early on. But we're one big happy family. Right. And we have opening night parties and you know, and all that occurs early on. But then the clicks really start creating Right. You know, the, the peop certain people start to hang out together. We had the, an our, our company's called an Peggy cuz each separate tour has a different name. There's the Angelica tour, the Philip Tour. These are characters in the show. Right. And Peggy is the third Skylar sister. So we became the third company. So we are called the An Peggy tour and we're, and there's a group of us we're called the, an Peggy Alpine Club. And literally, literally a bunch of us who like to hike and, and do outdoorsy stuff. We went snowboarding and skiing a lot in the winter. We, a lot of us got scuba cert certified for our Hawaii stay. Wow. And we've done incredible hikes all over the place. So that's our little clique. But also, you know, people that have, are married and right on tour together or have ki there's a few people that have kids on tour. They get together a lot.

    Michael Jamin (00:52:07):

    So and they bring their fam, they bring their kids on onto tour with them.

    Rick Negron (00:52:10):

    Yes. There's some people that do that. Yes. But some, some, some

    Michael Jamin (00:52:16):

    Like little kids are like high school age. Like you can't be like a high school-aged kid.

    Rick Negron (00:52:20):

    No. Most, most of 'em have young kids. You gotta understand. I, I'm working with a bunch of 20 and 30 year olds. Right. And I'm the oldest guy by far in, in, in, in, in the, in the company.

    Michael Jamin (00:52:30):

    What's that like being the oldest guy in the company?

    Rick Negron (00:52:33):

    Oh, I love it. Love. I used to be the youngest guy then I was, you know, in the same age as everybody. I love it because I as a king too. I, I have plenty of time to sort of mentor everybody. Yeah. And so I've become a little bit of, I, I'm the cheerleader. I check in on everyone and say, how you doing? I'm, I used to be a ma massage, massage therapist. So a anytime peop people are having issues. I, I'm close friends with our, our physical therapist that tours with us. So we work on people sometimes together in tandem.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:03):

    What is it they're worried? What is it they want mentoring at the, the career strategy? Like what, you

    Rick Negron (00:53:08):

    Know, that this career strategy, sometimes it's just dealing with personalities in theater sometimes there's some, some headbutting. Um-Huh. <affirmative> sometimes people are just having problems with a, a particular, an understudies having a problem with a new character that they're understudying or, you know, there's issues on stage with somebody who doesn't quite know where they're supposed to stand at a certain point. Right. And all that is internal stuff that should be worked out with the dance captains and the stage management and, and the resident director. But you know, unfortunately, actors, you know, we have huge egos and, and they're also very fragile egos. And so there's a, a, a bit of nuance involved and people get their, their panties in a twist. And I'm, I'm usually the guy that comes around and, and talks people off the ledge sometimes. And

    Michael Jamin (00:54:02):

    I would imagine we be very hard even, especially for the new guy or the new woman coming in, you

    Rick Negron (00:54:06):

    Know? Yeah. And I, I I, I, I tend to be the welcome wagon too. Right. You're the new ones. Come on, I'm the king. You know, I'll show you the ropes.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:13):


    Rick Negron (00:54:14):

    So, so that's, I, I like taking that mantle, not just because I'm the king, but also because I'm sort of the senior member of the Right. And I've been around the block and people have asked me, you know, I'm sick and tired of show business. I want to do something else. And I'm like, you know, that's, I hear that I've, I've had that conversation many, many times in my career.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:34):

    Interesting. So why, yeah. I would think, see, right, you've made the touring company of Hamilton, it's pretty much the peak, you know, like, you know, for

    Rick Negron (00:54:41):

    A lot of 'em want to do Broadway. So they're, you know, they're still focused on doing that Broadway show. And some of them have done Broadway, have done the tour, and, you know, they wanna settle down and meet somebody and have a Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:53):

    So they want to, is that, is that what the problem is? They, you know, they're done with the business. What, what's the problem?

    Rick Negron (00:55:00):

    Well, I mean, you know, you, we've got the new kids who are just starting out who wanna know about, you know, how do I get my, my foot in Broadway? You know, and there's those kids, and then they're the ones that have been around for a while who wanna maybe transition out of, out of the business and, and want some there was one girl who was interested in massage therapy. Oh, wow. And I said, you wanna become ao? Okay. Well, this is what you need to do. And matter of fact the union has something called what is it called? Career Transition for Dancers, which is a, a, a program where you can get grants to do some further education. So if you wanna learn how to be a massage coach, wow. Get a grant through the union. And, you know, I know some of this stuff so I can impart some of that knowledge. And for the young kids who, you know, I wanna get on Broadway, I'm like, okay, well, to get on Broadway, you have to be in New York. And while you're on tour, you know, can't do that. It's hard to get into that audition for that Broadway show. But

    Michael Jamin (00:55:57):

    Are you still in those circles? I mean, it seems like you, I don't know. It seems like you must know. I don't know. You're, I, I guess I'm completely wrong. If you were you know, a dancer on the touring company, Hamilton seems like it wouldn't be that hard to, to find out about an audition on Broadway. And certainly wouldn't be that hard to get a job, because you're obviously really good.

    Rick Negron (00:56:18):

    Yeah. and we've had a few people leave our tour to go do a Broadway, Broadway show. I mean, actually, we just lost like two or three people to, one Girl is doing Bad Cinderella. She left our show to Do Bad Cinderella, which is a new Broadway show, a new Andrew League Webber show. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Another guy just left our show to do the, the Candor Nbb, New York, New York that's opening on Broadway soon. So that does happen luckily with the advent of auditioning remotely via video that's helped things out a lot nowadays, so that if you're in Portland on tour, you can send in an audition via video for something back in New York.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:02):

    Even dancing. You can, like, you pull the camera back and you do some dance steps. I mean,

    Rick Negron (00:57:06):

    Is that what you do? Yeah. Or sing a song or, or, or, or read a scene. Okay. depending on what's needed. And sometimes you, you are able to take a personal day and fly back to New York and audition for something. Right? Yeah. 

    Michael Jamin (00:57:23):

    Cause I would think, and I, I don't know. Obviously, I don't know it, I would think that if you're in Ham, the touring company of Hamilton, you're practically on Broadway and it's like, it's almost the same circles, except this is where the job is, you know?

    Rick Negron (00:57:34):

    True. But if you've been on tour for a year, you'd like to settle down and stop living out of a suitcase. I It's

    Michael Jamin (00:57:39):

    Hard to be on the road.

    Rick Negron (00:57:40):

    Yeah. Or you've been doing Hamilton for a while and you just wanna do something different. Yeah. There's those, those kids, you know, they're hungry, they wanna do different stuff. Yeah. They don't wanna be on tour on Hamilton for four years like I have, but I've done a lot of stuff and

    Michael Jamin (00:57:53):

    Yeah. What, let's talk about what other, what, yeah, let's talk about some other, we, we, I think we got off track of your other Broadway shows and, and Off Broadway and not touring shows, rather.

    Rick Negron (00:58:01):

    Well, you know, I started, I started out young in the biz at 10 cuz my mom was a drama teacher. And then I sort of worked my way through community theater and children's theater and all that. And, and then I was a concert dancer in college and studied for who? Well, I, in college I studied modern dance in, in ballet. But when I got outta college, I, I was an intern at, with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, briefly Uhhuh <affirmative>, until I realized this is a lot of hard work and very little money.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:30):


    Rick Negron (00:58:31):

    And all my friends that were doing Broadway shows were making, back in 1985, Broadway minimum was $750 a week. Right. And the dancers in the Paul Taylor Dance Company were at that time in 1985 or maybe making 500, 600 a week. Right. They're making less. Right. And, you know, that's just the economics of the dance world. But, you know, the Broadway kids were making more money. Right. And, and I always wanted, I sang and I always, that's really where I wanted to be. So yeah. I ended up booking a a a a jukebox musical in 85 called Leader of the Pack. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's funny, you know, when, if you've worked in the business as long as I have, there's people that you meet along the way who go to you, who later on in life become super famous. So Right.


    The vocal arranger for the Leader of the Pack is a guy named Mark Shaman who went on to write Hairspray. Right. And Catch Me if you Can. And Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and his new show on Broadway is God, I almighty what's some Like It Hot is his new show on Broadway. Uhhuh. So Mark Shame is an old friend of mine who I've known forever. Wow. You know who, who started way back then, my dance captain in my second Broadway show which was the mystery of Evan Drew was Rob Marshall. So he went on to direct Chicago the movie, and Into the Woods the movie. And But you were in nine. Yeah, I was in Chicago. The movie. I, I was lucky. That was a very odd thing. I had worked with him on a version of Annie Uhhuh <affirmative> for Disney. It's, it's not the old Carol Burnett film Annie, it's Disney TV version of Annie that they did with Victor Garber. Yes.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:21):

    Because we, we owned the, we watched that a million times cuz we had the

    Rick Negron (01:00:25):

    Vhs Oh. One of the dancers in it. And that was Mar Rob Marshall's first directorial big, big directorial job. And from the success of that is they took a, they took a leap of faith with him and, and gave him Chicago the movie, which, you know, went on to win the Oscar. Yeah. It was amazing. Yeah. And so I got, I got to work on, on that film. And what else did a really, another big bomb called Legs Diamond that closed the Mark Keller forever. Right. became a, a, a church after that. I did Man Lamancha with Row Julia on Broadway as I did the Goodbye Girl, which was another big bomb musical. It was starring Bernadette Peters and Martin Short, who were both brilliant in it, but it was just a misguided musical. Right. We thought it was gonna be a huge success because it was Jean Sachs, the guy that directed all Aneal Simons Crazy.


    Broadway was a director, and Marvin Hamish did the music. And GRA Daniel you know, an incredible choreographer was doing the, we thought it was gonna be this huge hit and it was not <laugh>. It was, and that just happens sometimes these big musicals, you think they're going to do incredibly well and they don't. Right. But after Goodbye Girl, I think that's when I moved to LA and, and met my wife, I, I wanted to delve into the TV and film world. And then I went back and did a tour of Man Lamancha with Robert Gole and great stories about that. Right. And then and then I was always in the chorus and understudying the lead. And then finally I thought, you know, I'm, I, I need to be a lead. And I remember I was in LA and I got a phone call from a, a director choreographer named Sergio Tuhi, who choreographed Jersey Boys.


    And he won the Tony Award recently for Aint Too Proud and wonderful old friend of mine. He, he danced in Chicago, the movie with me. And he called me Outta the Blue and he said, Hey Rick, I'm working on this workshop for this, this is 2005. I'm working on this little workshop called In The Heights. And we're doing a workshop at the O'Neill Center in New London, Connecticut, which is where all of August Wilson's plays were workshop there. And at the time, in the Heights got the producers of Rent and Avenue Queue to back 'em. And they had workshop both those shows at the O'Neill Center. So he said, is that the O'Neil? I'm like, oh, no money Workshop gig in

    Michael Jamin (01:02:52):

    New, is it literally a no money workshop gig? Is that what that workshop, it's literally no money. No money. There's,

    Rick Negron (01:02:57):

    Nowadays the union has some workshops where you get a little bit of a stipend, you know, it's a little bit of money, but

    Michael Jamin (01:03:03):

    A work, explain what a

    Rick Negron (01:03:04):

    Workshop. But back in those days, workshops are no money.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:06):

    But explain what a workshop is. It's this, it's,

    Rick Negron (01:03:08):

    So Workshop is you have a new piece of, of theater and whether it's a straight play or a musical, and you're, it's not, it's not baked, it's not ready yet. And so the creative team will take it to a theater, Uhhuh <affirmative> or will just workshop it in a rehearsal room and literally bring in actors and listen to it, work on it over the period of, of a week maybe,

    Michael Jamin (01:03:32):

    But with, but there's an, they they have an audience though, right.

    Rick Negron (01:03:35):

    Sometimes at the end of the workshop, they'll do a presentation and it'll be what we call, you know, books in hand sometimes because you didn't have enough time to Uhhuh <affirmative> to get off book. You know, no sets, no costumes. Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:03:47):


    Rick Negron (01:03:48):

    Sometimes you do it with like a music stand in front of you, or you do maybe a little bit of choreography to give it an idea of what the dancing will be like. Some short workshops take weeks, some usually only a week. But

    Michael Jamin (01:04:03):

    So they expect you to come fly there, put yourself up.

    Rick Negron (01:04:07):

    Well, they put, they put us up at the O'Neil. Okay. They put us up at, at, it was some college dorm <laugh>, right outside, you know, like Connecticut College. I forget where we were staying. Right. But it was probably then, the only reason I said yes was because Sergio Trujillo sent me a, a CD of the Music of In the Heights. And when I heard it, I said, this is fantastic. Right. I gotta be a part of this. Right. And luckily, I said, yes, I got you know, I got to know to Connecticut. I worked on it. I gotta meet all those people. And I knew some of the actors from other jobs that I had done, and it was a wonderful experience. And these are friends that I, you know, I've had now for many, many years. And, you know, young Lemon or Miranda back then, fresh outta college now, he's like this megastar soon to be egot. I think

    Michael Jamin (01:04:59):

    He was fresh outta college when he, when he did that.

    Rick Negron (01:05:01):

    Yeah. In the Heights. Was this college was this college like project, a senior project? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:07):

    I see. I don't even understand how that, how, how someone of all the, of all the things to become a playwright for Broadway, like that almost seems like the craziest, forget about being a screenwriter. Like that sounds even more far-fetched. Like how many, there's three jobs, you know? Yeah,

    Rick Negron (01:05:24):

    Yeah. It it's kind of crazy. And I mean kudos to his, to his parents who sort of, you know, they had those Broadway albums in the house, you know? Right. He marinated. And, and, and I think when he saw Rent was the thing that like, oh, you know, Jonathan Larson was the, was the big catalyst in him that said, I can do that. Right. You know, and, and he went to college and, and realized that if I'm gonna make it, I have to write my way out. And it's similar, it's similar to, I think he has that in common with Hamilton, you know, that in order to find success, he had to write his own project that was in the Heights.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:03):

    Right. He had to

    Rick Negron (01:06:04):

    Write, and, you know, and, and how did Hamilton get out of his situation? He wrote this incredible thing on, on this hurricane that hit the islands. And that's, that's how he was sent to New York,

    Michael Jamin (01:06:13):

    Encouraging for, to

    Rick Negron (01:06:14):

    Writes. And that's the connection he made with Hip Hop. He said, when he read that, when he read Hamilton the book, he said Hamilton wrote his way out of his situation the same way a rapper writes his way out of poverty into success. Right. And then he made that connection, which was brilliant. And, you know, when we heard about the, the idea we were doing Heights, when he came back from rehearsal after reading the, the book, and he said, I'm gonna write a musical about Alexander, a rap musical about Alexander Hamilton. And we were

    Michael Jamin (01:06:41):

    Like, right.

    Rick Negron (01:06:42):

    Wait, what

    Michael Jamin (01:06:43):

    <Laugh> and how many, how how long were you on in, in, in, in the Heights? How, you know?

    Rick Negron (01:06:50):

    So I wasn't the original guy that they, that they chose for Broadway. At the time I did audition for the Broadway company. There were other guys that had done other workshops. Yeah. And John Herrera had done most of the workshops and he did off Broadway. But for whatever reason, they decided to re-audition for the Broadway company. And they chose a guy named Carlos Gomez, who's actually a friend of mine. Wonderful. stage in in screen actor. He's done a lot of TV in film lives here in la. And they told me, Rick, we love you, but we think you look too young to play the role. They were kind of straight up with me. Right. And I said, okay, I get that. Fine. And then literally after that I got my first lead role in a musical, which was one of the, the dads in Mamma Mia in Vegas, right?


    Yeah. Play Sam Carmichael, who, who sing It's the Pierce brazen role in the, in the film. And while I was doing a Mamma m in Vegas in the Heights was happening off Broadway. And then it went to Broadway. And Carlos unfortunately lost his voice about eight months into the, the Run. And he, you know, he, he, they had to replace him. And I fortunately auditioned yet again and got the, and got the job and ended up doing Broadway for two years. And my incredible wife moved out to New York with me for, for the second year that I was there.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:22):

    It's hard, it's hard that the life of a theatrical actor is,

    Rick Negron (01:08:25):

    Dude, when my niece told me she wanted to do this, I said, are you sure

    Michael Jamin (01:08:31):


    Rick Negron (01:08:31):

    But it's not easy. You gotta, it's gotta be the thing that gets you up in the morning. It's gotta be the thing that gets you through all that rejection and all the, the time you spend on the unemployment line.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:42):

    But do you think it's harder to be just the harder to be a theatrical actor as opposed to a film or television? I mean, do you think that world is just harder?

    Rick Negron (01:08:49):

    No, no. I think they're both hard in their own way. Uhhuh <affirmative>, they're both super difficult. And I mean, it's the life of an artist, you know, dancers, you know, it's, that's hard. Being a visual artist, being a writer. I mean, how do you get started as a writer? How do you get that job? How do you get into that to be on a TV show the way you have? I mean, but that's hard.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:13):

    I, yeah. But I, I still think there's, of all the three, I think it's crazier to be an actor. Like in terms of it's harder. Like you're, you, there's more,

    Rick Negron (01:09:20):

    It's more subjective.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:22):

    Well, but you're on a show, if you're a writer, you'll be on a show for the whole season. Right. Okay. Right. So if you're an actor, you might be on one episode now, now you gotta find another job again.

    Rick Negron (01:09:30):

    Yeah, yeah. You're constantly looking for work. You're, yeah. You know, and you talk to any actor, successful actor out there, and they'll tell you, they get more nos and yeses.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:39):

    Oh sure,

    Rick Negron (01:09:40):

    Sure. You know, it's a ton of rejection. You can't take it personally. You know, and there's, there's videos of, of great actors saying, you know, it changed for me when I, when success was not about getting the job, success was about preparing for the audition and doing a good job in the audition. And if I did a great job at the audition, I'm successful. If I got the job, that's icing on the cake. Yeah. Once you make that shift, then the rejection and the nose stop crushing your soul.

    Michael Jamin (01:10:11):

    Yeah. Right. Yeah. It's, it's hard. That's, it's great advice. I hear it a lot. It's, yeah. I think it's like, it's a mandatory, yeah. So then, so what will be next? Cause I what will be next for you? What, I mean, <laugh>, like do you think about that?

    Rick Negron (01:10:24):

    Are you kidding? Constantly. Especially now that I know the tour is ending. Because the, the tough part is for me specifically, is that I, I, I'm at a certain age now where there's less roles, there's

    Michael Jamin (01:10:38):

    Less roles. And it's also, there's also being, the dancing part is very physical. It's like being a professional athlete's. No. You know, it's,

    Rick Negron (01:10:45):

    Oh, I, I hung up my capos a long time ago. I Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:10:49):

    So you won't even try that. You won't even

    Rick Negron (01:10:50):

    Not as a dancer. I mean, I mean, if, if there's a role where I need to dance, right, I will dance of course. But I mean, my dancing ability is, is not what it was number one. You know, I don't take dance classes anymore. I'm, I'm physically fit, but I can't do what I used to do in my twenties and thirties. Right. Or even forties for that matter. But the, the thing for me now is that, you know, I'm, I'm living a very sort of odd reality of being a theater actor living in La <laugh>. Yeah. So I'm, you know, I have six months to sort of put my, my feelers out there. Part of that is that when, when you have a year contract, agents aren't gonna send you on an audition. Right. You know, because you're kind of tied up. Unless it's a one-off or a very short thing where you can take, and, and Hamilton famously or infamously lets us take time off to do other things. They're very kind that way. So that's why we also have many understudies, cuz people do go take a week off to do a workshop or take a week off to, to shoot a, a TV show. Our, our Aaron Burr Donald Weber has a reoccurring on severance right now. Oh. So he took time off to, to, to shoot that once while we were on the road.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:12):

    Do you? Wow. That's so fa that's so interesting. But yeah,

    Rick Negron (01:12:15):

    I'm separate. But now that we have like that six months and it's gonna end, now we can start putting wood on the fire for the next thing and start auditioning for something down the line.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:28):

    Do you have a separate agent for, for theatrical versus film and television? Or is it all one agent?

    Rick Negron (01:12:33):

    Most people do. Most people have somebody across the, that represents them across the board. Uhhuh, <affirmative> some, you know, it depends on the size of the agency you're with. Right. I'm currently don't have an agent. I sort of took a hiatus from the biz after in the Heights Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then Hamilton brought me back in to the biz. Right. So to speak. And so I didn't have an agent and got called directly. Still had to audition, but called, got called directly cuz I know, I know everybody involved. And and so I haven't had to pay 10% Yahoo. But I'm I'm gonna be c knocking on some doors and making some phone calls cuz you know, I will be needing an agent to Right. Remove the needle once this job ends. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:13:25):

    The life of a, it, it's so fa to me it's like it really is. It's more, it's so, it's in a way it's more interesting than like a television or, you know, film actor. Cuz I, I kind of know that world, but this world I know nothing of. But it's made so, it's so exciting cuz there's nothing like, there's nothing like good theater. It's just not the same.

    Rick Negron (01:13:43):

    Yeah. It's a whole nother animal. And I, it it's, it really is. You know, cuz you can make magic with film and tv. There's magic there, but there's a certain kind of magic with a live audience. Yeah. And a live performance doing it from beginning to end. Yep. That you, you, you can't, there's, it's just, you can't find it anywhere else. There's, there's that symbiotic thing between audience and, and, and actor. Just Yeah. It's, it's a drug. And, and I've been hooked on it for a really long time. <Laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (01:14:19):

    You know, one thing I've said is that, you know, whatever, I like a TV show and be seen by a couple millions of people, or maybe less now cuz every no one watches because the audience is so fra with maybe a couple hundred thousand people. But to me, and that's great and I'll in it's fun, but to stage something in a theater full of 50 people, like, I don't know. There's something really intoxicating about that, that you do not get from making a television show.

    Rick Negron (01:14:46):

    And as a creative person, as a writer, Uhhuh <affirmative>, like the creative, the creators of Hamilton, they keep changing it. After the pandemic, they changed the choreography for the the number that starts Act two, which is what did I Miss? Uhhuh, which is when Jefferson comes back from pa from France and, and joins the new fledgling government of the United States. And the original choreography had the dancers were sort of like servants and very subservient to Jefferson. And, and Sally his famous partner who was a slave but was his partner, I'm forgetting her last name at the moment, but people out there in the podcast are screaming her last name now. Right. but he, there was a moment Choreographically where she was subservient to him. And after the pandemic and what happened with the social justice movement after George Floyd, they decided to change the dynamic between the quote unquote servant slaves in the scene with Jefferson and make it less subservient and more supportive and not so much bowing to

    Michael Jamin (01:16:01):

    Jefferson, but if they make any changes like that, do they have to run it by Lynn? I mean Oh,

    Rick Negron (01:16:06):

    Yeah. Yeah. That the whole team gets together and they talk about it and they had meetings. Right, right. And and Lynn has always tinkered within the heon. He's still tinkering with Hamilton. Not huge changes, but some small subtle changes. I remember when we went to to Canada they changed, we Hawkin because Canadians don't know where Wee Hawkin is.

    Michael Jamin (01:16:29):


    Rick Negron (01:16:29):

    Really? Yeah. So they said new, you know, he said New Jersey, or they just changed the lyric so that it would make better sense for the Canadians. 

    Michael Jamin (01:16:40):

    Oh, wow.

    Rick Negron (01:16:40):

    Yeah. They did that in a couple of moments. I think we, Hawkin was one of them. In

    Michael Jamin (01:16:45):

    It almost feels sacro now that you said that. I, I always Oh no. Like cuz it's like, but you can't change it. <Laugh>. Yeah. Like you can't change.

    Rick Negron (01:16:52):

    That's the beauty of it, you know, film, it's done. It's, you know, that's it. You can't change it. But they can keep tinkering with, with, with a piece as long as they want to.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:00):


    Rick Negron (01:17:00):

    They can keep making it better, which is what I get to do. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:03):

    Right. It's so fascinating. It really is

    Rick Negron (01:17:06):

    Such a writer. That's kind of cool.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:09):


    Rick Negron (01:17:10):

    Can, you can rewrite until until the day you die.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:12):

    <Laugh>. But that's, and that's, but you see, that's the problem. At some point you have to let it go and move on to your next piece. And so what you're saying, it doesn't appeal to me actually

    Rick Negron (01:17:21):


    Michael Jamin (01:17:22):

    Like, you know, it's so tempting to, but no, you have to let it go now. It's, you know. Yeah. 

    Rick Negron (01:17:27):

    But because you could drive yourself crazy. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:30):

    Right. Yeah. Right.

    Rick Negron (01:17:32):

    So true. So true. I, I was gonna tell you another story, which is pretty great. When I met Lynn for the first time during that workshop of In The Heights, I, I, I don't, I don't usually come out and say, oh, I was in this, or I wasn't that. I'm not one of those actors. I, I sort of let stories come out on their own and I don't toot my horn horn too much, but I, I, I think I, I let it drop that I was in the bad video and Lynn's eyes like became why the sausage goes, you are in the bad video with Michael Jackson. I said, yes, I am. And he goes, wait one second. And literally, he, we were in lunch someplace at the cafeteria at the O'Neill Center, and he gets into the, the rental car he had, who, who runs to, I don't know, Walmart, target, whatever, the closest place he buys the D V d.


    He comes back, he puts it into his laptop because in those days, yeah. You play a DVD d on your laptop and he, and he po he goes, okay, where are you in the video pointing out to me? And then, so I'm pointing him out, oh, here I am next to Michael in this moment. And there I am. I jump over the turnstile there and All right. And oh man. And then we did like 20 takes of this one scene in one take. I did the funky chicken and, and the minute I did it, I regretted it. And I'm like, oh, hopefully that won't be the take they used. Yeah. Well, of course that is the take they used. I can be seen doing the Funky Chicken Right. Sort of next to Michael at a moment. And I pointed that out to Lynn. So cut two, that's 2005 cut to, I take over the role of The Dead and in the HAI on Broadway.


     This is about eight months after they win the Tony Award for Best Musical. And it's my, I I've rehearsed for a week. It's not a huge role. I kind of knew it. I just rehearsed to get the, the, the staging. And it's my debut. I don't know what day of the week it was, but my first time on stage on Broadway doing this role. And I do my first entrance and I walk in and I go, good morning, us and Manuel Miranda looks at me and goes [inaudible] Oh no, he does the funky chicken in his res first response to me at the top of the show. How funny. And I just looked at him like, oh, you,

    Michael Jamin (01:19:58):

    You Dick <laugh>, you <laugh>.

    Rick Negron (01:20:02):

    That's, he knew, he knew I was enough of a professional to take it in, like, you know, take, take it on the chin and, and, and keep going. And but you know, that's, that's a kind of fun Oh, wow. Loving, you know, always playful guy that, that I've gotten to love and adore. And he's, he really is a prince in, in the biz. He early on gave me, coined me the first Puerto Rican king. He was in an inter, he was doing an interview with cbs morning show. And, and we were going to Puerto Rico, and he goes, oh, yeah. And then Rick Negron, who's our first Puerto Rican king. And and since then, that's my Instagram account. I saw Puerto Rican King. Yeah. <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (01:20:42):

    You know what, and I'll people should follow you there. What? Yeah. Gi give your, give your Instagram ham. Oh,

    Rick Negron (01:20:47):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm at one, the number one St. Puerto Rican king all together now lower case. And that's sort of my, yeah. My king account. I've got some great adventures on the road there posted, I did some really cool scuba diving stuff in Hawaii that I posted, you know, night diving with Man Rays.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:08):

    Oh my God.

    Rick Negron (01:21:08):

    In Kona. Some great hikes in, in Banff are, are there and, and, and some interviews with some of the cast members. And I'm, I'm gonna actually start interviewing some of the crew members too, so people can get an idea of what it's like backstage and what the prop, the head of the props does in Hamilton and what the

    Michael Jamin (01:21:26):

    That's a great idea.

    Rick Negron (01:21:27):

    Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I act, I truly been tooling around with it for a while. And one of the, one of our Hamiltons that recently left the show, Julius, he, he did, he did it with one of our lighting people. He did a whole, like, backstage interviewing.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:41):

    Oh, great. He

    Rick Negron (01:21:42):

    Did a great job with with our friend Rachel. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:21:46):

    Wow. Well, that's a perfect place to, Rick, thank you so much. I've taken up a lot of your time. Unfortunately, not at all. Some of it was wasted

    Rick Negron (01:21:53):

    <Laugh>, dude, I can, I can, I can talk to the cows. Come home, as you know. So <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (01:21:58):

    Thank you for opportunity. Thank you so much. This is just so eye-opening to me. I just had, you know, again, I'm interested in awe, I'm in awe of your career of what you've done. Thank

    Rick Negron (01:22:08):


    Michael Jamin (01:22:08):

    And so I want to continue thank, obviously continue following as a fan. So, well,

    Rick Negron (01:22:12):

    You know, and I, you know, I wish you the best of luck with all your future projects. I know you're working on a book and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and you have that show and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I can't wait to be in the, in the house one day when you're doing your show, and I can watch

    Michael Jamin (01:22:26):

    Yeah. When you're in town.

    Rick Negron (01:22:28):

    Yeah. But I'm in town. I'll be back in August.

    Michael Jamin (01:22:30):

    <Laugh>, you'll be back. Oh, thank you again, Rick. And I'm gonna, I'll stop, but, but hang on. I'll, I'll thank you again properly you know, pub privately. All right, everyone, thank you so much. Thanks for listening. This was an interesting talk for more, you know, hang on next week while we'll, we'll have somebody as well. Thanks for listening. Okay. Until the next one, keep writing.

    Phil Hudson (01:22:51):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 22m | Mar 22, 2023
  • 072 - Silicon Valley Creator John Altschuler

    Were you a fan of the TV show Silicon Valley? If so, make sure to check out this podcast episode featuring John Altschuler, one of the show's creators.

    Show Notes

    John Altschuler IMDB - https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1014365/

    John Altschuler Wikipedia -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Altschuler

    John Schuler Emmys - https://www.emmys.com/bios/john-altschuler

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcription:

    John Altschuler (00:00:00):

    And I got back from delivering pizzas. And this is like, we didn't even have an answering machine. Okay? This is like we had no money or whatever. I get back, my phone's ringing and I, I remember it was about four in the afternoon and I, I pick it up and I can I speak to John Altschuler and I go, this is, this is he? And he goes, this is Mad Simmons. No, his rats. I think this rats, you know, this is rats of Soman. And he goes, money talks. What have you got? <Laugh>. Okay. I'll be like, what is, I got your dollar beer bill right here. What have you got?

    Michael Jamin (00:00:33):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael. Janet.


    Hello everyone. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin, and I have another great guest today that I don't know how many people are listening. I have thousands and thousands of listeners. And I'm telling you, not one of them is deserving to hear this man speak because this guy, the credits, his credits. And I'm gonna start off by saying, say, welcome to my show. It's John Altschuler. I'm gonna give him the proper introduction. He's my friend, but also many times he's been my boss and this guy, he, he was the, he ran, he and his partner, Dave Krinsky, ran King of the Hill for many years. They created Silicon Court, co-created Silicon Valley, their movie credits, or they also created The Good Family. Do you remember that show? They, they ran Beavers and Butthead for a while. They, they're in credits in they created, wait, did I say Silicon Valley? Yes. Their movie credits are included. Well geez,

    John Altschuler (00:01:31):

    John Henry, I'll tell you, blades of Glory,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:34):

    My Tongue, blades of Glory. But also produced X Track. And and they ran Lopez on I think that was tbs. Where was that? Tb?

    John Altschuler (00:01:44):

    That was Viacom, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:46):

    <Laugh>. And, and I worked on it. I don't remember what, but never <laugh>. But John, thank you so much for the coming to the show. This is a go, this is gonna be a great one because John is one of, first of all, lemme start from the beginning cause I'm not even sure if I know all this. Like, when did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

    John Altschuler (00:02:03):

    You know it's interesting because I think, I would say when I was 10 or 12, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I was one of those kids from our age that comedy was everything. Okay. And back then you had three networks and you were just like, oh my God. You know, the, you know George Carlin is going to be on this show and you just get 10 minutes of it, you know? And so I always loved comedy and I always kind of loved the deep dive into comedy. And then, but so it, it always was kind of important to me. And then I went to the University of North Carolina and I majored my dad. You know, I come from an academic family, so I majored in anthropology and economics Uhhuh. But I was really interested in writing. Now my thing was, well, I didn't think that I should major in, you know, writing for screen, whatever, you know, whatever.


     Because I kind of thought you learned by doing Uhhuh <affirmative>, and I wanted an academic degree. But what happened in college is that at Carolina, at the time, we had an incredibly bad communications department. Okay. It was so bad that I'm not making this up. They had equipment in the basement that students weren't allowed to use because they might break it. Yeah. Okay. Literally not allowed to use it. Okay. <laugh>. So, but this these people who I knew started S T V Student television using cable access cuz they have to provide it and da da and Dave and I and our friend David Palmer, were just vultures and like, all these guys did really hard work. They got the campus to, you know, the university put up money and they got cable. And we just showed up and took all the cameras and, and filmed our stupid comedy show. Know, probably you're, you're familiar with Friday the 13th, the stage musical, and Bonnie and Clyde and Ted and Alice and, and Point and Wave you.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:12):

    And so you, I, this is obviously, cause I, I don't know this cause I haven't visited the Library of Congress re recently

    John Altschuler (00:04:18):

    <Laugh> Yes. With the Smithsonian.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:20):

    But, so with these, like, these were a single camera show that you acted, did you act in as well?

    John Altschuler (00:04:24):

    Oh yeah, yeah. It was me, Dave, Dave Krinsky, and this guy David Palmer. And we did a half hour comedy show just while we were, you know, in school. And then when we graduated, it was, I, I was like, well, I had an econ degree, which means, and not a graduate degree. I didn't. So it was kinda like, well, you go work as a teller in a bank, there's not much you could do. And I was like, you know what? I want to, I want to, I think I'm interested in writing. And my mom, who is, she passed away, like going to 99 years old. I I was like, I think I wanna do it. She goes, well, why wouldn't you? You know? And I was like, you know, go out to California. You're, you're young, you're stupid. If it doesn't work, you just come back.


    There's no, and Amazon was like, oh, she's right. And so from North Carolina though, so graduated. Yeah. And what Dave and I did is we basically both worked service jobs in Chapel Hill to save up money to come to California. And in the interim, I had this idea, and actually it was a, it turned out to be a, a pretty important one is I was like, let's get published. Okay? Now, back then they had these things called books. Okay. You know, you didn't have the internet and you went to the library and it was a book called The Writer's Market. And it was, yeah, it was every magazine and what they're, you know, so we're looking up, you know, well, where could we get comedy stuff published? And there were only, there weren't many outlets. There was just, national Lampoon was the only national Humor magazine.


    Playboy did humorous pieces. And then after that it was just porn because they were all trying to maintain First Amendment thread. So they would publish articles. So like, I remember there was like something called Nut Nugget and Smut in the Butt, <laugh>. And we were like, okay, let's start with National Lampoon, and then when we get rejected, we'll end up hopefully getting published by Smut in the butt. Okay. So what happened, <laugh> is that we start with National Lampoon. So I, I find them in the, the Writer's Query, and I mean, and the writer's market, and it says specifically National Lampoon does not accept any unsolicited material. Right? Okay. So now you probably know this about, I'm a little off the beaten path kinda guy. And so I'm like, well, you know, Dave and I had come up with a bunch of ideas. And so what I did was I put a letter together and explaining an incredibly snotty, sarcastic terms, how important you are at Nash Lampoon.


    And, you know, your time is so valuable. So here I'm, I, I'm, I'm enclosing something for your time. And I enclosed a dollar bill with the letter Uhhuh <affirmative>. And, and I sent it to the managing editor Chris Simmons, and then his son Mad Simmons. No, mad Simmons was the, the managing editor. He, he invented the Diner's card. Okay. He invented the credit card. Right. And then bought National Ha as a large Wow. Mad Simmons, Chris Simmons and Ratso Sloman. So I sent it out the, and I swear to God I was, I, I worked, I delivered pizzas and worked at a Chinese restaurant as a waiter, and I got back from delivering pizzas. And this is like, we didn't even have an answering machine. Okay? This is like, we had no money or whatever. I get back my phones ring, and I, I remember it was about four in the afternoon, and I, I pick it up and I can I speak to John Altschuler and I go, this is, this is he?


    And he goes, this is Matt Simmons? No, his rats, I think it was Rats told, you know, this is rats slow. And he goes, money talks <laugh>. What have you got? <Laugh>. Okay. I'm be like, what is, I got your dollar beer bill right here. What have you got? And so, right off the bat, I just started pitching. And he goes, okay, okay. We, we had one idea about, there was this woman named Kathy, Evelyn Smith, who went to jail. She was the one who was with John Belushi when he overdosed. Okay. Okay. Now, he was a freaking drug addict. He was gonna die. Okay? But they blamed her because she supplied some drugs and da da da. And so the thesis of the article is that all she was getting out of prison, and Hollywood was terrified because of her, her abilities to make them do things they don't wanna do.


    You know, like Richard Pryor says, she made me set fire to myself, freebasing. And they, and they're all like, so they liked that. So wrote that and it got published. Now, back then, national Lampoon was a big deal. Yeah. Animal House had ju had come out just a few years before National was vacation and Stripes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> all in a freaking row. So us being published by National Lampoon coming out Hollywood, it opened up huge doors. I mean, go ahead. No, I'm, I, I'm, I didn't know. I'm surprised. So what kind of doors did it open? Well, like, for example okay. So you can't be shy. Okay? It, it, it's simply nobody's gonna do it for you. As I sometimes tell kids, nobody wants you here. Nobody wants you to do, there's plenty of people doing and nobody's looking for. Let's get one more. Okay.


    But I'd gotten the name of an agent at C a a, Lance Tendler, and Lance Tener was in the music and of ca but I didn't know anybody. Right? So I, I said, and you know, here's the thing. If you show some manners and take a little bit of time, it's a big, it's a big deal. So I sent him nice letter, explained, well, this is what we're trying to do. And he ended up giving it to a colleague, and the colleague said, well, I C A A was a, I mean, that's who where I am now after, you know, 30 years. But at the time, I mean, they were the biggest deal. Like, you know, nobody could get ripped by and blah, blah. But they offered to pass our material on, and one of the people they passed it on to was a producer named Neil Maritz.


    Now Neil, Neil Maritz ended up producing all the Fast and Furious movies. Right? Okay. And he had not gotten a movie made yet, and so he loved National Lamp and he jumped on it. So our first producer was this guy Neil Maritz. And our first agent, no, no, he was a producer. Okay. The agent sent our stuff to him. Oh, I see, okay. And so that was kind of an in, and he was a hustler and kind of new. And so, and he is actually a nice guy. He really is. Like, he's, he's very Hollywood, but kind of in a way that you miss. But he wasn't, he wasn't a, he wasn't toxic. He was like a, a good sort that really wanted it to work out. And so that was our, our end. And then it's kind of funny because we were trying, okay.


    We moved to Burbank, California, and Dave and I, my part, we, we got a a two bedroom, one bath apartment in the Valley, $625 a month, no air conditioning. Okay. Right. And I mean, it was freaking brutal <laugh>, because, you know, you'd have Yes, I can imagine. Oh, yeah. You know, it'd be like a hundred degrees and a Yeah. You know and I worked room service up at Universal, and Dave was a bellman, and I finally got a connection after six months of being a PA on a movie. And that was like, huge, right? Like, oh my God. You know? So I'm a, I'm a pa and and what movie was that? It was called Miracle Mile. And the, it was not a good movie, but it was directed by a really nice guy, talented writer, g you know, actually some people like Miracle Mile, I don't know.


    Not me. But but he was a good guy. His name is Steve Dejak. And he he ended up being like, I, I just sort of worked. And he, he was a good sort. But that led to being a pa on a movie called Tort Song Trilogy, which was produced by Howard Gottfried. Right. And Howard Gottfried produced network and altered states. And so there's something that Dave and I learned is that p I'm really cheap, okay? Because I came up with no money didn't have Wealthy f <laugh>. It was all, I, I was on my own now, my parents were great, just didn't have money. Okay? So what I found is that writing is expensive, because if you're writing, you're not making money. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And I figured out that every day to write cost me back then about 60 to 80 bucks because I could live on nothing.


    Right. But I needed about 60, 80 bucks a day to get, you know, to, to survive. That's what I needed to make. And what I found is I would work these PA jobs, and I found that I could work for a month to write for a month. It was almost one to one. And it was interesting because when I was a interest, I've said that three times, it was interesting to me, you know, that when I was working as a pa I also tell the youngins this is that if you are a pa, just don't be insane. If you're an intern, don't be out of your mind, okay? Because if you are not crazy, and you make your boss's life that much easier, right? They love you. Yeah. I mean, they love you. And so all I did on Torch, on Trilogy is I made sure that Howard Gottfried always had a coffee cup in his hand.


    I anything, if there was an errand there, be run, it was done like hours before it needed to be done. And I just did my job. And one time Howard was walking by and he goes, John, John, John, look, you don't wanna be a pa. What do you, what do you wanna be? I go, well, I wanna be a writer. He's like, well, I know something about writers, you know, because he was Patty CHAI's producer. He goes, let me read what you got. Okay? So I gave him something that we were working on, and it was interesting. It was interesting. He, he, he says, this isn't gonna sell Uhhuh. You write five, five scripts. He goes, if, if you write five scripts, you are going to sell it. And I swear to God, the fifth script sold, because you need to write, fail, write, fail, write, fail. And he read it and he goes, you know what? There's some stuff here you need to, he goes five times.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:56):


    John Altschuler (00:14:57):

    That's what, that's what it took. And so that was the break was a, an idea that I had, it's something I'd read, read something in the, the Wall Street Journal, one of those things about like, you only use one-tenth of your brain power, right? And this idea was like, well, what if these scientists unlocked the other nine-tenths? But it didn't make you smart, it just made you this throbbing biological mess. You can hear everything and it bef while you're raining. And in't that was called Brain Man, right? And we sold that, and that was our entree into Hollywood.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:35):

    You see, one thing I wanna interrupt is that for the most people who were listening, they don't know this, but John is easily the most entrepreneurial writer that I know. Many writers. Like, he makes his own path. And so this is just, this is, okay. I'm not surprised at all that, I mean, but then, okay, so then you sold that. Then what, what happened after that?

    John Altschuler (00:15:53):

    Well, back then, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, you literally could only work either TV or features Uhhuh. <Affirmative>. Okay. Mo they were completely separate as a, and I just liked comedy. I liked it. Like I didn't care if it was, but that made no sense to anybody. Okay. They were like, no, no. And to the point where agents would get into fights mm-hmm. <Affirmative> if a movie client did TV or Vice, because it was taking money out of their pocket. Right. You know, I gotta give, Ari was one of the early guys who was like, no, no, no, we gotta, we gotta, we need everybody. Everybody's gotta be working to bring money to me, <laugh>. So, so we gotta share, you know? But it was very divided. So we started out with a, in the movie business, and, you know, we would, we would sell a pitch or every year, year and a half.


    Yeah. You know, and just, we were just sort of hanging in there. And this was sort of odd. The phone again, is that I remember, okay. Got down to 92. Do, and this is about steering your own ship. Okay? Yeah. We got down to $92 and had a meeting with an a comedian called Pauly Shore. And Pauly Shore was a huge deal back then. He was a, you know, comedian and he had this character, the Weasel, and he was like and oddly enough, his manager was and his our manager now. Okay. So we go into this meeting and it was like, now if you knew Polly Shore, he is, this is Guy blah. And this is very eighties you know, it might have been 90, but whatever. So I had this idea, the Sound of Music, but instead of Julie Andrews, it's Poll Shore is the nanny to all these kids.


    Okay? Very simple. Okay. So I just said, well, here's this idea. And the executive that knew I loved it, oh, go in. You gotta pitch, you gotta pitch Polly. Okay? So Dave and I go in to pitch Polly's Shore, and you know, I've actually heard he is a good guy. This, this was not <laugh>. We, we go in and I, I, it was so vivid is that he kinda looks at it and he is like, well, I don't know Michael Rotenberg, that these guys kind of greasy. And like, you know, okay, I have this thing. We've had a very rough ride, is that I do my job, okay. I've had an executive while we're pitching, get up and leave the room. Mm-Hmm. I just keep pitching, okay. Because I'm gonna do my job. Okay. That's all I can control is what I do. So these guys are kind of greasy and just hear what they have to say.


    So I go, sound of Music. So I've done it, and he is like, what sound of, why would I want the sound of Music? I don't know what that is. No, this I'm not doing a music video, man. I'm doing a movie. And, and I remember Rotenberg going, Polly, you know, sound of Music, okay, it's on every year, you know? And he is like, oh no. He like, ah, man, this is all I want, man. Is it? So I'm gonna go like in England, I might say like, Cheerio chap. And then like, maybe you send me to Germany and I'll maybe wear those funny leather pants and go, you know, Hey, hi. You know? And so we leave that meeting and it was just like, what the fuck? Yeah. It was just crazy <laugh>. And we get, I, I check on the agent and she goes, they wanna hire you.


    And I'm like, what? Now here's the thing. People have different views of careers. I've always believed that if I made one misstep my career's over, because I'm kind of a snob. So I'm kind of like, you know, well, you know, and I was sitting there going like, well, I know who does Polish Shore movies, okay. I can't be the guy who does Polys shore movies because I didn't drive, you know, in my car, didn't have air conditioning either, you know, across and work for three a three years as a pa break in to be that guy. Now I got nothing against it. There's a place in it. But I knew that I would never ever get out of that. Yeah, okay. Some people can, some people can then, you know, have Academy Award-winning careers, you know, but not me. I knew it. So I said, well, call the agent.


    I don't wanna do it. And Agent turns, she says, don't worry. Okay, so what do you mean? Okay, what do I do? She says, I'm gonna ask for so much money that they'll pass. No problem. Cuz I, now, this was for New Line Cinema who, who I, and Dave and I literally moved the furniture into their offices. Okay. Wow. We were, when I was a PA for Georgetown Sure. It was for New Line. So we sort of know, knew these people, you know. And so we, I get, again, with the phone call, I get a phone call and I pick it up and it's a guy just starts yelling, who the fuck do you think you are? <Laugh>? Who the fuck do you think? I'm like, well, wait, is this John? I'm like, yeah, who the fuck do you think you are passing on Polly Shore?


    I'm like, we, we didn't pass on Polly Shore. He goes, oh yeah. Like, we're gonna pay you 400,000 fucking dollars. No fucking wait. You're gonna do it and you're gonna do it for what you should get paid. And I'm like we didn't do it. Okay. And I'm glad that we didn't do it because it would've been probably the end of who knows You, you, you make with whatever you, you do. But we ended up not doing it. And then <laugh> went back to being a pa and I never had any doubts about it. But then what happened is an executive at H B O named Carolyn Strauss, who actually was a producer of game of Thrones, and she was the, the head of H B O for a, for a little while. And the, she was the head of their scripted, and, and she really liked a, a, a screenplay that Dave and I wrote.


    Mm-Hmm. and she, she said, you know, Hey, would you consider working in television? And David, I like, yeah, nobody will let us, you know? And, and she's like, well, if you'll consider it, can I, there's a new show that H B O has with this writer, Adam Resnick. Now Adam Resnick, as I said, maybe the greatest guy I've ever met in Hollywood outside of Michael Jamin. He's, he's extremely funny, extremely talented, extremely nice. Okay. Everything you want. Okay. So we get on the phone with him and we basically talked about The Godfather for an hour, hour and 15. And we get off and, and you know, we only had one phone day. What do you think? He likes The Godfather. <Laugh> said, I like the Godfather. I think, you know, I don't know. And then they say, we get a call, he wants to hire us, and will you guys move to New York?


    Now, this is the good thing about living below your means or at your means, is that we're like, well, yeah, we'll move to New York. And then they go, will you move in three days? Okay. And it's like, yeah. So literally locked the apartment in Burbank on the corner of Pass Avenue in Verdugo. And three days later we're in the Ed Sullivan Theater. It was produced by David Letterman. Right. So we were in the Letterman offices with an o overlooking Broadway three days later. Wow. And, you know and that was interesting because writing for TV was such a huge win for us because we'd written screenplays and sold screenplays, but nothing had been made. Right. You don't learn anything when things aren't made. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So being, and also Adam was such a great, generous guy, and the staff was me, Dave, and this guy, Vince Calandra.


    There was no staff. So we were allowed to do every, you know, everything, but you would see things that you think are written, well, not playing. And now it wasn't, it wasn't a com it was a con, it was comedic, but it wasn't a joke driven show by any stretch. But you, that was the high life, right? That was the high life. Yeah. But you learned by doing, it's all about doing. And I've told, you know, executive for years, if you wanna rewrite them, you don't hire a movie. You guy, you gotta hire TV guys, because like Dave and I have rerun, rewritten, run, probably 300 rewrites. Okay. That means you, you, you put it up there, you keep what matters. You lose what's screwing things up, and you gotta make it better. Okay. And I think we're particularly good at it of some people, the only way they know how to rewrite is by throwing everything away, which is a waste.


    Right. It's, it's a waste of time and you lose good things. But if you want to have your movies rewritten, higher TV writers, because what Dave and I learned through working and TV is you just see it again and again and again. And I always tell people like, the most remarkable thing about comedy is that there is something that you like, you know, Dave and I ran King of the Hill for eight years, you know, and there were, there's both sides of it. Is that, you know, we're, we are the last decision makers, okay? So they're things that we are convinced are gonna kill. Okay. Thi this is so freaking funny, we can't wait. And so the table read happens. Mm-Hmm. And everybody, and you're, and you're not laughing <laugh>. Okay. And you're like, what? Because you can't make yourself laugh. Yeah. You know, there, there's one guy who worked on King of the Hill, and he had this trick, he, he sort of very nice guy, but very political in a way that he knew how to go <laugh> to make a laugh happen.


    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think you learned that on SNL or something. You <laugh>, you know, and that would, but you can't make yourself laugh. And then on the other hand, there'd be a joke that I would condescendingly agree to put on, you know, and Dave, shall We slum with this? And, and, and then the the roof comes off. Yeah. And you're like, you just don't know. It's, it's dark magic. I mean, that's part of magic. But did, no, you joined King, who, was it season two or one, were you Oh, season one. We, we, we, we came in during the first, you know, the, the first run, they were just, they, they, they had broadcast one or two episodes, but, you know, in animation. So we worked on episode three for all, you know, all through. And we're the <laugh>, this is awful. But Dave and I we're the only ones who worked on that show, except for, I mean, the actors, 13 Seasons David are the only ones like beginning to, yeah. It's it was a lot.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:08):

    And tell me about, cause I was, I was there for it. But when you got the, when you guys got the bump to run the show, I mean, what, that was a big, that's a big step in any writer's career.

    John Altschuler (00:27:16):

    Well, you know what, what it boils down to is you should always be ready. Uhhuh <affirmative>, you just gotta be ready. And what happened, the wheels had come off King of the Hill for various reasons. And the episodes simply weren't the being delivered. It was, it was, they were gonna cancel the show. And w it was a very weird combination of we were working these incredibly long hours one time, like almost, I think we worked three days without going home one time, two and a half. And

    Michael Jamin (00:27:47):

    I remember there were jack hammering in the lobby while we were trying to sleep in on the fourth floor. Oh yeah. You remember that?

    John Altschuler (00:27:54):

    Oh my God. Yeah. So it was just awful. And what Dave and I, we just wanted to go home. Yeah. So we just on our own with a few writers, let's go write an episode because there, it just wasn't happening. And so we wrote an episode and what's interesting is that the show was gonna be canceled and they had no choice because there was a script. We gotta do it. And it played great. Right? And so then, well, they needed another script and they needed another. And what happened, and this is because of Mike Judge, is that it, we were just doing it in the like, oh, let's go, let's go get it done. And it was so gratifying because we liked the show a lot. Yeah. We loved the show. And to see it go off the rails to get it moving again. And basically Mike Judge found out that we were writing all this scripts not by ourselves. Right. With all theri You were there, you know, with all the writers just putting, and they he just said, I'm not doing another year unless John and Dave are running the show. Now. We were very low on the totem pole. Okay. No,

    Michael Jamin (00:29:02):

    You were No, you were, you were, we

    John Altschuler (00:29:04):

    Were co-producers.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:04):

    You were co-producers at that point.

    John Altschuler (00:29:06):

    Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Believe me, I know. It turned in, it turned into a big problem with Fox because we saved the show. All we asked to take over and run it was to get paid what other people have been paid. And they're like, well, no, we'll give you a 15% bump from no producer. And you're just like, no.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:29):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could, whenever you want, I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    John Altschuler (00:29:53):

    There. Apparently there's still animosity to us, cuz we were seen as arrogant mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for that.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:58):

    Right. Well, you got paid, you gotta get paid, paid this suck guy.

    John Altschuler (00:30:02):


    Michael Jamin (00:30:02):

    Yeah. You guys did it for many years and then they canceled the show. Then they, they brought it back and then you were back in charge of it again for the final circum excuses.

    John Altschuler (00:30:10):

    Well, yeah, yeah. So they, they kept, Dave and I kept it, kept it alive, is that they, they tried to cancel it two more times. Right. But we kept the, like we just, we always delivered the show on time and the ratings kept going up so they literally couldn't cancel it. They tried a total of three times. Yeah. And then it, there's something kind of interesting to us that a lot of people don't understand is that the last episode, one thing I always said, like, well you didn't do this, you didn't tie it up, you didn't do that. You didn't have, you know, these people there is that. I decided I'm not making the last episode. Okay. If this is the last episode, great. But we had been canceled. Right. The last two. So I'm like, I'm gonna make an episode. That could be the last episode, but I'm not the one putting the, I'm not gonna be the one who puts the, you know,

    Michael Jamin (00:31:05):

    Nail the coffin. Right. Because you wanna keep it going

    John Altschuler (00:31:08):

    <Laugh>. Well, but I also didn't feel like that was the right thing to do is that, you know, we didn't create it Uhhuh, you know, and I was just like, you know and Mike was good with that. He would've been, he was okay with killing it, you know, he was like, you know, he was, you know, done. But I'm, I'm, yeah. So anyway, that, that was the run of King of the Hill. But what's great about doing that is by learning how to rewrite and also it was a three act show. It helped our movie writing dramatically. Yeah. And so while we were running King of the Hill, we wrote Blades of Glory and got that in production, which we, we simply wouldn't have had the skills Yep. To do it without all of that. The foundations from all those rewrites.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:57):

    I was just, I used telling people just the other day, if you wanna be a feature writer starting TV, so you learn Yes. Three act structure, you learn how to do it. And I said exactly what you said, you know, five minutes ago, which was we, we did, we sold the movie a couple movies and the exec said I wish all feature writers were as easy as TV writers. You know, because nothing's precious.

    John Altschuler (00:32:17):

    Nothing's precious.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:17):

    Rewrite it. Well, fine. Yeah. As long as I can check I'll rewrite it. You know. Well,

    John Altschuler (00:32:21):

    I always tell people like, it doesn't disappear, appear, put it to the side, it can always come back. Yeah. You know, be because, and if it co if it makes its way back fine but you don't care by then, you tend to like better. Cuz obstacles, you know how like people who don't have obstacles, you'll like, how'd that piece of shit get made? You know, or you know how it got made, but why is it so bad? It's cause you didn't have obstacles. Right. You always need people going, huh. What? Huh? Wait, because then you got to justify yourself and then you gotta bulletproof it and you gotta try harder. That's how something gets, gets good.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:59):

    Yeah. And then what, how did, how did Silicon Valley come about?

    John Altschuler (00:33:04):

    Silicon Valley happened because I was reading a book about Steve Jobs by Howard Isaacson. Okay. And I remember reading this book about Steve Jobs and there was this paragraph just a, and it was about Bill Gates making fun of Steve Jobs because the asshole can't even write code. And I'm sitting there, I was on a plane and I remember laughing, reading this going, that's freaking funny. The guy created the biggest brand name in the history of the world. Right. And there's some other guy going, what an asshole. You can't write code. And I was just like, well that's freaking funny. And so then I didn't even know really what writing code meant. Right. So I was like asked my brother who's an engineer and my brother-in-law is in an engineer. Everybody is engineers. And then, so I was like, well, there's something here.


    Okay. And then we went up to Silicon Valley to do a little r and d cuz it's like, okay, there's something important here. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. And it was hilarious cuz I was able to get, we got meetings with these tech executives mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Okay. And three out of three said they want, look, we're not, we're not trying to make money. We're trying to make the world a better place. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> we're just trying to make, and, and, and I was like, that's freaking funny. I remember telling Mike, I was like, Mike, this is, this is a freaking gold mine <laugh> nobody. They just wanna make the world a better place. Yeah. One place that we, we we met with, they're not there anymore. That's when we, most of the things that you see through the first season, were just from that one trip because you're like, there was a guy number seven and you're like number seven.


     And it turns out in Silicon Valley your importance was the lowest, how low your number was because that's how the number you were hired. Right. He was number seven at Microsoft. You know, whatever the hell it was, I don't, you know, so number sevens there. And then this company was, you know how, I can't even remember. I got, I'm sure I got the Snapchat gives you 15 seconds. Okay. We're gonna give you nine. Okay. And I remember going well, wait, so is less a proprietary concept? Absolutely. <laugh>. They're like, okay, so your whole and these offices overlooked San Francisco Bay, they were fund on and they're pick being, we give you less. Right. and so you're like, well this is ripe for the taking. Yeah. Because self-important. You know, like the original pitch it was in there was like basically never a history of the world.


    Have these guys been in charge? Yeah. You know, it's like nerd, you know, nerds in, in charge and there's an angry vibe, kind of an underlying insecurity, which is funny. You know, the, if, if you <laugh>, when we went into production, the, the, the name of the you always have to have a holding company for a production. Right. And if you look at the end, it says, you know, s b H productions, that's the company that made Silicon Valley. It's because we were flying in and I, I looked down and I turned to my, I go, ah, the ship Brown Hills of Silicon Valley. And so when they, they said, what's the production name? I went, how about SB H productions and how funny. Yeah. So that was Silicon Valley. You know, one, one thing interesting about Silicon Valley I think was that we, we, Dave and I is, is, we met Thomas Middleditch, who was the star of it.


    He had an animated show that we helped him with where he drew it and did all the voices. Oh, I good. Yeah. And so when we had this idea, I was like, well, let's write it for him. Okay. Because he was the right age. He was really heavy into gaming and we didn't know that age group, like kind of who, so we wrote it for him. As a matter of fact, the original name was Thomas Pecking of Richard's character because pecking is Thomas Mill ditches. Ma mom's maiden name pecking. Well, that's kind of funny. And so we wanted him, but HBO o didn't want him. Nobody wanted him. And I remember, you know, some thought, they thought, oh, he is too old or whatever. And I'm like, you know, I I tell you, you can't, you don't cast a 22 year old as a 22 year old these days.


    He's gotta be older. So I remember he had like a full beard and we had like, we were doing casting. I said, Thomas shave the goddamn beard and get down there. And we, we kept running him up the flagpole and then every he was the best. Yeah. So, you know, so that, you know, that that was, and Silicon Valley was good because what not to, you know, that aren't we great? But we had done animated half hour, we had done live action features, you know, succeeded. This was live action tv. So we kind of like, okay guys, we've done it. You know, and which is, there aren't a lot of people who have succeeded in various moments, which it's inter to me, I often get asked like, well, what, what's, what's the, what's the length of, you know, this project and I don't care. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if it's a half hour, you go, you, you make adjustments. If it's an hour, it, it's just, it's a, it's dr it's a dramatic concept. Right. If I got 15 minutes, I divide it up differently. Right. So we have the skills to do that if that from grinding it in these different arenas.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:00):

    Now how so, given that the industry's changed so much, so, you know, even since we, since both of us started, like what do you tell, what do you tell new writers? Or what, how do you see, like, how do you see making it now?

    John Altschuler (00:39:12):

    Yeah. That, that's tough because it's so different. It used to be, I would say easy to tell. Like I went, you know, to N C and I would say, well, go to la Just go to LA and start working. Because once you're working, you're around other creative people, you kind of, you know, you get in the mix a bit. You, you, you learn who's doing what. That's not LA's not LA anymore. You know, every people are in Atlanta, people are in New Mexico, PE every, everybody's spread out. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, and then the biggest difference is difference is that you would write a spec script just to show that like in TV or even in in features, you would write a feature script to sell. Right. For a million dollars. Okay. And there was such a hunger for the next big script that they were, oh my God, we were, nobody's officer NK Krinsky have a new speck.


    And it's like, we haven't even got anything made. Okay. But they, they were like all on it. And then, or in TV you would write from a hit show, cheers, Seinfeld, you know, whatever in episode just to show what you could do. Cause everybody knew those shows. Right. So now you really can't write a spec because nobody sees any shows. I mean, I think Hill Silicon Valley's a hit. Right. And people have written specs of it, but most people haven't seen it. So you can't, you can't do that. You have to do original work. So the good and bad of the now is that you have to write an original pilot for tv. And actually, what I tell a lot of people starting to say, you gotta make something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay. And I, I'm not a fan of what, there are some really good examples of this, like insecure where Isa Ra makes her own stuff and then it transitions.


    Okay. But what we've ended up with in general are, is a failure of craft, is that if everybody does, if you have to do everything mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the writing's not as good. The directing's not as good, everything's not as good. So there's a little bit of a sloppiness to the media a bit, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's worse. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I think now you gotta make something, you gotta either make a web series or do some pieces and put 'em out there. Yeah. So even if they're not seen at, unless you at least you have them and you can compile them and send them to somebody because nobody cat, sorry. Nobody knows what anything is. So you go, well here's my my pieces from my you know, reviewed on Collider or whatever. No. Nobody knows. Right. so, but you really gotta do it.

    Michael Jamin (00:42:12):

    Right. You gotta, you gotta put yourself on Hu Hustle. And, but I still think it's important to come to LA Cause I still think that this is where people are and you know, this is your, this, you, you get involved, you get, you have a graduating class of people. Yes. Whoever, whatever group you're in, that's your, that's the class you're in.

    John Altschuler (00:42:28):

    Well, I, I think you're right because now, but you're talking about writing specifically. Yes. Because Hollywood is still the brain center. Right. And this is where all the improv groups are and all that. So it's there for me, the MEU simply not there. Because what I always liked is that see, costume designers are talented and creative set designers are talented and creative. It, they used to all be around you. Now they can't afford to live in la Wow. So they live in Atlanta and the entry jobs are not as plentiful as they used to be. Like, I mean, they always wanted somebody to feed the beasts. Like, you could get a job as a pa, you could be an assistant that you could do, you know what you want. So that's a little different. But I do agree with you that if you're gonna live somewhere and you wanna write, LA is probably the best place to be.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:24):

    One thing I wanna mention is that even now, like I said, you're, you're so entrepreneurial, even now, it's like you don't wait for projects. So many people are like, oh, well, they're asking Hollywood for permission. Yeah. I make my script, read my script, you know, and even like now, you don't ask any anybody for permission. You're out there, you're getting, I know you're traveling to Europe to set some deals up. I'm like, you're constantly hustling for your next job. And look what you've done. You'd think that it would all f you know, nothing falls on your plate. You have to hustle for it,

    John Altschuler (00:43:53):

    You know? Yes. And the, you know, well, first of all, I'm, I'm more entertained by, by this I've moved a lot of the things that I'm doing and that David and I are doing to Europe mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, like for example, the Gangsters Guide to Sobriety, which you can see backwards. Okay. It was an idea that we could have sold as a, a pitch. And I was like, well, we already cracked it. Let's write it as a book. Because then everybody, ip ip, well then we own the ip. So now we, it's about this gangster and Irish gangster moved to America total re re drug addict dealer charming guy. It's very Scorsese like, but he basically got sober. And I liked all the stories of his horrid past, but I also liked his stories of getting clean. And so he kind of put those together.


    It's like you go through 12 steps in aa. This has 12 chapters, so now we're long, we, we were going to do it in America. And then realize, you know what, he's Irish. Let's check out Ireland. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's just a little bit fresher to have an Irish company backing us with Irish talent. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and doing it as a co-production. And so that's what we're doing in Italy. That's what we're doing in France. The I got the rights to this book, which you can see backwards burning down the house. Uhhuh <affirmative>, which is about the the pump movement in East Berlin before the fall of the wall. Right. And so I'm going to Germany in two weeks. Interesting. You know? Yeah. Because, you know, look, the fact is nobody's gonna do it for you. And the what I like about Europe is that you can talk about the projects more here. Issue one is always race. Issue two is gender identification is, then it's politic. And then, oh yeah. There's an idea in there somewhere. And that gets a little bit grinding when you just wanna talk about what, how cool this project is.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:06):

    I wanna mention by the way that your, that first book, the Gangsters Guide is based on a true story. So you had that guy. Yeah. And then, and it's like, that book is now available on Amazon. Everyone goes, check it out. Read it. It's, it's, it's fascinating.

    John Altschuler (00:46:18):

    So he, it, it, it's really great. And what's nice is that it's an elevating story, but it's, it, it's pretty damn harrowing. But it is, you know, you know, he survives. So there's a positivity to it. Like he says, like, I just want people to know because Ri Richie Stevens, who it's his life. Like I, I'm not telling anybody what to do. I don't have the answers. I just want them to know if somebody's fucked up as me, can survive and get clean and move on with his life. Anybody can,

    Michael Jamin (00:46:50):

    And these meetings in Europe, cuz you know, you're a writer, producer, but you're, you're, you're setting these up yourself. I mean, how are you reaching out to people?

    John Altschuler (00:46:57):

    You know what, here's the thing, luck, but also you just take what you have is that during the pandemic, for an odd reason, we ended up in Rome mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And because we, my wife's a psychologist. Our daughter was, hadn't gotten accepted to the school in high school, which Oh, that was great. And everything went freaking haywire, obviously. And so we're like, well, there's nothing going on here. Let's go to Rome. So we're in Rome and it's all locked down. Yeah. And somebody, oh, you should meet this woman Kissy Duggan. Now she was a standup comedian in la She's lived in Rome for over 20 years. She's married, has two kids. And and I connected with her and she started Women in film for Italy. Oh wow. And then I start kind of going, well wait, what's missing here? And I'm looking at Italy as a marketplace and I'm in it. Yeah. And people like me usually aren't there. Right. So people who go to Europe don't tend to have credits. They recognize. Yes. So it's, it it, well they

    Michael Jamin (00:48:02):

    Recognize you. I mean No, not you. They recognize your work.

    John Altschuler (00:48:05):

    They recognize my work. Right. Yes. That's not who usually shows up. Right. Usually it's, it's people who have failed and are trying to go, oh. Whereas I'm going, you know what, what if we do this as an Italian American co-production? But Italy first, like I, these twins who I worked with a lot, one of them lived in bologna for seven years working in Tati. And his job was to come in and help turn Ducati. Right. Now, if you spend any time in Italy, it's, it's, it's wonderful and ridiculous because they are the most inefficient society ever and the most blessed. So you sit there and you go like, well, they gotta change, but they don't wanna change and they don't know how to change. Right. And that conflict makes for a really good comedic stew.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:58):


    John Altschuler (00:48:59):

    So, you know, like we, we took a biotech project that was really ripe for America and we're like, you know what? We were, you know, while I was in Europe, went to London, met with this great company called Rough Cut. And he is like, it's biotech do it in Cambridge. So we're like, okay, let's set it in Cambridge cuz it's a little more, you know, sounds jaded, but we've kind of <laugh>. It's not that we don't love doing stuff here, but we've done it. Right. You know, so it's kinda like, all right, well let's do another TV show here. Eh, this is all like, kind of fresh and fun. And also there's a real shortage of writers in Europe. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you're kinda like, okay. You know, it's just, it's just a fun vibe. Like why I like talking to students is why I like being in Europe is that there's kind of a, you're bringing people along for the ride. Is

    Michael Jamin (00:49:54):

    Krinsky going with you on this next trip?

    John Altschuler (00:49:56):

    He is not, you know, the, the, he, he is very tolerant of this is all just my crazy bo I get bored easily and Dave's just real like, ah, that sounds great. So yeah. Cause I kinda, it's sort of free moving, like, okay, I'm doing this, you know. But I would say that Dave is 105% supportive of my European adventures.

    Michael Jamin (00:50:26):

    So you have a lot of meetings set up then, basically.

    John Altschuler (00:50:28):

    Oh, yeah. Yeah. Like, I'm gonna be in Berlin for a week and then what's kind of nice about Europe is that the Italian company, they come to Berlin. There's the Bur Berlin Alley. It's a film, European film market in Berlin, then it's Venice, then it's Khan. Right. Rome and then the American Film Market. And so they just sort of, and that's how business is done. Right. So I'm meet, I work with this Luxembourg producer, Bernard Micheaux. He has a mo, he, he got two Academy Award nominations for documentary called Collective. That was great. And he's probably, there's a good chance he'll get an Academy Award nomination for his new movie Corsage Uhhuh <affirmative>. But it's all fun. Yeah. I mean, I know it sounds stupid, but you know, I didn't drive a car without air conditioning across the country and then work as a pa three years to be miserable. Right, right. And you know, we, we've, I don't know if this is untoward, Michael, but I've had this conversation where you, you do everything possible to figure out how to break into the business and then everything possible, figure out how to get out

    Michael Jamin (00:51:37):

    <Laugh>. Yes. That's, I mean, I've heard Yes, that's, yes. There's some truth to that <laugh>. That's so funny. Wow. Wow. This is so interesting. So is there any other, any other advice you, you, you can share with people who are listening to this? I mean, I think you're so, he's such an interesting person to talk to. And like I said, you've been a great boss but a great friend over over the years. But it's because you also, like I said, have this entrepreneurial spirit where you're not doing it the way everyone else is doing necessarily. So,

    John Altschuler (00:52:08):

    Well, you know what, here's the thing. On one hand, being off the grid in my outlook has sometimes hurt Dave and I. Cause I kind of, I kind of lead, you know, and Dave is okay with that, you know. But as Dave points out, we wouldn't have anything if you didn't kind of like, well here's the even comedically you worked on King Hill with me. Everything has to be turned on its head. Okay. So if you, you, you got it. Everybody thinks this. Well no, let's do that. Right. And to me, that's the essence of comedy. That's the epi essence of drama. One of the problems I have with entertainment now is that there's this weird belief that everybody, that there's a right and a wrong and <laugh>, I'm always go, everything's wrong. You know, you think those, you think this is good. Guess what? Oh, you think it's bad? Guess what? Throwing curve balls. Right. which is what I like to see. I like being surprised.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:09):


    John Altschuler (00:53:09):

    So now, so the only advice I have is that it's what you always hear. You go, well write, write what you know, what the hell is right. What you know me Well now more than ever, it has to be specific. It has to be your story. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> your journey. It's the only thing that you own. Yeah. Is your mindset and your experience. So you mine that. Now Jeremy, you probably had to listen to, you know, I talk and like every, like one time my judge goes, we got 150 episodes outta what pisses John Al Schuler off. And it's kinda true. He

    Michael Jamin (00:53:49):

    Say that <laugh>.

    John Altschuler (00:53:50):

    Yeah. He's like, because I'd sit there and I'd go, you know what veterinarians, they piss me off. And so I funnel my experience of taking my cat and them going Well

    Michael Jamin (00:54:03):

    That's so funny that he said that. But, but, but that was your, that's always been your take. It's your even on, even on Lopez, when we work together, it's it's like your, your take on what's going on in society. It was like, and, and the absurdity and that,

    John Altschuler (00:54:16):

    Well, everything, everything absurd. Cuz people, like, sometimes the the tone of what we do doesn't make sense to people. Because if you read just the synopsis of King Hill episodes, they'd sound, someone would sound pretty horrible. Uhhuh <affirmative>, they'd sound like offensive. But we're not in the offensive business. Okay. We're in the entertainment business. And so if there is a message, it's gotta be at least two or three levels deep. Yeah. You know, that's another problem is that people are coming out swinging with like, well this is my episode, this is my series about racism being bad. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Well that means that you're under the impression that there is a large population that thinks racism is good. Right. Okay. Well that's cuz you don't know anything. Like I lived in a trailer park and actually I have a whole, we have a project to imagined based on when I was 15, I lived in a mobile home that I owned by myself.


    And I didn't see how the other half lived. I lived how the other half lived. And guess what, they're not a bunch of racist, horrible people that are gonna shoot. Now, they may shoot you <laugh>, but there's, but there's a good and bad to them, <laugh> to them running around with guns is then you start going, you know what, there's a human experience that is universal. And one of the problems is everybody these days has their team. And I don't like teams. You know, I, I I really hate teams. I don't think, you know, liberals like they drive me fucking nuts. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> right wing. Like I like And it's, this used to be the job of comedy is that you're supposed to make fun of power. Yeah. Okay. Right. Well, you know, it's like, you know, the Matt and Trey from South Park, the, they're really nice and they're really great guys. Cause they're like, yeah, you probably get asked a lot, what side are you on? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And it's like, I'm on the side of comedy. Right. It's not like comedy is a religion to me. I think it matters. I think it has to be cared for. And when I see people thinking that comedy means getting an applause line on a late night show, cuz you go Trump mad, that's not comedy. Right. You know, you gotta work.

    Michael Jamin (00:56:37):

    Interesting. That's wonderful. What? Yeah, I mean, I even Lopez, season two, it was, it was all about his quest for relevance. And we're like, what does that even mean,

    John Altschuler (00:56:47):

    <Laugh>? Well you, but you know what it, what it meant to me was everybody's trying, like, the world changed. Okay. Yeah. And he, he, there he is like 60 years old or whatever, and the world changed. And he was relevant because he existed. Right. Okay. And you were on tv, it was like, Seinfeld. Why did people watch? Cause it's on tv. Okay. Then relevance. Relevance became this phrase where Well, okay, but what's rel because there was no other metric. Right? There weren't, there weren't ratings, there weren't, people weren't, these companies weren't trying to make money. It was all about relevance. Yeah. So, if you remember, that was part of the, the comedy of nobody knows what relevance means yet. That's what was driving everybody.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:31):

    Yeah. We had fun that season. That was fun. Really was a great,

    John Altschuler (00:57:34):

    Okay. Well, well to your Michael Jamin is not only him and his partner Sievert, they're pros. Okay. Now, what is a pro and a pro is somebody who has the skills to do whatever you want them to do. Okay. So if you want something hacky and crappy and they're working for you, right. They'll do it. They'll do a really good version of it. But if you don't want something hacking and crappy, they can do that. They have the skills to do what you want. So you guys have always been a delight to work with, but also specifically on the set because you, you're, you know that you're quick. Yeah. You're quick. And it, the, the interesting thing, cuz I'm like, you guys, when I work for other people, they're the boss. Yes. I have no problem with that. I have no problem. As a matter of fact, my wife is like, like if I could work for myself, I would a hundred percent do it.


    Cause then I wouldn't have the headaches of running things. But in our business, you often work for assholes who are unhappy and don't wanna go home to their wives. So you're, you're, you're, you're stuck. But you guys are always great because, you know, you have the skills, you're funniest shit. But we never, we always knew eight, you don't, you're not gonna try to e stab us in the back, but if it had to be done, you were gonna get it done. Yeah. So professionalism is key. But you, you guys wrote one of my favorite scripts ever, which was the

    Michael Jamin (00:59:08):

    What was

    John Altschuler (00:59:08):

    That? The of the, the the garden. Now if you read that, you should, you should reread it because you did not understand how good it was. I remember, I remember you turning it in like, and, and you know, everybody's self-effacing when they turn something in. Right. But you were like, eh, you know, you and Steve were like, and if you reread that, you could be nothing but proud because it's like Anir story. Yeah. And it just builds and builds to the point where Bobby and Hank have murdered this thing. They gotta cover it up, but it's beautifully written.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:48):

    And Hank is selling out his son. <Laugh>.

    John Altschuler (00:59:51):

    <Laugh>. Exactly. You know, but you, you took him along for the ride. So yeah, no, you guys are, you, you're, you're truly, I don't know, pros, I

    Michael Jamin (01:00:02):

    Say this, I say this a lot. It's like the job of anybody who's not the job of showrunners is the hardest job there is. And it's stressful. And so everyone else is, my opinion of everyone else's job is to make the best version of the show that the showrunner wants to make. Right. And everything else is subjective. But who's to say it's better or worse? It doesn't matter. Your job is to serve the showman. They get to decide and, and great. It works out great if you can, as soon as you can accept that you'll be happy.

    John Altschuler (01:00:28):

    Well, and, and that was one of the big problems in our industry, is that nobody knows how shows get on the air. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So they don't realize that when you get right down to it, if you are gonna hire somebody, all that matters is the showrunner. Right. Cause there are great writers, but you don't know how the script got there. So many people have gotten good jobs off of scripts that Dave and I had to write from beginning to end, but our name's not on it.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:01):

    You know, I I've heard that complaint from other store runners on other shows as well. So you're not, so

    John Altschuler (01:01:05):

    What happens is, like, remember everybody off of Seinfeld got these huge deals, but all that matters is Larry David, you know, and it was like, you know, the, and the the other thing that's kind of funny is that we would be asked to do a lot of writers round tables. Okay. Where, you know, big, big comedians, a big movies. And they'd ask, and they'd get tables together where you go through the script and pitch jokes on 'em. Okay. And they, Hey, do you know some good people that you could bring in? I'd go, well, yeah. And I one, this was literally the, the, my response and the answers like, well, do you want the guys and the girls the every literally, cause we had a lot of women, they're like, do you want the people who actually can deliver? Or do you want names? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Oh, we want names

    Michael Jamin (01:01:51):

    <Laugh>. He said that to you.

    John Altschuler (01:01:54):

    Yes. It's like all they want is to go, whoa. Yeah, we got, we got Neil Simon. Yeah. We've got the ghost of William Faulkner. We've got, you know, they, they don't want people to actually nail it because, so the inside of a staff is, it's inside baseball that nobody really knows what's going on.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:15):

    It's funny you say that. Oh no. Oh, it's so heartbreaking. <Laugh>

    John Altschuler (01:02:20):

    <Laugh>. It's a tough, ugly business.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:22):

    It really is. Well, that's a good place to end. John <laugh> it. Thank you so much. Let's plug your book again so that people can go out and get it on Amazon. There it is Backwards.

    John Altschuler (01:02:32):

    The Gangsters Guide to Sobriety My Life in 12 Steps.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:36):

    Yep. Go out and run it. I gotta copy you in my house. Was great. So yeah, John, thank you again so much. It's and I'll see, you can tell k Crisco I'm gonna have from on next at some point just to, so we get the, the other version of the story.

    John Altschuler (01:02:48):

    Yeah, exactly. What, what he said. What?

    Michael Jamin (01:02:50):

    Yeah. <Laugh>. Why would he say that? <Laugh>. All right man. Thank you so much everyone. Thank you. It was a fun episode. Thank you for listening. And yeah, until the next week. Thanks so much. Bye-Bye.

    Phil Hudson (01:03:02):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 3m | Mar 15, 2023
  • 071 - Mom Writer Chandra Thomas

    Michael Jamin sits down with good friend Chandra Thomas who was also one of the writers for the TV show series Mom. Learn about her experience working in Hollywood and on the show.

    Show Notes:

    Chandra Thomas IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1817889/

    Chandra Thomas Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chandrathomas/?hl=en

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcript

    Michael Jamin (00:00):

    Is the hustle never ends. It

    Chandra Thomas (00:02):

    Never, it never ends. Right. That's why I'm so not into the, the phrase break in, because I think sometimes people think like, once you break in, right? It's like glass. You break in the glass, no long, the glass no longer exists. You're in the space, it's over. But like, it's not <laugh>. You have to carve is how I say. You have to carve in. Like there's constantly more material in front of you that you have to sort of, you know, make your way through.

    Michael Jamin (00:30):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear this with Michael Jamin.


    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear the, I don't even know the name of the podcast. I screwed it up. Screenwriters need to hear this. It's, I'm gonna roll with it. And I got a great guest today. This is, this is Chandra Thomas and she's the, she was a writer for two Seasons on Mom before the show, before the show got canceled. It's not her fault though. Don't blame her. And then, and then I met her last year on, on Tacoma FD and she's amazingly talented. She's wonderful. And and she was also an actress. And you, if you, you should be wa everyone should watch this cuz you look at, oh yeah, she's beautiful. She's an actress. You could, you could see why she'd be an actress and, and, but she's gonna talk about her journey. Chandra, thank you so much for joining me on the show

    Chandra Thomas (01:21):

    Chairman, on the ones, thank you for having me,

    Michael Jamin (01:26):

    Chandra. You don't know this, but if we were, because last year we were on Zoom, so all the writers were on Zoom, but if we were in person, I would've probably made you sit next to me. Every, every <laugh>

    Chandra Thomas (01:37):


    Michael Jamin (01:38):

    I'd be like, Chandra, what's going on over that guy? Or that, you know, we would be whisper like passing notes to each other.

    Chandra Thomas (01:43):

    I love that. It would've been like high school all over again. <Laugh>. It would've been great <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (01:49):

    Ass. It couldn't do it. And I,

    Chandra Thomas (01:50):

    So one thing I just do wanna clarify, I was on the final season of Mom, so just one season, unfortunately on that show. But I absolutely love

    Michael Jamin (01:57):

    Two season, so you definitely, yeah. So you was def definitely your fault then in this show? Oh,

    Chandra Thomas (02:01):

    So not my fault. I would've had that show run for another 300 seasons.

    Michael Jamin (02:05):

    You wanna keep that gravy train rolling. But I wanna talk about, I got so many questions for you.

    Chandra Thomas (02:10):


    Michael Jamin (02:10):

    And I know some of the answers, but most of 'em, I don't know. Cause I know, okay, I remember, I know you went, you graduated Vanderberg College. Was there always your ambition to be a writer or actor even in college?

    Chandra Thomas (02:20):

    So when I started at Vanderbilt university in Nashville, Tennessee I was like, not sure what I wanted to do, but probably law because I am a first gen, my parents are immigrants and like, if there's anything in immigrant parents gonna tell you is you gotta do law medicine, own a business or being engineer. And I didn't, I did not like the idea of like, somebody could die on my watch. So I was like, not a doctor <laugh>, like, definitely not that. Engineer physics was a little rough for me, so I was like, no, thank you. And maybe would own a business at some point, but it sort of ended up being law was where I was sort of drawn to. And

    Michael Jamin (03:03):

    Then what did you, who did you major in?

    Chandra Thomas (03:05):

    So then in my first year, in my first semester at Vanderbilt, I I was into theater just like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I had done theater in high school and in middle school, and my parents had taken me see a ton of plays. I'm from New York, so we, you know, go to Broadway and see plays. And I just had this like, sort of like Thanksgiving revelatory moment where I was like, oh no, I, I wanna like be in theater. I wanna just be on stage and write stage and make plays happen. And so I came home and had to tell my immigrant parents that like, I was gonna do this theater thing, which they were like, what <laugh> what does that even mean? That's not why we came to this country. You know, at first, now they're like literally the co-chairs of my fan club. They are incredible.


    But so then I decided to double major in theater and sociology. So I got two bachelor degrees from Vanderbilt. And then when it was time to graduate, everybody was like, cool, let's go get jobs and do stuff like that. And I was like I know how to go to school, I'm gonna keep doing that. So I went to Columbia university in New York and got my M F A in acting. And so started working as an actor pretty immediately and very consistently. But at the same time was always writing, was always producing, especially in theater. Transitioned pretty quickly to sketch and improv was at the U C B A ton and then transitioned into indie film, indie short form content, digital shorts, and just really was like about storytelling. Most people sort of in immediately sort of knew me in front of the camera, but I was sort of always working on the other side as well. And so

    Michael Jamin (04:41):

    Were you writing for yourself in

    Chandra Thomas (04:43):

    The long,

    Michael Jamin (04:43):

    Were you writing, say again? Were you writing for yourself when you were acting or were you just doing other people's work?

    Chandra Thomas (04:48):

    At first I was writing for myself, and then I think as like most theater practitioners do, I was like, I need to start writing for other people too. <Laugh>. Yeah. So I wrote a whole bunch of solo shows. I have a, like, ton of solo shows that I was doing all over the

    Michael Jamin (05:02):

    Place. And who were you staging these

    Chandra Thomas (05:05):

    Different places? Sometimes in somebody's living room, sometimes in the theater, you know, a lot of New York off Broadway, off off Broadway spaces,

    Michael Jamin (05:13):

    But So were they, were they one man show or like one woman show? Or is it, or you

    Chandra Thomas (05:18):

    Know Yeah, solo a ton of, I did several solo shows. Yeah. I have one that's called A Rhyme for the Underground, which is, I play 17 and a quarter characters and it's set in the subway, the New York City subway system. So yeah, I was doing solo shows. Yeah, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (05:31):

    It's interesting. But then, okay, so then when you're even theater, were you booking because people miss this part? Like were you booking the, the theaters yourselves or were you pitching it to theaters? Like how, how did you put 'em up?

    Chandra Thomas (05:44):

    I, a mix of things like, so once I got sort of plugged into the sort of indie theater producer circle, we were putting up each other's work. I was putting up the work, I was submitting it to theater companies that were putting it up in some who's

    Michael Jamin (05:57):

    Putting up the money for

    Chandra Thomas (05:59):


    Michael Jamin (05:59):

    Who's putting up the money?

    Chandra Thomas (06:01):

    We, you figure <laugh> you figure it out. <Laugh>, you're not, you figure it out. I mean, and who's putting, you know, sometimes for some of the who's, who's

    Michael Jamin (06:11):

    Putting, who's putting all the butts and seats, who's selling, who's getting people to show up,

    Chandra Thomas (06:17):

    That becomes the artist's job. That's the big thing. Right? So in some theaters we'd be able to do like port, like proceeds from the ticket sales, right. You know, sort of split the box office is essentially sort of like the way people sort of shorthand it. And so that would be one way in terms of getting bus in the seats though, that would always fall on the artist. So you know, this is before sort of social media was as like readily hot as it is now to like, sort of share those kinds of things. So it became postcards and flyers and putting up posters in storefronts and Absolutely. Emailing friends and texting people to come. And so yeah, it was like a lot of literally gorilla marketing in the most purest form.

    Michael Jamin (06:58):

    How many seats are you talking about in these theaters? How big are they?

    Chandra Thomas (07:01):

    So most of these theaters are 99 and under, which is part of the

    Michael Jamin (07:06):

    Right equity waiver.

    Chandra Thomas (07:07):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, well, different in LA they call 'em waivers in New York, they're just theaters. Okay. so you can work under an equity contract. I know in LA these sort of like wave, like working under the union. That's not how we do things in New York. So it would be a special showcase contract is what it's called. And so you'd be able to sort of like, you know, like folks most, again, it was, most of us were like in each other's shows, so we would just sort of do the showcase code and, and and do the show. Yeah. And we'd do it under union rules, you know, as a showcase code

    Michael Jamin (07:41):

    Production. What do mean, what, what does that mean under union rules?

    Chandra Thomas (07:44):

    Under equity actors equity

    Michael Jamin (07:46):

    Rules? Yeah. Well, what kinda rules are we talking about?

    Chandra Thomas (07:48):

    Oh, like, just making sure that like, there's a place for you to change your clothes <laugh>, like, you know, put on makeup, essentially a green room or, and like <laugh>, I'll come back in a second. And, you know like if you're being asked to do something that's way above sort of like the standard expectations of an actor that you would be under that's either under a different agreement or you'd be compensated appropriately for those things that we don't, you don't get paid necessarily at the minimum rate. Like, you may get paid in hugs or you may get paid in like, you know, a few dollars. So, you know, it's a, it's just sort of like very basic, just treat, you know, treat them like human beings, you know, treat us like human beings. Something. And the thing I was gonna say to come back to is like, for example, the like having a space to change our clothes. Like sometimes those were basements, like literally basements, just dank places. There are people now who are in, who are literally a lists on a lists for production, for studio features and like, people names that people would know that like me and them were doing basement theater. Like we're in between. During the intermission we had to go plunge the toilet cuz it was flooding in the middle of our shows.

    Michael Jamin (09:04):

    This is so important that people hear this because like, this is what, this is what breaking in looks like, you know, doing, starting from the bottom. People wanna start at the top. People was like, how do I

    Chandra Thomas (09:13):

    Literally, the bottom art at

    Michael Jamin (09:15):

    The bottom,

    Chandra Thomas (09:16):

    <Laugh> literal bottom.

    Michael Jamin (09:17):

    So like, so for one show, let's say you put up a show, how many nights would you, would you have put it up for? Or just once?

    Chandra Thomas (09:24):

    If I were putting it up, it depends on what the show was. And depends on under what umbrella, because I was producing independently, but I was also producing because I had co-founded a nonprofit with teen girls who wrote and created their own productions, ro own shows speak from their authentic voices. And so if I was producing their work, we would usually have maybe or two to four night performance. Right. If I was producing sort of other work, the showcase code allows for 16 up to 16 performances. Okay. and so sometimes they'd be one-offs and other times, you know, they would have like a little bit of longer run. And if they were outside of the showcase code, if they were like the next tier up then, you know, you, we'd run for maybe four weeks,

    Michael Jamin (10:13):

    Four weeks. And then how many, there must have been times where you put up a show where, okay, you got a full house and then you only have a couple people sitting in the theater. Is that that, did that happen?

    Chandra Thomas (10:23):

    Absolutely. Very often as an actor, you know, whether it was something I was producing or somebody else was producing and I was an actor in one of those little tiny, tiny theaters. And often Friday nights were often rough nights to get people in. Because I guess like, sort of the, the, the thought is people are like not ready. Like, you know, they're, they like wanna unwind. They're not ready to be like outta play necessarily, or small theater play. Saturday nights were often our strongest nights. And there were definitely times where there were more people on the stage than there were in the audience. There's no <laugh> that's like question.

    Michael Jamin (11:07):

    But that's great that you're saying all this. So how does this, this very humbling beginning, like how did, how did it help you? Because a lot of people would think, I'm not doing this. So how did it actually help you?

    Chandra Thomas (11:17):

    I am incredibly grateful for that time and mm-hmm. <Affirmative> used so many of those skills now that I didn't even realize I was developing at that point. First of all, being able to work outside of, of a, a corporate structure to let people know what the ideas, what the message is, what the story is, is something that I like, I use all the time. Having to engage people, just even as simple as like getting a shop owner to hang a poster in their, in their storefront Right. Requires a, a sales pitch, a way to engage them that is a skill that I use now multihyphenate, which, you know, I sort of, I really proudly embraced is something that I learned and built then. And like, you know, still capitalize on those things now as an actor, being able to pivot in the moment and then taking that kind of skill into a writer's room. Like hearing things, being able to see what's the direction that everybody's got, you know, mo helping to move that train forward. Those were all things that like the, the, at least the groundwork for that was so laid during that time period.

    Michael Jamin (12:23):

    Right. So none of this is wasted experience. All of it was good. No,

    Chandra Thomas (12:26):

    None of it. One of one of my favorite mentors, she says none of it is wasted. It's all story. And so yes, it is like, like if nothing else, it's story for sure. Right,

    Michael Jamin (12:36):

    Right. And then, and then you said you had people you work with o other people in your circle and you're at bottom of this, the people, the bottom of the basement in your circle who went on to much better things, right? Oh,

    Chandra Thomas (12:47):

    Absolutely. Yeah. People who are serious regulars now, folks who are in, you know, movies that we're going to see in the movie theaters, in the Marvels, in the dcs and the all. Yeah, absolutely. No question.

    Michael Jamin (12:59):

    See, it's so interesting cuz people say to me, you know, on social media, they reach out and they, they think the goal, they think maybe you know, it, who's asked, can I kiss who, how do I get my hands, my script and Steven Spielberg's, you know, you know, a mailbox or whatever. And I'm like, the, that's not, that's not how you, that's not how you do it. You, you make a circle of friends, you make a community at the, at your level A and then you gr and then you work your way up. Everyone climbs up together. It's like a, you know. Absolutely. So interesting. It's, especially for theater now. How did, okay, so at this point you're writing, you're acting and then, and this is all in the New York. And then what, what brought you to la What, like, what was that like that jump and why did I kept saying

    Chandra Thomas (13:41):


    Michael Jamin (13:42):

    How many, how many years were you doing this, by the way? In New York?

    Chandra Thomas (13:46):

    <Laugh>. I don't, I will not give years cuz that will reveal age <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (13:50):

    Or how many months?

    Chandra Thomas (13:52):

    Many more years than frankly anyone wants to admit.

    Michael Jamin (13:55):

    Okay. But it was,

    Chandra Thomas (13:56):

    It was a lot also, you know, was working in obviously bigger productions in New York. Right. you know, sort of major off Broadway houses was working regionally a ton working internationally as well. And then, you know, also was working in, in, in television, I, my first job on tv, I got a co-star on a law and order criminal intent. Right. I was a reporter, yes. Was so it was freezing cold, couldn't have been happier. And so, you know, I was working in studio features and daytime soap and primetime episodic, like the whole gambit. In terms of la I kept saying, something's gonna have to bring me to la Like, I, I just, I, it's no secret. I'm not the biggest fan of Los Angeles. And so I just kept sort of pushing it off saying that something was going to have to bring me to LA and then I sort of had one of these moments where like li it was Caic everything.


    Everybody was like, you need to go to la like just randomly on the street I would see like things that, and people just telling me it, you have to go to la And I like, I had been fighting it for so long, but finally was like, this is a little too much to not pay attention to. And so I started by doing the bicultural in New York, but like being in LA a good amount. And then sort of realized I needed to be in LA more because I realized I wanted to be creating for television. And especially in comedy, which there's not that many opportunities to do that in New York. So I moved my base to LA in June of 2018. So I've been here what's that going on five years? Yeah. Now,

    Michael Jamin (15:46):

    But you didn't, did okay, but you were starting over when you moved to LA you had no network, right?

    Chandra Thomas (15:51):

    Not the total opposite <laugh>. I came to like a huge net. Because I'd been working in theater and television and film for so long. I knew a ton of people here. I'd come to LA a good amount. So I'd built, you know, a, you know, a community here. And especially coming from the theater. So many playwrights that I know are in TV rooms, like so many. Yeah. So I came here like literally walked into a community in a way that I think most people sort of say, oh my gosh, that's not how you know LA works. But I was very fortunate to walk right into a very supportive society, if you will.

    Michael Jamin (16:32):

    But then what was that like then? Because I mean, you, you didn't walk into the LA theater scene. Like what, what, like what, what were you trying to do? What, what, you know, what was the fir what were those first months like then?

    Chandra Thomas (16:44):

    So, oh my goodness. What were those first months? First of all, I landed in my buddy's couch. Well, not couch. She had a whole second bedroom for me. So I had a very lush <laugh> room situation. I found a place of my own within two weeks. Right. I started to when I look back on it, I realize this is what I was doing. I was sort of rebranding myself as a writer first.

    Michael Jamin (17:10):


    Chandra Thomas (17:11):

    So I showed up in every single solitary writer's space that I could find everything if, like, I would be at every writer's groups. At one point I was in like seven writers groups, like e every day of the week I was essentially in someone in the writer's

    Michael Jamin (17:25):

    Group. Who are these? Like where are these writers groups? Like who, who are these people and how do you, like, where are they?

    Chandra Thomas (17:30):

    So I found most of them through like socials, like either through, like there's a group called L A T V Writers I'm sure folks are familiar with. So find some there. There would be others that someone who recommended to me mm-hmm. <Affirmative> you know, sort of like if you fall in, you sort of keep falling into the more was sort of my experience.

    Michael Jamin (17:54):

    People are probably some are. Yeah. Cuz you're, you're meeting other people now. You're building. Exactly. And, and how often do they meet? And like what, what were they like these groups?

    Chandra Thomas (18:01):

    It depends. It was a range. I'm still in a couple now. It, it ranged some were weekly Uhhuh, <affirmative> for sure. Those were usually the most frequent ones were the weekly. Some were biweekly, others were monthly. There was one group that I was in for a little bit that was quarterly and I was like, this makes no sense. <Laugh>. Yeah. At all. Like, you know, for three months those, oh that's just, that's crazy. Some were bimonthly for sure. It just really ranged, it depended on the writers, the people who were running it. These were mostly like Zoom even then, you know, like they were not No, that's not true. They're, most of them were on were in person. And then all of them sort of quickly transitioned to Zoom once the

    Michael Jamin (18:44):

    World went. You pay for to be in these groups. I who, someone's gotta,

    Chandra Thomas (18:47):

    It depends on the group. So in the groups where they rent theaters, we, you know, you chip in right. To help cover the, the cost of the theater or the space, you know, whatever the, the, the space was. If it was like a rental situation, some space, some of them would meet in people's homes. You know, like everybody gather around the di the dining room table or the living room or what have you. Others, there was one guy who had like a creative space that was part of his business. So you know, he would just sort open the doors that way. And then obviously like online it would be just a, whether somebody has like a Zoom account or what have you is there would either be free or you know, just

    Michael Jamin (19:23):

    A couple. Is there a leader or a teacher or someone? Or is everybody equal

    Chandra Thomas (19:28):

    Usually a leader? Just who coordinates it? Not necessarily somebody who's the ones that work best in my opinion, are where somebody's just sort of helping to handle the admin. Yeah. But everyone has sort of an equal voice in terms of notes and bringing in content.

    Michael Jamin (19:43):

    See, this is, so see this is, you're saying everything perfectly because you really are, cuz this is kind, I yell at people often. If people are like, do I have to move to Alec? You don't have to do a damn thing. You don't have to do a damn thing. But this is where the people are who want what you want and you should round yourself with other people who want. And then you all help each other and you know, this is where the people come. And so you got, I

    Chandra Thomas (20:05):

    Got that question all the time, Michael, like, of people saying like, do I have to move to LA as somebody who literally fought moving to la, if I say it's helpful and very, very helpful, then I really mean that. Like it's just as you pointed out, like this is where the, the, the mecca is in a certain way. And so it you, even if somebody gets into a room and they're outside of, of LA maybe New York okay, that's one thing. But how do you stay in the room? How do you stay in conversation? How do you have those chance meetings with people? How do you get information on a ground level that's not gonna be in a, you know, televised panel conversation? How do you have that one-on-one connection with the person next to you to be able to get that referral, to be able to make that referral. And I think, I think that's impossible to do on any kind of substantive level outside of New York if somebody's interested in working in television.

    Michael Jamin (21:03):

    Right, right. Well, not even in New View. Cuz you couldn't even do it in New York. Right. I mean,

    Chandra Thomas (21:08):

    Especially as a comedy writer, I think some drama writers are able to sort of make it kind of happen in New York, but you know, the opportunities are are are more limited. There's no question about it. Right. Even shows that, shoot New York, a lot of them still write in la

    Michael Jamin (21:23):

    They write here. Right. And then, because you, it's so funny you say cuz you were so reluctant, but it sounds like the minute you got here, like you were shot out of a cannon, like you just did what ev you pulled yourself out there. E every no opportunity was too small. I mean, really

    Chandra Thomas (21:37):

    Correct or too big. I would show up at things and like, I might not get in, but I'm going to go <laugh> showing up anyway. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (21:44):

    Like what do you mean by like, what kind of opportunities were those

    Chandra Thomas (21:47):

    Just like events or, or conversations or panels are, you know, whatever the thing is. Like, just as long as I figured out that there were gonna be people there who were writers who were gonna talk about writing in some way, I was gonna show up. So

    Michael Jamin (22:00):

    You went to a be I'm guessing a bunch of writers Guilded events too, right? Panels?

    Chandra Thomas (22:03):

    Yes, I did. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> Writers Found Writers Guild Foundation especially. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (22:07):

    And they're, those are open to the public and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, I, what are, I don't what they cost 10, 15 bucks. They're not terribly expensive. Right.

    Chandra Thomas (22:14):

    Sometimes free.

    Michael Jamin (22:15):

    Sometimes free. Yeah. Yeah. And, and why are we not, why are we not you taking advantage of this? Right. <laugh>. And so then how did you, what was the, okay, so you're doing all this. You're now, you're writing, you got a writing group, you're you're not putting on any shows for yourself here, right?

    Chandra Thomas (22:30):

    No. Mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin (22:32):

    <Affirmative>. Alright. You're kind of done with the theater, but then how did

    Chandra Thomas (22:34):

    You am I retired as a theater actor? Let's say it that way. Well, I still write for theater.

    Michael Jamin (22:40):

    And do you put up, but do you put up your shows?

    Chandra Thomas (22:43):

    No, I, no, I send them, I put them to other people for them to produce. I have retired from the self-producing theater.

    Michael Jamin (22:51):

    But are they going, are they, are they being produced in LA or, or back in New York?

    Chandra Thomas (22:55):

    We haven't gotten anybody on board yet, but when we do <laugh> it'll be on the east coast. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (23:01):

    Interesting. But then, okay, so then how did you, at this point, I should point out, you don't have an agent. You don't have a manager, right?

    Chandra Thomas (23:07):

    Not in writing mm-hmm. Not literary

    Michael Jamin (23:09):

    For acting. You had, you had,

    Chandra Thomas (23:10):


    Michael Jamin (23:11):

    Right. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you're not helping with writing. So then how did you, how did you, what was your first break then for writing?

    Chandra Thomas (23:17):

    So I deci I had kind of quasi applied to the fellowships. I, I thought I was going to get into my first room because one of my playwright buddies was gonna like, give my script to their showrunner. And their showrunner was gonna fall in love with me through the page <laugh> and hire me. That's how I thought that I was gonna end up in a room. And the, a couple of opportunities like that presented themselves. I didn't didn't, you know, meet on any of those shows. But like that, that's how I thought. Like that's where the momentum was. So I thought that's where it was gonna happen. Right. In 2019. So remember I got here June, 2018 and 2019. I was like, I am going to apply to all of the fellowships. Prior to that I had applied to some in stops and starts. I hadn't really been strategic about it. I hadn't really prepared. Like, I just sort of was like, oh, this seems interesting. But 2019 I should've was like, I'm gonna, it's by a little Spike Lee by any means necessary. So I was doing everything like, you know, obviously.

    Michael Jamin (24:20):

    What, what are the fellowships? I don't mean interrupt, but what, what fellowships are you talking? Like, which ones? I don't even know the names of.

    Chandra Thomas (24:24):

    Yeah, let me, I'm gonna, I'm gonna circle into that. So I was trying, I was going to, I was blanketing everything. Like, I was just like, I'm gonna try everything I can to try to just get something moving now that I'm here and I've got myself acclimated and I've been in these spaces and what have you. So one of those strategies was to apply to all of the fellowships. And so the fellowships are essentially run by studios, networks and sometimes organizations that are creating opportunities for writers to help them sort of just, you know, get sort of carved in <laugh> into the, into the, the world into this industry. And so I applied to everyone that I could find even some that, again, some that were like, you're not exactly the right person for this <laugh>. But I still applied just like I showed up to every writer's event. If nothing else, they provi they forced me to write on deadline. So even if I wasn't gonna get in and knew that I wasn't gonna get in, like at least I had a hard deadline to get my writing done. And so what were you hitting the

    Michael Jamin (25:32):

    Spec scripts or original movie? Like what were your, what were your submissions?

    Chandra Thomas (25:37):

    Depends on the fellowship. Most of them now require at least one original pilot. Some also look for specs. So I had a spec. I had two specs. One that I had written previous, like in an earlier year. And so I like retooled it and to use it. So I had two specs that I was using. And then I had two original pilots. So something I should mention that I didn't mention. So when I realized I was gonna move to from New York to la I had, when I like was like, I'm gonna go write for tv, I'm gonna leave, I'm going to la, all these things. I had never written a pilot before. Right? When I said <laugh>, I was going to now pick up my like, very comfortable existence in New York and moved to like, had to write for television, had never written a pilot, had written everything else, never a pilot.


    And so I was like, I do not wanna be one of those jerks who's in LA talking about like, I wanna be a writer, I'm gonna be a TV writer. I had never written a pilot. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I wrote two pilots in two weeks. And like obviously first drafts that got revised, but like that was cuz I was like, I do not wanna be that person. And I those two pilots, well one of those pilots has served me extraordinarily well and one of my still go-to pilots to this day. Wow. so it's a comedy. I had, say again,

    Michael Jamin (27:10):

    It was a comedy.

    Chandra Thomas (27:12):

    Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah. Only, only comedies. Yeah, only comedies. So one of those pilots is what I was using as my original. And then I had the two specs.

    Michael Jamin (27:25):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin, if you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Michael Jamin (27:49):

    You are such a go-getter cuz there's so many. First of all, there's so many people. I wanna be a writer. I want to, okay, well have you written anything? Have you finished anything? Like you gotta finish something, you gotta you gotta finish it and you gotta put it out there. Yeah. And then, okay, so then that's

    Chandra Thomas (28:04):

    So true.

    Michael Jamin (28:05):

    Do so what you accepted to one or many of these fellowships or what?

    Chandra Thomas (28:11):

    I don't ever win things Jamin. I like, I'm the person who like works hard and gets the thing. And so I didn't really think the fellowship, like I said, I didn't really think the fellowships were gonna work out. And I, you know, in my sparse applying before, I had never gotten into any of them. And so I didn't think that that was gonna be different. I thought I was gonna have to apply. I don't know. You know, you hear stories, peoples applying for six, seven years and like not getting it, what have you. I got into, I got into one single solitary <laugh> Okay. Fellowship one.

    Michael Jamin (28:41):


    Chandra Thomas (28:42):

    And I, that was c b s.

    Michael Jamin (28:43):

    Right. And

    Chandra Thomas (28:44):

    Now called Paramount Global.

    Michael Jamin (28:47):

    Oh, they changed the name of the fellowship. Is that right or no?

    Chandra Thomas (28:50):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>

    Michael Jamin (28:50):

    Really? How many people were in it in your, was there, is there like

    Chandra Thomas (28:54):

    A class? There were, so there's a cohort. Yeah, a class essentially. There were, by their reporting 1600 applications, they accepted six of us. Wow. And I was the only comedy writer in my cohort.

    Michael Jamin (29:08):

    And this, do you, how often did you meet?

    Chandra Thomas (29:12):

    So the way the c b s program works is it starts sort of roughly September, October. And you're assigned a mentor who's somebody sort of in the studio or network and the, the mentor or two mentors sort of help you guide you, give you notes to writing a, a new pilot. You know, so you have a fresh script coming outta the program and then starting in that goes till Mm, probably like mid ish to late April. Uhhuh <affirmative>. You have weekly, at least weekly meetings that have different focus that have a different focus each time. So one night might be like alumni night where other alums come and in writers' rooms and answer questions from a very, like, hands-on practical perspective. Another session will be to meet with managers another with agents. There are times with execs at the studio there's you know, like different, you know, sort of like each day, each day is like at their front adventure kind of thing. Thing. And so so I,

    Michael Jamin (30:22):

    This is with your cohort. So you, you got at this point you got to know your cohort, the, you know, the other five or six people in the

    Chandra Thomas (30:28):

    Absolutely. So my, me and the other five people Yes. The other five drama writers. We, yeah, absolutely. And I sort of was like, we're gonna meet outside of here too cuz you know, you wanna get to, I really wanted us to like, you know, have our own thing even going into the sessions for sure.

    Michael Jamin (30:46):

    See, this is interesting cuz that's another misconception that people think, I think they think, well it's very competitive. How do I compete against these people? But that wasn't your attitude. You're, their attitude is, no, this is my community. I'm not competing against you. The these are my, we're all in this together. Even if someone succeeds faster than you do, it's still your people.

    Chandra Thomas (31:05):

    Absolutely. And you know, I look at the time especially as you know, an actor in the sort of, especially in the theater space mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and there's like a sort of an expectation of somebody calls me and is like, Hey, I have this job for you, for you. Can you do it? And it's like, I can't do it for whatever reason. It's not schedule or pay or whatever. Like, you know, you're not able to do it. My first response is, can I make recommendations to you? Like, that was, that was sort of what we did. And so there was not ever an idea of like the other actors who are like me ish, cuz nobody's exactly like me, obviously, but like who we may be in the same sort of category on a call sheet,

    Michael Jamin (31:46):

    Honestly. You're like, you're like a, you're like an inspirational speaker because <laugh> you really are because there's like, there's not an excuse. You don't have any excuses. You're, you're just a go-getter. You're just like, you make opportunities for yourself.

    Chandra Thomas (31:58):

    That's really kind of you to say. I feel like I am like a, like overwork your B <laugh> is what I feel like most of the time. But I, I like get super excited when I like look back and say like, you know what? Look at what has what I've been able to do just even in the last few years. You know? So I do get excited about that, but it's, I'm always thinking about like, what's the next thing I need to accomplish? What do I need to do next? That's that immigrant parent thing.

    Michael Jamin (32:24):

    I was gonna say. I was gonna say, because you know, immigrants, like, they're not comfortable. That's why they leave because they want more. And it's like, they're not like lazy. They're leaving their home. Like, what are you talking about? They're leaving their home before. Like that's the opposite. Lazy.

    Chandra Thomas (32:39):


    Michael Jamin (32:40):

    Exactly. Okay. So then how do you get, how did Mom come about?

    Chandra Thomas (32:44):

    So coming out of the program it, it can be sometimes a little complicated to, to staff comedy out of the program sometimes. Not all the time. And so I had said coming into the program that I mom was like one of my favorite shows. And so, you know, that's where I was hoping I would, you know, if there was an opportunity staff there and it wasn't entirely clear if that was gonna be a possibility. One of the execs who I had met during the time, I had told her about how much I love Mom <laugh>, like literally had watched every episode up to that point, had gone to a taping even before I was in the program. Cause I just love the show. Like genuinely loved the show had, at that point, I think there were 132 episodes, had seen all of them at least once.


    Like, just was super a fan of the show. And so that exec remembered that. And so when they were looking for a staff writer she mentioned like, Hey, would you be interested in taking a look at, you know, Chandra's scripts? And they did and really responded to it and brought me in and it was the shortest meeting in history. And I was like, okay, well I blew that, but I'm so proud <laugh> that I like showed up and did my thing. And then, you know, found out a few days later that they were offering me a a spot in, in the room.

    Michael Jamin (34:05):

    And was that with Chuck Laurie that meeting?

    Chandra Thomas (34:08):

    No, that room, that meeting was with the eps who are like the hands on EPS on the show. So the two showrunners and then a third ep. Wait,

    Michael Jamin (34:16):

    Was Chuck not, did he not run mom or was it just under his umbrella?

    Chandra Thomas (34:20):

    It's under his umbrella at this point. He was more hands on earlier.

    Michael Jamin (34:23):

    So who was the showrunner then of, of mom?

    Chandra Thomas (34:27):

    So the, there were two showrunners at that point. So Gemma Baker, who is one of the creators of the show and then Nick mackay was the other

    Michael Jamin (34:36):

    You know, what was that like for you? Because you're jumping in not, not only like the new, not only the new girl, but like brand new to the, like, anytime you have a new writer, it's difficult because you, you know, everyone else is establishing you're the new face, but also this is your first staff job. So what was that like for you?

    Chandra Thomas (34:55):

    It was incredible and intense at the same, same, same time. You know, it's like I said was one thing. One of the things that was most helpful is that I genuinely love the show. And so I came in with like that passion, knew the characters, knew what characters had, you know, character types. We that had been on the show before. Like, I came in with like an institutional knowledge, obviously didn't know the behind the scenes right. But, but interest, institutional knowledge about the show itself and the stories that it told. So that was really, really helpful throughout. And I sort of became you know, at that point I joined in season eight. And so by that point folks, you know, had forgotten what they did in season two because it was six years ago. Right. And I was able to, I actually had created a spreadsheet of all the episodes with all of the guest actors who are the series regulars who were in it.


    What's the story synopsis for the episode? Title up the episode. You know, so like I sort of not only was keeping a lot of that knowledge in my head, but also had like a searchable document that I could go back to and say like, you know, if somebody pitched a story like, oh, that kind of sounds like something that happened maybe in season three or, you know, that kind of thing. I was able to sort of like help, you know, support that that piece. So so, you know, found my, found ways to be helpful in that respect. But to your point, like it's, it's a very intense experience when, like you pointed out not only the new girl in this room, a new girl to TV writing and everyone in that room, just a, with the exception of the other staff writer and a mid-level writer who also joined around the time that I was joining the room, everyone else were upper level writers. Yeah. most of them had been with the show since, if not season three. Season one. Right. and even the staff writer who was joining who was staffed when I was staffed had been with the show in a support staff capacity for two or three cuns. So I was like the new new new new girl <laugh> in like a lot, a lot of ways.

    Michael Jamin (37:03):

    Did you have an, at this point, did you have an agent

    Chandra Thomas (37:05):

    At this point? I did. So I did have an agent by this point. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> I did. And not an agent. I had a manager. I had a manager at this point in Lit.

    Michael Jamin (37:15):

    And then how did you get, and then after that I was, was it, did you have any time off between that and to Tacoma FD was there, like, how much time lapsed between that?

    Chandra Thomas (37:25):

    So we're missing a little, we had a little gap in there. So when I wrapped on Mom, I actually jumped on the show that Christie and you talked about the Amazon animated show. <Laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (37:34):

    What, what show was that? Right? What was

    Chandra Thomas (37:36):

    That? So it was called The Flats. It was adult animated comedy at Amazon. So that's what I jumped onto shortly after I wrapped on Mom.

    Michael Jamin (37:46):

    And how many episodes was that? I forgot. I totally forgot. Put that, that correct.

    Chandra Thomas (37:49):

    We did, we wrote eight episodes,

    Michael Jamin (37:52):

    Right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and did it and did, did it even air? Sometimes they do, right? Some didn't even air. Sometimes that happens, man, you write, you

    Chandra Thomas (37:59):

    Didn't even air. But we wrote a great show.

    Michael Jamin (38:02):

    Yeah. And then okay, so then came to com fd.

    Chandra Thomas (38:05):

    Yes. Then shortly after I wrap on that, then I was on Tacoma.

    Michael Jamin (38:09):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Interesting. Cause you went from multi-camera to animation to single camera.

    Chandra Thomas (38:12):

    That's correct.

    Michael Jamin (38:13):

    Right. And what was that transition like for you? You can't even get your feet you wet yet. I mean, you know, you're ready getting your feet wet and already you're learning a different format.

    Chandra Thomas (38:21):

    I loved it. I mean, I love, I love Multicam. I love animation and I love single cam, like love. I've loved what you can do in each of those formats. Is, you know, a little bit different in each Right. Obviously at the, at the end of the day there needs to be story, character and jokes. But you can sort of, you know, there's just different things you can do in the animated show. You know, in three lines I wrote about a bear doing like a dance through the back of a car window like <laugh> that would, that would require, you know, $2 million on <laugh> on a live action show. But like, you can do that in animation. So it has its own, you know, sort of perks there and multi obviously like, you know, having the close, having the, the, the limited number of sets and setups. Like just, there's just a specialness that can happen there. And obviously the the the kinetic energy of a live audience. Yeah. And then a single cam, like, you know, there's just certain storytelling you can do there. Yeah. And certain things you can do there. So I love all of it, to be quite honest. I thought came in thinking I was gonna be just like super, almost exclusively into single cam. But I've loved all of the, I really have loved all of

    Michael Jamin (39:28):

    'Em. And then I know af I know after that, I know you started getting getting more into development. So what has that ride been like?

    Chandra Thomas (39:37):

    So actually I got my first development deal when I was on the, the Amazon show. So that's when I got my first deal. I was actually on deal when I was on Tacoma. So that is super, it's such an interesting development. Is is is extremely interesting and extremely frustrating. <Laugh> at the same time.

    Michael Jamin (40:00):

    We, we used to call it development hell, I don't, people don't, I'm not sure if people call it anymore cause they're just grateful for the, for the money. <Laugh>

    Chandra Thomas (40:06):

    <Laugh>, it's, there's, there's so many moving parts and I think the part that's most frustrating about development is you can create an amazing show. Incredible show. Everybody loves it and it can still not get sold or, you know, get sold to network or get, you know, or air or get a pilot put, you know, like, it, there's, there's so many steps before a show will even vaguely make it to a television screen and it, the show could be incredible and still incredible <laugh>, everybody loves it and still not make it. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (40:40):

    That's exactly right. What we, my, my partner Steve and I siever, we like, well the victory for us is the minute the check hits our hands. Oh good. Okay. We got, we got the check. But after that, yeah. There's so many other things. And even before then, there's so many things about why sh pitch won't even sell. It could be a great pitch. People could love it. Absolutely. And the exec, we're outta money where we don't want it. There's some, somebody else is doing something vaguely similar or, you know, or something failed that was vaguely similar, we won't do it. It's like,

    Chandra Thomas (41:09):

    Or your studio execs get laid off <laugh>

    Michael Jamin (41:12):

    That that happens easily. Yeah, yeah. Right. So the minute, if you have an exec that shepherding the project and then they get fired or for whatever reason leave

    Chandra Thomas (41:19):

    Or they leave or Yep.

    Michael Jamin (41:20):

    Yeah. They can leave for promotion mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they're go your project's dead, because no one else is gonna wanna take it up and no one else that's like picking up someone's scraps off the floor. Even if it's a great idea, it's someone else's scraps. Mm-Hmm. And it doesn't count. A victory doesn't count towards you. You don't get the, don't get the victory.

    Chandra Thomas (41:36):

    There's, there's so there are so many places it doesn't, it, even if it's incredible, there's so many places where it falls apart. So that's definitely the frustrating part. But there's something invigorating about like, imagining what a show could be like. I think there's something really exciting about that. Especially, you know, I'm really interested in stories that we haven't seen or heard a ton, you know, so like getting to, even if it's, we're just gonna get to pitch it, but at least like being able to craft and and shape stories that I think are interesting and, and funny obviously have heart. You know, it's like at least I got the opportunity <laugh> like put some, put some shape around something that could be incredible. Are you, and

    Michael Jamin (42:17):

    Oh, go ahead. Go ahead. I didn't mean to cut you off.

    Chandra Thomas (42:19):

    No, you're good. And what I was further gonna say is what I've seen now from other creatives is a show like I look at, for example, Lena, wait, she has a show called Twenties that has been, I think it's run for maybe three seasons, two or three seasons at this point. She originally wrote that, that was like one of the first pilots she wrote. She wrote it a, a long time ago. Let's, you know, the earlier days of her career and the show, she couldn't get anybody to buy it. And then she was able to sell it once sort of, people were excited to just, you know, work with her. And so I think there's something also to be said about, okay, cool, something doesn't sell now I'll put it in the file drawer as I'll, as my mom likes, say, put it in your purse and then, you know, it might be something you can pull out at some other point. So I always keep that in mind too of that, you know, a project may not be, some projects are dead for sure, but a project may just be in taking a nap. We'll

    Michael Jamin (43:17):

    Say, see, but see, the thing is the hustle never ends. It

    Chandra Thomas (43:20):

    Never ends. It never ends. Right. That's why I'm so not into the, the phrase break in because I think sometimes people think like once you break in, right, it's like glass, you break in. The glass is no long, the glass no longer exists, you're in the space, it's over. But like, it's <laugh> you have to carve is how I say you have to carve in. Like, there's constantly more material in front of you that you have to sort of, you know, make your way through.

    Michael Jamin (43:48):

    Right. Right. That's, it's, it's, you're exactly right. Now are, is your entire focus now on like commercial projects? Are you doing anything on the side that's just interesting for you? You know,

    Chandra Thomas (44:00):

    I mean, I'm still writing for theater as I mentioned, and so that does not feel commercial at all. <Laugh> that feels in several of my plays have won awards recently. And so there definitely is you know, there's that sort of creative space. Most of what I write now, particularly for TV and for film, is not necessarily that I'm gonna sell it tomorrow, but I'm like banking it so that I have something, you know, I have it for when I may be looking to sell something like this or so now, unless it's theater I'm thinking in some way commercially, but let me explain what I mean by commercially. It's not to say that I'm going to write something that I think people want me to write or I think is gonna sell. I'm writing what I think is interesting and funny and compelling and then see if there's a market for that thing that I think is interesting, funny and compelling. Right.

    Michael Jamin (44:57):

    See, that's another thing people often say to me, like on social media, they'll say, you know, does art is dark comedy selling now? What's selling now? It's like, don't ask me what do you wanna write? What do you wanna write? <Laugh>?

    Chandra Thomas (45:08):

    It's always gonna be hard to sell stuff.

    Michael Jamin (45:10):

    Yeah, right.

    Chandra Thomas (45:11):

    Period. <laugh>. So, you know, even if the folks aren't ready for it now, they may be ready for it in six months, eight months, a year, two years. But, you know, I like to have the thing in my purse, but

    Michael Jamin (45:21):

    I'm surprised you're not doing more for yourself to star an acton, you know?

    Chandra Thomas (45:26):

    Oh yeah, no, I'm definitely, I've definitely keep that in mind, Jamin don't worry. Don't

    Michael Jamin (45:31):

    I am worried about that. I wanna make sure you're on camera because Yeah. Because who else can play you better than you and who else can write you better than you? You know,

    Chandra Thomas (45:39):

    There's no question about that. That is always on my mind. Let me s lemme put it that way. I don't ever want to put myself in a situation where people think I'm gonna hold up a project Right. Because of my actor side. So that's that. I don't, you know, I'm, no, I don't lead from that place. But I, it's always, it's always somewhere in my, in the folds of my mind.

    Michael Jamin (46:06):

    And do you feel then I'll, I'll wrap it up with this, but do you feel you're writing your, you know, your writing has now informed your acting. Do you feel like, or, or vice versa, you've become a better actor because of your writing and, and better writer because you've been a, you know, you're acting

    Chandra Thomas (46:22):

    I think interestingly enough. So I've been doing more, a little bit more performance well acting in here recently because I have a little bit more flexibility in my schedule including guest art on the season premiere of Tacoma. Which I had a blast doing. Yeah. and it's interesting because there, like I know that me as an actor, like I'm, it comes from a very physical space and being a writer, at least for me is not a physical experience. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so I find I have to sort of get myself back on the actor horse in a way that is, that I did not necessarily anticipate or expect. So it feels like I have to warm up a little bit more to feel like I'm performing at the level that I am cus I'm accustomed to be performing at. But the other way around, the actor informing the writer always, and I'm so grateful.


    A buddy of mine who was just a showrun on a show, she started as an actor as well and now is primarily a writer. And she often says one of the best things she ever did for her writing career was start as an actor, was start as a performer. And that always informs my writing. Like, you know, hearing voice is, is something that is so clear to me coming from an acting background understanding sort of like character moves, character motivations being able to encapsulate new action in, in addition to dial Like there, all of that is an actor informing writer for sure.

    Michael Jamin (47:56):

    Wow. This is the, I honestly, you, I think you're like, I don't know, am I gonna be any, you've been a fascinating interview. You've been a fascinating, because I feel like you're incredibly inspiring. You're so driven, like no one's gonna stop you. No. Who's gonna stop you from doing whatever <laugh>, whatever the hell you want. N I don't think anybody's gonna be able to stop you. Yeah, I

    Chandra Thomas (48:18):

    Appreciate that. I appreciate that. You know, the ultimate goal is to you know, do be a writer, actor, creator in a series like Quinta Brunson, like Mindy Kaling, like a Tina Fey. And so that's our North Star. And so we're just gonna keep marching in that direction. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (48:33):

    Yeah, I would, yeah. I wouldn't bet against you. That's what I'll say.

    Chandra Thomas (48:36):


    Michael Jamin (48:37):

    I think you're wonderful, Chandra. Thank you. So thanks, Cameron. Should Sure. How can people fo follow you? Do you wanna promote anything, any social media or anything you wanna, you tell people about?

    Chandra Thomas (48:46):

    Sure. So I am on Twitter and TikTok at @chandra7thomas, and I'm on Instagram at @chandrathomas. Chandra, c h a n d r a, Thomas with an H.

    Michael Jamin (49:01):

    Thank you so much. Thank you again. Thank you.

    Chandra Thomas (49:04):

    Thanks for having me. What a fun time.

    Michael Jamin (49:06):

    No, you're, you're a wonderful guest. You're wonderful. All right. I'm gonna, I'm gonna sign off. I'll say goodbye to my, to my podcast. Thank you all so much for listening. Until next time, we got more great guests coming your way. And keep following the @MichaelJaminWriter.

    Phil Hudson (49:20):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @ PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    49m | Mar 8, 2023
  • 070- Kung Fu Panda Writer Jonathan Aibel

    Michael Jamin sits down with one of his good friends (and former bosses) Jonathan Aibel who was a movie writer for Kung Fu Panda 1-3 and has worked on other greats like Trolls, Monster Trucks, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, and Monsters vs Aliens. If you dream of being a movie or TV writer, you won't want to miss this podcast episode!

    Show Notes:

    Jonathan Aibel IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0008743/

    Jonathan Aibel EMMYS: https://www.emmys.com/bios/jonathan-aibel

    Jonathan Aibel Rotten Tomatoes: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/jonathan_aibel

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Autogenerated Transcript:

    Jonathan Aibel (00:00:00):

    We knew storyboards, we knew how to read storyboards. We knew what happens in an editing room and how actors perform, right? So we came to it with production skills or an, an understanding of the process that that helped us come in and say, oh, I think you can, you can cut a few frames there and actually know what we were talking about.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:23):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin, and I got a great guest for you today. This is my, this is one of my, this is one of my first bosses, actually. And yeah, yeah, John, it's true. I am here with John Abel one of the partner, he, his partners Glen Berger. I'll have him on in a future episode. So tell him to just relax. I know he wants to

    Jonathan Aibel (00:00:51):

    Be, let's see how this goes

    Michael Jamin (00:00:52):

    First. Yeah, he'll, exactly. So yeah, and this guy's got a ton of credit. We, he's a real life movie writer. So let me give, I'm gonna sell you a, I'm gonna sell you, John, and then I'll let you talk for a second. But first let me talk, let me sell you up.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:04):

    That's fine.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:04):

    Proof everyone knows, like, I'm a, people say I'm a good creative writer. Wrong. I'm gonna prove it by selling you here, by building you up. So he's written on a u s a, he wrote run on King of the Hill for many years, including he was the showrunner, season five, cos Showrunner Mar. He also worked on Married to the Kelly's. That was his tv. That was his run in TV, I think. And then he went on to write Kung fu Panda, Kung fu Panda two, Kung fu Panda three proving like, you know, milking that thing, just milking that Kung fu panda thing. And then trolls, monster Trucks. And you've had a couple, couple upcoming stuff I want to talk about. Jonathan Abel, welcome to the show.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:46):

    Thank you. That was okay.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:48):

    What wasn't good? What should I have said?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:01:49):

    Well, you, king of the Hill is six years and like, that was six six. That was great TV. And then, and then you kinda mentioned some things. I was on six weeks with the same,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:59):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:00):

    The same emphasis.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:01):

    I'm pretty sure, but I'm pretty sure. So they're not equal, you're saying, you're saying, well,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:07):

    You know, some, some are hits and some are are learning experiences. I'm

    Michael Jamin (00:02:12):

    Wearing my shirt for you by the, my King of the Hilter. But let, lemme tell you something. Let me tell you let me tell you something else. So will you, you guys, you and your partner Glenn hired basically, hi. You and Richard Pell hired us to be on King of the Hill. I think there was an opening because of Paul Lieberstein who left. And we literally took his office. So I credit I thank you for that. Oh, you're

    Jonathan Aibel (00:02:30):


    Michael Jamin (00:02:31):

    When we got, when we joined the show, it was like, you know, it's your responsibility to get up to speed. So I asked for every script that was written or every, you know, anything on DVD that was already shot. And I distinctly remember reading all your guys' scripts, you and you and Glen Scripps, and just thinking, man, every script you wrote was just tight. It was so tight. And you'd come outta the box with a big joke. And it was just so well written. And like, you know, I didn't, there was 20 writers in the show, but I remember that your, your scripts always stood out like, man, these are always,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:02):

    You know, I

    Michael Jamin (00:03:03):

    Appreciate that. Always good. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:04):

    I also appreciate your your diligence.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:07):

    My diligence

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:08):

    Well, to come into a job and say, let me read everything. Lemme see

    Michael Jamin (00:03:12):

    Everything. Oh, is, I didn't

    Jonathan Aibel (00:03:13):

    Think that was, it was a bit of a challenge with a hundred episodes.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:16):

    Always dreadful. The whole thing was a horrible experience. It's a lot to, but I remember. But you have to do it. You have to. That's how you get the voice of the characters and but the, to like, what kind of show episodes are being told. I remember, I dunno if I ever told you this, but I remember we had just, we were on just Shoot Me, you know, for the first four years. And I remember after the first season, king of the Hill was up against to shoot me. And I remember I was actually house-sitting for Steve Levitan for some reason. And and we were watching, I, we threw a big party. He, he wasn't in the house. And, and we were watching King of the Hill. It just came on. It was the, it was, you know, the Bobby's falls in love with the, with the dummy. And I, and I remember watching thinking, oh no, this is the competition. <Laugh>, this is really good <laugh>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:01):

    That we used to watch. Just shoot me all the time in the writer's room feel that same way.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:06):

    Is that right? I didn't know that. I don't, I don't think so,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:08):

    But I, I just feels like it would, it should be.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:11):

    Yeah. You, you actually used to reciprocate.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:13):

    That'd be a nice thing to say.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:14):

    It would've been. But yeah, so Damn, Michelle was, and I still get, I, even today I get a ton of compliments on, on King of Hill. But tell me more. Tell me how you broken. How did you guys even get on King of Hill Hill?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:04:28):

    We were very lucky in that before we even moved to California, we, Glen and I met, we were management consultants and we met someone at this consulting firm who was college roommate with Greg Daniel's wife. And when we first started thinking maybe we don't wanna be consultants and would prefer to be comedy writers, she said, you should talk to Suzanne. Give her a call. So we called Suzanne to say, could we, we know you're Frank, could we talk to you about writing? And she said, you really wanna talk to my husband? So she put Greg on the phone. He didn't know who we were. We, he then I, what

    Michael Jamin (00:05:11):

    Was Greg doing at that time?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:05:13):

    He had moved to la I think he was doing Seinfeld at the time or had done the freelance, the parking spot on Seinfeld. Oh, I didn't, yeah, he'd come off of snl.

    Michael Jamin (00:05:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:05:25):

    And he gave the most basic advice that now you would probably give people, or you'd Google this. And it was, and Glen wrote it down, it was moved to Los Angeles. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Okay, okay. What else do we need to do? Like the how do you become a writer? And just super helpful in that regard. And then we moved to LA and never ran into him until King of the Hill. We had our first meeting and Glenn, I think he may have brought the pad and said, it's your fault. We're here.

    Michael Jamin (00:06:00):

    But how did you get the meeting

    Jonathan Aibel (00:06:02):

    That, that it was just through our agent. There's this new show starting up, it's animated. I don't wanna do animation. I know, I know. And it's non gild. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:06:12):

    I know about

    Jonathan Aibel (00:06:13):

    That. And you're gonna work in a full year for 12 episodes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Well, this sounds terrible, but it's Greg, it's Mike Judge who's coming off of Beavis and Butthead. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And you will learn a lot whether it's a hit or not. And we thought, well, that's probably the best reason to, to take a job. There's nothing to see. There was no pilot even, there's just a script. Right. There are no voices to listen to. It had been cast. So it was really just going under the assumption that, well, anytime you think something's gonna be a hit, it never is. So let's take a job just based on the people. And I don't think at that moment we had there, it wasn't like, do we take this or do we take this? It was, well, do we take this or do we just hang on? And, but you had no, I think maybe we hadn't,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:04):

    You didn't have any other credits before that, did you?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:06):

    No, we had done, we started off, oh, we did an episode of the George Carlin show. We had done, you

    Michael Jamin (00:07:13):

    Were right down the hall from me. I didn't know that. Cause I was a pa.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:15):

    Right. Well, we had done a freelance. A freelance,

    Michael Jamin (00:07:17):

    Doesn't matter. You were in the Warner Brothers building, building 1 22 or something. Cuz that's where it was.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:21):

    Well, here. No, cuz here's our great George Carlin story is that we wrote this script for Sam Simon. Right. We turned it in. We get a call a few weeks later from someone at the studio who said, great episode. And we said, oh, you read the script. Well read the script. Did tape last night.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:42):

    <Laugh> <laugh> just slapping the face. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:47):

    We were not invited to our own tape. So we watched, we had a party, we watched it at home. Look, our first, our first big credit

    Michael Jamin (00:07:54):

    That, but that's amazing too. How did you get, how did you pitch that? You're skipping all this good stuff.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:07:59):

    Ah, our agent just back then we were, we were new. I think we had a couple, we've done a, a sketch show on Nickelodeon that got us in the guild that got us an agent. And interesting. He just put us up for stuff. So one of them was this freelance of of Carlin. And one of the other things is we went to pitch Sam mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, who it was, it was a hazard. Like he had a deadly sharp throwing stars on his table. So you'd go to like, oh, what's the paperwork? Don't touch those. They were razor sharp. And he also had a couple vicious dobermans

    Michael Jamin (00:08:42):

    In the office. Yeah, I remember that. I remember that.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:08:44):

    Then he also had, what we assumed was his story editor sitting at the table as we pitched him some story ideas. And then we left and realized, no, that was his next meeting. The next writer who's gonna pitch story idea sat at the table while we pitched ours. And then we left. And he stayed and pitched his,

    Michael Jamin (00:09:02):

    That's a little

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:03):

    Unusual. It was a very, it was, it was a very odd thing. But that worked out in the sense that we got the freelance

    Michael Jamin (00:09:10):

    Your scripts must have been very good then. I mean, cuz

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:13):

    I don't think they, I don't think so.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:15):

    It must have been if you would've got an agent that easily and got to be able to pitch these shows.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:19):

    Well, the, the agent, I don't know if it was easy. We, well, what happened was what Mo what happens to most people is you come out and you think, we need to find an agent. We need to get an agent. We're not gonna get a job without an agent. Right. And then you meet all these agents, they love you, they love your stuff, and they say, get a job. I'm happy to sign you.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:37):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:38):

    And we realized we're not going to get work, but just an agent. We need to get work somehow. And just by knowing people, talking to people, we wound up at M T V. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> doing a game show.

    Michael Jamin (00:09:54):

    Which show was that?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:09:55):

    It was called Trashed. Think It finally Made it there. We just worked on the pilot and then got to know people on the, on the hallway. We share, we were in damn TV buildings. And next door were some writers on this Nickelodeon show. And a couple of the writers had just left. And someone said, oh, I hear they're, they're looking to hire. Wow. So we said, Hey, we, we've got sketches. Can we, can we meet? We the executive producer read our stuff, met with us, and said, yeah, I'll hire these guys. We went to our agent, the, the potential agent, and said, we just got offered a guild job. Do you wanna represent us? You, there's no negotiation other than you say, yeah, I think I can get my boss to sign you. Sure. And that was it. And then we were in the Guild. We were having fun writing, and I had had credits, but I, I wouldn't say we necessarily knew how to write. We knew how to be funny and come up with gags mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But the idea of how do you write a scene, how to you write a script was right. Was a little bit mysterious.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:01):

    But, and so you, I so you met Glen, you were just, you were, he was a coworker at when you were in your consulting firm. And then how did you both, like, did you, so you never even dreamed as a kid of being a writer. It was ne like, how did this come out of, where did this come from? This writing thing?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:11:14):

    I don't think I had any idea that people wrote for a living.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:20):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:11:22):

    Like, you didn't, you'd watch shows and you wouldn't think, I don't, I don't really know what I was thinking. Like, if I went to see a play on Broadway, I knew a human had written it, but there's something about TV where you would think like, I don't know, those are characters who would say these words and you don't think of 10 people in a room writing those words. So it wasn't until Stimson's and Seinfeld started breaking through that, I started feeling like, whoa, there's TV here that I'd wanna write. And later I found out it was because people just a few years ahead of me at Harvard,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:01):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:01):

    Were writing those shows. So I was sort of thinking like, why does this feel like it's my sensibility without realizing I was kind of swimming in the same water

    Michael Jamin (00:12:09):

    They had? You weren't on the Lampoon then. No.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:11):

    You didn't have a no idea that this is something,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:14):

    How did you know you were funny then? Like, you know, I

    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:18):

    Mean, I, I think I always had a sense of humor and was known for being funny slash maybe sometimes disruptive, but cleverly disruptive in school. Right. Like, I was, I'd done musical theater, so I was okay fam like, I, I wasn't like unfamiliar with entertainment.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:40):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:42):

    But that was different from thinking, you know, that's something you can make a living at. And then it was right around that time where these articles started coming out about the number of people who had gone from the East coast to LA and how many Letterman writers.

    Michael Jamin (00:12:56):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:12:56):

    And SNL writers and Simpson's writer and Seinfeld and Frazier and Cheers and all these. That opened up my eyes to wait a minute, this is, you could make a living,

    Michael Jamin (00:13:07):

    But when you,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:07):

    I went to, I had no idea.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:09):

    When you quit your job, then you came to LA you'd had no job. Right. You were what? You were just like, I'm gonna live off my savings. Or what would you do?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:16):

    Right. We, we, we saved up from, I I, I think Glen says he sent away for grad school applications. His second day of work is how, how quickly he knew that place wasn't for him.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:30):

    He did it just <laugh>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:32):

    It was a little, a little later in the process, but we started writing at night. Like we found out you gotta write a spec

    Michael Jamin (00:13:40):

    Script. Right. And you guys are roommates too?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:43):

    No. No. We, we weren't, but we wouldn't sometimes call in sick and then work on our

    Michael Jamin (00:13:48):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:13:49):

    Ourselves or Glen would stay home and, and turn the light onto my cubicle and put a Right. Put my suit jacket over my chair. <Laugh>, you know, it was

    Michael Jamin (00:13:58):

    All these, oh my God. <Laugh>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:00):

    Our heart wasn't really in it, but we stayed and did the job and, and saved up.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:05):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:06):

    So that we could move to LA And we didn't move out to LA like I think we were, we approached it, the way we approached consulting, which was this, this was my job as a consultant, was I was given a list of doctors and it, we had sent them a survey and it was go down this list, call each doctor's office and ask them if they filled out the survey. So it's like, hello, Dr. Levine, my name is John Avon. I'm calling on behalf of this. And we've sent a survey. I was just wondering if you had a chance to, to, and I would just have to do that for hours. And the skill it taught me was just pick up the phone and call people.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:47):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:47):

    So when we were thinking of moving to LA, it was, oh, you should like calling Suzanne.

    Michael Jamin (00:14:53):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:14:54):

    Instead of saying, ah, she doesn't know me. It was just, okay, she's just like a doctor. I'm calling you. She doesn't want to talk to me. She'll just, you weren't

    Michael Jamin (00:15:01):

    To call, were intimidated at all. You, you had, you weren't intimidated at all.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:04):

    I don't think I knew to be intimidated. We were in Boston at the time,

    Michael Jamin (00:15:08):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:09):

    <Affirmative>. We didn't, you weren't surrounded by people who had this dream of going to Hollywood and then came home with their tail between their legs and said, now it's awful out there. Right. It was, that place seems fun and sunshine and I knew people, people from school, people, friends of my brothers had lived were, were out there. So when we showed up, it felt like there was a, a group, there was a, you weren't alone. It was there other people here pursuing the dream, but not so many that you felt like there's no chance this is gonna happen. Like we were, I don't know if cocky is the word, but because we didn't know any better. We were just know it's gonna work out

    Michael Jamin (00:15:48):

    And it

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:49):

    We're gonna, we didn't

    Michael Jamin (00:15:49):

    How long did it take for you to get work, but when you moved out here, it sounds like a fa it was fast.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:15:53):

    Well, we moved out in September and we got the game show started in December. And then I think amazing by the following summer we were on the Nickelodeon show.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:07):

    What show was that? What was that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:08):

    Called? It was called Roundhouse.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:10):

    I don't know that one.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:11):

    Right. Bruce Bruce Gowers who just passed away two days ago. Who did The Queen, the Bohemian Rapley video. He was the director of it.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:19):

    Oh wow.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:20):

    But there's a little little roundhouse trivia. It was really fun. It was a lot of in living color writers.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:25):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:26):

    Between gigs were there. So it had dancing and original music and it was a sketch show for tweens on on sncc.

    Michael Jamin (00:16:36):

    Sncc. Is that what it was? Really? Yeah. It's so funny cuz this show here was on Nick at night, which was supposed to be not Nickelodeon and Nick at night. No, it's

    Jonathan Aibel (00:16:43):


    Michael Jamin (00:16:44):

    But it's not because it, Nick, I don't remember if Nick at night started at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM or whatever. But see, my, my partner I siever it used to say, but it's the, it's the babysitting channel up until, you know, 8 0 1 and then it becomes racy. But the parents don't know that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:00):

    <Laugh>. Right. <laugh> no one's turning you.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:02):

    Yeah. So the, we got a lot of people

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:04):

    From was Saturday night. Saturday night. Nick is a whole other

    Michael Jamin (00:17:07):

    Ball game. Oh, is that what that is? Sncc? Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:10):

    I guess they could have also done it Sunday without changing the name. Yeah. But it was Saturday

    Michael Jamin (00:17:15):

    Or Wednesdays. Wednesdays or Thursdays. Anything, any day that ends with an s

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:23):

    That's true. Wednesday, Wednesdays Nick.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:25):

    Yeah. Anyway, that's why we're not in the marketing department.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:29):

    My point though is by the time we got to King of the Hill

    Michael Jamin (00:17:32):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:17:34):

    We had had, we had worked on a, a show that was real old school in its joke telling, like real strong set up three a page, boom, boom, boom, boom. Then we worked on another show that was very emotional where it was single woman in the city kind of show. And that was, it wasn't, not funny, but it was as a writer there it was, wait a minute, I'm supposed to tell a story that isn't just the situation of situation comedy. It wasn't just the character loses her driver's license and has to go to the D M V and this crazy stuff happens. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it was thinking about the, the internal life and they're Okay. That's an interesting then,

    Michael Jamin (00:18:23):

    But then when did you learn actually how to write like story, a story structure? When did, is that King of the Hill?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:29):

    I think so. The other, the, the show that was very joke heavy. The other thing you learn on a joke heavy show is, is the, the tricks. The okay, someone comes in and says something and then at the end of the scene someone repeats it in a callback and

    Michael Jamin (00:18:44):

    Right, right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:45):

    Then people laugh and the music plays and you dissolve slowly to the next scene. And they're, they're like they're like weapons. They could be in that they could be used for good or evil.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:55):

    Right. Right. So

    Jonathan Aibel (00:18:57):

    By the time though, we got to King of the Hill, I remember pitching the very first week to Greg and you just have no idea what this show you're thinking the Simpson. So, okay. I remember we pitched something like Dale's an exterminator. So he tens a big house and then people think it's a circus and starts showing up at it.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:19):

    Oh, I like that

    Jonathan Aibel (00:19:20):

    <Laugh>. And Greg's like, oh, that's the little, probably by season eight that would've been a season eight idea. That's good. But in the beginning I think that's a little not observational enough. And, and, and it's sort of like, well what do you mean to define observational was the, the question like how do you find comedy out of human, actual human behavior?

    Michael Jamin (00:19:48):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:19:48):

    In the way, how do you observe what a person would do in a, in a real life situation? And no one had really done that in animation, which was Yeah. The, I think the brilliance of Mike and Greg was to say, well, what if you take this style that's associated with unreality Right. And give it more reality than anything else you've seen in animation.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:09):

    And that's what was unusual because we used to say in many ways just king of the Hill was less of a cartoon than, than just shooting me. I mean, <laugh> just shoot me was more of a cartoon. You know, it was, but, and it's unusual cause you'd say, I I even back then I was like, well why is this show animated? Like, cuz you no one's eyes popping out, no one's running on air. You know, no one's doing any Daffy Duck stuff. But I guess it was just because you could shoot it like a movie and it could be real. But you didn't have the, you didn't have the budget. Well

    Jonathan Aibel (00:20:39):

    You're probably overthinking it cuz it was just the real reason is they had to deal with Mike and Mike's an animator and this is what he wanted to do.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:46):

    <Laugh>. I guess so. But usually why is it animated? Like, you know, other

    Jonathan Aibel (00:20:50):

    Than because Yeah. That's, that's why are, why are, why is this? It's cuz cuz Mike wanted, he saw it. No, that was his thing. And, and he didn't. And, and that's great. That's as, that's as good a reason. And how,

    Michael Jamin (00:21:04):

    How much was, and I've heard stories, but I think people wanna hear this. How involved was Mike like literally on a day-to-day basis in those early years with the show?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:13):

    Huh. I can't say I know the full scope of it because I'm sure he was more involved in the production,

    Michael Jamin (00:21:22):

    But he wasn't in the writer's room. I mean, I know like,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:24):

    No, cuz he was living in Texas.

    Michael Jamin (00:21:26):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:21:27):

    So he would come in and then we would do the story retreats, maybe you remember. Yeah. Or we'd go to Texas and and meet with him, or he would come in or we'd go to his house. It re it was Greg on the day today. And then I don't really know what the, the communication between the two of them was. Right. I, I'm pretty sure Mike's deal was, I have a life in Texas and I don't wanna move to LA and do this grind cuz he had done that grind for Beefs and, but, and the Beavers and Butthead movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:01):

    Right, right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:03):

    So I think that's what Greg took on.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:06):

    But yeah, he,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:06):

    It was a great combination.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:08):

    He have notes though. He I remember, you know, even on on the, on the audio track, you could sometimes hear him say, I'm, that that line's not right. He'd tweak a line or whatever, you know? Yeah, yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:19):

    Yeah, you get his little I'm not gonna say that. How about

    Michael Jamin (00:22:23):

    <Laugh> not gonna do that. But, but then, okay, so then you guys rose up to the ranks cuz only in five or six years you were running the show, which is a pretty fast climb to be able to run a TV show after only that short amount of time is kind of crazy almost. You know, I

    Jonathan Aibel (00:22:38):

    Think we were a and meanwhile feels like, oh, we're not getting anywhere in this town. And some of that is because you do a show. We were, we'd probably done a year of it worked under the year before it even premiered. Right. So you're putting all this into it and you don't know if it's gonna be a hit. And then the surprise was, it, it was doing really well. And then you have no time to enjoy it because you're halfway through starting season two. It was, it was both really exciting and just crazy exhausting. And it

    Michael Jamin (00:23:12):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:23:13):

    Yeah. Like 3:00 AM And that's sort of fun sometimes

    Michael Jamin (00:23:19):

    When you're young, it's in

    Jonathan Aibel (00:23:21):

    The beginning where it's, hey, it's like college, right? We're all hanging out. We're just being funny. And then you start dating and your partners saying, what time are you gonna be home? I don't know. Yeah. Or what time do you think I really, I don't know. Someone could come into this room in two minutes and say, we're good. Go home. Or someone could come in in two minutes and say, I just got Mike's notes. We need to start over. Yeah. You don't know. And that's a, when you're a staff writer, not so hard because you just do what you're told when as you move up and take on more responsibility. It, it definitely became less fun. Aspects of it were fun. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> directing actors was really fun. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> working with editing and storyboard artists and the animation directors fun. But the more stuff like, can I go to a dentist appointment on Wednesday? Let me see what's the staff, what, what room am I in today? Like, I, I left consulting because I didn't wanna be a, a manager. And that's wh part of show running is that, and for us, that was the, that wasn't the fun part. The fun part, as we say, Glenn and I would note you rise up and become a showrunner based on the strength of your writing. And then you get to a position where you don't have time to write anymore.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:41):

    Oh. It's not only that people, cause I people, they reach out to me all the time, you know, that I wanna be a showrunner. It's like, I just wanted to be a writer. Like, cuz be a show. It's like you just said, you, none of us become comedy writers because we wanna be managers. Like that's not, and when you're a show owner, that's what you're doing. You are managing other people. Yeah. And and, and we're not equipped, we're not prepared for it. And we don't necessarily even want to do that. And, you know, it's a, it's a, it's a hard

    Jonathan Aibel (00:25:06):

    Leap. Right. And it was, it was definitely challenging also, cuz you're putting all this work in, then you realize, this isn't even my show. This is Greg and Mike's vision, and you're just trying to fulfill their vision. Right.


    Like, I can see running my, if Im running my own show saying I love this idea and this is my baby and I'm gonna protect. And I just, I want to be the ur here. I want to see my vision through. But so much of show running isn't that at all? It's, it's, Greg would describe it as it's sort of like pottery where you would make a pot, put it on the shelf and all right, what's the next one? Sometimes they break, sometimes they're not quite formed. But you don't have time. You gotta get to the next Right. Get to make another pot.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:53):

    But do you have, and I wanna get to your film career, which is very impressive, but do you have, did you have any like, eyes to go back and do any kind of television, even creating your own show?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:03):

    We, after King of the Hill, we, we wrote a few pilots. We were at Fox and writing pilots. And it was a weird time in TV where every year Fox would say, we don't want single camera shows. We need, we need Multicam, we need to pair them with whatever

    Michael Jamin (00:26:20):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:21):

    Hit they had there. We need another, we need to pair this. So we'd write a multi cam and then they would only pick up single camera shows. But I think that happened two or three years or what

    Michael Jamin (00:26:29):

    Yeah. What's,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:26:30):

    What's going on? So we started realizing, I, I think we were kind of spoiled by King of the Hill. It was, it was just creatively, it was just an amazing show. And so fun to write those characters and work with those actors and work with that staff that after that it was, I don't, it's hard to just go and do sitcoms. I mean, like, I enjoyed the form, but I couldn't see myself spending 10 more years doing that. And it felt like the the air was coming out of that format.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:07):

    Then how did you, how did you jump into features?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:10):

    Well, it started because King, as I mentioned, king of the Hill was not a guild go in the first years mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So we're doing it, we're in our second or third year, and we realized we're gonna lose our health insurance. What, what? I mean like, it was a very adult sounding realization of, oh, health insurance. What I, I hadn't even been thinking. Because when you're in the Writer's Guild, it's amazing. On a time I was 23, I had health insurance.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:40):

    But you had health through the Animators Guild though, through tag.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:43):

    We weren't animated animation. We were No, it was not unfamiliar

    Michael Jamin (00:27:47):

    Anybody. Oh no. Wow. I didn't know that.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:27:51):

    So we said to our agent, we need, we need either freelance episodes

    Michael Jamin (00:28:00):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:01):

    Or we need to write a feature. And she said, well, do you have a feature spec? And we said, no. And then, and to her credit, she said, there's this director, he's been hired to direct a reboot of Freddy, or of Friday, it was Freddy versus Jason.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:20):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:21):

    And he loves King of the Hill. And basically it was, can you give him a fun, fun, he's got an idea for story fun characters that he can then kill. Like it was right around Scream had come out. So there was this, the, the Birth of Hard comedy.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:38):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:39):

    So he said, yeah, we can do that. And we, we met him, we got along, he loved the show. We, we love working with him. So we wrote this script, which then, which then didn't get produced. But it was, oh, this features is kind of like writing King of the Hill, but longer.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:59):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:28:59):

    You just kind of write King of the Hill and then you keep writing and keep writing and then you have a hundred pages of King of the Hill instead of 22. Right. But the three act structures similar. And the idea of thinking about a character and how do you write a character, we realized it's kind of more cinematic than episodic television. Like the things we were learning were more applicable to writing features than writing sitcoms at that point.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:28):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:29):

    So when our television deal was nearing its clothes, and we were thinking, do we renew it? Do we throw our hats out there as, as showrunners for hire? And we thought, you know, let's, let's write, maybe we can write some more features. And we just started getting some rewrites, doing some originals.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:50):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:52):

    And you can start making a, a decent living writing movies and never get made.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:57):

    Oh, for sure. At least you could then. I don't know if it's now

    Jonathan Aibel (00:29:59):

    Yes. Yes. Then you then you could. But it was super frustrating. Yeah. Because everything would be about to go and then there would be a reason mm-hmm. <Affirmative> it wouldn't go. And there were none of those reasons were under your control. And you, you could, you would do a great job and everyone would love it. And then, oh, this movie just came out. Yeah. Basically the same premise. So, sorry.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:20):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:21):

    And that's when we had been meeting this, this fantastic exec name Christine Belsen, who was then at Henson.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:30):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:30):

    <Affirmative>. And we were huge Muppet fans. Right. And she brought us in and we totally hit it off. And she said, I wanna do a Muppet kung fu movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:39):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:30:40):

    <Affirmative>. And we thought, oh my God, yeah, that would be so great. Yes. Sign us up for that. And we said, but you know, we read that that Dreamers is doing this Jack Black, kung fu kung fu Panda movie. And she said, oh, those movies take forever. I don't think it's, I I wouldn't worry about that. So then we don't hear from her for a while. We're worried what's going on. Then we get a call from her. Okay. So I moved over to Dreamworks and we're looking for writers who come from Panda.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:08):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:31:08):

    And we said, oh, okay. So it was just a case where it started off simple enough, they asked us to come in for just two weeks of consulting to see what they had underway and talk about the story. Cuz it was in a rough

    Michael Jamin (00:31:25):

    But had be different. Dreamworks has a whole different system over there. So what do you mean consultant? Cause I know they worked very differently from other studios.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:31:33):

    Well, so there had been writers who, well kind of what happens is, you know, king, king of the hill, the Simpsons though, shows very writer driven. Right. It doesn't have time. You don't have time to be anything other than ri writer driven. So the animators are given the script and the audio. Right. And they're So draw this,

    Michael Jamin (00:31:54):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:32:18):

    And in feature animation, Dreamworks especially, they may take that script and they'll take tens, the first 10 scenes of act, the first half the movie and give it to 10 different storyboard artists who will take that and read it and say, I see what this scene is doing, but maybe I can do it this way. And they will draw something and write it and animate and, and storyboard it and often record the dialogue themselves. And it's sort of like almost like what is it? 32 short films about Glen Gould where you end up with these almost mini movies in the beginning of a movie anyway. Like at the start of a development process where you would watch this movie and say, okay, that PO is different from this PO who's different from that po. And you watch it and you think, this doesn't make any sense, but I can start to see a story in there.


    And then they'll do it iteratively. So then you're on that scene there, that moment I really understood who the character was. So more of that moment. So by way of saying, you may have someone who came in and wrote a script, but they might be long gone at this point cuz now it's been torn up it's storyboard and now you're walk working off transcripts where they've written down what's on screen. And that's what you're rewriting off of. So by the team time we came in, there was like a movie ish. Like you could, there was something in black and white you could watch mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that everyone knew wasn't necessarily coherent. But the point isn't coherence. The point is what, what jumps out at you? Like we watched and said, oh, I think what you're doing is, it's kind of like a Cinderella story, right?


    He's the guy in the beginning who wants to go to the kung fu ball mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and can't go. And then the Prince points at him, and then he goes on this thing, and now the bad guy's coming for him and he doesn't know. And is he the chosen one? Or isn't he the chosen one? It's like those are like, now it's, it feels a little glib for me to say that as if it were obvious. It, it was, it's it was not it obvious. It's, it's, you're sitting there thinking, is it this story? No. Maybe it's the story. Some of it is, there are, there are two, Jack, Jack has, Jack Black has two kind of two great. Our type of our typical characters. One is the high fidelity like the jerk Yeah. Who deep down is suffering from low self-esteem. Right. And then he has the friendly guy who deep down is suffering from low self-esteem.


    Right. So some of the, the production of the, the development of Kung Fu Panda was, which, which Jack is in our movie. Is he the guy who's chosen to be this kung fu guy and then realizes, oh my God, this is great. Now I don't have to work anymore. Now I can just go to the palace and hang out and relax and, and live it up until he finds out there's a responsibility. So there was some of that version of the movie. Then there's the guy who's wishes more than anything. He can be the kung fu master, but knows because of he's a big panda. That's impossible. Cuz Panas don't do kung fu and then his dream comes true. And then he has to, you know, that's what the movie ended up being. But when you started seeing that character in the opening reel, you'd say, whoa, I, I wanna, I, I wanna know more Right about that. And that's the magic of these time. You had

    Michael Jamin (00:35:51):

    To sense of it. But see that's what I'm, I'm curious though, cuz for me it seems counterintuitive. It feel, it feels like you're putting the cart ahead of the horse. It's like, you know, I wonder if, was that, did you feel the same way? Because usually, you know, okay, we have an idea. We come, we have Ari, the writers come up with a th a thread, you know, through line and there's a story and Well,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:09):

    It's, it's inefficient for sure. But I think you can look at animated movies for the most part as a genre and say for the most part they're really well constructed.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:22):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:23):

    And I think this is, this is why, because if a writer's gonna, it's very hard to create a great movie off of six drafts, even eight drafts, 10 drafts. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and, and just see it on paper and say, yeah, that's gonna work. Because no one knows how to read a script.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:43):

    I see.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:36:44):

    Like, even as a professional writer, I don't think I could read a script and say, this is gonna be an amazing movie. You can say this is a great script. Right. But is it gonna be an amazing movie? I don't know, an animation, you're making the movie as you're writing the movie, so it's not you, it makes sense. Theoretical. Is this gonna be good? It's ah, I, I see that moment. I see Poe and his father. Right. Having that moment where Poe is afraid to tell his dad what he wants to do with his life. I see. That's one thing. Makes sense. How do we build on that?

    Michael Jamin (00:37:17):

    Right. That makes sense to So it's very collaborative with you and the animators then.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:37:21):

    Oh yeah. The storyboard team, the directors, the producer, the actors, Uhhuh <affirmative>. It was it very different from TV animation. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:32):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:37:32):

    Very different. And I, our, our, one of our first the first moment we realized that was the producer said, I I want you to sit in a room with this guy, a storyboard artist and talk about the scene and what it could be. So we sat with him and we worked line by line. We hopped it and said, it could be this could be this. Yeah. I could draw this, do this. Said great, we're gonna write it up. We wrote it up, gave it into him. Three weeks later we go to watch the scene. It's nothing at all we discussed and went to the producer, but a, a thing. She said, yeah, I know, but I know he's kind of out there. And I wanted to see what he would take your stuff and give you, you know, if you, if all you want, if all you're expecting is the best version of what you've already done, you're closing off the chance that you'll be surprised by something.

    Michael Jamin (00:38:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:38:25):

    So that's cool. On the other hand, sometimes in their scenes where you just say, can you just please do the, the pages? Right. Like, we've thought a lot about this. We understand. And there's some scenes in that first movie, which went pretty much from our pages to the final version. Cuz they were just compact. They made sense. Right. There wasn't a lot of room, but there wasn't a need for a lot of exploration. It was okay, that works. So let's just get that right going and move on to the the

    Michael Jamin (00:38:52):

    Others. So they brought you in under contract for a couple of weeks just to see how you would respond to the animators?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:38:59):

    Yeah, we had a after, well, no, to see what we would, it wasn't a trial. It was, they thought in 10 days we would give them an outline that they could work off of.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:12):

    But even still, you, they, they knew that they would probably go off via the reservation and you'd be required to Yeah. But that's

    Jonathan Aibel (00:39:19):

    Collaborate more. That's, but I think that happened a lot. It wasn't, it was more of then when we pitched our take on it to Jeffrey Katzenberg and he said, great, when you, when can you guys start writing Uhhuh. <Affirmative>? Okay. And then the other people lo looked at each other like, oh, I guess we, I guess we should probably get that, put that deal in place. So then we wrote a draft

    Michael Jamin (00:39:38):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:39:40):

    And then they took the draft and then started going through that process of tearing it apart. And at, at which point they realized it would probably be helpful to have us around. And I think it, what helped is that coming from tv, we, we knew storyboards, we knew how to read storyboards. We knew what happens in an editing room and how actors perform. Right. So we came to it with production skills or an, an understanding of the process that that helped us come in and say, oh, I think you could, you can cut a few frames there and actually know what we were talking about. At, at the same time, the, the big difference was television is it's a, it's a sprint as you know. Yeah. It's, you need to get this done because the actors are gonna be here at 10:00 AM to read this and record this.


    So you need something for them. So we were approached feature animation, we gotta get this done, we gotta get this done. And then what you realize is that you, that's the exact wrong way to do because you, you get it all done now then when stuff starts changing, you've already written stuff that's, it's obsolete before anyone has seen it. Right. It's like animation is best. I think it's like, it's a marathon of sprints where we need, this scene has to go into production and Jack is coming in Thursday to record this. We need these three pages done. All right, we'll get it done, we'll get it done. Great. Now in six weeks, we're gonna need sequence 1500 going into rough layout though. That's the next one. I know it's,

    Michael Jamin (00:41:21):

    But you're working off an an outline. You know what the story is, right?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:41:24):

    You do and you don't. Isn't that, I know that's a weird thing to say, but you, Lenny, I can't tell you the number of boards there that would say big battle, like act three, big battle you know, wrap up epilogue.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:39):

    Is this the way animation movies were done like at Disney back in the day? Is this where they're getting this from?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:41:45):

    It's possible. I I think what where it comes from is that what's your expense, your greatest expense of time. And therefore money is the animator, the person at Disney drawing the cell mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at Dreamworks. That final, the final editor moving frame by frame. That takes a lot of time. And it is such a skill and the people who do it are so brilliant that it's not like you can say we need six more animators who can capture Poe. It's, there's this guy Dan, Dan Wagner, just a brilliant animator and he was the one who could give Poe his soul.


    Right. So you only get so much Dan. So you don't want to give Dan 10 scenes to do and say, we're not sure if these are all gonna work. But, so you are not giving the animators the scenes until they're ready at the same time. The animators can only do so much at the same time. So so while they're working on one scene, there's no reason to have the other scenes done. So it's sort of like you back, you back up into the process and you'd say, well if they can only animate these this much now mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, well let's keep working on those other scenes and make them better and keep playing with them until it's too late. And then we'll, we'll turn 'em around. Right. So you really, you have the time to get it right. And if you said no, let's rush that. We, we gotta get All right. Now there's no reason to.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:16):

    It sounds like this cuz knowing how you guys ran King of the Hill, it sounds like this is like the perfect fit for you because you guys would often rewrite the hell out of a scene trying different ways and just experimenting.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:43:26):

    That was, I I think Thank you. I think it was, it, it it is a good fit for us to, to have said, okay, we've written that scene. There, there are a lot of exercises that are, are kind of cool that you can use, which is stuff like, well let's write the opposite. Right? You have someone come into a scene who's really excited, like, well, what if they came into the scene feeling the other way and that you flipped. You kind of have that, the opportunity to explore

    Michael Jamin (00:43:58):

    More. Right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:43:59):

    And then, and know that there's no punishment for it because the whole point is to experiment.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:05):

    Right. That's the point. So did they keep you under, how does it work? Do they keep you under contract at that point, Dreamworks, to do other movies? Or are you constantly pitching them to get assigned other projects or

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:17):

    That No, we had, we had a, it was great in that it started off, I think it was, we were there four days a week

    Michael Jamin (00:44:25):

    Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:26):

    And I think at the time we were in person then it would be three, then after six months, three days a week, as there's less to change, they need less abuse. So then it was two days a week, then one day a week. And then at the same time we were doing other rewrites in other studios. And I think it was when we got down to one day a week, they said, you know, we have this smoothie monsters versus aliens when you wanna work on that. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:49):

    So you were never squeeze.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:51):

    We were one day monsters. Four days.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:53):

    All right. So you were always

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:54):

    Kind. Yeah, always. Show by show.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:56):

    I see. You're always jumping. Right. So it was

    Jonathan Aibel (00:44:58):

    Never, and then, and it, it was nice cuz you know, you don't wanna, we liked it because it led us take the projects that spoke to us that Right. Looked like they were gonna be fun. While also, like, the great thing about Panda was it was a hit came out. It was a hit. And when you've written a movie, it's a hit. People want you to write their movies. Right. So it, and and also people want you to write movies similar to the movie that was just a hit.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:28):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:29):

    So it didn't matter that we had done King The Hill or other stuff. It was, oh, they, they wrote Fu Pan, they should write the Chipmunks movies. We'll offer that to them.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:38):

    Right. Right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:39):

    So talking Animal, oh, here's another talking animal.

    Michael Jamin (00:45:42):

    So did you have to

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:43):

    Ever Thenn Bozer,

    Michael Jamin (00:45:46):

    Did you have to pitch, when you go on further assignments, are they pretty much yours because of, or do you have to pitch? Do you have to win that assignment?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:45:54):

    It's always a little of both. I mean, look, we were very, we were very lucky in that they weren't bake offs where Yeah. Six people are coming in to pitch this. It was, I think that the Chipmunks people really like Kung Fu Panda. It was just a rewrite. Can you come? It was over Christmas.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:16):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:46:17):

    <Affirmative>. So I think that that definitely helped that they found us saying, yeah, we'll give up your, our holiday to, to write these pages for you.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:24):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:46:25):

    But then the, the luck was these were, these became franchises. So then they come you for Comfort Panda Two and Comfort Panda Three and Chipmunks three. Right. And, and then we through people knew what Dreamwork got to SpongeBob. So then you'd do SpongeBob to second SpongeBob movie that led to the third SpongeBob movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:44):

    I didn't even mention those. Cause that's not even on your I M D B. We'll have to update that when we get off the, the Zoom. Yeah. What update your page? I didn't know any of this. I didn't know you did the I didn't know you did that. And so, okay. Because that's a big deal. Cause I, I remember, you know, when Si and I, we did, we did a couple of movies. We sold a couples, they didn't get made. We sold a couple movies and then we were all we're brought into you know, we didn't realize they were bake offs. We didn't, so we, we pitched for, you know, a couple big companies, I don't have to mention what they are. And, and we're told Yeah, you got the, you got it. You got it. And then only to discover that someone else got it. We didn't even know o other people were trying to get, like, we had no idea. And that's a lot. You're talking about months and months of heartbreaking wasted work and then the project never even made. So, but you don't really have it's true to deal with that True. Because of your level, you know. Yes,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:47:34):

    Yes and no. The the no is if they're, if you've worked with them on Kung fu Panda one, two, and three, there's a good chance they'll come to you for Kung fu Panda four.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:46):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:47:47):

    So, and if you hit it off, feel like they may say, come in with some ideas and they like an idea. So they're not just saying, here's the deal before you've pitched anything. So there were meetings, but you know, they know you can deliver. That's kind of the main thing. Right. If it's people who you don't really know, then yeah. It's, they're rebooting this franchise and their hearing takes. And what we've learned, actually the hard way is if you're going to put yourself in that situation, you want to put as, I don't wanna say as little work as possible. You want to, you wanna do the right amount of work. That's the the best way where, but it's, we've, we've gone in and we've pitched I know, but we've gone in where we've pitched, you pitched for 20 minutes and then you realize by the second sentence you said the words they don't want to hear like, oh, that's not the kind of movie they want to do at all.


    Right. And we've learned a better strategies to go and say, here, I I understand you wanna do a silly putty movie. I'm, I'm totally making this up, but here's, you could go this way where Silly Putty, it's a revenge story where it's a John Wick me silly putty. Right. Or it's the origin story of how a serious putty became silly putty because of a, of a family tragedy. And he's the clown who lasts through to you <laugh>. Like, you know, each of these is an archetype movie. Right. And then it's, I don't know if any of those strike, well we kind of do like that. It's like, okay, okay, well we'll come back to you with that. It's

    Michael Jamin (00:49:23):

    Interesting cuz you set the terms then over the pitch chart. Cuz that's not usually how we go in. We, here's the, here's the take, here's our take. And then, you know, you could be your, you could be completely off. I didn't know you had a choice.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:49:33):

    Well, this is a new, this is a new, this is a new realization. Uhhuh <affirmative> having, because you know, kind of what's happened is after doing a lot of these movies, you start to think, okay, I like this. I I know what I'm doing. What's something I don't really know how to do that I haven't done before mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And that's the type of movie where a person isn't necessarily gonna say, Hmm, get me the guys who did Kung Panda. Right. So you gotta hustle for those little more. And those were the ones where I think we were over preparing for many of them by saying we're gonna blow 'em away with the le attention to detail. Yeah. And especially in a Zoom era where you blow 'em away with the tension detail, they're thinking is I just need three sentences to bring the boss. Really? And it's hard because as storytellers you sometimes feel like, I can't, I don't, I'm sorry, I cannot pitch this idea unless I understand the character arts and Yeah. Right. The three acts and you're think, you know, maybe sometimes you can go in and say, and then in the third act there's a huge battle in which the forces of evil have to go against the forces of

    Michael Jamin (00:50:39):

    I see. I would be worried about pitching something that I didn't know how to actually break. You know what I'm saying? Like, you

    Jonathan Aibel (00:50:43):

    Know. Yes, I know. I, I you eventually, you just kind of have to have confidence and say, you know what, we'll figure something out. We'll figure, it's hard. It's really hard to, even at this point we'll go into a rewrite and say, what is that third act set piece? I don't know, but we'll, we'll, we'll figure it out. And it's in the back of your head thing if I don't get that.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:06):

    Yeah. Right.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:51:08):

    And then one day it'll be like, oh, wait a minute. Well, what if this happened? Because we just like, it will, it will come to you. And I think it's, it's a little, maybe this is the animation experience. It's a little foolish to even think I know what the perfect act three is before I've actually written Acts one and two.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:28):

    Yeah. But you and

    Jonathan Aibel (00:51:29):

    Instead rely on your instincts and your experience

    Michael Jamin (00:51:32):

    Wanna build to something you wanna, I I it's so, I'm, I'm telling you how to do it. I have no idea how to do it.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:51:37):

    No, but, but, but of course you will build to it, you know, you need to build to something, but you may not know the ingredients yet. Like, you'll be writing something and say, well, I'll give you a good example. In, in Conco Panda, we wound up having this, this pose, big realization. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that, can I give spoilers after 15 years after movies opened?

    Michael Jamin (00:51:59):

    I believe. I believe so. Okay.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:52:01):

    So Pose opened the scroll in it's blank, and he realizes he's failed. And his father says to him, it's okay, you can be a noodle old man just like me. And by the way, it's time. I told you the secret ingredient in my suit. And the secret ingredient is nothing. There is no secret ingredient. It was just to make something special, you just have to believe it's special. And really, that was just a joke about his father, who in the first scene we wrote that, oh, that'd be funny if he has a secret ingredient soup. And later we find out there is no secret ingredient. It's just a marketing gimmick. And it wasn't until he got to the later scene where someone, I think this bill Damascus, his name, he is, he was then the executive of dreamworks. And he said, I, I, I like what you're doing there.


    You're kind of making comparison between the scroll being blank and the soup, not really having the spec, the specialness, it's that's it into here. And we said, that's not at all what we're, is that what we're doing? That is what we're doing. You know, like, I don't know if we consciously did that or everyone working on the movie was putting that stuff in there. But once, so if we had started with, what is it? We never would've gotten there. But like, it's funny you were talking about ingredients, but we had these ingredients of the father, the soup. We had this scroll that was blank, and it took a whole bunch of time. And thinking for a, a person to look at that with fresh eyes and say, I think you've given yourself the moment you need to do the rest of the movie.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:37):

    Do you think this is how they tell their movies at at Pixar? They have a different process. Do you think

    Jonathan Aibel (00:53:43):

    That I I don't, I don't know all I've, all I know of the process there is, they seem to draw on tablecloths.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:51):

    Is that Oh, really?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:53:51):

    That I don't know. That was at, there's some documentary where they have this, this famous tablecloth that's amazing. Where it was, they weren't, the Brain Trust was meeting. And I said, well, here's some movies I think we could do. There's what if tos come to life? What, what if bugs come to life? What if Bumper Beyond that, I don't really know their process. It's probably somewhat similar.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:13):

    So. Interesting. And when you work, you know, you're, and I'm jumping around, but your partner, Glen, he doesn't, he lives not in la So how do you guys do, what do you work in on Zoom? Is that how you guys

    Jonathan Aibel (00:54:24):

    Yeah, we, oh, we've been Skyped for, for years and years. Just, just audio. Just, I'm a, I'm Aist and I'll tell you why. Just

    Michael Jamin (00:54:32):

    Yeah, go on. And why just audio?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:54:34):

    I'm a Skype because Skype lets you Skype out. So you can call people's cell phones. So if our agent or lawyer or an executive or I know we need them to take a meeting, he's just stays in my ear and All right, let me patch him in and then you can Okay. Call. also we started before Zoom,

    Michael Jamin (00:54:49):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:54:50):

    So we're And why no video?

    Michael Jamin (00:54:52):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:54:54):

    Is, initially it was for bandwidth reasons. It was laggy at Skype at one point, and Glen was out in the sticks and didn't have

    Michael Jamin (00:55:03):

    Because you could have used a cell, a phone. You know that Skype without video. It was a phone.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:55:08):

    Yeah. Yeah. There are a lot of other things we could do, but we realized I don't need to see him staring at me. I, I don't, I, and I, I'm not like the old married couple. We're okay with the silence.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:21):

    And do you,

    Jonathan Aibel (00:55:22):

    When you're going like this and you're not hearing anything,

    Michael Jamin (00:55:24):

    Are you on final draft collaborator? Is that what you're doing? Or what? No. Well, how's

    Jonathan Aibel (00:55:29):

    That? I know there's a lot of, there's a lot of that You could, we could do. And if it's real, really important, we might say, oh, let's, like now we outline on, on Google Docs.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:41):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:55:41):

    Instead of sending Word documents back and forth, is this, are you working on Tuesday's version? No, this is Thursday's. Wait. Now you, now you can see it. And that's useful. But I, I feel like daring, there are two ways to write. One is staring at the words and the other is staring at the sky. Right. And one day, some days I feel like doing one Glen feels like one sometimes the other like, I don't want to even know what's there. I just want to, but who's coming up with stuff? In, well, hopefully Glen, there have been times where we'll come up with a whole thing and then say, you got that. I thought you were typing

    Michael Jamin (00:56:20):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:56:21):

    So we, we usually say you're, you're typing, right? Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:56:24):

    Oh my.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:56:24):

    It's like, oh God, I'm trying to remember. It's rare. Rare. Rarely happens. That's

    Michael Jamin (00:56:29):

    Pretty funny.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:56:30):

    We also lately have been doing more. There's nothing, writing is harder than rewriting uhhuh. So sometimes we'll just say, you do just the worst ugliest pass of those three scenes. I'll do these three scenes, then let's stick 'em together and move on. And then it might be, we're going through this process now in a script where it's been two months since we started some of these scenes. And now you look back at it and say, oh, okay, now I really understand what this scene wow has to be. And you're glad you didn't spend forever on those, those opening scenes.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:10):

    How many hours a day can you work, you know, on King of the Hill. Let's talk about that. But how many hours a day do you guys you generally put in before you're fried?

    Jonathan Aibel (00:57:18):

    I mean, I, I I don't know. We, we used to be fairly rigorous about say a 10 to six, which in with an hour for lunch.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:30):

    That's a long day though.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:57:31):

    It was a long day. But some of that is chit-chatting and

    Michael Jamin (00:57:37):

    Talking. Even still, even still, it's like, I find, you know, after, you know, 10 to maybe two ish or three ish, you're like, you're looking at your watch, you're like, cuz you're, you know, you're not, you're not your best, but on TV you have to keep going. But in features you don't.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:57:51):

    Well, we, I, I think that's true, but I also think we're, our consulting bones. Were, well, they'll never fault us for lack of effort. Right. Just kind of that let's just grind it out. And then as you get more experience, you get older, you realize, all right, well if we're gonna spend the first half hour just chatting about stuff, an email, why don't we start at 10 30? Or, we don't have a lot to do today, so I'm gonna go see my son's play. And, and you, and you kind of realize that, know Greg used to say to the, say this to us all the time at King of the Hill is that if you're, if you have, if you're working so hard, you're not living your life. You have no life to write about.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:33):

    Right. That's true.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:58:35):

    And so I think as one of the, you, I believe that Glen and I now believe in taking advantage of one of the greatest things about being a screenwriter, which is that your time is your own.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:46):

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (00:58:47):

    You want to, Hey, I'm going to go, so I'm gonna go see my kids do something, my son compete in whatever it is, or this play or, or that without feeling like, oh, I can't, I gotta ask the showrun if I can take the day off and Right. Or sh I don't know if I should make a dentist appointment at three o'clock or get my hair cut at three o'clock because cuz that's part of the work day. And to say, you know what? You can get your haircut in the middle of the day that that's okay. You'll get the work done. And to your point, realizing that eight hours is a lot of writing,

    Michael Jamin (00:59:20):

    It, it it

    Jonathan Aibel (00:59:21):

    Is six hours is a lot of writing and that you can actually get a lot of writing done in plus Yeah. Or sometimes no writing and you, sometimes you're not feeling it, but you work through it. And then it comes, like, I, I think that's one of the things I I truly believe in is that it's a, it's ridiculous to think I need to wait for inspiration.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:43):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:59:43):

    I I, you can't, you just, the, to me, the mark of a professional writer is you sit down when you're not inspired and when you're not feeling funny and when something horrible has happened, and you're totally not in the mood to be writing a comedy, and then you just turn it on

    Michael Jamin (00:59:57):


    Jonathan Aibel (00:59:57):

    <Affirmative> and you start writing. And I developed the ability to write anywhere I can ride on a plane, I can ride in a coffee shop, I can ride in a waiting room in a doctor's office, sitting in an airport floor mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and just put in the earphones and not, I don't have a ritual of a place I have to be or a drink I need in front of me, or an amount of noise and any of that. And it's to treat it like, in a way it's a craft, it's not a mysterious Right. Thing where this, these lines come to you. You just, you gotta grind it out sometimes.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:35):

    So at this point though, you're pretty much, you're, you're good with features. You don't really don't have any ambition, even write a pilot. Well,

    Jonathan Aibel (01:00:42):

    This weird thing has happened, which is while we've been buried in features TV has exploded and is better than it's ever been.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:50):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:00:51):

    So there's that part of us that says, well wait a minute, I don't have to do 24 of these. Like we were doing 24 King of the Hills a year.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:00):

    Yeah, that's a lot. And

    Jonathan Aibel (01:01:01):

    That's an insane amount of work. And some of these shows are doing eight.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:07):

    Yep. And

    Jonathan Aibel (01:01:08):

    They're amazing. And you, it's, and you can get into it and we could create, and we could do all this. Now, of course, the problem is that's if I, I don't, I'm you you're more familiar with that. Wait, okay. So wait a minute. What do you get paid to write? Eight episodes. Okay. So,

    Michael Jamin (01:01:28):

    And they can

    Jonathan Aibel (01:01:28):

    Also then decide do you take time away from feature gigs to, to do that? Like, that's one of the calculus calculi. But I think more of it is just busy in features. W so do we have time for tb? Maybe let's, when you have a come up with an idea and say, oh, that being a great show. Right. We'll write it down and then say maybe this is something I don't wanna say never. Cuz it just seems like it's, it's now's just fun.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:58):

    Yeah. Well, it just depend.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:01:59):

    Am I wrong?

    Michael Jamin (01:02:00):

    It totally depends on, it just depends, you know, because sometimes you'll be on a show, you know, the writing steps are getting smaller. They're doing these mini room things, which fortunately I haven't ever had to do. But I've heard horror stories about these mini rooms. 

    Jonathan Aibel (01:02:15):

    Are the nu is it the number of people in the room as mini, or are the rooms themselves very small?

    Michael Jamin (01:02:19):

    It's it's a closet full of 10 people. No, it's, it's it's, it's before the show gets a pickup. So they'll say, we'll put together a mini room. You guys will break 10 stories. But because you are not, we're not producing any of these, we'll only pay you your writing fee so you're not getting a producing fee. And we all know most of your money's producing fee because that way they can pay you less into your health and pension. <Laugh>, it's a, it's a scam that they pull in and now it really screws you. But I've, I've never had to deal with that. But that's, that's the problem with the mini room. So I

    Jonathan Aibel (01:02:54):

    Mean, I do, I do feel first of super fortunate that when, like on the one hand, oh, I missed, we've been in features and there's been this golden age. On the other hand, it sounds like things are have been what? The stories I hear it's really, it's hard.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:10):

    Oh yeah. It's

    Jonathan Aibel (01:03:10):

    Definitely because I, I can sit here and bitch about the 24 episodes. We didn't how exhausting is, but 24 times your episode fee was a good year.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:18):

    That's a good year. And now you'll be on a show for eight or 10 episodes and now you have to try to jump and get another show or sell a pilot. And what if you don't, you know, it's, it's definitely harder. Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:03:29):

    Yeah. We had, believe me, I had the years of where you say, oh, I wish I didn't have to spend, but look back when we had pilot season where you would say, I wish I didn't have to spend March through eight, June, whatever it was, of every year not knowing what job I was gonna have. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> next year. And then you get on King of the Hill and it's, oh wow, I know what job I'm gonna have for a while at least that was a, it was a great mm-hmm. <Affirmative> That's a great feeling.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:58):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:03:59):

    But they, they all have their pluses and minuses. It was the, then I'd see friends who get two months off or three month hiatus knowing they were coming back to a job and I'd say, Ugh, they're doing 22 episodes in eight months. And then they come back and do another, I'm doing 24 in 12 months with maybe get you Well,

    Michael Jamin (01:04:21):

    Three weeks of three

    Jonathan Aibel (01:04:22):


    Michael Jamin (01:04:22):

    Off. Yeah. Which was not, I thought that was cool. I was like, whoa, I could actually take, you know, we could plan a vacation. I don't know. You know,

    Jonathan Aibel (01:04:29):

    I, I, yeah. That was, that's when you, you start to feel like, oh, this is a job. What This is supposed to be fun and entertainment and what do you mean I gotta put in for vacation? When did this become,

    Michael Jamin (01:04:41):

    But that's when it was at King of, at King of the Hill because it was literally in an office building with law firms on the either side, <laugh>. So like, it was not Hollywood at all. You were just an ordinary stick. I

    Jonathan Aibel (01:04:52):

    Know. Work. It was, it was really, except you'd ride in the elevator with people with their briefcases and I Right. But I could have been me, but I'm getting off on the fourth floor, not the 11th and fourth floor is where the fun is.

    Michael Jamin (01:05:05):

    That's right. Yeah. Man, man, oh man, that's so funny. But yeah, I mean, I'm just, you know, we talks, my Steve and I talk about you guys and it is just amazing the the career that you've put together in film. Cuz it's not an easy jump. It's not an easy it, it, it isn't easy and it's easy, it's not easy to stay there. But yeah. You had a, that big hit and that that'll, that can carry a long way. So

    Jonathan Aibel (01:05:28):

    Yeah. And look, I I, I'd say sure talent and perseverance and all those things, but you say yes to this, no to that. It's, it's really kind of, it's random. Yeah. I could have like how many shows could we have said yes to instead of King of the Hill? There was, there was a time when we would be crushed every year because we were shooting, this show's gonna be n b NBC Thursdays at eight 30 after friends, if we get on this show, we're set and then we wouldn't get on staff. We're like, ah. And then that show would get canceled after six episodes.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:10):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:06:11):

    Yeah. And then because we didn't take that king of the Hill came our way.

    Michael Jamin (01:06:15):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:06:16):

    And, and it's one of the things I see is that you don't, you can't plan a career at all in this. You can only, you're, you're sort of like the, you're swimming forward saying, I'll eat that. I'll, I'll avoid that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, then you look back and you say, whoa, look how it's like skiing down a mountain. Yeah. You're just going and then you turn around and look and you say, whoa, that was a pretty steep pill I just went down. Yeah. You, it's all behind you. And, and only after a number of years can you look back and realize what brought you, yeah. What brought you the, to the, well hopefully not the bottom, a ski mountain in reverse. What brought you to the peak?

    Michael Jamin (01:06:54):

    You know, it's, it's, it's interesting. I heard, I was listening to, I can't remember, oh, it was Jim car too. That's who it was. His dad was, wanted to be, I guess a, a saxophone player. He was a, you know, great jazz musician or whatever, but he had a family and then gave it up. He got like a regular job. I think it was like selling insurance or something like that, like a normal job instead of pursuing his passion cuz he wanted the stability to mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, excuse me, to have a family. But then at some point he got fired from his job, like at 52 or something. This job that was supposed to be safe and secure, he got fired from because it went outta business or whatever. Uhhuh <affirmative> and that, and that crushed him because it was like, but I traded it for security. I traded all my passion for security and, and I don't even have security now. You know.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:07:41):

    Yeah. That's the, the I've been, I've been at this for a while now, and when I look back, I think, wait a minute, I've spent this many years never knowing what my next job is gonna be.

    Michael Jamin (01:07:58):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:07:59):

    And, but you can't think of it that way. Or you will curl up in a ball from the uncertainty. You just have to say, what do I know? I'm certain of that I can write well and be professional and be diligent and meet deadlines and be a, a professional. And that's what I can, that's what I can control. And hopefully that's enough for opportunities to come to me. And when they come, I'll be ready and execute and fulfill the expectation. You don't always, you know, you turn in a script and they decide they don't like it. Yeah. And that happens too. And that part of being a professional is saying, okay. And not, not everyone's gonna love everything. And sometimes you, you just have a way of going. It just does not work for them. And you, you know, you, you live to fight another battle.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:47):

    Right. I had a a physical with my doctor a couple, I guess a couple years ago. And he, you know, I was in between jobs and you don't know how long you're gonna be jobs, it could be weeks or months or longer. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And he's like, boy, he's like, what are you working on now? I was like, ah, I'm trying to get my next gig. He's, he goes, I don't know how you do it. It would drive me crazy. I'd wanna kill myself <laugh>. I'm like, yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:09:09):

    And by the way, and I can, I can prescribe a lethal dose of Barbs in case you're <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:17):

    Really? Yeah.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:09:19):

    But yeah, sure. Some people, some people it, it is hard.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:25):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:09:26):

    We would our, our agent would, I I think find it at one point humorous or it seemed humorous where we would turn in a script and then the next day email our agent, say, what's next with the joke being like, I don't wanna be unemployed for a single day.

    Michael Jamin (01:09:45):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:09:45):

    And what's changed in the last five or six years is you better be sending that email four months before you're turning in a script, because that's sometimes how long it takes to even get a meeting on something

    Michael Jamin (01:10:01):

    Interesting. Even for you,

    Jonathan Aibel (01:10:02):

    This exec really wants to sit down with you. Great. How's March 15th? Yeah. Like March 15th. It's January. Well, I know, but everyone goes to Sundance, right. And then they do this, and then they do that and, and, and you kind of have to, I wouldn't say it's not stacking project. I'm never writing more than one thing at once. Cause I, I think that would mentally that's pretty hard to jump around a lot. But you start thinking like, what's out? What's out there? Who's starting to look? What are what You just kind of have to

    Michael Jamin (01:10:35):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:10:36):

    Do that, do that a little bit more now of prepping, of coming up with those pitches that we, like we were talking about earlier, all right, we're, we're done this thing. And now I wrote a scene today, I got 20 minutes to relax. Well, what if I just came up with six silly putty movies? Right. Again, I'm not pitching silly putty. I'm just, I'm trying to pitch, think of something. I'm totally not pitching as an example.

    Michael Jamin (01:11:01):

    Silly Pu just called, they're in

    Jonathan Aibel (01:11:04):

    Wonderful. They're gonna like my, yeah. I like my ideas. I'm coming in

    Michael Jamin (01:11:07):

    <Laugh>. I like, I like Sirius buddy turns to silly petty. I have something

    Jonathan Aibel (01:11:12):

    There isn't bad. But yeah. Look th that, that's the other fun thing is to, when you write the kind of movies I write and you know, it's a matter of time between anytime something hits eight other people will be sure that their product is similar. Like they will embrace the Lego movies. A huge hit. This fill in the blank toy is gonna be a huge hit too.

    Michael Jamin (01:11:35):

    Yeah. And

    Jonathan Aibel (01:11:36):

    It doesn't quite work that way.

    Michael Jamin (01:11:38):

    I've actually learned quite a bit. I didn't know any of any of this. This is what you do is new to me is unfamiliar territory to me. Yeah. So I found this very interesting conversation.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:11:48):

    Well, that, that's good. I am happy to help. And I, I think at the end of the day, there's, the nice thing is the commonality is writing from character is writing from character. Yeah. Whether it's an animated character, a TV character, a

    Michael Jamin (01:12:06):

    But you know what a when we were doing our mo we did, we sold a couple movies and I I was a little, there was so much free rewriting. There was so much free work that had to be done that it really, it really took the wind outta me. And no one was to blame. They were just, everyone was doing their jobs. All the producers were doing their jobs. And I'm like, but you, you guys are, you're gonna kill me here. You know, and I don't get paid for this. And I was like, I, I'd rather stay in tv. I just thought it was much saner, you know?

    Jonathan Aibel (01:12:35):

    Yeah, that's for sure. A, a problem because you turned into script. And I think you're right, everyone's doing their job and their job is to have the best possible version of the script to turn into their boss.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:51):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:12:52):

    So you'll get the, I love it. But before I show it to mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, this person, if you could just fix these things. Cause I know he's really has a pet peeve about people saying the word stupid. Right. So we need to take out all the stupids and, but also I was also thinking in this scene mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I go, okay, well, all right. Does

    Michael Jamin (01:13:14):

    That, let's, does that bother you at this point? Or you're just like, oh, okay. You know, does that,

    Jonathan Aibel (01:13:19):

    I'll tell what, I guess what bothers me is there are times where a person has said, I think this part could be better because you're missing this and I'm confused by this. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, and that's gonna affect the read. And you look at it and you say, that's really true. That's good. It's the times when it's either based on fear mm-hmm. <Affirmative> or the supposition that this person is going to have all these thoughts. So you'll spend a week rewriting it. And then none of those concerns were the boss's concerns. Some we once did we wrote a, we adapted a French movie that was took place. It was cavemen and it was the world's first murder. And these two cavemen tried to solve the crime. And we we're started getting notes. Like, I don't know about the, the main character's mother who appears in this scene. I'm not sure about that scene. And maybe we should think. And our thought was either you wanna make a K man murder mystery or you don't, no studio is going to decide whether or not to make it based on the main character's mother in that scene. Her attitude seems a little off. Right. So then it, sometimes it just feels like, well, what are we, what are we doing? Are we, are the steps we're making moving this towards the green light? And if they are, that's great. You want be, but they're always, always guilty.

    Michael Jamin (01:14:56):

    They'll always try to convince you that it is.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:14:59):

    That's that's really true. Yeah. And that's the, okay, in an ideal world, what happens is your agent and manager call them up and say, no way is my client doing this. You do that. And that's never, no, that's never gonna happen. Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:15:16):

    I was gonna say, I don't think I've ever won that fight. I don't think I've ever won that fight. Like in

    Jonathan Aibel (01:15:21):

    Terms of No, you can't, you can't win that fight.

    Michael Jamin (01:15:23):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:15:23):

    Because, because the producers and the studios controlled the narrative. So you just get played off as their difficult, they won't do this work. They didn't turn in the script. We thought they were gonna turn in. So you, the, the, one of the, the keys is if you work with really good people who trust you, they won't put you in that position. They will say, Hey, this sucks. I know I hate to ask you to do this, but could you just take a look? Here are 10 notes that the junior executive gave and if you could just address these, they can give it to their boss with their full Rob, you know, fullthroated support. And then you realize, okay, I get, if you tell me the, my role in this, I can fulfill that role. But if you're making it seem like these are actually improving, does, does that make sense?


    Like, yeah, don't tell me these are making the script better, but it's okay to tell me these aren't gonna make it better, but they're gonna make it sell. Right. Because I get that, that this is a business and that you are trying to convince a person or a green light committee, however many people to spend 80 million on an idea. Right. And that is not something anyone does lightly. Yeah. And you need every cheerleader you can get. And that's, that's part of being a professional screenwriter is also saying, okay, what, what do you need from me? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> to give you what you need to sell this.

    Michael Jamin (01:16:56):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:16:56):

    And great producers know those things and insecure producers don't necessarily know that, so they just become very reactive to the latest thing the studio's telling them.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:06):

    Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Right. Right. Exactly.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:17:09):

    We had I'll tell this story and if it goes bad

    Michael Jamin (01:17:13):

    <Laugh>, if it goes south, we

    Jonathan Aibel (01:17:14):

    Had done a pilot with someone and when we pitched it to someone at the studio, they said, oh, that is exactly the kind of show that the network should be making. Yes, yes. We're gonna, we're gonna pay you to write that. Then in the process of writing it, the studio exec got hired by the network where he then passed on it.

    Michael Jamin (01:17:36):

    <Laugh>, well, wait a minute. We had that same exact thing happen to us. I'll tell you that <laugh>, I'll tell you that off the air <laugh>.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:17:44):

    And you know, at the time it was, but of course the, in his, his defense, maybe you're, once you're on the inside, you realize exactly what

    Michael Jamin (01:17:53):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:17:53):

    They're looking like, you know, he could have said his, Hey, I steered you off, whatever, but it was just

    Michael Jamin (01:17:58):


    Jonathan Aibel (01:17:58):

    Cause you know, they, they think, oh my God, we got the man on the inside. This is, he's gonna fight for it as surely as he did

    Michael Jamin (01:18:04):

    When, when he sold. Oh no cameras. All of them. How funny is that? That's hilarious. Well, this is a good stopping point. John Abel, thank you so much for for having me in this chat. Hopefully you'll tell your partner Glen that, and, and he'll, he'll do and he'll contradict everything you just said. I'll get the true version.

    Jonathan Aibel (01:18:20):

    Lemme tell you what really

    Michael Jamin (01:18:22):

    Happened, what really happened. Yeah. But thank you so much. This was I, I, I know the my audience is gonna love this, but I love this cuz this is a really educational, I'm

    Jonathan Aibel (01:18:31):

    Here for the audience of Juan Michael.

    Michael Jamin (01:18:32):

    That's me. All right, man. Thank you so much everyone. You're welcome. Thanks for listening. And until next time, keep writing.

    Phil Hudson (01:18:40):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 18m | Mar 1, 2023
  • 069 - How Do I Sell the Rights to My Book?

    Would you like to have a book you write turned into a movie or TV show? This week, Michael Jamin explores this topic on his podcast. Check it out!

    Show Notes

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin (00:00):

    Write about what? You can make it really well written. The more personal, the more interesting it'll be. I think a lot of people think if I make it personal, I'm narrowing my audience. You know, I'm because of my, but no, you're actually making, you're making your audience specific and you're actually, that's what's so interesting to get a glimpse in someone's life like that. You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this, the podcast where we're branching out. We're talking about other things not even that are only also the screenwriters need to hear in other areas. What am I talking about Phil? Phil? I don't know. Talking.

    Phil Hudson (00:40):

    We're talking about a lot of things. I think you've got a breadth of knowledge. And I think this is a topic that, although it may not be directly related to screenwriting, even though it kind of is tangentially, I think it still applies to writers, which I think, yeah, all of us are thinking about medium, just not just tv, but we're thinking of other

    Michael Jamin (00:55):

    Things. So today we're talking about how do I sell the movie writes to my book cuz people ask me this question a lot on social media and you know, everyone writes a book wants to write a and, and most people I ask, you know, like, whoa, well, is your book a is, you know, who's publishing it? And it's so often it's self-published, which is okay, that's fine. But it's, it seems like it could be a, a very ego-driven question. They're like, how do I, they're asking, how do I sell my book as a movie so that I can become a screenwriter and I can make a lot of money? It's, that's what they're asking. How do I make a lot of money the easy way or something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And obviously no one really cares. Like what, you know, what you want the, if you wanna sell something, you gotta give the buyer what they want, which I've said over and over again.


    And so I think a better question is asking, what do studios look for when optioning the rights for a book? And that's, you know, that's a whole different question. And what they're looking that way, you can give them what they want. If you ask the right question, you could give the studio what they want instead of saying, how do I sell you my book? And so what they're looking for in my experience is they're looking for a New York Times bestseller. They're looking for a well-written book with a built-in audience. They're looking for you know, for example the movie I just, the, the show I just watched Fleischman Isn't In Trouble, right? That was based on a bestselling book. And, and, and so that's how it became a TV show. And that's how so many projects become, movies are based on books, but the books were hit books.


    They were bestselling books. They had a built-in audience because the studio knows that people are gonna wanna go see the movie when it comes out. They recognize the name of the book, they're gonna wanna see it, even if it gets ruined as a movie, they're like, oh, okay, I'll go, I'll sample it. At the very least, same thing with a television show. It'll be turned into something else. Maybe, maybe it'll be better, maybe it'll be worse, but at least people will know about it. It'll be it'd be easy to market. And that's all it's about. It's about marketing, it's about money. And marketing is such a, a big battle. It's like, you know, these invest a lot of money into a TV show, into a movie. And it's, they're not looking for the best written or the, you know, they're not looking, if that were the case, it would be nonstop Shakespeare, because that's free and public.


    It's in the public domain. They can make all these, I think it's, it must be in the public domain. They can make Shakespeare o over and over. There'd be the channel running nonstop. Shakespeare, the guy wrote, I don't know, something like 30 something plays. Why not just do Shakespeare all the time? It couldn't be better written. Because it's marketability. No one wants to watch Shakespeare, unfortunately. <Laugh>. So it's, it's why do they wanna watch? So, and I think a lot of people are gonna say, yeah, but okay, you're telling me now to write a best a New York Times bestseller? That's too hard. You're damn right is hard. I, oh yeah. Did you think any of it was gonna be easy? Yeah, for sure. But if you can make something that has a built-in audience, and it doesn't even have to be a bestseller. It just has, it could have a huge following on social media.


    It could have, but it has to be easy to market. So here's what you need, in my opinion, the book has to be well-written and it has to find its audience. And you don't have control over the second part, really. You, but you do have control over the first part. You can make it well-written. And so the only thing you have control over, once again, is your writing is how good your writing is. But people don't wanna focus on that, even though that's the only thing they have control over. They'd rather focus on, how do I sell it? You know, how do I make money? How do I get on the best sellers list? How do you just focus on the only thing you have control over? We don't have control either. Either start. And then a lot of people, of course, feel like they don't have time.


    And I'm inspired by the, the movie made. I mean, it was a big, it was, it was a little bit wild ago, but Stephanie Landro wrote this movie Made, and she wrote about her life, her life as a young single mother fleeing in abusive relationship. And she had to work as a maid, as a cleaning woman to get by. And so, you know, that's not fair that she had to do that. That's not fair. But she turned it into gold. <Laugh>, she turned her a horrible experience into gold. And then I think a lot of people were gonna say, well, yeah, but she had an interesting life to write about. My life is boring. That's not fair. Like, I, I like, okay, I don't know. It's not fair that she wasn't abused. That you weren't abused. And she was <laugh>. You know, I don't think she saw it that way. <Laugh>.


    and so, yeah, I mean, but this way I say right about write about what you can make it really well written. The more personal, the more interesting it'll be. I think a lot of people think if I make it personal, I'm narrowing my audience. You know, I'm because of my, but no, you're actually making, you're making your audience specific and you're actually, that's what's so interesting to get a glimpse in someone's life like that. And then some people of course say, well, I'm too busy to write a New York Times bestseller. Well, that's, that's good. It's good that you're busy. You have something in that means you probably have an interesting life that you can write about. If you're, if you're not busy, you're boring. You're not doing anything. Have nothing to write about. So make yourself busy. Take notes, and then start writing about it.


    Get, you know, open your mind to offer the opportunities and start writing about it. Put yourself as a fish outta water in whatever opportunity it is. Write about it, because that's always interesting. Yeah, that, that, that's just my advice. That's my advice. And I be, and I, and by the way, I've been involved in many projects where a studio says they'll buy the rights to the book and they'll seek writers to, Hey, do you wanna develop this into a TV show or a movie, or whatever. And sometimes the answer is yes, and sometimes no. But there are people in development that we call it, and they're looking for books to option the rights to, that's their job. That's all they do. So you don't have to find them. They'll find you and they find you, if, if it has a big enough splash, if your book is made a splash, they'll come out for, they'll come seeking you. So you don't have to raise your hand. They, they're looking for you.

    Phil Hudson (06:55):

    Yeah. Immediately comes up in The Martian, right by,

    Michael Jamin (06:58):

    Yeah. The Martian

    Phil Hudson (06:59):

    Right, was a series

    Michael Jamin (07:00):

    That was self-published. Blog

    Phil Hudson (07:01):

    Series. Series of blog posts. He was just publishing on a regular cadence on his website mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And it generated enough attention because the storytelling was so good that it compiled it and put it out.

    Michael Jamin (07:11):

    Well, he, he compiled it as a, as a, as his own book. He, he self-published and then it became a hit, right?

    Phil Hudson (07:16):

    Yep, yep. But it was a, it had a huge following on the blog, just people were looking forward to reading this thing. And then he put it out so,

    Michael Jamin (07:24):

    Well, there's a guy who built something and so everyone's asking for permission. How do I sell? How do I, and he wasn't asking for permission, he was just doing it. He put something good out there, and then people, you know, like fill the dreams. If you build it, they will come. He puts something great out there, and people came. Now, they don't always come, but if it's great, you have a higher chance of people coming than if it's, if it's bad. I think we agree on that.

    Phil Hudson (07:46):

    Yeah, absolutely. I think he you know, I think they, like, he was in negotiations on the contract and it was like getting past, and Ridley Scott said he wanted to make the movie mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so he was like, oh. He's like, well, I don't know if I can make it cuz I'm, I'm worked. We still had his job. And he'd sold the rights to that because he's still riding in away, still riding, still working on other stuff. But he also has like a whole series of like shorts. And for, you know, I remember my friend Alvi, who is he's like a head of development at a pretty well known company, you know, production company out here in LA now. He did a short on Andy, we are and apologies if I'm pronouncing your name wrong, Andy Andy, we short story that he made free to students to make without any needing permission. And it was just stuff he'd had written prior to that.

    Michael Jamin (08:37):

    Right. And then some students made it and

    Phil Hudson (08:39):

    Oh, I was just saying like, he has a list of things, projects you can just go make without having to ask him for permission. And my buddy Avi went and did this. He went and made a short based on one of these projects that he'd already written. But the point is, he already, it wasn't the first thing he'd written. He had written other things. That was the thing that hit. But he had, you know, sharpened his ax, if you will, on other projects mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, he'd gotten so good at the craft that that's the one that hit. And he became an overnight success, but he still had probably hundreds of thousands of hours of writing behind him behind that book. Right,

    Michael Jamin (09:12):

    Right. It's so interesting though, when people you know, they, they really, they're, they're trying to break down the door to Hollywood. They're trying to, how do I get through the door? And it's like, dude, there's no door and you can open it yourself. You know, <laugh>, I know this doesn't make any sense, but you could just do whatever you want. Just make it, put it out there. And I know you don't feel like, well, I don't have that kind of money. You could shoot everything on a, on a, on a shoestring budget. You don't need to, you know, raise a ton of money, start small and then work your way up, like, like we're talking about. And so, yeah. I mean, write a book. That's a great way to do it. If you write a book and it's a bestseller, it'll, they'll turn into a movie and they'll ruin your book and you'll, that'll be fine. You'd be happy. <Laugh>.

    Phil Hudson (09:54):

    Right. Well, a couple things that came up as you were talking about this, you know, cause the question is like, how do I sell the movie rights to my book? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And what you're saying is you need to have a good product that people want to buy. And this sounds oddly similar to what you talk about when we talk about how do I sell my pilot? Right. Something so good. You can't, it's not indeniable how good it is. And people will back up trucks full of of money for you to take it from you. Yeah. Cuz they want it.

    Michael Jamin (10:20):

    But it's interesting when people say like, they, how, how do I turn my book? And then, then you say, well, has anybody read your book? Yeah. Five people bought my book. What, what? Like why would you th why would they want to turn into a movie? Why would any, because you think there's no, I mean, you understand like, there's only so much money that can go around and they're only gonna make so many projects. They're gonna choose the projects that are easiest to get high eyeballs on. They're not looking, they're not looking for your, you know, for, for a script issue. There's tons of scripts in Hollywood. Correct. They're looking to make money.

    Phil Hudson (10:51):

    Yeah. So you say that the one thing you have control over is the quality of her writing. Yeah. So let's say I write something amazing and it truly is amazing. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and five people are like, this is great and I have no connections to Hollywood and I start putting it out on TikTok and it doesn't go anywhere.

    Michael Jamin (11:09):


    Phil Hudson (11:10):

    Was that, was that worthless?

    Michael Jamin (11:12):

    Of course not. I would say, you know, it's interesting exercise and, and growth. I mean, did you enjoy the process? If you didn't enjoy it, then you shouldn't be doing any of this. If you didn't enjoy the writing part, then forget about making money. You're not, you know, what's the point? But, you know, and it's also, and not everything, of course, lends itself to being turned into a movie. It's, if it's not written in a visual way with kind of, that you can imagine with scenes, it's like there's great literature that is not would, it's not, you can't imagine how they would turn it into a movie. It would, it's not easy. So yeah, it's internal and that doesn't mean it's not beautifully written, but it's also hard to, how would you turn it into a movie?

    Phil Hudson (11:50):


    Michael Jamin (11:51):

    And Yeah. And by the way, if there's something which is a giant hit and they go, well, they don't know how to turn into the movie, but the name is worth something, they'll hire a writer to figure it out. I mean, take like even Maurice Sandeck where the Wild Things Are, which I thought spike Jones directed it. Like I thought the, his adaptation, cuz the book is whatever, 20 pages long, there's not much there. It's like, it's a children's book. So there's 18 lines, there's not a lot there. How do you turn that into an hour and a half movie? And so he really developed it. I thought he did a beautiful job with it. And so you'll, they'll, you know, but that was sold because everyone knew the name. There was nothing in the book. There wasn't enough in the book to turn into a movie.

    Phil Hudson (12:32):

    No. That was a, a very successful children's book that I remember reading when I was young.

    Michael Jamin (12:36):

    Right. So it had a built-in audience. There's a ton of people who, what

    Phil Hudson (12:39):

    Awards, people loved it.

    Michael Jamin (12:41):


    Phil Hudson (12:42):

    I find that this kind of leads to the question of how do you build an audience? It's kind of the question that comes from this, right? Because what you're saying is you can control the quality. You can't control the built-in audience. Yeah. But my background as a marketer would dictate that that's not actually true anymore. That you can build an audience.

    Michael Jamin (13:01):

    Yeah. I mean the, the, the world has changed. The social media's changed the game. It's changed the game so fast that I think publishers are struggling. Traditional publishers are struggling to, to to, to stay relevant because you, you know, you don't need them anymore. Yeah. You know, people can do it on their own. Yeah. All of this can be done. It's a great leveler and for little money. So again, and this is, it's a similar thing with, with the publishing industry. It's like they're looking for projects to buy for books that they think they can sell. Not necessarily books that are, are well-written or whatever. It's like, can we make money from this? It's a business. I understand that. You everyone should understand that. But, but you people don't really need 'em anymore. That's what's the great thing about indie publishing and self-publishing. There's so much resources out there, and you can make your own book for next to nothing and you can figure out how to market. And there are people like you who have podcasts who talk about this, about marketing and how to get your stuff out there.

    Phil Hudson (14:00):

    Yeah. Okay. So, so what we, we know is we have to, we have to come up with a good idea. We have to be able to write and execute that good idea. That's what we've talked about that plenty nauseum on our podcast, right? Yeah. In the past. It's not the idea, it's the execution of the idea.

    Michael Jamin (14:17):

    And Yeah. You don't even need a good Yeah. You didn't Okay. That you don't even need a great idea. You just need a good idea.

    Phil Hudson (14:21):

    Good execution. Great execution. Good idea. Good idea.

    Michael Jamin (14:24):

    Good job. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (14:25):

    Okay. So we've got those. We know that there are plenty of resources online for marketing and to learn how to grow an audience online. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, there are podcasts, there's YouTube videos, there's courses you can take. The end result for this question is they wanna sell the movie rights to their book. And you, you're saying is that's a roundabout way of being a screenwriter, a roundabout way of becoming a screenwriter. And I think that this static question stems from maybe 10 years ago, the push in Hollywood was I p I P I P I P. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. We don't wanna make anything unless s IP behind it. Probably still largely the case. Look at the adaptations that are being made. I think you did that post.

    Michael Jamin (15:02):

    So bringing back Frazier, why do they bringing back Frazier? Because it's easy to market,

    Phil Hudson (15:05):

    That's all. Yeah. Finns and FERBs got 40 new episodes on Disney.

    Michael Jamin (15:08):

    Wow. Okay. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (15:10):

    So, so it's really like double lightning in the bottle, if you will. Right. You want lightning to strike twice in a bottle. This way you not only wanna become a screenwriter, but you want to sell a book to become the screenwriter of that book.

    Michael Jamin (15:25):

    Maybe. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (15:26):

    And the odds are, if you write something that good, they may not even ask you to write your book, they would give it to him. Right. Oh, you might get a pass as part of your deal. Yeah. And that's like, go away money, they'll pay you that and then they're gonna hire Yeah. Chief Goldsman or someone else to go write your book.

    Michael Jamin (15:39):

    Almost certainly. Or if or if it's a TV show, they'll team you up with a, a showrunner who knows how to turn because it is a different skillset who had to turn the require, how to deliver the requirements of a television show to keep the audience coming back episode after episode. So they'll probably team you up. But yeah, I mean, but at the end of the day, it's just, it's all, it's always just writing. You gotta look, gotta write. The writing has to be

    Michael Jamin (16:02):


    Michael Jamin (16:05):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Phil Hudson (16:30):

    And we've talked about how to do the good writing, right? Which is, you know, even just one of our q and a or ask me any episodes we talk about craft, it's how do you outline, how do, what is story? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, what are the, what are the things every screenwriter, basic things, screenwriting we should know? We talked about a bunch of those things. Yeah. do you feel like the lessons in your course on storytelling in screenwriting carry over to this?

    Michael Jamin (16:52):

    Yeah. I mean, I think cuz story at the end of the day story is story. It doesn't matter whether you're putting words on the page or you're putting on a, on a big screen or a small screen. What difference does it make? It's, it's still a story. A comedy's a funny story. Drama is a dramatic story. So so yeah, I mean, it's all, and even as I was doing my, my cl my my personal book paper orchestra, you know, when I, because I'm a TV writer, I think very visually, so as I was writing the each story in it, I'm always thinking about what is the audience imagining? What do I want them to imagine? What do I want the picture? And I don't make them picture more than necessary. Like if there's a scene in a room, I don't have to describe the wallpaper unless I think it's important that they know the wallpaper.


    If not, I can just put 'em in the room, give 'em an image. It's the air is stale and it's dimly lid. And, you know, I could, I don't have to go overboard in describing things that they don't need to know. And then everything I write is about how do I, I I really see things as a television show. And even after I did my show, my one man show, I had a q and a afterwards and people were like, are you gonna turn this into a TV show? I'm like, I dunno, may maybe. But that's not the goal. And I know if it does turn into a TV show, if changes will have to be made. And I kind of don't want to compromise. But on the other hand, I wouldn't mind a big bag of money if they sold, if I sold it.


    But I don't know. It's not, it's not even the intention. The intention was to do something have a creative outlet to do, express myself in a way that I hadn't, which, which is interesting because un as a TV writer, I don't really get to do what I want to do. I very rarely I get to do what I want to do. I'm, I'm playing ball, I'm playing ball to get that paycheck. So this was an opportunity to just write something for me. And that's why I thought, I think it's some of my best work. But, but anyone can, you know, at anyone at home, anyone listening, you can, you can write, you can make, you don't have to. You write what you wanna write. This is the wonderful opportunity. Write your book the way you want it to be written and make, make no compromises.

    Phil Hudson (18:55):

    I know a lot of screenwriters who choose prose and storytelling in novel form or book form as an outlet for creative endeavor because they're so mired in the structure and network notes and all that stuff that has to happen.

    Michael Jamin (19:10):

    I was talking to my friend Christina, she actually did a, she was a guest on one of these, you know, our podcasts here. And she knows, I'm not gonna mention any names cause this is all thirdhand. But she knew a very successful screenwriter who worked on these franchise movies. Big, big, big franchise movies. And he was making a ton of money and he was miserable because, you know, you're really boxed in, you're getting notes from a thousand different directions cuz they're protective of this franchise characters. And he made a lot of money, but he was miserable. It wasn't a fun experience and it was golden handcuffs. He had a big Hollywood house and it was golden handcuffs. That's all.

    Phil Hudson (19:48):

    Yeah. Golden handcuffs for everybody listening or the handcuffs. It's the shackles that binding you, but they're meeting gold, so you can't walk away from, you don't wanna walk away from

    Michael Jamin (19:56):

    'Em. Y yeah. You, you've grown accustomed to the life. You have an expensive house now, now you can't leave. And you're just looking at people like me making a fraction of the money and you're like, and they're and you're jealous. <Laugh>. Yeah, because I don't, I'm not miserable.

    Phil Hudson (20:09):

    Mark Madson is the author of the New York Times Best Subtle Art of, of Giving F and everything is f and he's got a bunch of, bunch of that. He had a, a ebook. I found him through like a random audible giveaway for a free audiobook. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And then I would listen to his, I mean this tangentially applies to this conversation, but we list, I got this free audible book that he put out. Then I went to his blog subscribed. Then when his book came out, I bought every book he ever put out because this free piece of content mm-hmm. <Affirmative> was so valuable to me. And there's an essay in there where he talks about how it, it's effectively a, a story to tell you that everyone is never satisfied with where they're at. Right. Yeah. He says, you know, you're on the, it's Rio de Janeiro and the guy is there with his girl, his sister, and her friend wondering, why can't I be over there with those guys playing volleyball instead of taking care of my little sister?


    And those guys over there at volleyball were like, man, what would it be like to be that guy with those two cute girls? Right. Right. And then you go to the next one and like everyone's wishing they were somewhere else, doing something else with somebody else. Yeah. And it's just kind of a appreciate where you're at with the process and enjoyed that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that part of the process. Yeah. you mentioned a couple things where we were going through this, through this. I was wondering what you meant by well written and it built an audience and I was like, what does that mean? I, I think you addressed that. You said it's effectively, it's a piece of intellectual property that has a following. There are people who liked it enough that they bought it enough that they believe that they can hedge their bets. Is there anything you want to add to that?

    Michael Jamin (21:40):

    No, but I mean, honestly, and like I said, I think it's better if it's well written, but there are, we know of plenty of movies that were not well-written books, but were trashy enough to get a following and return into very successful books and, and, and movies. So it's not necessarily the qualities,

    Phil Hudson (21:58):

    The writing three franchises come to mind right now.

    Michael Jamin (22:01):

    Yeah. We could all think of. We don't have to bash them, but yeah, there's plenty. I do think it's better if it's well-written, obviously. But you know, there's more to get out of it. But you know, it, it's really about marketing. It's about selling it. So if you have a book, so what, unless you, unless they think they can make money off of it,

    Phil Hudson (22:18):

    I think that means you have to go places you don't want to go. And you talk about the maid and Stephanie land, right? Yeah. You said that it's not fair that she had to speak CE and it's also, she might think it's not fair she had to go through all that abuse.

    Michael Jamin (22:32):

    Right? Yeah. It's not fair that she had an interesting life and worked as a maid and now gets to sell her her TV rights and get her movie rights and become rich. That's not fair

    Phil Hudson (22:41):

    <Laugh>. Right.

    Michael Jamin (22:42):

    She wasn't saying that when she was ducking punches.

    Phil Hudson (22:45):

    Sure. You know, but you've also mentioned on the podcast that trauma trauma and challenge and the struggle you go through in your life is effectively the gold that you're gonna get. Right. And we've addressed that on many podcasts. We've talked and, and this is for whoever's trying to sell a book or write an interesting screenplay or pilot, you have to go there. You have to be willing to explore the things. You don't wanna look at the emotions you're avoiding. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>

    Michael Jamin (23:12):


    Phil Hudson (23:13):

    When you're procrastinating. It's because there's a feeling you don't want to feel when you feel a really heightened emotion like anger or frustration. It's cuz there's another emotion you don't want to feel. And you're using that to hide those. And the work of being a writer, as I've learned from you and from just life, is you have to go there.

    Michael Jamin (23:34):

    Yeah. That's

    Phil Hudson (23:35):

    Your job. You have to explore.

    Michael Jamin (23:36):

    If it makes you uncomfortable, don't become a writer, then do something else. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (23:40):

    Yep. You

    Michael Jamin (23:40):

    Know, and you know, someone posted, and I haven't answered this, I was gonna make a video on this so you're getting a sneak peek, but I guess, I don't know if it's true or not, but they, he, this person said that David Lynch said you know, the great filmmaker that he, he won't go into therapy cuz he's worried it'll hurt his art. I don't know if he ever said that or not, but that's what this person said, which strikes me as a load. You know, it's like that's just an excuse not to go into therapy and to study yourself. Cuz if you don't under, if you don't understand yourself, how are you gonna understand characters? How are you gonna understand what those characters are doing? Yeah. If you don't know what you do, what makes you tick and all your, you know, and I, I do think therapy and writing go hand in hand. And I know plenty of writers who are in therapy and is not embarrassing. It's just like, hey, yeah, this is what I'm doing to help me be a b you know, either be a better person, stop hurting myself or stop hurting others.

    Phil Hudson (24:33):

    All therapists have their own therapist by the way, because

    Michael Jamin (24:36):

    Oh, they have to. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (24:37):

    Yeah. Cuz they have to sort through all that stuff they're dealing with. Yeah. My brother is a family counselor, marriage and family counselor graduated from Johns Hopkins and yeah, he, he doesn't ever divulge anything specific, but the stuff he deals with on a daily basis, I have to imagine is insane. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and we had a pretty insane childhood. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know. Right. But he's doing that because he wants to help people sort through the things that we went through as kids. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I'm doing that through story effectively. And my writing took a turn when I realized, oh, I have to help, I have to put this, I have to be honest and I have to serve this story because it's meaningful and it can affect people. That's why I liked TV when I was a kid. That's why I liked film, that's why I liked good books cuz it allowed me to step out of whatever problem I was in and learned lessons about it through a metaphor of story, which is what storytelling is.

    Michael Jamin (25:31):

    But also you may think, well, it's just my life. It's not that interesting. You know you know, it's very easy to think my life is not interesting, it's just, I just whatever I had to go through it. But for other people on the outside who didn't have to go through it, it's extremely interesting. And that plays to every single person. Like, you know whatever you were in the Air Force, you did three years in the Air Force you know, and you did it to, you know, get through, pay through college or whatever. That's not interesting for someone who's not in the Air Force. It's very interesting. Yeah. But I didn't fly jets. I just mopped floors. Okay. Let, it's interesting. Tell me about that. You know, tell me what that's like to just mop floors when they're in an aircraft carrier. What's that like? Yeah. You know.

    Phil Hudson (26:09):

    Yeah. I don't know. You're dealing with your own stuff there.

    Michael Jamin (26:13):

    Know everyone has interesting stuff to tell.

    Phil Hudson (26:15):

    Yeah. David Goggins put out a new book. You're familiar with David Goggins?

    Phil Hudson (26:20):

    No. Former Navy Seal. He wrote the book can't Hurt Me. He's got another one that just came out recently. Former Navy Seal, former Air Force tried out to be Air Force Special Forces and he was talking the story about janitor who was at West Point cleaning up the floors. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And one of the students finally put together this guy was a medal of honor hero. He, in World War ii, he like charged a machine gun, asked through Grenade mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And he's like, you know, that's a fascinating person. But it's also fascinating to be the guy at West Point discovering that the janitor has a medal of honor. It's the guy you want to be. Right. Yeah. So that stood out to me from what you just said. And I'm blanking on the next thing I was gonna say, so, we'll, I'm sure it'll come to me in a

    Michael Jamin (27:04):

    Second. But yeah, whatever life you're living, you know, it doesn't, it's not interesting to you because you have to suffer through it every day. But it's interesting to the rest of us.

    Phil Hudson (27:12):

    That's what it was. And I might have mentioned this on the podcast again, I guys, I apologize. We're, we're over here in now, so my brain works way where I remember certain details, very specific details, but I apologize, this is repetitive, but I had an interesting experience where like in one week I had like three friends from high school tell me that they live vicariously with Through me, through you. And I was like, what? And I was like, in my world, it's like, well, I wake up four 30, I do some writing, maybe go to the gym if I feel like it, eat whatever I'm going to eat. Go be a pa, get coffee for people. Right. Go home, do something, go to bed. That's my life. But to them, they're like, you're in Hollywood. Like you're trying, like you're working with movie stars, you're doing all this stuff. Right. And it's just, they wanna know every detail and it's just become monotonous to me cuz it's the same stuff. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (28:00):

    Right. But it's interesting to them. Right. Yeah. And, and that's an interesting story to tell even your point of view of how even though you're not where you want to be, your perspective on Hollywood is interesting now because it's a different, it's just different viewpoint.

    Phil Hudson (28:12):

    Sure. You know? Sure. So, so just kinda wrap it up, what I'm hearing you say in the conversation of how to sell movie rights to a book, how to sell a pilot, how to sell a screenplay mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, just write something so good. People can't deny it. And that will spread because people will want to share it with other people.

    Michael Jamin (28:29):

    Yeah. Right. They'll wanna share it. And so Yeah. Yeah. I it's not the, it's not the easy answer. Everyone wants to hear. Like, they think, oh, isn't is there a list I need to be on? Is there a competition that I need to enter? No. No. Unfortunately, you know, is there a pitch fest? No, there's not a pitch fest, you know. No, it's, it's, it's writing good <laugh>,

    Phil Hudson (28:50):

    None of that matters. And plenty of those don't go anywhere because the writing's not good still. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (28:55):

    Right. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (28:56):

    Go ahead.

    Michael Jamin (28:56):

    Shortcuts, unfortunately. No shortcuts.

    Phil Hudson (28:59):

    Awesome. Well just kind of some reminders. Anything else on that before I move to kind of reminders?

    Michael Jamin (29:05):

    That's it. Reminders, Phil.

    Phil Hudson (29:06):

    Yeah. if you want to tell a good story, two recommendations, and again, these are my recommendations to you individually. Number one, go send it for Michael's course at michaeljamin.com/course where he goes into detail on storytelling. And I absolutely believe it carries over. I think, and we've talked about this as well, people really like this section on personal essay that you talk about. Yeah. Because, and minding your life for stories, which is a mm-hmm. <Affirmative> live zoom that you did with students and kind of talked about this and there's expanding on some of the sections in there. It'll help you learn how to make, look at your life and say what is interesting in my life? And that will help with your storytelling in infinitely and exponential. So go do that. If you are just wanting to get your toes what in this and learn a little bit more.


    We talked in previous episodes about your free lesson, michaeljamin.com/free. It's that first lesson you talk about story and what is that definition? Watch list, michaeljamin.com/watchlist where you go through the top, you send the top three videos or creative inspiration pieces for the week, just lines in your inbox. You can go watch them, think about some things, meditate on on 'em throughout the week and see how you kinda plug in your life. And then paperwork orchestra, which you're not touring yet, but you will be soon. Michaeljamin.com/upcoming. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, where you go skid on the list to let bank know you want to be in discount. I had the pleasure of seeing this in December on my birthday, and I was deeply moved by one of the stories you told and I've talked about that as well. But I still think about that story and it has impacted the way I act with my children and my wife Yeah. And every part of my life. And so Michael, thank you again for that. But it's absolutely worth it. So if you're interested in Michael's writing or the upcoming tours, go sign up for that. Michael, anything you want to add to that?

    Michael Jamin (30:49):

    That's it. Thank you all. Thank you all. Yes. Stay tuned. We have more guests coming up on the podcast and more information. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (30:57):

    Great. That's it, Michael. Thank you so much. Thank you everybody. Keep Thanks writing,

    Michael Jamin (31:01):

    Keep writing.

    Phil Hudson (31:03):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @philahudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    31m | Feb 22, 2023
  • 068 - Ask Me Anything About Screenwriting Part 2

    Hollywood Screenwriter Michael Jamin sits down with Phil Hudson to discuss questions asked by fans and future screenwriters. Questions such as, "Is there plagiarism among screenwriters? How do you prepare for a general meeting with a large production company with a development exec as a screenwriter? When you're a writer's assistant, should you ask for an episode, wait until one is offered, or send the showrunner a draft?"

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Michael Jamin (00:00):

    In terms of stealing ideas, often in a writer's room, someone will say, oh, they, I just saw that episode two weeks ago on whatever show. And then usually the writers will go, Ugh, we won't, we'll kill the idea. So that's not plagiarizing, that's coming up with the idea independently and then killing it because you don't want people to think you plagiarized. You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, welcome back. It's Michael Jamin. You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear this. I'm here with Phil a Hudson.

    Phil Hudson (00:33):

    What up,

    Michael Jamin (00:34):

    What up? And we're doing part two of the ask me anything if Phil has some more questions. These are designed for, what kind of questions are these called?

    Phil Hudson (00:41):

    Yeah. So ton of questions came in, so we're moving into professional questions. What I kind of grouped that way, aspirational

    Michael Jamin (00:49):

    Part one, if you missed it, we're, if you missed it, that was questions about CRA or craft. Craft.

    Phil Hudson (00:54):

    Right. Craft.

    Michael Jamin (00:54):

    Yeah. And these are about questions about professional and what else?

    Phil Hudson (00:59):

    Aspirational questions. Aspirational, like breaking in and then some general stuff. So, yeah. All right. You ready for this?

    Michael Jamin (01:06):

    I'm ready.

    Phil Hudson (01:07):

    All right. Professional.

    Michael Jamin (01:09):

    Oh, and by the way, the way these people just, if you're new to the podcast, the way people ask these questions is on my social media profile on Instagram @michaeljaminwriter, every couple months we post a blue tile that says, ask me anything. And so if you have questions that I haven't answered, that's, that's where you do it. Put it up there and we'll talk about it.

    Phil Hudson (01:26):

    Yep. Awesome. Professional question number one from Give, give Shrimp a chance, which I think is probably one of the best Instagram ta names I've ever heard. I That's good. I will give them a chance actually, Michael, you're vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian. What are you, technically

    Michael Jamin (01:43):

    I say I'm a vegan, but I do eat fish from every once in a while for protein PEs, but I don't eat any, some

    Phil Hudson (01:47):


    Michael Jamin (01:48):

    Then don't, I guess you could say that, but, cause I don't eat any dairy.

    Phil Hudson (01:51):

    Got it. Yeah. So you're vegetarians are vegetarian, pescatarians are vegetarians who eat fish. You're not that cuz you're vegan, but you eat fish. Yeah. Got it. Yeah. Cool. Good question here. I thought, I thought it was interesting. When you are a writer's assistant, can you ask for an episode or wait until one is offered or draft possible story areas and send them to the showrunner just in case asking for a friend? Well,

    Michael Jamin (02:17):

    Good question. Well, you definitely wanna put in your time. You wouldn't, if you're, if you got promoted to writer's assistant, you don't want to, in season one start asking for an episode. You gotta earn the right to be there. So you gotta be there for a full year. And then it's, this is how I feel. And then after, once you're there for, you know, full year or two or whatever, then you can approach your boss and say, Hey, I'd love to be considered for a freelance episode. I'd love to be able to pitch you an idea. And you should have all these ideas on the ready. I mean, you're, you're there. So I don't, you can do, you can come up with ideas season one, but I I I kind of, you wanna make it so that they owe you so that the writer showrunner owes you one so that you're, you're loyal and you've put in the time this is the least they can do is to repay you by giving you an episode.

    Phil Hudson (03:02):

    There's also a very clear level of trust displayed if you come back for a second season. Right?

    Michael Jamin (03:07):

    Yeah. It means they like you. Yeah,

    Phil Hudson (03:08):

    Yeah. So that, so it means that they are looking at you for those opportunities are already considering you. I do. And this is, I, I apologize. I want to say we brought this up last year, so forgive me if this is a little redundant, but I do know that in screenwriting Twitter, there was some conversation about how sometimes you get staffed as a writer's assistant and then your show gets canceled and then you move to another show and you're a writer's assistant there, and then that show gets canceled and that's a process. And so there are people who have been writer's assistants for like five seasons and they may not have ever been on a show for two seasons. What about in a situation like that where you're

    Michael Jamin (03:45):

    Sucks people Yeah. Sucks for you. I mean, it's just, what are you gonna do? That's just the, that's just the way it goes. Yeah. That, that requires luck. What are you gonna do?

    Phil Hudson (03:54):

    Okay, here, here's a political question in regard to this subject, which is I'm a writer's assistant below me, right? There's a writer's pa and above me there's a script coordinator. And the script coordinator wants to write freelance episodes probably as well.

    Michael Jamin (04:12):


    Phil Hudson (04:12):

    How do you navigate that? Cuz you've got someone else, technically, in my opinion, this is just my experience, they have seniority over you cuz they've probably been working with them longer.

    Michael Jamin (04:23):

    The same thing. I mean the, but the bottom line is it's, it's very hard. But getting a freelance episode really isn't like, it's not like it's gonna make your life, it's going to make you feel good about yourself. You're gonna, it's gonna be a, a badge of honor. But after that freelance episode, you're, you're kind of back where you started from. You're still a writer's assistant. You still have to break in as a staff writer to get full-time employment. So, and, and often it's not uncommon for a writer's assistant to get their shot and kind of blow it. It's just not, they don't do a good enough job. It's, it's hard. And so you really wanna be ready you know, the pressure is on. I I get it. So, but that freelance episode is probably not gonna make your career. It's just gonna feel good. It's gonna feel good. And that will help. And that might get you by for, that might be enough to, you know, encourage you to keep at it for a couple more years, but it's not gonna set you up for life. So,

    Phil Hudson (05:23):

    So don't celebrate too early.

    Michael Jamin (05:27):

    I mean, or don't be crushed too early if you don't get one, in other words.

    Phil Hudson (05:30):

    Yeah. Gotcha. Alright, cool. Ivan g Garcia, oh, apologize guys, this is old my eyes. I'm getting old. Michael, my eyes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> Ivan Garcia 66 22. What are the basic things any screenwriter should know? I know it's a really broad, but I thought it was a really interesting conversation to have.

    Michael Jamin (05:51):

    Yeah, well, okay, first of all, do you know what a story is? And most people do not know how, what a, a story is, right? I mean, honestly,

    Phil Hudson (05:59):

    Let me interject there too. I had a class in college at a screen at a film school where I was taking a screenwriting class and the teacher asked us to define what a story is. And I knew, cuz you had given me your answer. And I sat around and looked at the room and no one, no one raised their hand. And a couple people said something and the teacher kind of brushed it off. And then I gave your answer to them and he just like had this aha moment. And he literally went and changed his slides to include your answer to this.

    Michael Jamin (06:26):

    Yeah. So the teacher that important, no,

    Phil Hudson (06:27):

    And you can get that free at michaeljamin.com/free. That's so the first lesson in Michael's course he gives away for free. Go get it. It is absolutely important.

    Michael Jamin (06:38):

    I like how, how are you gonna write a story if you can't define it? You know, and you think you know what a story is or, or it's such a weird question like in your gut, you, I must know what a story is, but honestly, if you can't define it, you might get lucky once or twice, but you're not gonna be do it on a consistent basis. You're just not. Yeah. So there's that and don't Yeah. And most people don't know. And including some screenwriting teachers don't, don't know

    Phil Hudson (07:02):

    That <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (07:02):

    Yeah. So,

    Phil Hudson (07:03):

    Yeah, so story stories of us know and the definition of story. And if I recall from conversations with you from years back, you told me that that's something you often, when you get lost in a story, it's because you're missing one of those elements of story and you have to go put

    Michael Jamin (07:17):

    It back in. Absolutely. I I, we were, you know, I talked about this before, but when I was running my partner running Maron first season we did a, it was the first day of shooting and we did a rewrite on a scene and we, and, and then Mark was in the middle of the scene and he's like, what am I doing here? What am I supposed to be playing here? What's going on? And he starts yelling at me because the scene wasn't working. And, and he was right. The scene was not working. And it was because in the rewrite I had dropped or we had dropped one of the elements that we needed required. And he was right. The scene did not work. And so I had to go back and rethink and we, I i, we threw another line that fixed everything.


    But yeah, it's like, it's that important. It like, the actors, without it, the actors are gonna be lost. The audience is gonna be lost. You're gonna be lost, you're gonna struggle when you write, you're gonna be like, what, what am I, why am I getting bored with my own piece? Which is so common that people get bored with their own writing, which is why they lose motivation, which is why they don't you know, they feel like the writing's all over the map, which is why like they do too much rewriting cuz they don't, they still don't know what's good. All this comes, I there's really no screenwriting 1 0 2. It's all screenwriting 1 0 1.

    Phil Hudson (08:26):

    No learn

    Michael Jamin (08:26):

    1 0 1.

    Phil Hudson (08:27):

    All right. So you need to know story.

    Michael Jamin (08:30):


    Phil Hudson (08:31):

    Formatting comes to mind. But that can be done software, right? Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (08:35):

    Right. The least important thing.

    Phil Hudson (08:37):

    But that, that's a place people get so bogged down. And I know this was true for me. I probably spent a year reading books on formatting. They're on the shelf back here behind me of just, here's how you format this, here's how you do this, here's how you do that. What I've found now is that I've absorbed and simulated a lot that just from reading scripts, like right up here, that's printed scripts that have just printed off you, you learn how other writers, you like how they do things. But also you can literally just Google this as you go along. If you get stuck in there. Plenty of things that kind of explain it to you. So don't get too bogged down in formatting, but you have to know formatting cuz it is one of the things people are gonna look at and they'll judge right away whether or not you're a professional.

    Michael Jamin (09:19):

    Yeah. It should be. You should, you can learn it. And just to be clear, like sometimes my partner will make it up. Like if we're writing something, a scene that kind of, the the formatting is, is is unusual with like, it, it's a phone call within a phone call or something odd. We go, well, let's just write it like this. As long as it's clear for the reader, it's fine. No one's gonna, you know, and if the ad has a problem with it, okay, fine. We'll change it when the at, like, I don't fine if the ad one or the writer system wants to change it. Okay, fine. This is how we're gonna do it though,

    Phil Hudson (09:45):

    <Laugh>. Love it. Love it. Okay. So for, is there anything else that comes to mind? Like, is there anything else that a writer and again, basic thing a screenwriter should know?

    Michael Jamin (09:54):

    Well, you know you should know that your first sample, everyone writes a script and they wanna sell it. And I always say, you're not gonna sell it. You should just write it, write it as a sample. It's a calling card to get you work. And so look at it that way, which means you're gonna be, it's a, as a writing sample, you're gonna be judged on the quality of your writing. And so don't get so hung up on, on you you know, I wanna sell it, I wanna make a million dollars. It's, that's like starting at the, the mountain at the top. You gotta start the mountain at the bottom and work your way up.

    Phil Hudson (10:23):

    Yeah. Got it. Anything else?

    Michael Jamin (10:26):

    I don't think so. Okay.

    Phil Hudson (10:27):

    Maybe I, I will say that you cover a lot of this stuff in the course, so again, if anyone's interested in that michael jam.com/course

    Michael Jamin (10:34):

    Go get how fi how to actually sit down and do it. Yeah. That's what we cover.

    Phil Hudson (10:37):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I did hear someone, because structure is the other thing that comes to mind and you cover that extensively in the course as well as the writing process professionals use. I will say, I did hear someone recently say that what you teach can be found in other places, but the way you teach it and the way you label specific things is just kind of a duh. Like, oh duh. Yeah. It's like, you can't misunderstand that. And I think that's beautiful from like a just getting information across perspective and a teaching perspective. I mean, that's why some of the early, early testimonial you got from the course where that you're not only a great writer but a great teacher. I think it's because it's, it's a no-brainer way You explain these things that are very convoluted and confusing.

    Michael Jamin (11:20):

    Lot of times, writer, screenwriting teachers, I think make it harder than it needs to be is like, no, just make it simple. It's

    Phil Hudson (11:27):

    Try to make it smart. I got like 20 screenwriting books on the shelf back there, and it wasn't until I took your course and again, we, you'd been mentoring me for a while, but it wasn't until I took your course that I was like, yeah, that's just a no duh. Like I should just be doing it that way. I should think about it and conceptualize it that way cuz it's not, you know, inciting incidents and it's not convoluted, deeper mythical structure, which I totally am not knocking. I'm just saying it's a, an easy way to think about that process. Yeah. So make it easy. I'm beating the dead horse. I apologize about that, but I do think it's absolutely worth. It's a good, check it out. Yeah. All right. I has a follow up question. Should I always feel confident and proud of my work? How should I take criticism from someone who I don't think knows best?

    Michael Jamin (12:09):

    Well, you should be proud of yourself for sitting down and actually writing a script because most people say they want to do it and they don't do it. So good for you for doing it. How should you take criticism from someone, from someone who doesn't know what they're talking about? Is that what he said?

    Phil Hudson (12:21):

    Yeah. Someone who I don't think knows best

    Michael Jamin (12:24):

    <Laugh>, and you don't, I mean, you know and that's a lot of people. You know what? There's valid criticism and there's stuff that, that is not valid. So if someone says if someone says, I don't, I think you should focus more on these characters, or I think the story should be about this, that's not valid criticism. That's someone who's just trying to rewrite your work. If someone that's honestly, and if people tell you that, tell 'em to go, you know, pound sand, because that's not, it's not helpful. What they can tell you is, I didn't understand what you were going for here. I didn't understand what this character, what their relationship was. I didn't understand why the ending was meaningful. That is irrefutable. That comment is because they're just saying, you can't even argue with that. You're saying, they're saying they don't understand it, and you can, you can't argue with that.


    They didn't understand it. So if you wanna make that more clear, you could work on that in your piece. Or if you want to ignore it, it altogether, you could say, well, I don't want you to understand it. I don't know why you'd ever do that. I I think that'd be, I don't, I don't think confusing your audience is ever a good idea, but, but those are the kind of notes that someone can give you that are helpful and irrefutable and you can ha give it to your mom. And if your mom reads your script and, and you know, takes her a month to read it because it wasn't any good, you know, you, you ask her, listen, did you wanna turn the page? Did you wanna find out what happens next? Or did it feel like a homework assignment? And that's, anyone can, anyone can give you that note. Yeah. It felt a little bit like a homework assignment then. You know, your script is not ready. If it feels like a gift and they wanna read what they wanna read your next work, you might be onto something.

    Phil Hudson (13:58):

    Yeah. No, I told you, this is when I turned that corner, when I finally got that thing, I opened a beer, my friend said, I opened a beer to read your script. And at the end I realized I hadn't even taken a sip of my beer.

    Michael Jamin (14:09):

    That's good.

    Phil Hudson (14:09):

    Right? And I was like, that was huge. Like, that was hugely, I mean, never received any type of compliment like that before.

    Michael Jamin (14:15):

    Yeah, that's good writing, right?

    Phil Hudson (14:16):

    Yep. So, awesome. Moving on, McLean 5 55. I thought this was a really, really smart question. Is plagiarism a problem amongst screenwriters? Which I think is the typical question, but mm-hmm. <Affirmative> then he, he or she, how can a writer avoid doing it themselves?

    Michael Jamin (14:36):

    Oh, plagiarizing.

    Phil Hudson (14:38):

    Try I avoid plagiarizing.

    Michael Jamin (14:39):

    Yeah. I don't know how big of a problem. It's, I mean, when you're writing in a writer's room, none of the writers are gonna steal for you. And, and the idea is, is is specific to the characters you have on the show. And so, I mean, no, we, I'm not gonna steal your idea cause we're gonna put it on next week's episode. I mean, you're, you're gonna shoot it. In terms of stealing ideas, often in a writer's room, someone will say, oh, they, I just saw that episode two weeks ago on whatever show. And then usually the writers will go, Ugh, we won't, will kill the idea. So that's not plagiarizing that's coming up with the idea independently and then killing it because you don't want people to think you plagiarized. And often there are similar often there're just similar things in the zeitgeist that come out at the same time. And, but I I, I don't, it's not really an issue that we really concern ourselves with plagiarizing. You know, I, I, at least I don't, I've never talked about plagiarizing.

    Phil Hudson (15:31):

    I think there's a level of homage too that's being mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, like people are playing homage. So, did you ever watch this show? White Collar?

    Michael Jamin (15:39):


    Phil Hudson (15:40):

    White Collar loved this show. And then there's like this big moment at the end of a season where the guy gets in a limo and he takes a drink of a cocktail and he wakes up and he's at this place. And I was like, why have I seen that before? And then a couple months later I pop in mission to Possible three, and that's literally a thing that happens in that. And I was like, oh, okay. That feels a little lazy to me. But there are plenty of other times where people are doing things like workaholics, for example, they will totally base the premise of an episode off of a famous comedy, and you kind of get what's going on there. Like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they're paying homage to that. Yeah. And it's like, it doesn't, doesn't feel, it doesn't feel icky at all.

    Michael Jamin (16:18):

    Yeah. Right.

    Phil Hudson (16:20):

    So yeah, it's it's like porn, right? You know it when you see it,

    Michael Jamin (16:24):

    You know it when you see it.

    Phil Hudson (16:26):

    There you go. Alright. San Sandy, T 63. What aspects of being a professional screenwriter do you wish people gave you a heads up about? And what are the struggles that nobody really talks

    Michael Jamin (16:38):

    About? Well, I don't know what, I mean, did someone gimme a heads up about like, I knew it was gonna be hard. I wasn't naive. I knew it was gonna be hard. It's gotten harder as I've, as the industry's changed, and no one who, who's gonna, who could have predicted that, who could have told, given me a heads up that these seasons orders would've gotten shorter. You know, when I broke in, we were doing 22 episodes of season. Now you're, you might be doing 10, and so you get paid per episode. And so it's a little harder. You have to string a, it's harder to string across you string a career together now than it was back then. But who could have told me that there was, you know, the writer strike was 2008, 2007, 2008. And back then we were striking over something called streaming.


    And everyone was like, what's streaming? What's video on demand? What is vod? What does that even mean? No one knew what it was except for the Writer's Guild, and they knew this was something that we needed to get coverage on. And so that's why you have a good kilt. And so that was the strike to make sure that writers would get the same benefits if their show aired on a streaming network as opposed to a traditional network. And by the way, who ca I don't who cares how people are consuming it? It's the same amount of work, it's the same amount of creativity. I don't care if you're putting it with a, you have a my show I implanted in your tooth and you're watching it in your brain. It's the same amount of work for me. So how do I, why would I care if it's streamed on a through the internet or if it comes through on, you know, a satellite dish? Who cares? And so luckily there are smart people at the Guild who, who saw that coming. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (18:11):

    Anything else come to mind? Any other struggles you deal with as a professional writer?

    Michael Jamin (18:16):

    Well, I don't know. Do you have something in mind, Phil?

    Phil Hudson (18:18):

    Well, it was just that there was a John August written a ton of stuff. He had a blog post years ago talking about how to budget your money from your first sale. And that was one of the things that I was like, that's really smart. I don't think people are talking about you've sold something now what do you do? And he broke it down and he did finances and there's a spreadsheet and you can go check it out johnaugust.com. But that, that has some pretty interesting information about it. So I just wasn't sure if there was anything else like you stumbled upon as a writer later in your career?

    Michael Jamin (18:48):

    Well I kind of knew that as a, just growing up, like you, you know, don't live beneath your means. Always, always. And I remember someone when I was first buying a house, I remember I got advice from someone, I won't say who it was, but other at the time, I was like, this is terrible advice. And he was a very successful showrunner and he was like whatever house you can buy, buy more, push yourself. Cuz there's, you know, you're gonna make a lot of money and so push yourself to buy a bigger house so you can, and I'm like, that sounds like a terrible idea. <Laugh>, no, my, my father always told me to live beneath my means and thank God I listened to my dad and not him because you're gonna go through, it's feast your famine. So I'll go months, months without making money and then I'll have a job and I'll make money again and then, but I never know how long the famine's gonna last. I just don't know. No one we, none of us do. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (19:33):

    And you know, there's talking of a recession coming up, so that's mm-hmm. <Affirmative> now's the time to be thinking about that stuff as well. I think we very quickly forget how bad things are when things are good and we've been as bad as things have been, we've been pretty good for a while. Yeah. So, you know, we had this conversation cuz I just moved recently in August, I moved to a much bigger house and I just remember laying awake for like weeks saying, how am I gonna afford this? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I could totally afford it. I would've never even moved if it didn't make sense from a percentage of my income. Cuz I too was taught to live below my means, but I still stressed about it because it's the most amount of money I've ever put into a home, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, same thing. You gotta, you gotta think about those things and where the next check's gonna come and how you're going to eat and how, you know, you have a family, how you're gonna feed your family.

    Michael Jamin (20:17):

    So mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (20:19):

    All right. Enough about my house. Sorry guys. I know you're here to listen to Michael, not me, but I appreciate you I appreciate you energy

    Michael Jamin (20:27):

    Real estate, wos.

    Phil Hudson (20:28):

    That's right. Holden underscore levy underscore. When writing a spec script, something that you did not create yourself for a studio, what is the most important thing to include in the script? Asking as I'm applying for an internship where they're asking us to write a spec scene for an existing show. So you want me to rephrase that?

    Michael Jamin (20:48):

    Yeah. What did he, yeah,

    Phil Hudson (20:50):

    Yeah. So Holden says, Hey, I'm applying for this internship and they're asking me to write a spec script from this spec scene from this episode, this existing show. Is there anything in particular I should be including there? Because it's not something I made I spec,

    Michael Jamin (21:03):

    Right? I it's easier to write a spec script than it is an original piece. Far easier, I think. I mean, you have to know how to tell a compelling story. I mean, this is, honestly, this is what we teach in the writing course that we, that we have at my screenwriting course. But is there anything you should put in Yeah, a good story and a good a story with, with high stakes and a compelling B story. And you should be able to have, the characters should be doing things that seem consistent with the characters. You shouldn't be having guest stars that drive the story. You shouldn't be. Ha And all this I teach you shouldn't have guest stars that have more lines than the regular characters. I mean, it should be about the characters in the show. I don't know why. I don't know what kind of internship it it is that requires you to submit a

    Phil Hudson (21:48):

    Spec. It's a spec. It's a spec scene. So to keep that, it's literally, they

    Michael Jamin (21:51):

    Just, it's

    Phil Hudson (21:52):

    A scene. It's a scene.

    Michael Jamin (21:55):

    Yeah. I, I, I can't, I don't even understand why, why, why they would want, aren't you just gonna be making coffee <laugh>? I mean, what are they gonna give you? But that, yeah, I mean, if it's just a scene sa same thing with what I, I just said, but on a smaller scale, you know, make sure the characters are consistent and doing make,

    Phil Hudson (22:11):

    Make sure they pop, make sure that there's something, express your voice. There's,

    Michael Jamin (22:14):

    There's conflicts. Yeah. Yeah. Make sure you're, your, the tone is right of the show. The consistent with the show. Don't do something totally off balance at the show would never have done, but you're like, woo. You know, oh, this is a horror episode of this show. But they don't do horror episodes on this show. Yeah, but what if they did? No. Do you should be con consistent of what they actually did. Sure. Represented it.

    Phil Hudson (22:37):

    Awesome. All right. I apologize. I'm gonna mispronounce this na underscore type life. It could also be Na cuz it's, it's a Jay. You're your're poly. You speak more than one language. You speak three Italian, Spanish English.

    Michael Jamin (22:51):

    Yeah, a little bit of English. Conversational English.

    Phil Hudson (22:53):

    Nice. Good for you. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, do you ever get, get your pronunciation super screwed up when you read words. <Inaudible>, N A J o

    Michael Jamin (23:01):

    Between Spanish and Italian, or

    Phil Hudson (23:03):

    Yeah, anything? So for me, I speak English. Oh yeah. Spanish fluently. But whenever I talk to anyone, you could be Korean. You come up and talk to me. My brain wants to speak Spanish to you. Just out of the box.

    Michael Jamin (23:12):

    Oh yeah. I was talking to a comedian Frank Callo, right? Callo is Italian. He's Italian in, but he goes, that's not how he pronounces it, it's Callo. And I'm like, mm, you saying your name though?

    Phil Hudson (23:22):

    <Laugh>, you know, <laugh> ira.

    Michael Jamin (23:24):

    Same thing with Mike Burbiglia. You know, I'm like, no, Mike, that's not how you say your last name.

    Phil Hudson (23:28):

    The, how do you say his last name?

    Michael Jamin (23:31):

    [Inaudible] That's, that's how you'd say an Italian. But that's not how he says it. I

    Phil Hudson (23:34):

    Like the handshake. I like the handshake too,

    Michael Jamin (23:36):

    While you're, they all talk with the hands.

    Phil Hudson (23:38):

    It's beautiful. [inaudible] Digress. Back to the, back to the question a hand. How do I prepare for a general meeting with a large full caps production company with a development exec as a screenwriter?

    Michael Jamin (23:50):

    Good question. So a general meeting, they're just, they wanna make sure you're not a, a drooling idiot. I would go in there ha with some knowledge of what they do. So do get on I M D B, do do a Google search of what kind of movies or TV shows they've made in the past. So you can have educated conversations. So you could say, Hey, what I love this project that you made. Everyone likes being told that you like their, you're a fan of their work. So that's easy. A Google search, talk about what they've done, compliment them, and then be prepared to talk about yourself and what you co what kind of projects you wanna do. And it's gonna be very tempting to go in and say, I can do everything. And that's not the truth. Find out, you know, if you're a drama writer, what kind of drama do you do?


    If you're a comedy writer, what kind of comedy do you do? And, and tell them what you wanna do and what you excel at. And that way you're making, you're making their job easier. If you tell 'em exactly what you do, which is I do high-concept thrillers or whatever then when they have a project in mind or a need, they're gonna think of you. If you tell 'em I can do everything, they're not gonna think of you. You, you know, put yourself in a box to make it easy for them to employ you. So tho that's your preparation. And you could talk about, you should also be prepared to talk about what shows you. Like, they're gonna say, Hey, what shows are you watching? So you're gonna say, oh, I watched white Lotus. It's and then be prepared to talk about what you liked about it, you know?

    Phil Hudson (25:10):

    Yeah, no, that's great. That's great. Cool. Jeremy M. Rice, how much of show running is budgeting and managing a staff?

    Michael Jamin (25:18):

    All of it, but it's not really it is managing a staff. You, you're in charge of those staff, the writing staff. And, you know, most people don't become comedy writers especially to, to become, you know, management like that. We, we become writers because we don't want to go into management. And so suddenly you're the boss of the show and now you have to manage these other writers. And it's kinda like, I don't really know how to, it's a skill that you have to kinda acquire real fast. And so it's about motivating people, keeping people encouraging them so that they can give you their best. I feel it's important not to waste their time. If people feel like they're hostages, they're not gonna give you their best work, they're gonna feel beaten down. I like to empower people cuz that's how you get their best work out of them.


    In terms of budgeting, you know, the budget is set and I don't even look at those numbers when I'm running the show. I'll just say, I'll ask the producer, can we do this? The line producer and the line producer doesn't even always know. Often they'll come back to you, they'll say, I think we can do this if we steal from this episode. So, you know, I think we can shoot an amusement park if we steal at this episode and you make this real, we don't spend a lot of money here. Can you do that? And so, okay. Yeah. I can have fewer sets and fewer actors and fewer everything to make this happen. So it's a lot, it's a conversation. That's why it's very collaborative. And you work closely with the department heads as a showrunner to get hopefully your your what your vision made. But I, I always try to stay on budget. Cuz the last thing you want to do is give the studio a reason to fire you.

    Phil Hudson (26:45):

    Sure. this goes back to like one of our early, early episodes. When you're staffing a show, are you considering budgets at all? Are you just saying, these are the people I want to hire. And then you hear back and say, well, we can't or we can

    Michael Jamin (26:56):

    No, they tell you they're, they'll come right out and they tell you, okay, you have enough money to hire one showrunner. Usually they'll say this we want you to have a big staff, so we want you to hire 10 staff writers. And then I'll come back and say, I don't want 10 staff writers. I would rather have one really good co-executive producer. And then, and then if there's money left over, we'll hire some staff writers. A lot of voices to me are not good in the room. I'd rather have qualified people who know what you're talking about then, then I don't need a million ideas. I just need someone who can write a really damn good script.

    Phil Hudson (27:26):

    Got it. You know, so you'd, you'd rather put the money towards talent and capability over

    Michael Jamin (27:31):

    Yeah. I always prefer comedy show, meaning experienced

    Phil Hudson (27:35):

    Writers. I think that's general. That's generally true. I would say from my, what I've seen at least, and I'm,

    Michael Jamin (27:40):

    Yeah. But often they want the people, often the people with the purses, they tell you the op they want the opposite because they don't know. And so they're like, no, no, we want you to have a lot of different voices. I don't want a lot of different voices. That's the last thing I want. I want people who can do the job. Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Phil Hudson (28:21):

    Ivan Garcia 66 22 is back. If I wish to become a professional writer, doesn't mean I should drop everything and just write all day every day.

    Michael Jamin (28:29):

    Well, I dunno how you're gonna do that without paying. You gotta pay the bills. But you can certainly drop all your pastimes and become a writer. Like you have to go to work and, you know, and, and, but after work, yeah. What you should be writing, you should be writing every day regardless. And and I I heard a great quote who I think, who was it? I think it was Stephen King said this. I was like, oh, that makes, yeah, that I like the way he said it. You know, when you're inspired, you're right. When you're, when you exhausted and you just don't have it in you in the can, then you should be reading. But writing comes first.

    Phil Hudson (28:58):

    I think it was Terrence Winter, and I apologize if I'm miss Mrs. Operating this quote. But he was on a podcast I listened to years ago, and he said that when he moved to LA I believe he was an attorney first, and then he moved to LA mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And when he moved here, and he's the creator of Boardwalk Empire and he worked on the Sopranos, really well-known, talented writer. Writer. But he said he moved here and his friends would be like, Hey, let's go to a Dodgers game. And he'd say, no, I haven't earned it yet. And he would not allow himself to go have fun until he had done the work he had assigned himself to do. Yeah. And that's a level of dedication, discipline and professionalism that I think you have to have to make it. And it obviously works, look at him. But yeah, you gotta pay your bills, you gotta eat, right. Yeah. So for him, it's, you know, it's sacrificing where other people are not willing to sacrifice because he

    Michael Jamin (29:47):

    Right. Yeah. How bad do you want it? So you, you can't, you gotta have to make choices.

    Phil Hudson (29:52):

    And we talked about this before. It's you know, sacrifice is a, it basically needs to make hauling, right? It's, you're making something sacred so you're turning, you're exchanging something for something else to get something better, which I think is a podcast that's coming up is, yeah. Long-Term focus over short term gratification.

    Michael Jamin (30:07):

    I guess that makes sense. Sacrament.

    Phil Hudson (30:09):

    Yeah. Alright. grizzly, hanif, gri, grizzly, heif. He, I don't know, I apologize. Grizzly, how do you balance writing multiple scripts?

    Michael Jamin (30:22):

    Like, I wonder if they're talking about me or you. I

    Phil Hudson (30:25):

    Think it's a que it's a question for you. And, and I think that they might speak to one, right? But how do you, as someone who is writing multiple projects, you know, you've sold two or three projects recently with your writing partner Yeah. And your writing your own books, your your own essays. Yeah. How do you balance that?

    Michael Jamin (30:43):

    Well, it depends what we're doing. But I, I, I don't have too many projects at any one time. It's only a couple. So it's not that hard. If we're running a show, then we have a bunch of scripts out and we have to keep 'em all in mind. And you know, and yeah, you look at the outlines, you look at the notes that's, that's the hard part of the job. But in terms of projects, I don't have, I think a lot of people, one, if we're talking about an aspiring writer or an emergency writer, I think they'll often have multiple scripts because they get bored by their own work. And, well, I'll just do this now because I'm stuck here. I'll just do this now. And so the problem with that is they're struggling. They don't know what they're doing and so they're just, they're just putting it off by starting a new project, never finishing anything. And so that's not good that, that's why education can help. Where if you understand story structure, you shouldn't be struggling as much. You, you shouldn't be getting bored by your own work

    Phil Hudson (31:31):

    Right? Now, that doesn't mean you're not gonna finish. You get to, to a point when we talked about that and in previous podcast, how do you know when you're done this this project done? You set it aside, you go write something else, you're gonna come back, you're probably gonna rewrite some stuff. It's probably gonna see a bunch of holes, some things you can fix, things you can improve. But that's just because you got better because you wouldn't put in time on another project. So Yeah. But I think that's a great point. Like when you're running a show, you are running a show and you're doing a lot of, a lot of episodes, a lot of storylines going at the same time. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (31:59):

    So, and often I'll say to the writer, what's going on? What's the story about? Again, refresh my memory <laugh> because I, cause I can't remember, you know, 10 episodes at the same time.

    Phil Hudson (32:07):

    Alright. Johnny JK zero one. How does your workday look as a feature writer versus a TV writer?

    Michael Jamin (32:13):

    Well, I don't really work much in film. Film. I, we've, my partner, we've sold two. But we've since stayed in television. I, you know, I don't really know. I mean, your future writer, you know, you're working from your house probably more. And it's like, it's not collaborative. You're alone and you, you're dealing with your producer, producer's giving you notes and you're going back and you're, you're banging your head against the wall. But on TV show, it's collaborative, a writing staff. So if you have, if you get stuck on a scene, you, you bring it in front of the staff and you say, Hey, let's talk about this some more.

    Phil Hudson (32:41):

    Yeah. Great. Alright. colors by sec. C e k, does it really matter where you go to college or university to study screenwriting? How much of an impact does it make on your career? Are the prestigious schools really what they make themselves out to be?

    Michael Jamin (32:57):

    I don't think, no, I don't think so. I think what you can get from, it's important to learn, you know, screenwriting and study it somewhere. But the degree itself is worthless. No one's gonna ask to see your degree. They're gonna wanna know if you can write. And if you, and if that te that school teaches you how to be a good writer, then it's worth something. But the degree itself will not open any doors. No one cares. I've never hired anybody. I've never asked to see their degree. I never wanna see their gpa. It means nothing to me. So the education is worth something, but the degree is worthless, I think. But and also if you go to a school, you may, if it's a prestigious school, your, your fellow students may grow up to be successful directors and, and people that you can work with in the future. So it's good to network with those people because they'll, you know, they'll arising tide raises all boats. But but you can get the, the knowledge without having the degree

    Phil Hudson (33:53):

    Yeah. As someone with a degree. I concur.

    Michael Jamin (33:57):


    Phil Hudson (33:59):

    Ryan Danowski, how many credits does a writer need to have if they want to become a creator or a showrunner?

    Michael Jamin (34:06):

    Yeah. How many credits? It's like it doesn't really work like that. I mean, we were writers for 10 years before someone decided we were ready to be showrunners. And even then we weren't sure if we were ready. It's, it's a big leap. There was talk earlier, like I, I know some people who become showrunners, you know, maybe after four or five. And it's, it's a little scary because there's so much to learn and so much to know. So it's not even about credit. So they, I know everyone wants to be a showrunner. I, I would just don't like, just worry about being him a writer first. It's, it's, it's so freaking hard. There's so much you have to know. And that's why they get paid so much money is because, you know, you gotta know how to do it. I, it's, I I wouldn't just learn how to write first one step at a time.

    Phil Hudson (34:55):

    Yeah. I yeah, I think it, the, that question kind of speaks to a lack of understanding of how the process works. And it's not like you apply for that job, right? Right. Like, that's a job that you are given or assigned because you have enough clout and credit and respect for the accomplishments you have. Or you've sold something and you have enough clout credits. Right. And and respect for what you've done. So, because we, I asked that question early on. Go ahead.

    Michael Jamin (35:27):

    Well, the first time we were hired as showrunner, it's like, I'm sure that was Michael. Hi Michael Eisner hired us for Glenn Martin. I'm sure he was nervous cuz we had never run a show before. And he had a right to be nervous. We had a lot of experience, but he was like, can you do this? And my partner like, yeah, we could do it Very unconvincingly. So he had a right to be nervous and we were nervous. It's like, it's a big, it's a big deal to give someone that break.

    Phil Hudson (35:49):

    Yeah. Yeah. So I mean, I asked that question early on too. Like, if I sold a show, am I automatically the showrun? And you're like, Nope. I knew you may not even be an executive producer,

    Michael Jamin (35:58):

    Right? Oh, probably not. You'll probably be, yeah. But you'll probably be a low level or mid-level writer. You're not gonna, they're not gonna, it's, it's such a big deal that they're not gonna trust their investment to someone who's has no idea how to do it.

    Phil Hudson (36:10):

    Sure, sure. Awesome. That's the end of our professional. We got a couple aspirational and one general, I think we can get these done in a couple minutes here and, and wrap this up. Don't need to split into a third episode on the Ask Me Anything episode of Michael Jam's screenwriting podcast. Yeah. Nate, the Nate Gillen or Gillen, I'm so horrible with these pronunciations. I apologize everybody. As the medium for television seems to shift from networks to streaming platforms, whose staff should I try to join as a PA and eventually a writer to pitch a show to after years of experience in course Netflix, Disney, a studio like fx and

    Michael Jamin (36:47):

    I think whoever will hire you, that's Yeah. Is that what you

    Phil Hudson (36:50):

    Yeah, that's definitely,

    Michael Jamin (36:51):

    There's no wrong answer. Whoever will hire you and those writers will bo if they're on a network show next year, they'll be on a streaming show. Like they'll bounce around. There's, we don't, we don't care, I don't think. Yeah, for the most part we're like, Hey, who's hiring? We'll take the job.

    Phil Hudson (37:05):

    Yeah. I think I can speak to this as someone who has been a PA for the last several years in multiple aspects whatever job you can get, like finding a job is the hard part. Like yeah, it is so hard to find APA job where you can get brought on that you can then have to build a reputation. And it's not like you stick with a studio or, or production company. Mean you're typically moving with that crew of people. You're production office coordinator likes you, so as an office pa they hire you on the next show. You're a set pa the first ad likes you or the second ad likes you. The second, second likes you. So they bring you on to the next one. You move with the people, not necessarily the people making the show. There are some circumstances, you know, I've, I've been working with 8 24 for a couple seasons now on Tacoma fd and I did have some conversations with them where they said, Hey, we would like to continue to work with you.


    And so I've built that relationship of trust over several seasons with them. And I could probably go to them and say, Hey, I'm looking for a job and they'd recommend me to stuff, but I also have plenty of other relationships that I could probably just move to the next project or the next project with the groups of people I've worked with. So it's just networking and you've gotta get the job first. So don't, don't don't feel like you're plotting out an entire career based on what job we get as a pa. That's just not gonna happen.

    Michael Jamin (38:23):


    Phil Hudson (38:24):


    Michael Jamin (38:25):

    Cool. Exactly.

    Phil Hudson (38:26):

    We're gonna get into some questions that are very similar here. Right. And so I, I just want to give the, these people, cause I asked the question some, some clout, but they are very similar and I, things you've already answered many times as an aspiring screenwriter, what is one of the best ways to gain exposure? Where is a good outlet to present your work to gain potential opportunity? That's nine. Nine Jack. And then I'm gonna do Kimmy, Naomi, what are the best ways to get your writing out there and known to attract bigger opportunities these days? And she talks about how it used to be blogging. Is it festivals? Is it shorts? Kind of smashing 'em together, right?

    Michael Jamin (39:03):

    Yeah. But it's, it's anything. It's like, sure, you can apply it to some of the bigger screenwriting festivals. The big ones, not the little ones. The ones who've heard of are, you know, they might be worth something, you know, Sundance or Nickels or

    Phil Hudson (39:16):

    Austin Television.

    Michael Jamin (39:18):

    Austin, yeah. Yeah. Those are good ones. But the smaller ones are, you know, they're just money making operations. So that's what you could do that. But also just put your wor anywhere you put your work out there short. Sure. Make a TikTok channel and put your work up there, you know, in three minute. Make a name for yourself learn every time you create something you know, is, is a good experience, you'll learn from it. You know, a lot of people think it's about networking with people like me. And it's not, you don't have to network with people like me. You can network with people like you. And so you could find fellow filmmakers just outta college or people in college or you know, students or whatever, and just start making stuff together. Get a group of actors. Writers may build a community because those people are gonna rise up.


    If they're serious about it, they're gonna rise up. They're gonna have little opportunities. Hey, I just booked an actor's gonna say, I just booked a commercial. Or a writer's gonna say, oh, I just got, I just, you know, a tiny little thing for somebody. I wrote the, and whatever it is, it's gonna look. Whoa. That's interesting. That, and you're going to surround yourself with these people and all these little opportunities. You're gonna learn about their opportunities and maybe they're gonna bring you in on stuff or maybe you're be inspired. Oh, I could, I could write something like that. I can stage a play and you're building your community of people and someone's gonna pop and you're gonna pop. You know, and that's how you rise up. You don't have to start at the top. You don't have to get your hands in Steven Spielberg's lap to make it in Hollywood. You, all you gotta do is get, build yourself a little community and that's whoever you wanna be with. And that's, that's why I encourage people to move to LA because a lot of those people happen to be in la. Right. If you, you people come to LA to make that dream happen, can you do it and stay where you are, I guess. But you're gonna find more people out here trying to do it.

    Phil Hudson (41:04):

    Yeah. LA is also a great sift. It's a sifter of people. A lot of people are gonna move here. A lot of people are gonna fall out. There's a lot of attrition. People are gonna leave and they're, they're not gonna make it. You know, I moved here with a bunch of people from film school. Most of them have left the business or have moved back home cuz just didn't, they didn't have what it took or they didn't feel like they could devote the time or just,

    Michael Jamin (41:27):

    Or how serious did they take it? Did they make it, did those stu film students, did they ever actually try to make

    Phil Hudson (41:32):

    Anything? No, the

    Michael Jamin (41:33):

    Answer's no. No. Right. The answer's no.

    Phil Hudson (41:35):

    Right. Because it's, it's easier to dream about something. It's zero risk to think it or dream it or say you're doing it. It is a lot of risk personally and financially and professionally to go out and try to do something. But I don't know anyone who's ever knocked someone for trying. I hear a lot of people, it, it's people want to save face with family and friends or relationships they have back at home or wherever it is who said you're never gonna make it. And so that it's easier to say you don't wanna do it. Like I have a friend really tell a writer puts in more effort than anyone I know writing, he writes all the time, but he never finishes anything and he never submits anything. He never sends anything out. He, he's turned down pa jobs. I've tried to give him, he's done all these things because, and this is like super deep. He's afraid of failing his father. Like his father told him he's not gonna make it. And so any tertiary job related to film that is not film counts because there's zero stake in it.

    Michael Jamin (42:31):

    Yeah. But I, you know, it's sad, but you have to start like success doesn't look like what you think it looks like. Success doesn't look like a giant check from a studio to make your movie. It looks like some opportunity that's beneath you. It looks like you making a student film shooting and on your iPhone and posting into YouTube and what's the budget? $30. I mean, that's what it look, I mean, there's no reason why you can't do that. You know, you need better sound, maybe more than $30, but you don't need $50,000 to make your movie. No, you could do it on your phone. You need good sound and you need pay people and pizza. That's how you do it.

    Phil Hudson (43:05):

    And people will happily do it from pizza. People are starving in LA man, it's expensive. It's actually cheaper right now by the way, to eat out than it is to buy groceries. So just keep that in mind. That's the inflation world. Yeah. All right. Last question here and then one in general is writing and directing the best way to get your name out there.

    Michael Jamin (43:22):

    Well, a any way to get like whatever you're doing. What, whatever, like making afil film with your neighbor already. You, you're exposing yourself to more people than just staying in your basement and doing nothing.

    Phil Hudson (43:34):

    Yeah. And the short answer, the reason I separated this one, the short answer is what do you want to do? Do that, do that as much as you can. Do it every chance you can put it out there as many times as much as you can no matter what. And embrace the fact that you're gonna suck at it. Like that's new. It's not meant to be easy for you. Suck it up. And there's zero stakes right now. Cause nobody knows who you are. And that's great.

    Michael Jamin (43:57):

    You know what though? I, I've told this story before, but like a couple months ago, a a stu I know this girl, girl I went to high school with, her son is now a student at a film school. And he lives in LA and they were ca they needed people to be in her student film. And they asked if I wanted to do it and they're like, I'm not an actor, so I didn't want to do it, but, but if I was an actor, cause they needed a guy my age, if I was an actor, I would've done it. Why? Because those kids, that crew of five people, you know Sure. They're just dumb students at us film school. No, they're going to, someone is gonna rise up and become, make a name for themselves. And so why wouldn't I not want to, you know, get to know that person? And so it may feel like, well, but yeah, but that's an op that's an opportunity for five years or 10 years from now. You know, get into, get built a circle for yourself. There's no reason like, I didn't wanna do it cause I don't wanna be an actor, but there's no reason. If I wanted to, I would've done it.

    Phil Hudson (44:52):

    Yeah. speaking of that, and we haven't talked about this much, I just let you know this last week, but I actually have a couple producers who've hired me to write a spec feature that's just in any feature. It's not anything guild related. It's my first paid work. It's amazing that opportunity. Yeah, it's huge. And that opportunity comes from, they needed help producing a sizzle reel in New Mexico in 2015. And I showed up and I devoted all my time for a weekend to them. I spent tons of time, I spent some of my own money taking care of people, getting things done and impressive enough that, that, and with the help of your course and your mentorship, and the time I put into being here in Hollywood and working in mm-hmm. <Affirmative> as a piano, these things I finally have writing samples that impress them enough. This is, yeah, you can hit a budget. It's producible and it's good enough writing. Right. They're gonna send it off, you know, so they're gonna take it and they're gonna submit it to production companies to try to get made as an Indy film.

    Michael Jamin (45:48):

    And that's fantastic. Right. And that's because you put yourself out there and you didn't, and you know, nothing was beneath you and you didn't think you had to start at the top

    Phil Hudson (45:58):

    Because you don't, you can't. Yeah. So you can't, and I apologize, I missed one question here. It's from Hershey Bar, v a r r. How do you know when you're, you're ready to sell your script? Another one, you,

    Michael Jamin (46:11):

    When someone offers to, when someone offers you money for it. But it's kind of, I think we kind of hit on it a little bit already. It's like, if you give your script to somebody and people enjoy, they want to turn the page, you might have something. If it's, if it's a not, you know, if you can't get even your best friend to say it's good, then it's not ready. And again, your goal is not to sell it. Your goal is to impress someone with your writing so that you have other opportunities. So don't even think about, it's not about selling your script. Everyone wants to make money. How about you just learn how to become a good someone that people that you, you know, that you're in demand. If you're a good writer, you will be in demand. Learn how to write first and then doors will open. But if it's all, if it's only about lining your pockets, you know, what do you think's gonna happen?

    Phil Hudson (46:53):

    Yep. So, all right. That wraps that up for the aspirational section. One question in general, it's from Christopher Rings. Do you have a favorite meta description of screenwriters in media? I think of the, I love Lucy Writer's Room and being the regards, oh, this is a more personal question for you. It's not about your own.

    Michael Jamin (47:10):

    Yeah. I, I, yeah. I watched that and I enjoyed that. That's funny. I mean, Aaron Sorkin is a fantastic writer. I was a little surprised when I watched that. And Aaron Sorkin knows what a writer's room is. I mean, you know, he's run writer's rooms. He's been in writer's rooms. I was a little surprised about when I watched that. It was the Char, I don't remember the character but sh she's a female writer on, on Lyla Lucy. And she was given it to Lucille Ball in the, in the movie. She was given it to her. And I'm like, whoa. I've never been on a writing staff where a staff writer talked to the star that way. <Laugh>. Now that's not to say it didn't happen, because maybe it did, you know, may you know, I don't know about the past, but I was surprised when I saw that.


    I was like, whoa. In, in, in general, we don't, we don't talk to actors that way. We don't yeah, we don't yell at them. We, especially the star, we don't call 'em out. Cause they'll fight you. They'll get you fired <laugh>. So no one wants to get fired, <laugh>. So I'm not sure if that's a, an accurate, although I totally enjoyed that movie and I, and I watching it and I was like, oh, I wonder if that's how it was. I, you know, I don't know. I wasn't there. So is there an accurate depiction? I thought it's really

    Phil Hudson (48:17):

    More your favorite. I think the question is favorite, not necessarily accurate. Oh, okay. It could be, could be accurate. It could be both.

    Michael Jamin (48:23):

    I always liked on the la and I haven't seen it in 20 years, but on the Larry Sanders show, I always like the way the accurate Jeremy PN was pur portrayed on the la as the writers, because those guys were never happy <laugh>. They were joke writers and they were never happy. And they always aspired to do more, sell the screenplay or whatever. And I, that felt real to me. Or it felt funny to me. I, and I haven't worked in late night television, so I don't know if it's accurate, but I thought that was hilarious.

    Phil Hudson (48:49):

    That's awesome. I really love, was it Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which I brought it before to mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I think it's Aaron Sorkin as well. And it's like a Saturday Night Live type show behind the scenes really moving, really moving one of the most beautiful Christmas episodes of anything I've ever seen really touching. So

    Michael Jamin (49:04):

    And then there's 30 rock portrayed actor writer, the writing stuff, but not really they quickly ditched that because they're, the gold was not in the writing stuff, isn't it? Watching people write is not interesting. Watching actors become idiots. That's more interesting than watching writers at a table, so.

    Phil Hudson (49:21):

    Awesome. Well, that's the end of your ask me anything, Michael. Two, two parter. Done. any other thoughts, questions, anything you want to put out to the, to your audience?

    Michael Jamin (49:31):

    Just the normal stuff. We got lots of free resources for people who want to go get it. We got free downloads of sample script.

    Phil Hudson (49:38):

    We have, we should, you know, one thing we don't talk about is you have your you have a bunch of free samples that you have available of your writing. I'll pull up the URL here if you want to start talking about the other one. They probably don't have that

    Michael Jamin (49:51):

    Ready. Yeah. That we have that we have a free lesson on, on screenwriting at michaeljamin.com/free. Definitely get that. We have a, our watch list, which is our weekly newsletter with tips. You should be on that michaeljamin.com/watchlist. I post daily on Instagram and TikTok and Facebook at @MichaelJaminWriter. This is all free guys. And then of course, there's some downloads for scripts that I've written. If you wanna, you know, study those or look at the formatting I know it's on our, I know it's available on the website, michaeljamin.com. I know you can. Phil's gonna give you the right

    Phil Hudson (50:25):

    Url. Yeah, I'll get it. And you know what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna put a link in the show notes here, so just go check that out. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Cuz it's gonna be a, it's gonna take me a second to pull this up. I've done a poor job of making it really accessible, so I will get that fixed today. Yeah, we'll you can always go to michaeljamin.com/ there's a free stuff tab at the top mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And you can just hit that and it'll be in there. So yeah, that's it. Cool.

    Michael Jamin (50:48):

    All right everyone, thank you so much, Phil, thank you for joining me here.

    Phil Hudson (50:52):

    My pleasure as always. Lo love what you're doing with the interviews, by the way. They're great. I'm learning a ton from, from listening to those some good stuff. This podcast is evolving. It's pretty cool to, to be a part of it and see what you're doing and have those behind the curtains with some of those pretty powerful and interesting writers that I don't think people want people thinking about. So, yeah. Alright. Thank you everybody. Keep

    Michael Jamin (51:16):

    Right. Thank you. How's next time?

    Michael Jamin (51:19):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. At @MichaelJaminWriter.

    Phil Hudson (52:35):

    You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    51m | Feb 15, 2023
  • 067 - Ask Me Anything About Screenwriting

    Occasionally, I open up my social media to questions from aspiring writers. This week we're tackling the questions you asked. Make sure you follow me @MichaelJaminWriter and look for the post asking for submissions.

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin (00:00):

    When I got hired on King of the Hill, I watched, I got hired on season five. So I watched all see all season four, or either read every episode or watched every episode of King of the Hill so that I could get the voices in my head of all the characters. They have a specific way of talking, and it helps to really, to imitate them on King of the Hill. When in when you're in the writer's room, you always imitated Hank or Bobby. You'd say it the way you, you know, you talk the way Bobby would talk and you know, dang it, you talk the way Hank would talk to get the rhythm so that you could you know, embody the character you're listening to. Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin. I'm here with Phil Hudson. Hello, Phil.

    Phil Hudson (00:45):

    Hey, everybody. Good to be back.

    Michael Jamin (00:47):

    Phil is back, and today we're doing an Ask Me Anything, and I thought it, all the questions were gonna be personal and intimate, but instead they're all screenwriting, so, all right. That'll, that'll do.

    Phil Hudson (00:58):

    They're a couple general, you're good. We'll, we'll, we'll get into what kind of underwear you wear, which is one of the questions we get out.


    Yeah, no, no, no one asked that, I promise. Okay. yeah, so what I've done today, so it's a little bit different format than what we've done in the past, is I broke the questions out into kind of three or four sections. So we'll get through everything we can. If it merits enough time to do and split this into part two, we'll do that. I think one thing for everybody is listening. Just make sure you're, you're subscribing to Michael or you follow him on Instagram, because whenever we post the blue screenwriters need to hear this tile. That's so, you know, that it's opportunity to get your questions asked. And we get a lot of repeat questions from people, which is great. But it is an opportunity for you to get your questions asked directly from Michael right. On the podcast. So make sure you're following him there and look out for that tile. Let's start it off with our, with our homeboy, Dave Crossman. He's been around the og. He's actually, and I think we talked about this, he was literally the first person to buy your course.

    Michael Jamin (01:52):

    Yeah, I a screenwriting course and yeah, Ooz wasn't even on sale. We hadn't even, we were just like, we were testing tinkering or testing. We got a sale and it was crossman.

    Phil Hudson (02:01):

    Yeah. So been around. He's a super talented writer. So always good questions. I thought this was really interesting. So a little bit long. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna go through it and if I need to repeat, let me know. I've been told that half hour sitcom page links determine the intended distribution, for example, 30 pages is appropriate for broadcast, while 40 pages is appropriate for streaming. And that the intended distribution also determines the kind of content that is preferable. So, for example, broadcast requires broad humor like Brooklyn 99, while streaming preferred scripts with a more specific content and humor focus, not like heavier emotions like Barry. Is there any merit to this kind of advice or is it just complicating the process?

    Michael Jamin (02:43):

    It's probably complicating things. First of all, when you say 30 pages, he's talking about single spaced mul, single camera a single camera formatting. Yeah. And so even 30 would be long, even if it was a multi, even if it's a sorry a network TV show, you'd, you'd want to, your script should be shorter than longer. Cuz the first thing anyone who reads your script is gonna do is gonna flip to the back page and how long do I have to read this thing? So shorter is definitely better. So, you know, I'm talking about mid to upper twenties, probably, depending on the show you, you know. And then in terms of and, and yes, you could have more time, like on a network, there are more time constraints because they have to run commercials, whereas a streamer, there's, they usually give you a window that you have to hit, and so you can go a little longer and a streamer.


    But to be honest, again, it's a writing sample. No one wants to read longer, even if it is intended for a streaming service, a net Netflix or whatever, it's still just a writing sample. No one, whoever, no. Who, whoever's reading it doesn't want to, would write, just get the, they wanna get it over with, or <laugh>, they just, it's a sample to see if you can write and, and they bring you in for a meeting and hopefully, you know, maybe hear a pitch on something else. So I always say shorter is better regardless of what, whether it's intending for streamers or network. And the second question is does the, I guess the content have to be a little more focused or less broad? Yeah, I suppose. I mean, you know, broadcast is for a, a, a broader audience, whereas on a streamer you can have, it's more niche and, and generally they generally look for edgier content. You know, I hate the word content, but j edgier material. And so, yeah. But does that determine the amount of the, the way you write it? You know, I don't know. I mean, I guess it's just a little more specific, you know, I wish I had a better answer for that, for Crossman over here, but

    Phil Hudson (04:37):

    I, I can cite some feedback you gave me, so mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, episode 33 last March. If anyone wants to check it out, you gimme notes on, on a pilot that I wrote, and you can go read that pilot and your notes were, this is a b plus, and this would play on cbs, but if you want to be on cable mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you need to be less specific. And I guess it was, it was less on the nose, maybe less, less tell, more show <affirmative>. So I don't know if that's nec necessarily speaks to tone, however, for example, you know, including language, including violence, including you can do a lot more with a cable type script than you can. Yeah. And I, I get the feeling that the perception is that type of writing is more demonstrative of your capability as a writer. And good considered good writing than just writing something that would show up on broadcast, would you?

    Michael Jamin (05:27):

    Well, I, I don't, I don't think broadcast is bad or anything. I just think it's, it's edgier to be on non-broadcast. And when broadcast, you gotta think of it, a lot of these shows are intended to be watched with your family. So fa the whole, everyone can, even the children, they can all sit down and enjoy it together. Right. And when you're writing for a streamer, you don't necessarily have to worry about that. And so you, you want, you can, you can make your content a little edgy content, your material a little edgier. You can make it a little grittier. And it doesn't have to be so neat. And it doesn't have to be, I mean, there's a little more freedom in the way you can write. You know, I was watching a I mean take, like, take like goodwill, Goodwill hunting, so we talk about writing directly and versus indirectly.


    And so that's a really good example. Like Matt Damon's character never comes out and says what his problem is or what he doesn't you know, why he doesn't want to be in therapy or why he, why he's fine. Like, he doesn't come out and say, I don't want wanna do, I don't wanna be here. I don't, he never says it. He, he says it without saying it. So instead he goes into Robin Williams office, he kind of screws with him a little bit and he doesn't answer his questions. He evades it by being a smart ass. And so you're saying it without saying it, whereas often if you're doing a more of a broadcast show, you kind of want to say it so that, so that junior could follow along as well. <Laugh>,

    Phil Hudson (06:43):

    You know. Gotcha, gotcha. That's our like, third reference is Goodwill Hunting, by the way. It's

    Michael Jamin (06:48):

    Oh, it's such a fantastic movie.

    Phil Hudson (06:50):

    So impactful, so impactful for me personally. Okay. anything else you want to add to that in terms of you know, thinking about writing for those other platforms? I mean, there's samples and I think one thing you do talk about in your course that I think was really helpful for people is you talk about having different samples of different styles. So right, you want to write, if let's say you're writing adult animation right here, you're gonna be really broad, like family guy, or gonna be really specific, you know, more chip, BoJack, horseman, like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> real world just happened to be set in the world with animals. So you talk about like, having different samples in your, in your, yeah. Cap, if you will,

    Michael Jamin (07:29):

    Is that, and one thing I talk about in the course really is that like, you'd break both stories the same way, whether it's for a network or for a streamer, you'd really break it. It's just a matter of how you execute it in terms of how you write it after the outline, you know, once you get to the outline stage. But on the board, they're kind of, the way I do it, they're pretty much identical.

    Phil Hudson (07:48):

    Got it. Cool. moving on. And again, these are crafts questions. 51 Lego underscore. How necessary is it to establish main characters in the first episode? Is it problematic to wait a couple before focusing on who the story is about as the audience doesn't get as connected with the characters yet?

    Michael Jamin (08:06):

    Yeah, it's a huge problem. I mean, in your pilot, you're, you're establishing the world and the character's in it. And if you want to, you can't wait until episode three. What are people watching and what happens to the old characters? No, no, you gotta come right out of the gate. These are, this is the world. These are the characters in the world that's like non-negotiable, non-negotiable.

    Phil Hudson (08:28):

    Well, I think it also speaks to, and, and I don't know if it's necessarily bad exercise, but your job is writing pilots to sell a pilot. I think it, I'm kind of learning that it's a mistake to invest eight episodes of a fake series that will never be made. And so if it's part of your practice, tell, make sure you understand how to tell a complete story. Sure. But you're not gonna go out of the gate and sell 3, 4, 5 episodes of this thing. And it could happen, I shouldn't say not, but it's most likely not gonna happen. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So the very exercise is kind of an act of futility because you should be riding other pilots. You should be giving yourself more

    Michael Jamin (09:06):

    At that. It's funny you say that, cuz I was gonna do a whole, someone mentioned this had a question about this a couple of days ago, and I was gonna do a whole post on it because like, I think this person was an author and they were hoping, you know, they have the pilot ands all the way through the end of the series written, and it's like, you're wasting your, I feel you're wasting your time. Just write one episode, one pilot episode, and then move on to write another pilot episode. Because if it sells, don't worry. You'll get a whole writing staff and you'll be able to figure out the whole season. You don't need to do it now.

    Phil Hudson (09:33):

    Yeah. I, I think I've seen in produce shows where they do introduce a character in like episode two, and my feeling is, and maybe, you know, my feeling is that that's because the network or the studio, whoever decided to put it on air, said, we need this type of character, or we need this. They found a problem with the pilot, and this is the way to fix that by introducing some other character

    Michael Jamin (09:54):

    Later. I mean, it happens for sure. You take like lost. I mean, the, there was, there were the characters, you know, in the first episode and then you discovered, oh, here's other dynamics work better, and these characters aren't really yet great. And then you find it. But you know, the intention is to introduce everybody. And then of course you have to build up as you run out of stories and you have to create more plot, plot lines. You have to bring more characters in. But now your characteristic should be in the, in the pilot episode.

    Phil Hudson (10:17):

    Perfect. saved underscore. Dan Chaz it's not a misspelling by the way. Is it acceptable to write morning or afternoon in the slug line? Or should the general day and night be used to indicate the time is also, is it better to use same or continuous when you, when using multiple slug lines for one long scene?

    Michael Jamin (10:36):

    All right, so these are formatting things, but you write whatever you need to write. I mean, if you write interior or what, just say, you know, exterior street morning is not the same thing as exterior street day in the morning. The extras are gonna be sipping coffee. They're gonna be holding a paper, they're gonna be walking, you know, to the, to their office places. If it's lunch, if it's day, the sun is gonna be higher in the sky, people aren't gonna be sipping coffee. They're gonna be, you know, whatever background's gonna be different. The lighting's gonna be different. So you gotta write, you gotta describe the scene, however, whatever the scene is, you know, so don't worry about Yeah. You know, the, the,

    Phil Hudson (11:12):


    Michael Jamin (11:12):

    First morning make a morning, the

    Phil Hudson (11:14):

    First Eighty's gonna solve that problem for you when he goes, when he or she goes through the script and they make decisions about what day we're in and what time it is mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and what, how, what her shooting schedule is. So you don't need to worry about that. Like, they'll, they'll take care of that

    Michael Jamin (11:25):

    On the text, but you gotta put it in the script, whether it's morning or afternoon. What, what's up to you as the writer? What's the second part? What's the second part? 

    Phil Hudson (11:34):

    Is it better to use the same, you saying we're continuous when you're, you describing one long Z

    Michael Jamin (11:41):

    It just, it's whatever, it's convenient to you, you know,

    Phil Hudson (11:45):

    Stylistically, right? This is stopping.

    Michael Jamin (11:46):

    Yeah. yeah. Interior house the same. I mean yeah, there's no passage of time, so you could might as well write the, the same if there's no passage of time.

    Phil Hudson (11:54):

    Yeah. And I would also say think it's your job as the writing to be as clear as possible. And so if it, whatever you put should make it. So there's, it shouldn't be confusing to the reader. Yeah. So make it easy. As long as we understand what we're doing, you're doing your job. Yeah. Or what we're seeing. Cool. Yeah. All right. Uhs Taylor, if you out, if you outline at all how detailed you go into outlining your planning, whatever you're working on before you start riding, Kevin, I used to jump straight into riding with sudden burst of inspiration. I'd avoid outlining at all costs and write off vibes and, and inevitably get lost along the way. Only recently have I fallen passionately in love with outlining learning.

    Michael Jamin (12:33):

    Yeah, you gotta outline. I mean, I I, to be honest with you, like every time we write, we sit down, we outline. If you're gonna be, if you wanna work in television or even film, you have to learn how to outline because no writer is going to be, you're not gonna be sent off on script. And the, the showrunner's not gonna say, Hey, write whatever you wanna write. No, no, no. You're writing the outline and the outline is decided upon in the room. We know what the scenes are, what, what the beats are. We've all agreed on it. So you're not gonna go off, off, off the reservation, you're not gonna go off the map and do something crazy. No, you have to learn and you have to learn how to outline. You have to learn how to stick to it. In terms of discovering, no, I, I mean, I understand why this person didn't wanna do it in the beginning because it's so, it kind of takes the organic part out of the process.


    But you wanna work in tv. You know, you can't just, the problem is you think you're gonna find the story, chances are you're never even gonna hit on the story unless you really have a clear map. Even now, when I write, as we talk about, you know, my collection of personal essays, that was the rare occasion. That's the rare occasion where I don't outline where I dis I write, I have an idea, and I start writing. I start writing. But it's so inefficient. It's such a wasteful way to do it. I do it because it's my own writing. I don't, I'm not on schedule. I don't have to answer anybody. But that way, when I'm writing without an outline, halfway through the story, I'm like, if there's no story, I have to go back. And I, I usually, you know, trash the idea or I hope to discover the story. And once I discover the story, you gotta go back and rewrite the hell out of it. It's not efficient, but it's organic. But on tv, and no, you gotta, it doesn't work that way. TV's much more collaborative. So you have to write, you, you would never go off without an outline.

    Phil Hudson (14:13):

    Yeah. I think the, if there's anything that you've brought into screenwriting, podcasting or screenwriting social media mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's awareness of the process, right? There is an actual process that writers follow. If you go to a writer's room, the process is more or less gonna be the same. You're going to figure out what your story, you're telling, you're gonna break the story, you're gonna outline the story. You're gonna, you're gonna do all of those steps. And I think too often, a lot of people, you know, some people who are, in my opinion, younger, they, they feel constrained by the rules, and they don't want to, they don't want to be formulaic. And that's like a big conversation I hear all the time. But I think what you're saying is there's a process, and if your job is, if your goal is to be a professional writer, even if you have aspirations of being a top mega, super showrunner, like a JJ Abrams, you still have to understand this process. And once you go through this process and you understand it, then you can tweak things and you can change it and make it your own process. But it is all built on this foundation of the process that Yeah. Professional writers use.

    Michael Jamin (15:14):

    Yeah. Yeah. We all do it. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (15:17):

    All right. Follow up to that. When outlining, is there a specific structure you use to stay on track? Or do you just inherently know?

    Michael Jamin (15:24):

    No, I mean, that's what we teach in the chorus is, is story structure. So there is always the same. It's, it's a structure. It's a, again, that's not to say it's formulaic, it's just knowing what kind of beats for the outbreak, what the act break moments are, what the middle act two is. And, and if you don't have these moments in, in your story you, you'll let, you'll, you'll notice it. I watched a movie a couple nights ago on a streamer, and it was like an indie, and these moments were lacking. And you felt it. You felt it. You felt like it was getting boring. It was getting slow. And so you just need it.

    Phil Hudson (15:57):

    I just had an experience. Wonder if we watched the same show? <Laugh> show?

    Michael Jamin (16:02):

    I don't wanna say. I'll say

    Phil Hudson (16:04):

    Off the air. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (16:05):


    Phil Hudson (16:08):

    Yeah. Awesome. Moving on. Denzy Pops in LA How do you get into the head of each character as you write, especially when it is a character of someone else's creation,

    Michael Jamin (16:19):

    That's your job. I mean, every show I've written on has been created by somebody else. So for example, when I got hired on King of the Hill, I watched, I got hired on season five. So I watched all se, all season four, or either read every episode or watched every episode of King of the Hill so that I could get the voices in my head of all the characters. They have a specific way of talking, and it helps to really, to imitate them on King of the Hill. When in, when you're in the writer's room, you always imitated Hank or Bobby. You'd say it the way, ha you, you know, you talk the way Bobby would talk and, you know, dang the hill. You talk the way Hank would talk to get the rhythm so that you could you know, embody the character. So don't be afraid to say these, to imitate the character's voice out loud. Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you, and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaejamin.com/watchlist

    Phil Hudson (17:29):

    A and j. Once you have your main plot points, how do you begin to flesh out in between the in between? So it all feels tight and every scene has a point.

    Michael Jamin (17:38):

    Yeah. Well, every scene has to have a point. And, and, and again, we talk, we teach that all in the screenwriters course. But yeah, if a scene, if a scene can be cut, if you can remove the scene from your, from your Teleplay movie and the story still holds together, you, you haven't done your job, it's a bad scene. It, you know, every scene has to have a purpose. And the character's attitude at the top of the scene must be different by the end of the scene. And if it's not, what's the scene for is just because you just want to do a scene at a carnival. Well, that's not good enough. You have to have, there has to be a reason the characters have to change in some small way. And so yeah, unpacking all that, that's, it's a good, that's a great question. That's what we teach, but that's, it's so, it's so critical, you know? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (18:26):

    Yeah. I'm trying to remember. It might have been like episode 34, 35 where you talking about fractals. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think that's worth listening to, right? With how everything is a sum. The, the hole is a sum of the parts, right?

    Michael Jamin (18:39):

    Yeah. If you think of a movie, it has a shape to it. And then if you think of a scene in that movie, it all, it has the similar shape. And if you think of a, a line, it can also have the similar shape, but you're just expanding. And that's a fractal. And so if you look a fractal as an example of, like, if you look at the tree, the tree has branches on it. But if you look on the branch, the branches also have branches coming out. And then if you look at the leaves on the back of the leaves, you'll see the veins of the leaf also have branches coming at 'em. That's a fractal. And that's kind of like how you're repeating these shapes over and over again in, even in your storytelling.

    Phil Hudson (19:12):

    Yeah. I loved that podcast, that episode. Go check that out. Wolfen, how do you practice deliberately to become a better writer?

    Michael Jamin (19:21):

    Well, you have to write, I mean, that's really the only way of doing it is to sit down and write, and write and write. And it could be a long journey. So this could be your life's journey, unfortunately. And so it doesn't mean you're gonna, you know, so many people want to come out of the gate, Hey, here's a script, hire me. It's like, well, but if you're scripted, if you're not a good writer yet, you're not gonna get hired. You understand that, right? I mean, and so it's a long, long journey and hopefully it's rewarding. But yeah, you gotta put your butt in the chair and just write every day. And, and I would say, don't worry about refining your, your, your, whatever you're working on, draft after draft. Just write your movie, set it aside, and write a second one, and then the third one, and your fifth movie is going to be better than the first.


    It just is. So stop. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> polishing that first movie and move on. And the same, someone left a comment the other day saying they sh you know, they struggle when they write their they're writing a piece. And they were, they spent so much time in that first paragraph, getting it just perfect. And it's like, is that normal? And it's like, it is normal. It's just not good. And I've done the same thing myself. You're, you're making it absolutely perfect, but meanwhile, it, when you get halfway through the piece, you're gonna realize, oh, you know what? I gotta rewrite that whole first page. Anyway. It's all, it's all different. So don't waste your time getting it all perfect. Just get it out there, and then you can put another coat, another coat, then put it aside, and then move on and look at it with fresh eyes in the future.

    Phil Hudson (20:45):

    Yeah. And I'll add to that, if you feel, I think that comes from a fear that you'll never be able to write anything else, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, but this is the only thing you have. Well, you are correct unless you write something else,

    Michael Jamin (20:55):

    Right? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (20:56):

    So write something else,

    Michael Jamin (20:58):

    Right? That's your job. Cool.

    Phil Hudson (21:02):

    Official Cody Ladue or Ledo, I don't see French lid. Wow. Yeah. What's the difference in writing for a multi-cam show versus a one cam show or single cam?

    Michael Jamin (21:13):

    Well there's, there's this structure wise, very similar in terms of the story structure. It's very similar, but you have certain restraints on a multi-camera show. Everything's shot, live on a sound stage in front of an audience. So on the sound stage, you're not gonna have a lot of room for different sets. You're gonna have a standing set that's there every week you know, and then you're gonna have room for a couple of what they call swing sets that you, you can build them a new set this week, there's room, but you don't have a ton of room. So you know, for, let's say, just shoot me, the standing set was the bullpen, the office for the, everyone worked. And then there was j Jack's office to the left of that. We all, we, that was always up. And then Nina's office was always on their right.


    And that was it, right? Those were the three standing sets. And then sometimes we had room, we always had room for swing sets, which we'd built. So maybe it would be like a restaurant we're going to, or you know, a theater or whatever where the characters are going to. But you only have room for like two or three of those on the sta on the stage. So when you're breaking your story, keep in mind you don't have a lot of room. You can't have a million sets. Whereas a multi, a single camera show, you can have far more, because often you're shooting those on location. If sometimes you're shooting on a sound stage, but often you go on location, so you could open it up a little bit more. There's also sing multi-camera shows also feel a little more like live theater because you, you have the audience there. So you tend, the actors tend to get a little bigger kind of playing it for the laugh. So you usually won't put more jokes on a pa on, on the page for a multi-camera show. Not necessarily though. Just depends on the show versus a single camera.

    Phil Hudson (22:48):

    Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. And it seems like there's a resurgence of multi-cam

    Michael Jamin (22:54):

    Is there right now. I haven't, I mean, they always say that and they never put 'em on cut on the air, but

    Phil Hudson (23:00):

    <Laugh>, there you go. Maybe I'm just reading the, the trades too much. Alright. I am Chris McClure. How do you and your partner split the writing once the story's broken, you each take scenes, write the scenes together, one type, one pace. We've answered this before, but I thought it was worth bringing up, cuz it comes up quite often.

    Michael Jamin (23:18):

    Yeah. It just depends on the partnership. Some, some partners, I'll do act two. You do act one, but the way my partner and I do it, we literally sit in the same room. We have a monitor, a computer with two monitors on it. And so we literally act out the scenes together. Every scene that we write, we do it together. And so that's just how we do it. But you could do it any way you wanna do it with your partner. But I, I would assume that, you know, rewriting your partner's work without their permission or without them in the room might be a little, I know it's people who do it, but it seems like a recipe to piss somebody off.

    Phil Hudson (23:50):

    Yeah, I've, I've heard a successful screenwriting partnership that does a lot of stuff, and they assign scenes in order odds evens mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and they write one senate, the other one rewrites. It adds their scene. The other person rewrites the other two. So by the end, by the time they're done, they've rewritten like 20 times. But that's just comes from trust of being professional, working together for years and years.

    Michael Jamin (24:14):

    My bosses Brad Buckner and eu, Eugene, Russ Leming, my first bosses that I worked for, that's how they did it. They would trade, they, you know, alternate scenes, but that's not how we do it. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson (24:24):

    Yeah. Awesome. leaf, the leaf edits, how much detail do you typically put in a scene description or an action a character is doing? I've seen scripts with barely any, and some that have more, is it dependent on drama versus comedy?

    Michael Jamin (24:40):

    The, I say the less the better because no one wants to read those you know, direct stage directions. They're just, no one reads 'em. I don't read 'em. I'll skip right over them. And so I feel like the, the shorter you can make it, the better. If you have to make it longer, make it interesting to read so that, you know, maybe throw a joke in there or make it, write it in such a way that people, but that's hard. Write in such a way that makes people wanna read it. Especially if it's a, a mystery or a thriller. Maybe you want to, you can jazz it up by, and then he walked down the corner. He walks down the corner. Is that, is that a noise? He's, he, you know, he halts in his, you know, whatever you can ma you can write it in such a way that maybe it makes it compelling to to read. But when in doubt I say shorter.

    Phil Hudson (25:23):

    Yeah. I think you, my first spec that you ever, I wrote and sent to you, you referred to it as flowery descriptions, right? Yeah. You could. The first time I sat on the screen, on the software, I sat down and I was like, I describing what was in the room. Like I would if it was a novel. And it's just like totally unnecessary.

    Michael Jamin (25:40):

    It's, no, you don't need to do that. Right?

    Phil Hudson (25:41):

    There's whole departments that do that.

    Michael Jamin (25:43):

    Yeah. Let them do it. You could say it's a dimly litz barley, a dimly lit, sparse room. Yeah. You'd only describe what what you absolutely need. If there's a, if there's an ax in the corner of the room and the ax is going to come into play you know, later in the scene, then you might wanna set it up, say, you know,

    Phil Hudson (26:00):

    Yeah. Checkoffs a gun, right? Yeah. If there's a gun, if there's a gun in the, the first act that needs to go off in the third act,

    Michael Jamin (26:05):

    Right? Yeah. Right. But don't put it there. If it's not gonna go off, we don't need to know about it.

    Phil Hudson (26:09):

    Yeah. It's just the detail we're keeping in our head. Cool. this is my last craft question. We can move into professional questions if you want. Wendy h Morgan, can you talk about how to find the funny in your writing?

    Michael Jamin (26:24):

    Yeah, I mean, that's hard. That's one thing I say, you know, in, in, in the course that we have, there's a module on joke writing and, and, and and, you know, finding humor and, but I'm, I'm pretty upfront that I don't think hum comedy can be taught. I don't think you could be taught to be funny. I think whatever level you're at, I could probably get you a little higher. I could show you the tricks that I use to get you a little funnier, but if you're not funny, I can't teach you how to be funny. And I don't think anybody can. I think they're just trying to get money outta you. Personally, what I do as a comedy writer, I I I'm able to access the child in me pretty easily. And so children, that's why a lot of my humor is very mature, but children are very black and white.


    They see things black and white as opposed to gray. They don't learn gray, gray, gray has to be learned. And so children also very literal. The very, the very first joke I ever made was like, I was a baby in the crib, and I don't remember my mo but my mom, my mother reminds me of it. She said, oh, Michael, you're so handsome. And I held up my hands like that because I, I heard some hands. She said, handsome, I heard some hands that's literal. And she laughed and everyone laughed, you know. The second joke I made, I was honestly, I was only a couple. I was like a year or this one, I remember I was probably three or what, four, whatever. And somehow we're at a party and somehow, because family gathering, I walk into the room carrying a copy of Playboy magazine and I'm a old boy and it's open to the centerfold and everyone sees this and everyone's aghast, right?


    And then all eyes turn to my mother, how is she gonna handle this one? And and my mother wanted to play cool. She didn't want to traumatize me. So she goes, Michael, what is that woman wearing? And so I look at the centerfold, look at my mom, look back at the centerfold, and I go, earrings, because that's all she was wearing was freaking earrings. And everyone lost it. But I wasn't trying to be funny, I was just being literal. What was she wearing? That's the only thing she was wearing was earrings. Yeah. so I did, I'm able, if that's what I see it, I, I'm able to access. And I'm always thinking of, and it can be annoying. I could be definitely a little annoying. And so I don't, you know, you know, people who are always on, they're always pitching jokes and you never get to know this person cuz they're always on.


    It's like, dude, just relax. I, I can do that. I don't want to. Cause I find it so annoying. But whenever I'm, when I'm driving the car, I'm thinking, what's funny about that? What's funny about that? What's funny about that? And so it's just like an exercise I do. And I don't say it out loud cause it's so fricking annoying, but it's almost just like this itch that I have to scratch or else you know, we were driving to we were driving to Arizona this a couple weeks ago to visit my uncle. And there's part of it by Palms, Palm Springs, you're driving, is it Palm Springs? You're driving, there's these giant windmills. Giant windmills, mills, valley palms, Palm Desert. What is you going on? That's what it's, right. Yep. So these giant windmills generating electricity. And I'm, first, I'm thinking, I'm thinking, it's so freaking hot here.


    They have to have giant fans to cool off the plate, <laugh>, you know, but like, I'm not saying any of this cause it's so freaking annoying. But that's what's, it's my thinking in my mind. I'm thinking, oh, fans to cool it off cause it's so hot here. But, but that's how I that's just how I approach it. And there's other tricks that I talk about. But again, I don't promise I can make you funny. I can, I could just make you a little funnier. And there's certain things that we, as comedy writers do to make things a little funnier and then go through the list. But those are, those are a few.

    Phil Hudson (30:03):

    All right. So at this point, I think we're gonna split into two. We got a ton of questions left. So next step, or the next episode is gonna be professional questions some aspirational questions, and then general question that came in. So definitely worth sticking around for those. Michael, thank you for being here. Thanks for having us. Everyone. Go follow Michael. @MichaelJaminWriter On social media. A couple free things or things you should know about. We do offer a free lesson. The first lesson of the course Michael's been talking about. That's available michaeljamin.com/free. Also, his course that he's mentioned a couple times, go from michaeljamin.com/course. Go check those out. The course when this comes up might be closed, so just keep that in mind.


     We've moved to a almost like a an enrollment period because it's just a demand on time for you and for me and for the support staff. It's just taking up a ton of time when we onboard so many people at once. So we're gonna split that up a little bit. So if it's not there, go sign up and you can get notified when it does open up. There's the watch list. You can get your top three pieces of content every week delivered in your inbox on fridays michaeljamin.com/watchlist, and then your paper orchestra. You're not currently touring, right? But

    Michael Jamin (31:17):

    You no, we're making the, we're we're actually making the ebook now. I gotta talk to you more about that when we get off the <laugh>, we get off the call. Yeah, that'll be, that'll be coming out hopefully this summer. My book, it'll be dropping as an e-book a paperback and, and an audiobook, and then they'll start touring again. And so if they want, awesome people want to be notified. When any of those are ready, you can go to michaeljamin.com/upcoming and just put your email there.

    Phil Hudson (31:42):

    Great. Anything else, Michael?

    Michael Jamin (31:44):

    That's it. I'm excited for part two.

    Phil Hudson (31:46):

    All right.

    Michael Jamin (31:47):


    Phil Hudson (31:47):

    Q and a for the next one.

    Michael Jamin (31:49):

    Okay, thanks everyone.

    Phil Hudson (31:51):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need To Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    31m | Feb 8, 2023
  • 066 - Impressionist/Comedian Frank Caliendo

    Impressionist and Comedian Frank Caliendo is this week's guest on the podcast. Join Michael and Frank as they discuss Frank's career and his advice for emerging comedians.

    Show Notes

    Frank Caliendo's Website - https://www.frankcaliendo.com/

    Frank Caliendo on Twitter - https://twitter.com/FrankCaliendo

    Frank Caliendo on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/frankcaliendo/

    Frank Caliendo on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/frankcaliendo

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Tanscripts

    Frank Caliendo (00:00:00):

    So I thought put Seinfeld on drugs and the d the, the bit was why do my fingers look like little people? Who are these people in the door and they're talking to each other? They're probably talking about me when I say it. Talking. I, oh, Jerry, oh, I somebody. Hey Jerry, you look like you've been seeing little people on your fingers. It's, you just let that camera and then the end, it was Newman and Newman's like, hello Jerry. And she, we've lost a sort of Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead commitment of stamps. You would see <laugh>. So he'd lick the stamps. You know, that was the,

    Michael Jamin (00:00:33):

    You're listening to screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.


    Hey everyone, it's Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. And I got another great guest today. I'm really racking up the guests. Everyone. before we begin, make sure everyone to get on my my watch list is my free newsletter, by the way. Goes out every friday at michaeljamin.com/watchlist for tips for screenwriters, actors, and directors and all that. And now let's bring him on. Let's bring on my next, my next guest who I met actually many years ago when I was running a show. He's, the show was called Glen Martin. And we, we, this is how it works. And, and Frank, don't worry, I'll give you a minute to talk. I know you're talking about the bit here.

    Frank Caliendo (00:01:15):


    Michael Jamin (00:01:16):

    I love it. This is how, this is how it works in animation. It's actually a fun job for, for actors. So basically the casting director, we don't even audition. Can't we say this is what we need and the cast director just bring somebody in and, and and if they're terrible, you know, we just get somebody else to replace them. And so in this role we needed this is we needed someone who could do an impression. And I don't remember what the character was. There's probably some politician. It might have been Obama, it might have been George Bush, someone like that. And so she had our casting director was Linda Lamont, Montana. And she goes, I have just the guy. And she brings him in. And it was, it was Frank, Frank Callo, thank you so much for being on the, my podcast, Frank.

    Frank Caliendo (00:01:55):

    And now I'm back. How about that? Huh?

    Michael Jamin (00:01:57):

    Now you're back. And he killed it. Now Frank, is this your, Frank has got Frank, you know, the, and, and, and the Game of Thrones. There was like the the man of, what was it? The god of many faces. Is that what it was? You're, you're the man. You're the god of many voices.

    Frank Caliendo (00:02:11):

    I'll take it. Yeah, I'll

    Michael Jamin (00:02:12):

    Take, take it.

    Frank Caliendo (00:02:12):

    It it's like six and then I just kind of do variations on it.

    Michael Jamin (00:02:16):

    I don't think so. Dude, you are amazing. You are amazing at how you do that. I want to get into like how you actually do that.

    Frank Caliendo (00:02:23):

    Well, there, there, okay. So let's, let's get into, first of all, I didn't believe you that I did the show that you said I did, cuz I kind of remember Glen Martin. D d s I remember getting the sides for it. I remember getting an email about it, but I don't remember doing it cuz we talked at some point that you were doing a live a live stream. And you're like I think that's where it was. And I was like, you said, oh, Frank, you did a thing with me. Or maybe we just instant message back and forth. I'm like, you're crazy. I don't remember doing that. I just looked it up on I mdb and I did do it. You did do it. It was George Bush and I guess John Madden. Go figure. You probably Madden happy for Georges Bush. So you wrote in the John Madden thing, I'm guessing. 

    Michael Jamin (00:03:09):

    It's so funny. It's so funny that you chose to forget that you were on Glen Martin. How, how

    Frank Caliendo (00:03:13):

    She, I don't remember a lot of stuff and I don't even do any drugs, but it's like, I don't, I don't remember. I remember it was like a declamation kind of thing, right?

    Michael Jamin (00:03:19):

    Yeah. Yes. Right. And it was, that was Kevin Neen. He, he the, he the guy. So, yeah. And you, you crushed it and you did. No, it wasn't John. John.

    Frank Caliendo (00:03:29):

    I crushed it so much. I've never worked with you again. That's but

    Michael Jamin (00:03:32):

    I haven't done not have animation since. No,

    Frank Caliendo (00:03:34):

    That's true, jerk.

    Michael Jamin (00:03:35):

    I did Barry for 10 minutes though. But you

    Frank Caliendo (00:03:38):

    Know, it's funny. Here's a funny thing though. This is a funny thing, is that I haven't done a lot of animation. So you think of me as animation because of the voices. And that's the thing that's always weird. And that's why one of the reasons I didn't do a ton of voice acting. One, I wasn't as good at it as some other people. But two, it was like, because once you do that, it's amazing how people think of you in like, I'm in a couple of different tunnels for pi. It, it's, you know, the pi, the holes of the pigeon. I am a, people think of me as a sports guy and an impressionist. So it's like, oh, we, that's all he can do. So they never, so I, it's so funny because recently people have been like, ah, you wouldn't do this little partner move.


    I'm like, yeah, I would, I do, do I have to do an impression? No. Oh good. Are you gonna rewrite the part? So I do impressions? No. Perfect. Interesting. That's what I wanna do. Now I do this, the impression stuff to keep the lights on. I mean, that's what I do on TikTok and Instagram and stuff like that. It's, there's some fun with it too. But that's the amazing thing is people start to get, I think I saw you do something recently where you said, you know, beat the dead horse. Right? You're like, it can Oh yeah. Do the thing. Do the thing you're known for <laugh>. Yes. Keep doing it. Keep doing. I did it for 20 years and

    Michael Jamin (00:04:52):

    Well, I'm telling, and I'm talking about beginning people, but Yeah. But for you I can understand.

    Frank Caliendo (00:04:55):

    Absolutely. It's, it's, it's, and then you, you then you get to that point where you're like, I gotta do some other, some other stuff. And it's so funny because then people don't want you for anything else. Right. And then you go back and do some of the stuff again. But there's like two careers. And I've heard David Spade talking to those other people. Probably talked about it too. But I used to say this until I heard David Spade say it too. And then I'm like, oh, people think I was just taking it from David Spade. But it was, you spend the first career, you have two careers, the first career pigeonholing yourself, getting known, doing something, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And then the second career is being able to do something else, right? Like getting outside of that. So I had the first one. So I'm fighting in that little bit of that second one.

    Michael Jamin (00:05:33):

    Well, you know, so I, I wrote for Spade twice on just Shoot Me. And then later on Rules of engagement. So I'm just curious, what does he think is, what is his second career? What was he talking about?

    Frank Caliendo (00:05:41):

    Well, I I I just saw it in a, you know, I, I worked with him recently and didn't bring it up because I was scared of him. No. Why would you be scared of David SP's scared of David? Like, I tower over David sp five, six. No I'm trying to think. It was just something I saw him talk about on a talk show. And I, you know, it was one of those things I'm like, ah man, somebody much more famous than me is talking about this. So I don't know what

    Michael Jamin (00:06:07):

    Thing you'd like to do. Well, I mean, you're amazing at pressure. I can see why you might wanna do something up, but what is it acting? I mean, you know,

    Frank Caliendo (00:06:13):

    It's just acting in small parts, you know, just small things because one, people think you want to only do big things and carry a show. Right. I don't really even have any interest in that. I don't even, I, I don't even wanna carry a show Uhhuh. Cause that's, I I I don't feel like my acting is at that level where I, anytime I've ever wanted to do something in Hollywood, I've always wanted to surround myself with good people. And they get confused when you try to do that. Yeah. They're like, why would you want somebody else to Well, cause I want it to be as funny as possible. I grew up, I grew up playing sports. When you have a good team, you do your part on the team. When I had Frank tv it was my show that came after Mad tv. It was shortened by the writer strike and it had some struggles and stuff like that. But it was one of those things where and it wasn't that good. And when it was finally put together, I was amazed. Cuz we had great writers and they would do it. They would pieces John Bowman that were Bowman and Matt Wickline.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:09):


    Frank Caliendo (00:07:09):

    Great writers. Brenda Hay king and Lance Crowder. All these guys, like people Rachel Ramas, there were really great people Yeah. Involved in the show. But then by the time it was cut and put on tv, all the air was taken out. It was boo boo, boo boo boom. And you know, when that happens, there's no setups. It's all punchlines and you look like you're trying too hard. Yeah. That's, you know, you and I just didn't have, I'm, I'm not enough of a fighter. You need somebody who's gonna fight for you and do somebody who's gonna have the vision and fight for the vision and has been in that spot before to fight. And I just, I mean, I was doing like 15, 20 pages a day cuz I was playing all the parts until I got them to get other people on the show. So it was one of those things where I was just like, I was exhausted. I didn't even get to see edits. I didn't, I didn't like watch myself. Cause I was also too fat at the time. Yeah. I was like, I'm so fat in these things. I, it looks like South Park episodes. 

    Michael Jamin (00:08:08):

    But how did that come part about, did you have a development deal at a studio or

    Frank Caliendo (00:08:11):

    Something being fat?

    Michael Jamin (00:08:13):

    No. You a lot

    Frank Caliendo (00:08:15):

    Exercise. It was, I had a d I went in, I, I went in and after I was at Med TV for a while there for five years I had the Fox stuff, the n NFL on Fox things, which was actually bigger for me than anything else. Right. being on the Sunday stuff and Super Bowls. So I went in

    Michael Jamin (00:08:35):

    And that's cause you do a killer. Madden give, give us, give us the taste of the Madden so people know

    Frank Caliendo (00:08:39):

    What you're trying. I'm mad here for the quick pop popcorn pop. And I turned him into a character too. Like, like I was ta talking. This is, I know I go off on tangents. Just stop me. Go back. But one of the things with the Madden, you know, the, the realistic John Madden voice was this kind of voice where you, you say the things and you do the things. But I found this thing in him that was the excited little kid. Right? The <laugh>. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then when he would get that, that going, it was like, I was on Letterman and he had me come on as, get me come on as John Madden didn't say it was a some, I was the lead guest over Ben Stiller, I think it was. Wow. Fake John Madden Wow. Was the lead guest. And I came in and I wasn't really the lead guest, but it was, you know, I tell people, but it was a, it was so I pulled a chicken wing out of my pocket.


    I had them get me a chicken wig with sauce on it and everything. I gave you hungry. He was like that right now. <Laugh>, how funny, can you believe this? But it was one of those things where it just, stuff would happen and the, you create the character with it. And it becomes, the funny thing is to me, that that stuff doesn't work the same on social media like TikTok or Instagram, but it might work on some YouTube stuff. Cause there's more longer form. It's, it's more of a longer form, you know, the, the platform is Right. I just didn't like that I said more and longer right. Together. I'm, I'm weird with grammar. I'm very, some things I just, like, if you noticed, I texted you, I didn't like that I put different tenses tenses in my texts and you like, you just stopped talking to at that point.


     But when you, I dunno what they really like and on TikTok and these you know, shortform ones platforms is exact replication. They want the, what I would call more of an impersonation, right? Like they want the the, they want you to sound exactly like the person. There's no element of caricature it really, or going what I would call Dana Carvey on it, cartooning it Right. And making it bigger. They're like, ah, that's not like it. Well that's the point. That's the comedic element, right? Right. That makes a good exaggeration after. Yeah, exaggeration after the initial what's the, what the word I'm looking for, the when you, when you recognition, when you get the recognition, laugh on the sound, and then you have to do something with it and make it bigger, right? You have to have more fun with it.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:09):

    But you did a post, I thought it was fascinating. I think it was on TikTok, excuse me. I think it might have been like how you do Robert Downey Jr. Or something. And you, you walk through the stages of how you approach the voice in, in pieces and then how you get

    Frank Caliendo (00:11:26):

    There. So let's, let's start with this. And this is something that you'll identify with completely as a writer and a creator. You have to find the cadence and the voice of the person not speaking in terms of tone, but the cadence, right? Yeah. How many Christopher Walkins have you heard, right? You've heard low, you've heard, hi, you've heard in the middle, in, in, in the old days, it was William. You knew who it was just by the pauses, right? So you could tell from those voices how you would write for that character. You put the point of view into those, into the song, right? What those of the, you know, into you put the lyrics into the melody. So with Robert, Danny Jr, I found that this is with other characters too. That counting can help you do it. It's better for the audience. It's not a full way to teach somebody how to do it, but it's entertaining while you do it. So Robert Downey Jr. Is after you find the pitch, or you don't even have to have the pitch first, but I'll go to the pitch cuz it's what I do. But it's one, two, pause, burp 5, 6, 7. So you find that it's 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7. And then you can just figure it out, you know? So that's, that's how you find those with Liam Neon. It's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. You know? So it's the beginning. That's

    Michael Jamin (00:12:52):


    Frank Caliendo (00:12:53):

    Yeah. You can do that with Jeff. Goldblum is one, two 1, 1 1. Juan, what comes after one? Think out loud. That's him one. What's, what's coming into my head? What do I hear? The voices coming at me. One, two. Yes. Here comes one, two, a little jazz. 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:17):

    But you talk about this, you're talking about how you approach it. It's not like you think anyone, you, it's not like you're trying to teach anybody. It's not like anyone, you think anyone can do this, do you? Because I don't think I

    Frank Caliendo (00:13:26):

    Do. I think people can find, people can find, I do think people can find it. I think people can find people can't get the, they might not be able to get the pitch, the, the, the note, but they can find the cadence. Everybody, people do it

    Michael Jamin (00:13:40):

    Forever. But you, you know, your, your throat, your mouth has a certain in your nose, like you talk. I think you're stuck kind of with the, like, I can't change my, you're stuck with the voice. I don't know how you were able to literally change

    Frank Caliendo (00:13:51):

    The, well, you don't need to do all that stuff. You don't, you don't have to do all the, that. This is another part. The face is another part of an impression. That's

    Michael Jamin (00:13:58):

    The sound of the com. The sound comes from inside your skull.

    Frank Caliendo (00:14:01):

    Ok. So yeah. So there, there, there are different pieces to this as well. You can close off your throat. You, you think of it, you know the Bobby character, the Howie Mandel, little bit

    Michael Jamin (00:14:12):


    Frank Caliendo (00:14:14):

    So that's closing off your throat. And a lot of people can do that. But the difference is finding different levels of being able to work. It's just, it's a, it's like a muscle, right? Right. So I'll do, I've done this, you might have seen this before, but this is John C. Riley is in here. So John C. Riley has just a little bit of bubble in his throat. Now if you work backwards, a tiny hole, ker frog, that's a little bit more up in here, re tiny Hall Kermit, you're reporting from the planet COOs. Then bring it down a little bit, Nelson your throat a little bit more. You add some air and it becomes Mark. I, I see this as an absolute win, guys. This

    Michael Jamin (00:14:51):

    That's exactly it. This

    Frank Caliendo (00:14:52):

    Is, this is crazy. And then, so for Ruff, he is got that thing where I think he had like a, a tumor or something, some, some medical thing when he was younger. And part of his f it was the same with like Stallone, Stallone had Bell's palsy, right? So he is got that, you know, that thing that, right? So if you find, I call it the pizza slice, you've probably seen the thing I did this. It's a triangle. It's a line across the eyebrows, a.in the, in the chin. And it's the triangle that goes down. There are two things. Now, this is stuff I'm actually gonna dos and Instagram on as well, but it's I just am too lazy. And it's, the mouth tells you how the person talks.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:33):


    Frank Caliendo (00:15:34):

    <Affirmative>. So if you watch my mouth, that's why everybody does a Donald Trump, right? When they do a Donald Trump, you have to do the lips. The lips are very, very, that's very. But now this part of my face from those down is doing Donald Trump. Now when the eyes start going, it sh now that's the point of view that starts. Same with the bush. Bush is, you know, I could do this thing with this half smile. It's like somebody told me a dirty joke before I came up here, but that's just, that's from nose down. But now I get a little discombobulate and you know, I'm staring into the, the abbu, you know, that's what it was also a great movie. So it's, and then the point of view comes from the way you think. Right? But you, when you write a character, when you write a character, you become that character when you write, I don't know if I'm stirring batter or what. Yeah. But if you're doing a cooking show and you're stirring the batter, but your character, you have

    Michael Jamin (00:16:32):

    To, yeah, we would, for example, on King Hill, we would imitate Bobby Hill or Hank or whatever. But imitating is not sounding, you know, it's not sounding like,

    Frank Caliendo (00:16:40):

    Yeah. It's just, that's just taking it another level. You, you, you just take it. You get, because you had the cadence of the character. You might not have had the note, but you had the notes written. You didn't have them on the stop, but you knew if it was an eighth note, a quarter note, whatever, a, a rest. And I only know a little bit about music and that's all of it that I just told you.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:00):

    But did you, as a kid, did you, like, did you, were you good at this as a kid? Did you wanna aspire? Did you aspire to this?

    Frank Caliendo (00:17:06):

    I think I was pretty good at it. I, I have a natural knack and my kids have the knack too. So you have to have a, a knack at the beginning to figure this stuff out from the beginning Right. To, you know, it's predator of the infrared going. I see everything. My son had Bell's Palsy when he was very little. And I, I could see that when he would smile. This is a, the blessing and a curse thing. And when he would smile, he wouldn't smile all at the same time. And then I started to look closely and part of his face moved a lot slower and didn't always move. And I said to, to my wife, I go, something happened. I don't know what it is, but I think he had Bell's Palsy. Well, we had him tested to make sure there was no brain stuff going on or whatever.


    But the doctors, what the diagnosis eventually was Bell. He had Bell's Palsy when he was a baby. Right. And it, you know, pa what happens is Bell's Palsy is, I think the fifth I, I don't remember what it was, the fifth or seventh cranial nerve. Something gets damaged either by a virus or trauma, blood trauma. And it keeps you from everything moving at the same time. But that's, but I could see it. Most people don't see it. I could see it because that's the way my brain breaks things down. Yeah. I mean, you as a writer, as a performer, whatever, however you consider, whatever you consider yourself, you do similar things. You see the world from that point of view. And that's how you write. You go, you observe, you take in, and then you replicate or create from that. Exaggeration or finding the, I I've set off Siri like nine times on my watch during this. I've never, that's never happened before.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:50):

    I Yeah, I, I say mean things to her. I and I and my wife says it's not good because Apple's picking up on this <laugh>, like I say awful things to Siri. So, you know, like, Siri, you asshole. What time is it? She don't say that.

    Frank Caliendo (00:19:08):

    I'm sure it could be much worse.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:10):

    Yeah, it is much worse. I'm cleaning it up

    Frank Caliendo (00:19:11):

    For the podcast. Yeah. You were just trying not to get canceled.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:14):

    Yeah. Yeah. <Laugh>.

    Frank Caliendo (00:19:15):

    Yeah. So there, so there are lots of, yeah, I, I, I see. I look at these thi these things in, in lots of different ways. For me, you know, one of the things that, one of the things when I first got on social media in the last couple years, a few years ago mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Cause I wasn't doing any, cuz I was on Twitter 10 years ago. And

    Michael Jamin (00:19:35):

    Why did I started finding, started my goal on social media. Why did you start?

    Frank Caliendo (00:19:38):

    Well, you have to. I mean, if you, if you, the first time it, it was because it was new and people were telling me I didn't like it. I just, I don't like it. I, I, I, I can't, I can't adapt it because people are angry for the most part. And there's a lot of

    Michael Jamin (00:19:54):

    Yes. Tell me about it.

    Frank Caliendo (00:19:56):

    Is it, yeah. Right, right. And there's a lot of what confirmation bias. So there's confirmation bias mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and the exact opposite. Right? So people either wanna hear exactly what they're thinking and they don't wanna have a conversation about something different. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Or they just wanna fight you for no reason. They wanna troll you. They just wanna, they wanna make you mad. And especially somebody like you or somebody like me that's been in the entertainment business, we targets. Because if we say something back that's mean. Oh, the guy from Glen Martin dvs

    Michael Jamin (00:20:27):

    <Laugh>. Well, they don't, they don't. No one's ever heard of that. I know. But, but you're right. I don't, I don't respond anymore because there's just no winning it. There's

    Frank Caliendo (00:20:35):

    No winning. It can't win. Cause because you are, it would be like, this is an exaggeration, but it'd be like a leader being a leader of a country. And this is, but this is what Trump does or did though, right? Uhhuh, <affirmative>. <Affirmative>. And you would come back at people and you'd go think, ah, you gotta stay above that. At a certain point it's fu it, it quote unquote. It could be funny in and this isn't a political rant, this is just what I see as an observation. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> it can be funny in of somebody running for president, but as soon as they're president you kind of feel like you're Yeah. I think, I think it's time to be a little different. You can, that's my opinion. But

    Michael Jamin (00:21:08):

    No, you're absolutely right. I told, but, but, and that's what's so interesting about it, is because social media, at least when I started doing it, like at first, it's a little empowering. You have an audience and you can, you have an, you have a platform. But then once you start getting trolled and, and I, as a comedy writer, I feel like I can tear you apart. I can tear you apart. Whoever's trolling, I don't, I'm better at this than you. But the minute I do it, I, I can't do it because then I'm, I'm then I'm the asshole. And then it, what was once empowering now becomes emasculating at the same time. It's very odd to be able to have a platform, but not cause

    Frank Caliendo (00:21:40):

    And and you can, and people can say things to you that you could never say back because they will say things that would get you as a business person canceled. Yep. It doesn't have to be racial. Or it just, they can say things that are just mean that if you say it and somebody pulls it up, they're like, look what Michael Jamin did. Yeah. This is unbelievable. Yeah. I We can't hire this guy. Yeah. He's, he's a terrible person. And they'll defend the person who's ripping you to shreds and saying way worse things. Yes. So you're stuck in, you're, you're stuck in a spot. So it, so I, I started, this is why I got away from social media 10 years ago, whatever. So I was on Twitter, I was building it really quickly with sports stuff. Mostly not video, just just kind of like sassy phrases and, you know, mean things. I, and I realized I was starting to be this person on Twitter in real life in real way

    Michael Jamin (00:22:37):


    Frank Caliendo (00:22:37):

    What I'd see somebody just, I'd see somebody and wanna say something terrible to them. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And the only reason I would say that in Twitter, cuz my comedy's silly, not really mean uhhuh, <affirmative>, it's it more cherubic cuz of the cheeks. But <laugh>, it was one of those things where you said mean things on Twitter, you got likes and retweets cuz people love Right. You know, knocking down people in power. Yeah. Yeah. And I would say something about a quarterback that just threw an interception. Something I could never do. I would never have, you know, that that's the level of skill to, to make it to their level. And I'm ripping them to shreds. I'm going, I, I, and I've changed this way too. I mean, I, I used to think, you know, I used to watch the Oscars and kind of rip the Oscars to shreds because it is so self-aggrandizing. It, so mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, everybody's self-congratulatory and stuff. Like, and I would say things, I'm like, I shouldn't be saying this, that, not just because it's, you know, it's kind of gross. But it's, it's also just, I don't know, these people work very hard to get where they, you know, they're just going, some of 'em don't, you know, they're happy to be getting an award, but they have to be show up. It's part of the business. Right.


    I get it. I, I what a jerk I am for. You know, that's why even people, people wanna do a podcast and like, let's do a podcast where we just rip movies. I'm like, I don't wanna, that's somebody's acting, somebody's put a lot of time, like my TV show. There were a lot of great people putting that stuff together. But by the time it all got put together, a network has to say other people standards and practices, all these different levels, it's not really what you want it to be. And it's not any one person's fault. It's just not what you want it to be. And that person is, but, you know, that's why it's so amazing when somebody does do something really great, you're going, wow, you watch a, a Tarantino film or something like that. He's a guy who just fights for all his own stuff.


    He's gonna do it his way. Right. But you watch a, you watch a film with somebody who does Jordan Peele now right. Who actually got to work with a man TV years ago. People get to a point where they have their point of view and they can make closer to the movie that they want to make. And then you go, okay, when this turns out, this is, this is fantastic. This is how you do it. Because when you don't have that much, say you don't have that much power and you don't have that much fight in you, it's, it's really hard to get close to what you want. And there were so many things in my show mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that were close to what I wanted. But that little bit of change just goes. And there were three little changes. You go, oh, the timing's not what I would've done there. They used a cut I never would've used. Right. And now they put it in a different part of the show. Wow. Oh man. So then I know that happens everybody,

    Michael Jamin (00:25:27):

    But I have to ask, so then why do you do, why are you on social media? Because you, you have quite a big presence on it. So what's,

    Frank Caliendo (00:25:33):

    You go in, you go into an somebody's office, an executive's office. The first thing they do is look how many this, what are you doing here? What do you do? They really

    Michael Jamin (00:25:43):

    Say, say that to

    Frank Caliendo (00:25:44):

    You. Oh yeah, I've had plenty. The people look at me. It's

    Michael Jamin (00:25:47):

    Because what they don't, I feel like they don't understand is the change in the algorithm, which is maybe only a few months old, but they don't un do they understand when you talk to them that having a million followers on Instagram or TikTok, you can't reach them all on any given day. You reach maybe a 10th of them, you know.

    Frank Caliendo (00:26:03):

    Well, you don't even reach that. I mean, people don't, so again, people the way it's been explained to me is that TikTok doesn't even really go out to your

    Michael Jamin (00:26:15):

    Followers anymore. No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't.

    Frank Caliendo (00:26:17):

    It go, it goes out to a random sample audience, which has mm-hmm. <Affirmative> some of your followers in it. And then once it hits that first audience, if enough people watch it long enough or watch it to the end, it gets, then it goes to the next sample

    Michael Jamin (00:26:30):

    Audience. Yes. Right.

    Frank Caliendo (00:26:31):

    So if you go to a bad, I I,

    Michael Jamin (00:26:34):

    But that's also Instagram. Now that's kind of this, they're they're taking the same model. The

    Frank Caliendo (00:26:38):

    The real stuff. Yeah. Well, because, and the reason that works for them is because they, they can build stars faster that way they can build. So it used to be on Instagram, it would take you years if you weren't famous mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to get to a point where you had 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 followers. Well now people can just vertically swipe through reels and all of a sudden the, those people who do that are tend to follow a lot more people. Right. So your videos can go viral with no followers. Right. And then suddenly you'll have followers. It didn't used to work like that it used to.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:15):

    Exactly. So that's why I'm asking lots of followers. Do they know, do you think the executives know that? Cause they look at your numbers and like go, oh, Frank's got a big following. But do they know that you can

    Frank Caliendo (00:27:23):

    I don't. I think they're a little, I think yes and no. But again, it works to, in their favor that if you have videos that have a lot of numbers mm-hmm. <Affirmative> do, because then you're hitting an audience. They know you're hitting a pretty big audience that spreads it to other people. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Now I'm 49, I'm about to be 49. Okay? Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I, my age group that I played to most, or played to the most was probably 35 to 50 in there. You know, somewhere in there somewhere that I felt like I was similar age and had similar likes and life experiences.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:00):


    Frank Caliendo (00:28:00):

    And those people, that group of people doesn't tend to hit the light button or the retweet button as much. I know I don't. Right. Right. Kids send it, they direct message stuff to their friends. They send things to their f they then they tag other people. They tag lots of people. Yeah. And that's why network executives, producers advertisers like young audiences, not just to sell the products to, but they're the ones that spread the word. Right. And they know that. They know it. It kind of works. You know, I always, I never really thought about that or I never really believed them with that. You know, I've changed brands on a lot of stuff. I've changed toothpaste, I've changed all kinds of things. Right. I don't think I'm normal. I, I, I, I guess I'm not, but young people will try different things and they will do lots of different things at a much higher rate. And

    Michael Jamin (00:28:54):

    So interesting. Do you feel then, as a performer that, okay, so you kind of have to do this. You're a little bit, you know, could you do it what, every day? Right? How many times do you post a day?

    Frank Caliendo (00:29:05):

    I don't, I don't even post that much. I, I'll post like a, a week. Once a week or once. Oh, half the time. It's half the time. It's old stuff that I've already Interesting. Like the thing, I have something with 8 million views right now from like a couple weeks ago. Wow. That I've posted two times before. Yeah. And it's gotten a million views and 2 million views and maybe 30,000 views. Oh. Which hits exactly what you're talking about. Yeah. If it doesn't hit the, I have, I have two pieces of advice. A couple pieces of advice for your content, please. I, I would not end my pieces telling people to go see, go. Don't, I wouldn't waste the time in the, in the, in the post telling people for more, if you like stuff like this. Go see, go did Michael Jam writer what, you know, your website, stuff like that. Right. I would just put it in writing near the end. Yeah. On the screen. Because then it's there a little bit subliminally. And they don't have to wait for the, because if they've heard you, if they like your posts and they watch you all the time, they know that's the end of your post. They'll cut out early.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:10):

    Interesting. So you're saying put But if I put it up on there, cause I, I do this to get people on my newsletter Right. To, you know, cuz that you get their, but you're saying if I, if I just say it's

    Frank Caliendo (00:30:20):

    Up to say at the end, you spend two to three seconds going. Right. If you like what I said right. Go to Michael Jamin, Robert Writer what is it? Michael jamin

    Michael Jamin (00:30:28):

    Michaeljamin.Com/Watchlist is my newsletter

    Frank Caliendo (00:30:30):

    Slash watch. Okay. So if you, if you like what you've heard, go to Michael Jamin slash wa slash slash watchlist stuff like this and other things that I gotta Now now they've got, now you've, now you've given them a little piece, which is what's everybody telling you to do? They all tell you well get the call for action. Yeah. But if they've seen your post and they like your posts, they don't need that anymore. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:53):

    What if they're brand new? What if they're

    Frank Caliendo (00:30:54):

    Brand new? If they're brand new, you put it, you just put it up on the screen. You put it up on I

    Michael Jamin (00:30:58):

    The screen. What do I put on the screen?

    Frank Caliendo (00:30:59):

    On the screen? You just write it on the screen. Yeah. Say like more stuff like this.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:03):

    Oh, okay. For the whole thing. For more. Okay.

    Frank Caliendo (00:31:05):

    Or, or in the last, the last third of what you say. Okay. Just have it up there. And in the, because you do that, you can try, you can, you can experiment and do it both. Do it, do say it sometimes put it up on the screen. Do both mm-hmm. <Affirmative> sometimes just put, put it at the end and, and test it. Yeah. Because I could be, I can be wrong. I can be wrong here. But I'm telling you, I watched to the end of yours because I know because I want yours to do well, Uhhuh, <affirmative>, I'll do it, but I'm tempted as soon as you go into that mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I tempted to flip up and

    Michael Jamin (00:31:39):

    All right. What,

    Frank Caliendo (00:31:40):

    What I found with my stuff, if I introduce things, sometimes people don't even wanna see me introduce it. I just put the title of what I'm doing on the screen.

    Michael Jamin (00:31:49):

    Uhhuh <affirmative>,

    Frank Caliendo (00:31:50):

    I don't tell you, you know, I don't tell you what I'm doing. I put the title on the screen to tell you what I'm doing and I get right into it. Right. Unless it's a reply to somebody's if somebody's, then I read their reply a little bit. Right. So they have the visual and you're reading the reply and you're saying something at the same time. So they're kind going back and forth. And then you do, you cut and do what they're saying. What is, what is your other, very quickly,

    Michael Jamin (00:32:16):

    What is your other tip for me? Is there anything else? I'll listen in. I don't know if my reader Yeah. What cuts

    Frank Caliendo (00:32:26):

    I would cut, I would cut a lot. You don't cut much. Oh, oh,

    Michael Jamin (00:32:30):


    Frank Caliendo (00:32:31):

    Visually you do, you do things in one.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:33):

    Yeah. No. You know why? Because I just don't wanna produce anything. I don't wanna spend time. Right.

    Frank Caliendo (00:32:36):

    I get it. I get it. I get, I get it. And, and, but like a friend, somebody I know used to work at YouTube and they're like, just cut, just cut, cut, cut, cut, cut. And you don't even have to really produce it. All you have to do is just splice, splice, splice slightly. Make things bigger and smaller. You don't even really cut any air out. But I, if, if you look at, if you look, you just put it in iMovie or they actually have it in there. Now. If you don't even, you don't even

    Michael Jamin (00:33:01):

    Too much word.

    Frank Caliendo (00:33:02):

    I get it. If you watch most of my stuff that's new. There is no real effort into writing it. <Laugh>, Uhhuh. It's just saying words over and over.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:13):

    <Laugh>. Right. It's,

    Frank Caliendo (00:33:15):

    I won't put the time. Now what I'm starting to do is go back, like you said, let's talk about the Seinfeld thing. When I put the Seinfeld thing

    Michael Jamin (00:33:21):

    Out, and that was from Frankie. Oh

    Frank Caliendo (00:33:23):

    Right. That was from, and it was critically panned. Like it's terrible. Like critics told me it was awful.

    Michael Jamin (00:33:28):

    <Laugh>. Ok. I liked it.

    Frank Caliendo (00:33:30):

    Yeah. And it's even cut even shorter. It's, it's even, I think the full things like pretty good. There was one of the things I was the most proud of, Uhhuh <affirmative> or the proudest of. And but it's one of those things where <laugh>, it's so funny cuz it really does look like a South Park version cuz I'm so fat. At the time we made it <laugh> that it's that, that it just looks like, I call it sign fat. Right. But it was weird cuz if I had guest stars on the show, it would, it would even make it tougher for disbelief, you know, suspending belief or di is it suspending belief or suspending disbelief.

    Michael Jamin (00:34:03):

    Suspending disbelief.

    Frank Caliendo (00:34:05):

    So, okay, so, so you,

    Michael Jamin (00:34:07):

    Yeah. So you're not disbelieving it,

    Frank Caliendo (00:34:09):

    Right? So you suspend your disbelief when you see somebody, all the characters look kind of the same. It fits, but all of a sudden you have somebody that looks more like the person because they're skinnier or something like that. A sudden it looks up like, but that Seinfeld thing, it was actually from my, my act was my, the way I did it in my act was I tried to, I always trying to think for the impressions. And so my, my thinking of the Seinfeld bit and my act was Seinfeld is about nothing. It's about reality. It's about everything that happens a reality. Well, what takes you outta reality? So it was drugs. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I thought put Seinfeld on drugs. And the, the, the bit was why do my fingers look like little people? Who are these people? They doing, they're talking to each other.


    They're probably talking about me when I say Jerry, oh, somebody. Hey Jerry, you look like you've been seeing little people on your fingers. That's great. You just let that cat. And then at the end it was Newman and Newman's like, hello Jerry, hello Newman. And she would've lost a sort of Jerry Garcia grateful dead commitment of stamps. She would see them baby <laugh>. So he'd licked the stamps. You know, that was the bit. So there was reality and it turned back into AED episode. But the whole bit was instead of reality, how do I get into a fantasy world? And that was the easiest way to to, to


    Do it. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:31):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.


    It's fucking, your voices are amazing. I mean, that sounds amazing. But tell me, I have another question up for you. I'm just, I'm curious, I know you're, I actually wanna mention this, so I know you're, you, you got two shows coming up in, in Phoenix, right? Yeah. Where you do, where you go and it stand up, you're doing voices as well, or like, right? Or

    Frank Caliendo (00:36:11):

    Yeah. I, I just, what I do is, I'm, I, so what I, what I like to do is, I always hated the vaudevillian impressionist Uhhuh <affirmative>. What if,

    Michael Jamin (00:36:21):

    Oh yeah.

    Frank Caliendo (00:36:23):

    You know, what if Carrie Grant was your waiter, well, why, why would he be, first of all, that's bad writing, right? <Laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (00:36:32):

    Why would he be your waiter? Why

    Frank Caliendo (00:36:33):

    Would he be a waiter? Remember, years ago, I think it was on the white was it the white album? The that Dennis Miller did? Uhhuh <affirmative>. He's like <laugh>. He was like and these impressionist, I think Jack Nicholson as a fry cook at McDonald's. I mean, how about you as a fry cook at McDonald's? Chachi, get some writing. You know? So it was it was, I was always like, I wanna write for these characters. So what do would I do? I would make observations. So the way, and that would give me my point of view. So Pacino, he's an actor, right? So I was like, what do act what do they teach you in acting? Be curious. Be amazed by everything. So the simplest thing, Pacino can be amazed. Like somebody's turning on a light. He's like, wait a second, you mean to tell me you flip a switch over there? A light comes on over here. Wow. <laugh>. So he's amazed by everything. That's the point, right? And that's what my Pacino character always was. And he, and chewing gum. So that's

    Michael Jamin (00:37:34):

    Dead on

    Frank Caliendo (00:37:34):

    Man. It's make those, make those observations and then apply them in situations later. So it's observational comedy, but I was just observing how people were. Robert Downey Jr. Is a human. Twitter feed, 280 characters are less and everything's about himself. So he'd give, be giving out an Academy Award, which is supposed to be about the nominees, but the, but he'd be up there like, these people deserve your applause almost as much as I do. Hashtag awesome. So it's, that's the point of view, right? Set it up. That's funny. Bring it back. So once you have that, now you can, now the audience is in on what your point of view is. Now you can put them in situations, which is really what you do with characters in writing. You know, any kind of sitcom or any kind of a, any, you know, any kind of drama, anything.


    It just takes longer to get them to who the character is an impression most of the time, and this is why impressions are cut away from acting so much where people think there's no acting in impressions because it's just, you know, somebody, there was Robert De and they work on, are you talking to me? Well, where's the, where's the writing for that? It's the vallian part, right? Come up with something that tells you who the character is. Right. And now write for it. And now it's an interesting character. And that's what you know any type of original character, it just takes longer to get there. And that's why a pilot, right? A television pilot, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, you do this more than me. Let's see. There's a lot more exposition and telling, kind of telling people, okay, hey, I'm just your local waitress. You know? Yeah. Yeah. And they tell you a little bit because they have to do it to get it done. To get it sold. Yeah. And then once it's, once you kind of have it, now you can develop the characters and you have, you have arcs that can build the character to something longer. Yeah. And that's why a lot of pilots get rewritten and redone because the pilot's almost a presentation just to sell it. And it's almost two on the nose. It's a to be what you want.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:40):

    But tell me what it's like when you do, like, when you go do a show or two shows, like literally, what is that? Like? You get on a plane, you arrive a couple days before your show, like

    Frank Caliendo (00:39:51):

    The day, usually a day off, the day of just get there. You

    Michael Jamin (00:39:55):

    Do a sound check or no, you just go up on stage like

    Frank Caliendo (00:39:58):

    A theater. I'm probably have the guy opening for me do a sound check. I don't, I don't even, I just go out there and show up and head so I have more energy. I mean, it's just, I like to get out there and just start going. I have a plan. Uhhuh, I have a lot of stuff that I've, I will do that I've done, you know, that I've worked on and done before. But now I try to, I actually like to do clubs a lot more than theaters. Why is that? Because I get to play more and I don't feel, I feel like somebody goes to the theater, you know, they, you feel like they, even though they're not, you feel like it should be a little bit more put together and professional. I feel like at a club, it can,

    Michael Jamin (00:40:34):

    A club, you can get heckled. They're not necessarily coming to see you. If you go to a theater, they're coming. They're paying see

    Frank Caliendo (00:40:40):

    Me, 90, 99%. They come to see me at a club. Now if I'm doing a club, yeah. Cuz I'll do like off nights. I'll do like a Tuesday or a Wednesday. The, the general audience isn't going for that. And tickets will sell in advance. I mean, it, it's, that's, that's what I, that's what I like

    Michael Jamin (00:40:57):

    To do. Is, is it theater though? More, more seats usually.

    Frank Caliendo (00:41:00):

    Yeah. It's harder to sell. 'em, You, you've gotta figure you're gonna sell. Probably you can probably, cuz people are, they're trained to go to a club and you'll get some people that fill other seats and it'll, it'll snowball. People will talk about it more. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And they have a built in advertising in everybody who goes to that venue. Three or four, you know, five shows a week.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:20):


    Frank Caliendo (00:41:20):

    Sees that you're gonna to be there. And they're a comedy audience already. A theater doesn't necessarily have a builtin comedy audience. It might be that's 9%.

    Michael Jamin (00:41:31):

    But they're not coming in a comedy club. They might be drunk, they might be hostile, they may heckle. They're not, they're, it's

    Frank Caliendo (00:41:38):

    Not, not, it's not as bad anymore. It's, it, yeah. Most of the clubs are that that's, that's kind of a nineties early two thousands as maybe eighties type of thing. It, that doesn't happen as much anymore because they have so much riding on everything. The clubs used to be, they would you just go there and do a nightclub set and they, they, they'd turn 'em in and out, two drinks, four drinks, and get 'em in and out. Now they're selling them dinner. Uhhuh, they, they, they realize they were given away the five, they were, they're restaurants now that have entertainment. Right. Because they would, they would bring everybody in and nobody, they would give everybody else all the food and beverage around the showtime. And they would, they were realized, well we can do this too. And some of 'em do it. Really,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:21):

    Really. But they're not eating during the show. You don't want the meeting show.

    Frank Caliendo (00:42:24):

    Yeah, they're,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:24):

    Yeah. Yeah. They're, and you're hearing like the silverware and stuff?

    Frank Caliendo (00:42:27):

    Yeah, it's, it's, it's usually more of a finger food. But they're, yeah. They're, they're so are some that have full-on, you know, but that, that a lot of that happens during the opener or mc too. By the time I'm up, they're, they're, they're a drinking and they're warmed up and they're, they've gotten their food already.

    Michael Jamin (00:42:45):

    And then do you travel with their, with your, with your opener Or is it a local guy

    Frank Caliendo (00:42:50):

    Or one? I bring people with me because I know what they're doing. <Laugh>, Uhhuh, <affirmative>. I, I, I'm, I'm a control freak in terms of what's on before me. Right. Because I'm very clean. Even when I try to be dirty, it doesn't work because people wanna see me for being clean. Right. but I've had, I, you know, an opener thinks they're clean and you, you know, I only say that word once, like, wow, that's too many times for some of my audience. Right. Or they, they, they, they, they're not expecting it. Cause they've been there to see me before and I'm the one who's gonna get the emails in the club is. And so I just bring people that I know are gonna play and then I don't have to watch the set over and over and over.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:31):

    And then you, and then after you'll you how many shows?

    Frank Caliendo (00:43:35):

    Two is the most I'll doing at night, but I'd rather just do one. Right.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:39):

    It's exhausting. It's exhausting to hold that kind of attention for pe to people.

    Frank Caliendo (00:43:43):

    Yeah, it is. And I just have the point where I, I do it and I have, when I have fun doing it mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, that's when I go up and do it. And if I go up and I'm creating some, I'm having fun. If I'm doing an old set just for money and not creating, I'm not having fun. And that happened to me for five to 10 years where I was just doing the same thing all the time. I was making a ton of money Uhhuh. But I think some of my audience got like, well you're doing the same exact set. And it was just going, kind of going through the motions. And I, that wasn't a great time for myself for, you know, me personally. Not like I had anything wrong with family or anything. Like I just wasn't having fun doing the comedy.

    Michael Jamin (00:44:24):


    Frank Caliendo (00:44:24):

    Then we

    Michael Jamin (00:44:25):

    Will you leave the next day or what, what or I don't wanna cut off. I

    Frank Caliendo (00:44:28):

    I used to leave the next morning, first flight to try and get home. Cause I have two little kids right at the time. Two little kids now. They don't like me that much anymore, so. Right. I don't mind going away for a little Do you have kids?

    Michael Jamin (00:44:39):

    I do, but they're grown. Yeah. They're

    Frank Caliendo (00:44:41):

    In college. Yeah. So, so you know that, I mean, when they're little, I was missing a lot cuz I was working a lot when they were little. I'd be on the road for a couple weeks at a time. I didn't see my son's first steps. I mean, I just, I didn't like that kinda stuff. So

    Michael Jamin (00:44:56):

    But you knew going into it, when you went to comedy, you knew that that's, that's what the life is gonna be like, right? Or No? Were you surprised? Yeah.

    Frank Caliendo (00:45:03):

    But you kind of assume you're gonna go you, you know, you Yes, yes. You do know. But you're also thinking maybe I'll land a TV show, Uhhuh <affirmative>, maybe I'll do, you know, you, you, I don't, and I didn't plan, I didn't plan in the terms of that. But listen, I don't have to work. I honestly don't have to work anymore. I really don't. I I'm, I'm at a point where I don't, so I do things that I really want to. Right. And I, you know, the NFL on Fox stuff, because I was associated with a NFL Hall of Famers and stuff. Like, I do big corporate shows for, you know, oh, do you? For the biggest, for the biggest companies in the world, Uhhuh. And that's, that's what I do. People, you know, I, you, you see one date on the you know, on my public dates, because I live in Phoenix, I don't have to go anywhere.


    So I'm just gonna do it. I can do, I can go do it and I can, I can be home. People are asking me to do shows all the time. I'm like and also do a run of one night at different clubs so I can, I don't like looking at the same back of the room for, you know, five or six days. You know, three, four days, five shows. I just, I don't enjoy. So I don't do it. Right. I I I try to do the things now that I like to do. 

    Michael Jamin (00:46:19):

    I didn't know your feet,

    Frank Caliendo (00:46:20):

    So I've saved a lot of money.

    Michael Jamin (00:46:22):

    How are you getting acting gigs in if you're all, if you're out

    Frank Caliendo (00:46:24):

    There? Well, have you seen me in anything? I don't

    Michael Jamin (00:46:27):

    <Laugh>. That's why.

    Frank Caliendo (00:46:29):

    Well, yeah. I don't, I, I don't I go, I go out to la I'll, I'll do some stuff on tape and things like that. Uhhuh <affirmative>, and people ask for me. But I, I, I, you know, yeah, there's, people call me now and I'll get people are like, Hey, will you do this? I'm like, yeah, if I don't have to do it, yeah. Yeah. I just go do it. And I was like, yeah. Like, I just did something recently that was a, a Zoom thing. Like it was actually Zoom in a movie, like a small, you know, like a, a Netflix kinda thing. Like, they're like, you can, you can, you don't even have to come here, you can just do a Zoom thing. And we made, it made the part became bigger. Right. Cause we, you know, I I I call it being serious to the point of being funny where you're just so serious. It's Will, will Ferrell does it really, really well. Right, right. Where you're so serious that it becomes funny. I that's what I, that's the comedy I like. I don't like hail I paid. Right, right.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:22):


    Frank Caliendo (00:47:23):

    My testicles. That's not the kind of comedy I really like, but it's, a lot of times it's what you have to do to get like the, the funniest thing to me. I like that really uncomfortable stuff in serious. So, better Call Saul, you, are you a fan of that show? Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:47:40):


    Frank Caliendo (00:47:40):

    Yeah. I like that. Mike Erman Trout.

    Michael Jamin (00:47:42):


    Frank Caliendo (00:47:43):

    He's great. Will just odenkirk they will crack me up because it's not, they're not doing anything big and funny per se. They're just in a really awkward situation. But it's, the stakes are so high and it's really important. La Los Salam, monka, you know, it's like, yeah.


    All these things are so, like, and stuff Brian Cranston would do on breaking Bad. And you'd watch them and you'd go, ah, like, I'd like to go. God, you're good. I go, that's the stuff that when somebody's just the character and I go, I, I was watching billions. I watched Billions and I started watching Paul Giamati and that's why I started doing that impression, just because I'm like, he's so good. And he's so, I believe these are ways, like, he's just so, like, the intensity and you, you know, you kind of know where he is going before he does, and then he can zig or zag and that's what makes him great. Cause you think you got him pinned down and you're like, oh.

    Michael Jamin (00:48:51):

    But, so what's interesting I'm hearing is that, so you have a platform, a stage where you can write, perform pretty much whatever you want to do, but at this point you kind of want someone else just to write for you. And I, I'll, I'll be, I'll just act, you know,

    Frank Caliendo (00:49:04):

    That's more of a, and I'll add my pieces if, if that's what you want. Like, I'll add a little flair or that, that's really more what I do wanna do. Yeah. I mean it's, it's, I dunno, I don't want the, this is gonna sound terrible, but it, I, maybe it is, maybe, but after having a couple shows that I developed or, you know, development deals that just fell apart and weren't what I wanted them to be. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I just wanna be in somebody else's who's a real good fighter and go, let's work together. I like being part of a team. Right. And I don't wanna be on a team where somebody wants to do something completely different than me. Right. I don't wanna do that. But if somebody's in the same, in the, in the same wavelength and they're going, and you, you know when that is, can you just start having fun?


    You go, that's what I was gonna say. And then you, you do it and they're like, I, I know. Don't even say it. I'm gonna do exactly what you're about to say. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, this is it. Don't worry if I don't, we'll shoot it again, but I know what you're gonna say right here. Cuz I saw the light bulb go on with you as soon as it on with me. Here we go. Right. So, yeah. I, that's, I wanna, I wanna be a part of somebody else's thing. That's really, and, and when people think of me, they think I wanna be a one man band. I didn't even wanna be a one man band on my own show. I, I, I, I just, right. I don't know. I, I like being something, I like being part of something bigger. And it doesn't, agents don't always understand that either, because agents a lot of the time, like, you could, you should do your own thing. I'm like, but if I do my own thing, then it's just about me. I'm sick of it being about me. How about it is about,

    Michael Jamin (00:50:41):

    I'll tell you this cuz this gets back to Spade, but I'm just, shoot me. He didn't wanna be on screen. If he wasn't, he wanted to hit a home run, walk off, stay stage. I mean, that was it. He didn't need to hang around. He didn't need to count lines, he didn't need to have storylines. He's like, no, just lemme hit a couple home runs and I'll, you know, I'll do what I need to do and then leave.

    Frank Caliendo (00:50:59):

    And, you know, and, and you and you're, you're better like that. You're, you're better because you don't look like you're hanging around you. People can't wait to see you come in. Yeah. People know that your part's going to be fun. Now everybody can't be that. You have to have people that are going to drive the show. Right. Right. Arthur on king of Queens. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, he is gonna come in from the base and be like, I had no idea this was gonna be this way. By the way, he had one of the greatest Jerry Stiller came up me, I did the Seinfeld bit Montreal at the Montreal Comedy Festival. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Jerry Stiller comes up to me afterward and it's the greatest. Like, this is awesome. He goes, you know, I really enjoyed your show, especially the portion. And I was like, oh, that is, oh, thank you Mr. Stiller. He's like, now could you tell me where the bathroom is? <Laugh>?

    Michael Jamin (00:51:49):


    Frank Caliendo (00:51:49):

    Just wanted to know,

    Michael Jamin (00:51:50):


    Frank Caliendo (00:51:51):

    You just wanted to know when the bathroom was <laugh>. And that was, I told j I told Ben Stiller that I told him that at, it was, I think it was after his father pass away. I did a show called Birthday Boys. And it was actually, it was, it was really a funny thing. But it was, he was playing a Robin Williams type teacher, dead poet society kind of teacher. Ben Stiller was, who was directed by Bob. Bob. Bob Odenkirk is directing it as a guest director. But it was so awesome. Yeah. see, there's go sir. So I, I, I told, I told that Ben Stiller just the moment he heard it, he's like, <laugh>, like, like he was almost embarrassed. That's my dad. Like, that's just my dad being my dad. Like, I've been there, man. But I, I remember in that, that was one of my favorite things too. Well the, the thing they wrote is why I wanna tell you this too, was the bit they wrote <laugh> was he's this, like I said, this dead poet society kind of teacher. But he's going, you know, he's, he's teaching outside the box and he's supposed to be teaching the Diary of Anne Frank, but he's teaching the Diary of Frank Kelly instead <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:02):

    Right. It's funny.

    Frank Caliendo (00:53:03):

    And, and it's, you know, it's a joke of making fun of me, but I was like, God, just to be in this joke. And Bob Oden is directing and Ben still is doing it. The birthday boys wrote it. It's like, oh. And I made Stiller laugh. Cause when Odenkirk kind of went off the script, he's like, just, he's having Mr. Stiller. No, he's having Ben just tell me. He's like okay. Adam Sandler at a, at a funeral. And I was like, oh grandma, where did you have leave? Where were you? I leaving And then Ben starts cracking up. He's like, I can't go. I can't go out. He stopped. He stopped. And I go, I just, Ben laugh on the set. Oh. I go, this is the greatest day of my life. And Stiller is like, let's get going. You know? He's like, no, he was, he was great. But it was so funny too cause it was a moment for me, like, oh, this is one of the people I look up to is one of the great reactors. Yeah. Like Ben Stiller as funny as he could be presenting something about Mary, to me it was all about him reacting. Yeah. Every, you know, like reactive comedy to me is some of the best cuz that's where the laugh comes from. Right? This is exactly right. Not always the line. It's where

    Michael Jamin (00:54:13):

    No, you're exactly right's. What's happening. That's something we, it's very true. A lot of people don't realize that when you're, when you're shooting a comedy or sitcom the coverage is you need a single on the person saying line and the single on the person laughing. You need both those shots cuz it's not funny until you see the

    Frank Caliendo (00:54:29):

    Reaction and how's the person taking it? Right? Yeah. How's the person absorbing it? Maybe that's what you're saying. You said the laugh, but it's like Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:37):

    Yeah. I didn't mean the laugh. I mean the response. The response.

    Frank Caliendo (00:54:39):

    Yeah. Yeah. Because that's what, it's joke isn't funny unless you understand how it's hitting people. Yeah. It's just a line until you see the relationship. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, the, the two people. Two people, the chemistry. Right. It's the chemistry that happens. The line can be said from two different people and it might die, said the same way, but the reaction, how the other person receives it. Right. Makes it.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:07):

    And, but, and that's why you need to shoot it not in a two shot, but in singles because it's like, okay, you're waiting. What's the single of the, what's the reaction if you see it in the two shot? You're like, it, it's kind of, there's no moment. You need the moment of the

    Frank Caliendo (00:55:19):

    Shot. You know. And that was always, that was another thing that I always had a problem with with agents understand. And I, I, again, I wasn't famous enough to be able to do this stuff. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and not famous, but I'm like, I like to react. I like to take it in Yeah. And do something small because, but they want me to come in and be the big over the top character all the time. I'm like, that's why I started to, to to audition for more dramatic stuff and realistic stuff. Cuz I was like, when you do that little stuff in a mm-hmm. <Affirmative> in a, that, that's when they go, oh, this person knows what they're doing. Yeah. This person knows how to do it. And I ju you know, it's, I, I started watching more and more actors talk about it. And I just started getting just started recently getting more comfortable with the way to audition.


    Cause I, I got thrown into Hollywood when I first went out to Hollywood. They had me auditioning for all I was in rooms with people I shouldn't have been in rooms with. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Like, I was in rooms with directors and I was going straight to producers just because I was the new thing. Right. And this new guy that, you know, was just getting development deal action. And I didn't know how to act. And I didn't know the, you know, I, I still think I'm learning a ton, but I didn't even know where to look for an, an, an audition. I didn't know. I was looking into ca into the ca and agents don't tell you. Right. I was looking into the camera. I didn't know how to take. But didn't you

    Michael Jamin (00:56:41):

    Take classes? Didn't

    Frank Caliendo (00:56:42):

    You study? No, because I was just, I went there. I was just, I was just thrown in. I was on tv. I'd never done a sketch. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I'd never done like a sketch in a show. In a live show. And I was shooting them on tv. Right. That's how fast it was for me. That's, I was doing standup. I was, you know, standup. And then I was on a show. I was on a show called Hype on the wb. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> that failed pretty quickly. Like they had the whole night. It's the w it's hype night. I'm the wb Three weeks later it's the WB Sunday <laugh>. That's when you know that your show is no longer Wow. The focus of the night.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:18):

    So, so, but it so standup that you wanted to do getting into it. Right. And then acting.

    Frank Caliendo (00:57:23):

    I didn't even wanna do standup Michael. I didn't even really wanna do stand. I just didn't know what I wanted to do. But you, I never had a plan. I did. Cause I went to school for broadcast journalism and I didn't like to be the one asking the questions. Right. I liked, I liked watching Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, even Jim Careys. I got a little bit older. I liked watching people on talk shows. Uhhuh, <affirmative> telling stories. Right. That's what I like. I like Jonathan Winters. Oh, I did something just a little weird today. You know, he's, I like him.


    That was the stuff I loved. And that was a problem. That's one of my problems. That's all I ever really wanted to do. As soon as I was a guest on talk shows, I'm like, that's what I wanted to do. It wasn't until I matured a little bit later, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And I've always been like a, an old soul. But I didn't know what I wanted to do. And then I started getting it. I started, I think I started to have more emotions in life. I started to, I had kids and I started to tear up when, you know, somebody did. I mean, I had, like, I could, I never understood the arc of a story. I didn't understand things when I was younger. I was just like, okay, I'll go in there, do lines now. I'm like, oh my God. There's so much subtext to what's happening here.


    Yeah. this is, this is, I mean, I'll start to, I, a friend of mine gave me some good news about his son the other day. And I start to tear. I mean, these little things, I'm like mm-hmm. <Affirmative> god, I'm a I'm a mush puddle. Yeah. But that's good in acting because you can use it. Right. When I was, when I was new to Ho, I didn't know any of it. I don't know. Right. Remember seeing of the stupidest things I ever said to him, I was, I was a, I was auditioning for a John Travolta movie. I think it was the General's daughter. It was, but it was a real movie. And I went in and I wasn't, I probably was terrible. I wasn't any good at all. And I, they were like, they, they, they're like have you done any acting? I'm like, no.


    It's just like being on tv Right. At movie acting. I'm like, no. It's just like, they're like, no, it's it's <laugh>. It's very, very different. And I was like, well, nobody told me. They just told me to come in here and do a bunch of impressions and impress you at that. And you might put me in the movie. And it never, you know, it was, and I was some, like, I would get people's attention doing the wrong thing and they, I was memorable, but I was never really good for the part. Right. I was never really what? At the beginning. And I just didn't like auditioning cuz I didn't, I didn't know what I was doing. I don't, I like to know what, I could go into something and be this interview. I can just come in and be me and talk about the things I, you know, I can do that.


    I can really do that. Now I'm getting to a point where if I wanna go in and, you know, if I, if I get call for an audition on something, I like to be really prepared to the point where I'll, I'll if I'm not, I just go, I don't wanna go in and do this audition that agents be like, they just wanna see you. Just try it. And I'll be like, let me see if I can be happy enough. And I'm starting to get to the point where, cuz I've watched and talked to some other casting directors, they're like, dude, perfect isn't, you don't need to be perfect. You don't even need to be close to be perfect. They just need to see something in that first time they see you. That's interesting that they go, this might be, cuz you can always build, cuz you work with a casting director.


    That's why you go back for callbacks. Right, right. Because they see the little piece and they go something some, and then they go, well you know what, you're not right for this, but can you read for this? Right. Because this might be, cuz there's, we saw this moment, there was some moment of real, you just did something. It was a breath you took. And we're like, everybody watched that breath a thou like really? You watched that, that breath is what they're like, nobody knows why this stuff works, but it does. Yeah. And you see something in somebody's eye and you see you see an, you see an a something in an audition that just catches something. And it's interesting. And that's what I always tell people. I say, you don't always, if comedy isn't always about being funny, it's about being interesting. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.


    Right. You hold somebody's interest now that, that the, the network TV is not a hundred percent the truth. But, and that's what her network TV comedy sometimes and Right. I agree. But it's, if, if you are interesting, people will continue to watch mm-hmm. <Affirmative> if you're funny. Not that interesting while you're funny. People are like, I've seen funny before. But what, yeah. Why do I want to see, why do I wanna watch more from this person? What's, what is pulling me in? What's the, what's, what's the, you know, like a gravitational pull of seeing this person and looking at watching their eye. What are they thinking right now? John Lovett said to me, he goes, the camera captures thought. And I was like, oh, that's interesting. I never even thought of it that way. So they, it's like the camera knows what Jake thinking. Do you have any t-shirts around? Why do you want t-shirts? I don't. Lovett's just walked around my house going, this is yours. This is yours. How much <laugh>? This would cost millions by me.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:40):

    Wow. This So. Well it's such an interesting creative journey that you had. I mean, honestly. Cause it wasn't like you, you didn't really know where you're going, but you got there. You didn't have a destination when you got there though.

    Frank Caliendo (01:02:49):

    Yeah. I, I don't even know if I meant the destination I wanted to be. I meant, I'm, I'm, I'm kind of at a, a point where I don't wanna, I just do the stuff that people know me for just mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to keep it out there so they, until I can find something that somebody goes, you know what, let's give him a shot. That's really, and I used to not be like that. I used to be scared to try and do things if somebody wanted me to read for a, a a, you know, serious part. And I'm not talking about crying and stuff like that. I, I I just mean you know, justs just holding somebody's attention in a drum. It's not as easy as people think. Yeah. Yeah. Comedy in, in a lot of ways comedy way harder as, you know, like there's moments, there are things about comedy mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that are just so, a lot of people, a lot of great actors can't do it at

    Michael Jamin (01:03:35):

    All. Yeah, for sure. 

    Frank Caliendo (01:03:36):

    For sure. But there's, there's something about holding somebody's attention. Uhhuh <affirmative> on screen. That that's just not, it's, you know, you can direct it you can direct it into happening some. But there are some people that I just use. I I want to watch what they're doing. So I'm sorry. It sounded like you had other

    Michael Jamin (01:03:56):

    Thoughts. No, no. I, I'm, I'm rap. I'm just, it's so inter, like I said, it's just interesting to hear how people go on a creative journey. Maybe you're not, maybe you haven't gotten as much as I, I think you've gone a script incredibly far, but you just wanna do more. And you wanna move away from

    Frank Caliendo (01:04:11):

    I just wanna be different. And I don't mind going back and doing some of the things I've done, but anytime anybody's ever cast me in a show, they rewrite the part for the guy to do impressions and Right. You know, and I then I'm like, well, that's fine. But can my character have some sort of arc and not just be one dimensional? Right. How about I, you know, I do something. I have feelings. I, you know, and not just big over the top, but it, it ends up getting, you know, most of the time that's not what they're looking for anyways. It just, which is fine. I've just done that. Right. you

    Michael Jamin (01:04:44):

    Wanna push yourself, that's

    Frank Caliendo (01:04:45):

    All. Yeah. We're doing gonna be different. I mean, it's, I, I'm, and I'm at a point where I'm starting to believe in myself enough that I can do some of it. Right. Whereas you have to, you have to believe that you can do things because if you don't, again, that shows you, there's a, there's confidence and there's false confidence. You know, fake it till you make it. But there's just something about somebody who, when they really, when they really get it and they're like, that's what I was talking about with Better Callal Billions. You watch these actors and you go, oh God, they're really, really good. That's just a high level. Yeah. Yeah. Of selling. And, and, and, and, and just, you feel it when you just feel for the people and you care. You can't wait to see you. You, you, I don't wanna say live vicariously through them, but you, you, you almost do. It's like you're just, you wanna go, oh no. Oh. Like you worried that it's actually happening. Right,

    Michael Jamin (01:05:38):

    Right. Invested.

    Frank Caliendo (01:05:40):

    Yeah. The investment. We being invested. Yeah. It's hard to, it's hard to do. I, I had this other theory of all my theories, you can bust it, but network television's been like that for the longest time. It's pretty people telling you what they're going to do. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's, they all, it's all exposition. I'm gonna go down the street right now and take a look and see it. And if you watch FX or something like that, they let you figure it out. Yes. In their character, they look like a char, like Michael Trout. They, they, you, they give you the time to figure out like, what is he, what are they doing? They do. Oh

    Michael Jamin (01:06:15):

    Yeah. It's ironic cuz the writing, the breaking of those stories are very similar between a network show and a, and a cable show. It's just that in a cable show or a smarter written show, you you, you just, you don't say it as much. You don't, you're not as clear. And so people think, oh, this is a smarter writing because you're, you're allowing the audience to do more thinking. They're ha they have to just stay engaged. Whereas sometimes, you know, writing that isn't sophisticated, you're just telling them. But it's very similar in terms of writing. It's actually, in some ways it's easier to write smart, I think, than it is because you're, you know, you do the work. <Laugh>, I'll let you do some work.

    Frank Caliendo (01:06:48):

    You know? Yeah. I mean, we don't, we don't, we don't always talk. We don't, what we don't do in life is tell people what we actually want. Yeah. A lot of times we tell people the opposite. That's acting too. Right. That's, that's you're telling somebody something, but you're trying to get something else. Yeah. Or you're not letting you, you just, you're trying to hide, but you're trying to get something else. Right. Right. And that's actually what's going on. And in, in, in the network stuff, a lot of times you're ac you're, you're just telling them what you're trying to do. And the music tells you that you're being sneaky.

    Michael Jamin (01:07:21):


    Frank Caliendo (01:07:22):

    Yeah. Right. But in a, in the cable show, you're, you're not telling 'em flat out and you're going, why is he being so nice to him? What? That doesn't make sense. Oh,

    Michael Jamin (01:07:32):

    Right. And, and you don't use that music. The le we always my partner, like fewer, the fewer music cues the better because we don't have to tell the audience what to feel. Let's

    Frank Caliendo (01:07:40):

    Figure it out.

    Michael Jamin (01:07:41):

    <Laugh>. But yeah, sometimes you have to put wall to wall music on this stuff. But wow. This is, this has been an interesting talk. There's a lot, there's a lot to you, Frank. There's not just a guy. There's

    Frank Caliendo (01:07:49):

    A lot more than Right. You thought I was, you thought,

    Michael Jamin (01:07:52):

    No, I just kind thought you were a shallow bottle guy's voice. Now

    Frank Caliendo (01:07:56):

    Is this,

    Michael Jamin (01:07:56):

    Is this your real voice or is this a voice you're doing?

    Frank Caliendo (01:07:59):

    This is a character I've been working on. <Laugh>. he's a

    Michael Jamin (01:08:03):


    Frank Caliendo (01:08:04):

    He's good. He's he's hit it. You really hit it. Killing you understand me more love. Let's take the curtain down. Hey, this is the real wow, man. Yes. I'm actually, I'm actually from another country. Yes. IM, and I'm not even sure where I'm from, but it's across the pond. Of course.

    Michael Jamin (01:08:28):

    Are you good at languages too? Cuz you can, you're, you such

    Frank Caliendo (01:08:31):

    A Some, but I, I, the one thing that I get worried about is I don't, I've never studied people to know what the intricacies of a good accent actually are. So I could do a big fakey accent for somebody mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But somebody who actually speaks the lang or speaks with the accent would be like, no, that's, that's not, that's not it. And I, I have a little lack of I could, I, if I worked on it, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I've been doing a little bit more of it's something that really, you know, I, I could do really well. I think it would just be, I think it just takes the time. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's, it's, I remember and it's interesting, like you, you find it's the same thing with like impressions. It's just a general impression. You'd find the speech pattern of how people kind of talk.


    I remember the, the funny one for Australian to keep it Australian in the, it was the, the Wiggles. You remember the Wiggles? Yeah. Yeah. They were the, I had my kids meet the Wiggles. I wasn't out there at their concert, but it was, I was, but with my kid, with my son. But they, he, they said, I was talking about Australian accent and they said the vows are flat. The vows are flat. Yeah. And that's the thing is the flat vows, if you listen to vowels, that's how you hear, that's how you know Oz oz are from Wisconsin. Wisconsin. Yeah. I'm from, or Chicago. Chicago down south. Yeah. Chicago. You draw the valves out. So you can, you find, you do different, you hit different concerts, you hit different vows, which sounds like, oh, that you're just pronunciate. But it's, it's, it's a, I'm saying I'm, I might might be articulating it perfectly, but the, the vows are so important into to, to how people speak and it's how, it's how an impression's found too. Yeah. You listen to where, where, where they draw out the cause it's hard to, it's hard hard to draw out a T. Right. It's just a, you can hit the T hard, you can hit it soft. Soft. But

    Michael Jamin (01:10:25):

    There's something you can't do, I imagine. Cuz they don't just have, they're just not, you know, I think

    Frank Caliendo (01:10:30):

    Specific, you haven't heard me, like, people ask me that at all the time. I go, well, if you haven't heard me do it, I can't. That's one of those, one of those things. And then when you, it's hard because when you put an impression out there that isn't ready, and I've done that a couple times mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, all people do is tell you how bad it is. I'm like, that's what I'm telling you. This is something I'm working on. And Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:10:51):

    But in, but some people I don't think have a specificity to be impersonate. Do, do you think? Or no?

    Frank Caliendo (01:10:57):

    Yeah. Correct. There's two normal, but I've heard that said about certain people. Like people tell me there's like, they, like somebody would say, mark Ruffler, how did you do Mark Ruffler? And I go, Uhhuh, I just listened enough. And I geez, I dunno. And you, you find it. Just find it. It's there. Right. I I, I see this and I find a phrase. So in, in end endgame, Avengers endgame, he says, I, I see this as an absolute win. And that was what I came off of. What I, that was the key phrase that right. Like Morgan Freeman, I always launch at troop is factor. The matter is, and I can just go into it. Right. Robert Downey Jrs. So here's the deal. Jeff Gobel, aye Yes, of course. I, you know, those, you find those little things. It's like pulling the, the, what's the mechanism on the lawnmower to start the lawnmower. Right. It's it's doing that to get it

    Michael Jamin (01:11:51):


    Frank Caliendo (01:11:52):

    Wow. To get the, to get the motor rolling.

    Michael Jamin (01:11:55):

    Frank. Wow. Man. We've covered a lot of stuff today. This is, I think this is, this is very interesting. Wow. Wow. Well I, I appreciate, thank you so much for joining me. But I, I wanna make sure before we, before we sign off, cuz I've had you, I've had you for, you know, I'm taking a lot of your time. I wanna make sure people can follow you and know where to follow you everywhere and, and you know, so they know what you're up to.

    Frank Caliendo (01:12:19):

    Pretty much as everything is at Frank Callo, if you can't spell Callo, it's the letter C, the word alien and the word do. So at Frank C. Alien. Do

    Michael Jamin (01:12:28):

    I think you made it harder by saying that

    Frank Caliendo (01:12:30):

    I might have <laugh> but it's memorable. What is that thing he

    Michael Jamin (01:12:35):

    Said? Wait, he said alien

    Frank Caliendo (01:12:37):

    <Laugh>. There's an alien in there.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:40):


    Frank Caliendo (01:12:41):

    But yeah, all Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, they're all at Frank Kelly, so. Right. wow. And the tour dates, frank onstage.com gets you to that. There's only one right now. The Phoenix date on February 4th.

    Michael Jamin (01:12:57):

    So go see this guy. I was just, I was actually just there recently just, just dropped. Were, yeah, I went to see I went to Oracle to visit family. Yeah. You know where Oracle is,

    Frank Caliendo (01:13:06):

    Don't you? I

    Michael Jamin (01:13:07):

    Don't. It's north of it. It's near Tucson. Oh, where Tucson is.

    Frank Caliendo (01:13:11):

    I've heard of it.

    Michael Jamin (01:13:12):

    I drove, I drove through Phoenix. I know that part.

    Frank Caliendo (01:13:15):

    Alright, next time lemme me know.

    Michael Jamin (01:13:17):

    I'll let you know, man. Frank, thank you so much, man. What a pleasure. Absolutely. Thank you so much for doing my, doing this little show and and then hang on. Well, I'll, I'll, well, but I'll I sign off and say goodbye then. I'll, I'll thank you in person some more. But but thank you everyone. Yeah. Thank you for, I don't know. Thank you for listening and until next time. Yeah, keep fo make sure to follow Frank and we'll talk more. Alright everyone, thanks again.

    Phil Hudson (01:13:40):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    1h 13m | Feb 1, 2023
  • 065 - Friend's Actress Maggie Wheeler

    This week Friend's Actress Maggie Wheeler is on the podcast discussing how she broke in, her career, and advice for aspiring actors.

    Show Notes

    Maggie Wheeler on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Wheeler

    Maggie Wheeler on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0923909/

    Maggie Wheeler's Personal Website: https://maggiewheeler.net/home

    Maggie Wheeler on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maggiewheeler_official/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Autogenerated Transcript

    Maggie Wheeler (00:00):

    Yeah. But you know, I'm so blessed because working on friends was just the most incredible creative understanding and agreement that that existed between, you know, from all angles. Yeah. And so the actors had a lot of free reign to, to, to work things out, to suggest things, to offer things. I had come from a show before that where I used to joke that they should cl in the credits. They should call me Clay Pigeon because, you know, a clay pigeon that you throw up and shoot at. Right. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Because every time I would say the slightest thing, I would say, would it be okay if overhear instead of if I said and No, no.

    Michael Jamin (00:37):

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.


    Hey everyone, this is Michael Jamin. You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got an excellent guest today. Now hang on you. I know her as the mom from the parking lot at the school that our, both our daughters go to <laugh> because that's who we, we, that's when I first met her. And we used to hang out and talk and smoke cigarettes while the kids were getting ready to come outta class. But you know her probably so many things, but probably maybe most famously as Janice from friends. We're gonna talk all about her amazing career. Maggie Wheeler. Maggie, thank you so much for doing the show. Thank you. A round of applause, Mike. We'll put that in post <laugh> <laugh>.

    Maggie Wheeler (01:24):

    Thank you so much for inviting me to do your show.

    Michael Jamin (01:27):

    Oh, I'm so happy because you, you, I, I wanna hear about screenwriting basically from your end, from the, cuz you're a, a very successful working actor. Let me talk about some of the things you've done. I'm gonna roll through your credits to refresh you. Okay. Because you've been doing it so long. You've forgotten all these things. Remind me, I guess, right? Remind you of Archer, the Adams family. I didn't know you did the Adams family. Shameless Marin. I remember that because we worked together on that. You were Mark's ex-wife, Kung fu Panda. I'm just skipping around. There's so much I can't mention all Hot and Cleveland. Californian. I didn't know that. We'll talk about that. Curb your enthusiasm. Glenn Martin. I remember that one. Cause we worked so much. How much fun? That was fun. Cuz you can do, you're amazing with voices. Don't I'll let you talk Mary Maggie. I'm talking now. Okay. Sorry. I'm going through your credit.

    Maggie Wheeler (02:14):

    <Laugh>. I'll be quiet. Forgive me. Speak for speaking. I turn Please continue discussing Stop

    Michael Jamin (02:20):

    Talk. I'm done talking about your credits here. How I met your mother. What a er. Dr. Doolittle. Three. I didn't know that. And obviously friends. You did a ton of those. Fat actress. Everyone loves Raymond. Listen to this. Credits. Csi, will and Grace. This is crazy guys. The parent Trap where you were the mom on that one. You Ellen? X-Files Dookie Hauser Seinfeld. Dreman. Which I love Dream on. I didn't know you did that. I mean, you have the to Okay, now you can say something.

    Maggie Wheeler (02:49):

    <Laugh>. Okay. I did not play the mother in the parent trap.

    Michael Jamin (02:51):

    Who were, were you Lindsay Lohan?

    Maggie Wheeler (02:53):

    I was Lindsay Lohan. Correct. <laugh>. I I'm very versatile. No, I played the camp counselor Marvin Junior. Oh. Who gets covered into chocolate and feathers. And

    Michael Jamin (03:03):

    Tell me about what everyone wants to talk about for probably first your, like the most of the famous the Janice. Tell me like when you auditioned for that. Yeah. Did, did you know that was gonna be a recurring go recurring role?

    Maggie Wheeler (03:14):

    No, it was a one shot deal. It was one episode, single episode. And and this, yeah, it said Fast talking New Yorker and I just thought I know her. She's she's in me all the way. So I just went and I did what I thought I should do.

    Michael Jamin (03:28):

    <Laugh>. See, that's the, that's the thing. Cause I'm gonna tell you this from a perspective of the writer. Even though I didn't write, have friends, this is what I imagine what happened, you, the audition, if if they had known it was gonna be a recurring part, they would've gone out to a big a-list celebrity, right? Correct. And so you came in, you auditioned for it, you were at the table read, which is the first day of rehearsal. And it's not uncommon for the regular guests, for the regular stars to not phoning in, but to save it a little at the rehears at the first day of the table. Cuz they don't want to bring it. But I'm certain you brought it 110% and this is what happened. And I wasn't there, but I've worked on another show. So this is what happened. The writers after the table read, they go back to the room and they talk about the, the story, but they also talk about the guest cast because I wanna make sure the, do we need to fire this person? Do we need to replace this person? And I'm sure they came back. Oh, she killed it. She killed it. And then I'm certain after the tape, after the show night, they'd like, okay, we're bringing her back.

    Maggie Wheeler (04:26):

    Because amazing. I mean, you know, I wasn't behind the scenes, so I can't say how the magic happened, but I, I'd love to think that that's what happened.

    Michael Jamin (04:33):

    I'm certain that's how what, because, and, and this is another thing, it's very rare to find from my, from where I sit an actor who really can do comedy that well. And so, and you killed it so much that they brought you back. I'm sure, like I said, I'm sure they didn't think it was a reg a recurring. They, they wrote No, they go get her back. Let's think of how we can bring her back.

    Maggie Wheeler (04:55):

    19. No, I think I, yeah. Nine, however many times all throughout the rest of the show. But, you know, I remember one of the writers telling me somewhere along the line, maybe after the fact, he said, you know, we used to sit there on those late nights when we couldn't break a script and something just wasn't working. And by two in the morning we'd be sitting there kind of, you know, tearing our hair out. And somebody would just say, what about Jan? Bring me back Janice <laugh>. And that's how I kept coming back and coming back. You know it, which was amazing.

    Michael Jamin (05:20):

    What about Janice? That's perfect. That's per, yeah. And so when you, so when you audition for it, like how do you approach a script? I guess I wanna know also from the comedy point of view, how do you, like what do you, what's the first thing you do when you read the part?

    Maggie Wheeler (05:33):

    I think I hear life in a and in through my acting work and, and in my life as well. I think I hear a little bit through a musical lens. Like the music of language, the rhythm of the character. That's what I, you know what I find? That's how I find the person that I'm playing.

    Michael Jamin (05:47):

    The musicality. Cuz you're also a sa I know you're big on music. We'll

    Maggie Wheeler (05:50):

    Talk about that. Yeah, I mean, I love music and I love, I love singing. But I, you know, but, but I just feel like also because when, in my earlier days of studying acting, I was very fortunate to work with Anna DRA Smith. And Anna works in this incredible way. If, you know, she, she's, she's a genius and she, I think she won the MacArthur Genius Grant. But she's really so extraordinary and, and her process in all of her one woman shows, which are based on real interviews she kind of gave a little bit of that to me as a student of hers in a show that we did early on before she started doing her own big pieces. And so she said, she sent a bunch of us out. She said, go, I want you to go interview somebody that you know, and then tape it.


    We all had our little cassette recorders. And then she said, and listen to it. And you'll see that. You ask them to tell a story. Some something that happened to them in their life. I asked my sister at the time, and they, and she said, you'll notice that there'll be a moment in the story where the pedal hits the metal. You know, just the, the, all of a sudden the gas is on and their, their cadence will change and their rhythm will change and it will accelerate. And that's the moment I want you to pick. And that's the moment I want you to do. And then from there, we did this process of, you know, writing it down word for word, finding a way for our ourselves to notate those rhythm changes, et cetera. And then really to recreate that character's kind of awakened moment. And I feel like that affected the way that I work a little bit too.

    Michael Jamin (07:16):

    But, so you, you even did that, like when you got the sides to audition for, like, let's say Janice, you do that for every role you like? Well,

    Maggie Wheeler (07:23):

    I don't know that I do it in such a laborious way. But I just think it's an instinctive way. Like, okay, so here are the lines and here is the thing. And she's saying, you know, the audition scene was, oh, I got you these socks and I don't remember the exact lines, but I got you these socks, you know, they're Winkle socks, you know, you have them, whatever she says, you can wear them however you wanna wear them. Mix and match moose and squirrel, squirrel and moose. And that just, that is just in me that moment. And I think it was that, it was just the, the hook for her. And then the, oh my God, stuff came later and the laugh came once I was on set. That was an organic thing that just developed it

    Michael Jamin (07:59):

    <Laugh>. I, you know,

    Maggie Wheeler (08:00):

    This moment with Matthew,

    Michael Jamin (08:02):

    You really made her an iconic character. You really did. You really Thank you. You know, and it's so, I, you, you know, when, when an actor does that, it's such a relief. A lot of people don't realize. It's like when we're auditioning, it's different now, obviously cuz everything's on tape. But Yeah. When an actor comes into the room and you've done this plenty of times, you audition for producers and the producers are like this. Right? Yeah. <Laugh>. And, and it's not because we're one trying to intimidate you. It's because please save us. I know that. Please just hit it outta the park so we can stop this fucking process and go home.

    Maggie Wheeler (08:35):

    I know that. I tell that to young actors. Like when I go to talk to acting students and stuff, I tell them mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, they just wanna know You've got it. Yeah. Yeah. Now the problem is, as an actor, it's like there are moments, there are days where you just, you wish you had it bottled and you wish you could just kind of toss it back and walk in the room and like, I've got it. But so many factors can interrupt that, that flow. You know, if you want it to badly, that can be an issue. <Laugh>, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, somehow you have to kind of wrangle that desire and desperation, like wrap it up and leave it outside the door because people smell that and feel that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and that feels, doesn't feel safe to the people on the other side of the desk. You know, there just has to be that kind of perfect alchemical embodiment of the character plus like your own ease that allows the mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, the, the folks on the other side of the table to go to do that thing that you just illustrated. Which is like, oh, thank you.

    Michael Jamin (09:30):

    Yeah, thank you. But how did you get into, like, even before that, cuz you have a lot of ma many credits before friends. Like, how did you get into, how did you get into act? Like how did you start? You went

    Maggie Wheeler (09:42):

    I was a teenager in New York City and I really wanted to act badly. And

    Michael Jamin (09:48):

    <Laugh> and your mother couldn't talk you out of it. <Laugh> my mother,

    Maggie Wheeler (09:50):

    She tried <laugh>, please let me go to professional children's school. No, <laugh>, please let me go to an acting camp. No. so, you know, I tried everything I could. I, in, in high school, I joined an afterschool musical theater troupe called the Mary Mini Players that did musical theater for kids, original musical theater by children, four children. Oh wow. And we performed in the basement of the Broadway theater or Broadway hotel. I can't remember where the hell we were. And he was crazy. And so that was sort of my first sort of feeling like I was getting somewhere. And then I used to buy the trades Uhhuh, really. And in high school I would cut school and go stand in line behind a bunch of 20 somethings and audition for something. I had no business auditioning for a, I wouldn't have been able to do it. I mean, they were industrials and, you know, silly things like that. Dance auditions things. I was, I mean, I was, I did not belong there, but I was just trying and trying and I was brave and bold and a little stupid. So, you know, that, that was good for me. And then I found a manager when I was in high school and

    Michael Jamin (10:52):

    Really in New York?

    Maggie Wheeler (10:53):

    In New York, Muriel Carl Talent Management. And and I went in there and I had to audition. I had to read copies, sing a song, do a thing. And you know, it was like, if Chris guest made a movie about, you know, children in, in, you know, performing children, this management company would be, you know, the illustration of what he would, he would create. So anyway, Muriel Carl, I had to audition for her, but I was the only person there without a parent because my mother said, no, f and a, no, I'm not going, I'm not taking you. I don't give it shit <laugh>. Whatever, whatever you, you're on your own. And so all these mothers were in there with like multiple children and matching outfits, you know, sing from your reel, read from your reel, still louder. Do it louder. So anyway, I started auditioning professionally and got rejected for every single possible thing. Yeah. And then my first professional job was in radio doing voiceover for CBS Records. And I got pulled out of a little, I got, I got booked in a crowd of kids and people just saying, Ooh, the Rubens for some musical group in the, in the seventies. Ooh, the Rubens. Ooh, the Rubens. And they said, the guy, you know, the engineer said, who's the kid with the low? With the low voice? And I was like

    Michael Jamin (12:05):


    Maggie Wheeler (12:05):

    <Laugh>, I'm out.

    Michael Jamin (12:07):


    Maggie Wheeler (12:08):

    They gave me the spot and then they kept hiring me back. So I started in radio and doing extra jobs. You know, I was in, I was an extra in commercials and a couple of movies and just

    Michael Jamin (12:18):

    Seeing. But then how did you make the jump to come to California?

    Maggie Wheeler (12:21):

    So I I, when I was 20 something doing, you know, off, off off Broadway, whatever, everything I could do in New York, anything to be busy. Yeah. some including summer stock and a whole bunch of other things in between just to keep myself acting. My sister's ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend was working for Lauren Michaels when the year that he left SNL and decided to do a primetime sketch comedy show called The New Show. And he was auditioning for the new show and she reached out to me and asked if I wanted to audition. And I said, absolutely. The answer is yes. Yeah. And then she said, okay, you need to do six minutes of original standup. And I locked myself in my bedroom and cried because I just thought, I don't even know how to do that. I don't even know what that is.


    I can't do, how do I do it? So I ended up writing six minutes of standup that had a lot of character driven stuff in it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> stories from my life, you know just characters from my life. And then I also wrote into it a sketch, a conversation between Julia Child and Jacque Gusto talking about Sea Bass <laugh> and and him about, you know, the beautiful you know, undiscovered deep waters and her about cooking it. But anyway, I don't know. I did whatever the hell I did. And then I auditioned for that show and then they threw me up there to, to improv with with Brian Doyle Murray and, and Wow. And and all these people from S sctv. It was crazy. And I got the job. So that was my first real significant professional job. Right. And when it got canceled, I moved to Los Angeles because I thought, this is my moment and I have to take it.

    Michael Jamin (14:00):

    But was the shelf shot in LA or it

    Maggie Wheeler (14:02):

    Was in New York? No, New York. It was in New York. Oh, okay. And so when that was over, I got my license, my little hot license. I also didn't really know what to do with that. And I came out here and and I went to, I, you know, I went about my working life and I lived here for a year and I got one job. I worked on the paper chase.

    Michael Jamin (14:18):


    Maggie Wheeler (14:19):

    And and then I got a call from New York from Ranken Bass, the creator of all the fabulous and a magic Christmas specials we all grew up on. And and they were casting a superhero cartoon. And they had, they found out about me from Lauren. And and I flew myself back to New York to audition for that. And I got it. So that brought me back to the city. And I did animation for several years in the city before. And in the midst of all that, I ended up making an independent film called New Year's Day. And when that was opening, I moved back here.

    Michael Jamin (14:50):

    That's another thing you're so good at, and this probably is cuz cuz you're a wonderful singer, but it, it's probably, cause I imagine the two are related cuz you can do all these voices and you, cuz you can hear them. And obviously I think it's comes right, that, that has to tie into your singing, don't you think?

    Maggie Wheeler (15:04):

    I guess it's all kind of a, of a piece. You know, I'm not like the a singer's singer. I can't, I don't have some extraordinary range or, or like golden vocal chords. I'm not a Broadway singer. I'm not a, you know, I'm, I I, there I have limitations to my singing voice mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. but I do sing and I do direct a large choir here in Los Angeles that I've directed for 17 years called the Golden Bridge Community Choir. And I invite other people to sing. So, you know, it's, it's actually, it's like, it's like my little, my little secret plan, since I'm not a soprano, I just get a lot of other people in the room. I go, okay, you guys sing this part, you do this, you do that. But anyway, I I, I do love music, but I've also always loved mimicry from the time that I was little. And so I love voices. I love character voices. I love

    Michael Jamin (15:50):

    Music. Do you practice that then? Like what do you do?

    Maggie Wheeler (15:53):

    I don't know. Do I practice it or do I just go on instinct? I feel like I just go,

    Michael Jamin (15:57):

    Because what I because we hired you on Glen Martin to do, I don't remember what voices, but you were like, oh, she could do all those

    Maggie Wheeler (16:03):

    <Laugh>. You hired me. You asked me, you called me and you said, can you do an Irish accent? Yeah. Because you wanted me to play flame Bang.

    Michael Jamin (16:10):

    That's what it was. It was sort

    Maggie Wheeler (16:11):

    Of, we also made O'Connor.

    Michael Jamin (16:12):

    But that's another thing when you come in for animation, and people should know this, that we, most of the time you get paid to do three voices. Yeah. Because so you have to be able to do more than one voice.

    Maggie Wheeler (16:22):

    Correct. And I did. And then when I got there, you said to me I don't remember why this happened, but you needed a song and you didn't have it. So I wrote the song for you, put that on the couch, <laugh>. And I was like, you need what? You, you said, these are the lyrics, you know, you will, you write a melody. So I did that. And then eventually you hired Chrissy Hein and she came and sang it.

    Michael Jamin (16:45):

    Yeah, yeah.

    Maggie Wheeler (16:47):

    Yeah. That was very

    Michael Jamin (16:48):

    Cool. Yeah. Was Isn't that funny? And she came to the <laugh>, she came in like a rockstar. So she came in with a cigarette. And I remember my partner saying, yeah, you're not really supposed to smoke in here. And she's like, yeah, well, <laugh>, it's

    Maggie Wheeler (16:59):

    Too bad. Nice for you, <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (17:03):

    But yeah, but that's, we threw so much on your plate and you cause like, whatever, we knew you could do it. So you, you do

    Maggie Wheeler (17:08):

    It. That's the most fun. And I actually, I love that character. I

    Michael Jamin (17:12):

    Really do. Yeah.

    Maggie Wheeler (17:13):

    I, I love voice. I love voiceover work because I can do anything. I can be a baby. I can be Aron, I can be a tree, I can be an owl, I can be, you know, a bald Irish rocker.

    Michael Jamin (17:24):

    We got a couple of animated things on the burner. So maybe, hopefully if they go <laugh>, we'll bring you back in for those. Yeah, I'll tell you more about those later. Okay, good. I'm so excited. You're already excited. I'm excited. Don't get your hopes up. You know how these things fall apart all the time. I do. I do. But but, but, so, but okay, so how else do you, I don't know, what is it like then to be like a working actor or someone like you because you know, people know who, who you are. What's it like on a daily basis?

    Maggie Wheeler (17:51):

    Well, I mean, look, what it looks like on paper is not the same as what it, what it is, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, there's so many in, as you know, there are just these long, kind of, these valleys, there are huge valleys with no work. So if you kind of create a little map of my career and you put all the, you know, red pins on the, on the dots of my jobs, boy, I, it looks like I've worked a lot, but there have been obviously incredibly long fallow periods in between.

    Michael Jamin (18:16):

    And what do you do during those? What, like what, what's your plan? Well,

    Maggie Wheeler (18:19):

    I mean, I'm, I've done so many crazy weird things to sort of, you know, tied myself over in the, in the interim. But I have to say, you know, starting the choir and being a facilitator of, of vocal workshops, which I also do at retreat centers and different places like that has been a tremendous gift because I have this work that's like really soul driven. Yeah. And I'm in the company of other people making something happen in the moment, you know, unlike showbiz where you, you know, you're doing it and you're making it with the family, you're with, you're all in, in it together. And then it's done. And then there's, you know, and then there's this period of time before it airs. And then once it airs you, you're gonna hear about, you might hear about how it, how people respond to it, but it's not as, it's not direct.


    So, so I do something where I'm creative in the moment. I'm giving people something in the moment and there, and it's, and the feedback is coming to me immediately and directly. Right. So I'm really fortunate. I have two, basically two careers. And then of course, I'm a mother. I'm a parent and I've been raising my, my family throughout all those years. I mean, my kids are older now. They're 22 and 27, so they're not home. But I will say, you know, these pandemic years have been some of my busiest years because I, I took the choir online and that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> eventually became a more global experience because lots of people joined me from all over the world. And then I also created an event called Together in Song that I ran every Saturday for the first two years where I hired three other, so leader singer songwriter musicians to come on with me.


    And we basically led the world in song every Saturday for an hour. And I had 4,000 people come over the, that period of time. Wow. So I, I think that, you know, wow. Being a creative human being, I, in a way I, you know, I know so many people suffered you know, in terms of their work lives or their feeling of purpose during this past couple of years mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and for a lot of creative people, it was just this kind of moment to dive in more deeply and figure out how mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, if you're a writer, how you, you know, you can write, if you're a musician, you can make music if you're, you know, what can you do online to make sure you're connecting with other people? So it, you know, necessity was the mother of invention for me, and I was very busy.

    Michael Jamin (20:32):

    Well, first of all, if people wanna learn more about that, they can definitely follow you on Instagram, golden Bridge Choir.

    Maggie Wheeler (20:37):

    That's, that's a private Instagram, but they can go to Golden bridge choir.com. Okay. and and all the information is there and they can get on my mailing list there. And then anything, any, anytime I'm doing anything that's open to the public, I will, I send out a huge mailing and people can join me online or they can join me in person, which Right. We're not doing so much of yet, but we will be.

    Michael Jamin (20:57):

    So here's, here's the thing that, here's the thing about you. You are truly an ar Like of all the people I know, you are an artist and probably your mother's, like your whole family's artists. It's like you really are, like, your husband's very, you know, he's a very successful, very talented Daniel Wheeler. Well, how, how is it installation art? How do you describe? He does a lot of stuff.

    Maggie Wheeler (21:18):

    He's a, he's a sculptor and a maker of all things from, you know, from small sculptures to installation work, to funerary objects. He does collaborative urn making for people who are either losing a loved one who are, are, are in the process of dying. Wow. He, he he does so many things. He also does kind of I forget the, I'm not, the word is is lost on me now, but, you know, like he people, people hire him to make objects and, and you know, whether it's furniture or sculpture, all kinds of things, he's very eclectic. Anyway. wheeler made.com for Daniel, if people are interested in going to check that out. But

    Michael Jamin (21:56):

    The reason why I kind of bring it up though, is cuz so many people are intimidated, like, am I really gonna go into the arts? Like, what the hell am I thinking? But yeah, you do. Everyone in your family does. We

    Maggie Wheeler (22:07):

    Do. I mean, it was, this is your life art. It's an Artie family. No one, I mean, you know, I have a daughter who's, who's just now starting as an actress mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And of course, you don't wish that kind of creative life necessarily on your offspring, just as my mother did not wish it for me, <laugh> and threw herself in front of my body frequently to try to slow me down. And she often, you know, and then when I would cry and be so distraught over the, whatever, the rejections or the lack of opportunity or whatever, she would say, I never told you to do this. Nobody ever told you you had to do this. Who told you you had to do this. But if you have to do it, you do it. And if you don't have to do it, don't. Which is of course, what everyone tells you when you're young. If, if you don't have to do this, don't do it. Because basically you're living the life of a professional gambler, and you don't get to, you don't get the security. Right. But you do get this, I think, sort of incredible accelerated sort of spiritual path of trying to trying to identify what your value is and what your worth is on the planet. Because it exists only in the outside where people are gonna say yes and no to you. You're done for Right. Because there's too many nos.

    Michael Jamin (23:18):


    Maggie Wheeler (23:19):

    I mean, my career looks like a lot of yeses, but there are, it's nothing in comparison to the nos.

    Michael Jamin (23:23):

    You're a lot of No.

    Maggie Wheeler (23:24):

    Yeah. you know, you have to, it, it just constantly brings you back to that sort of place when you get knocked down and you feel like crap. And no, no, oh, you know, I'm not good enough. They don't love me, it's never gonna happen, blah, blah. All the stuff, all the negativity. And in order to get up and survive, you have got to dig deep and figure out, you know, what your value is in a more immediate way.

    Michael Jamin (23:48):

    Does it feel like, though I don't, I think I know the answer to it, but does it feel like a competition to you? Or like what, you know, versus other actors?

    Maggie Wheeler (23:58):

    Yeah, I think I certainly felt that way for a very long time, and I still feel that way. Really. You know, it, I mean, I think so. Yeah. I mean, you know, I'd auditioned for something recently. I think, you know, my auditioned life is very, very scarce at the, at the moment. But every once in a while there's a little flurry and there, there was a flurry some months back mm-hmm. <Affirmative> where there were like four auditions in a row, and they were all good. I was interested in all of them. They were all very different. It gave me an opportunity to stretch myself a little bit. And I was, I was inspired. And there was one audition that I did, and, and I, I knew it was good, you know? Right. I, I, I knew that I, I knocked it out of the park, but I also knew they weren't gonna give it to me because I knew that there was an alister that they, that would get the job. And I said at the time, to my loved, my loved ones, I said to Daniel, you know, I'm not gonna get this. They're gonna give it to so-and-so. And they did.

    Michael Jamin (24:51):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you, and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.


    Yeah. And that's heartbreaking. And it's, it's outta your control. Yeah. Yeah. And it's outta your control. And that's sometimes that comes from the network or the, you know, whoever, because it's so strange. They really think they really think that having a bigger star attached, even for a guest role, they think it's gonna bring in eyeballs. It never does. I'm not sure it

    Maggie Wheeler (25:36):

    Ever does. And sometimes those, yeah. And I don't wanna say that sometimes those performances aren't as good. I, that's not fair to say, but sometimes they aren't. And also, you know, but, but I'm trying to think of, you said something before about, about how I, how Janice expanded into a, into a, a sea, you know, a a series long role. Yeah. And I, I often kind of refer to myself as a side door actress. You know, I usually get in the side door. I don't usually come through the front door. Right. I don't usually come, you know, for the, for the series lead. But frequently I have managed to slip in that side door in an interesting way. And out of it has come a really wonderful opportunity. So, for instance the parent trap

    Michael Jamin (26:17):


    Maggie Wheeler (26:18):

    <Affirmative>, when I got that script, I wanted that movie. And I thought, and here's this camp counselor. And I thought, oh no, they're never gonna give this to me. I'm in no way butch enough for this role, really. I can see the person they're gonna pick in my mind, but I thought, I've got to give them something. I just have to go. I have to go. Because I wanted it. And I thought, I'm just gonna, just gonna do something nobody else will do, because that's what I'm gonna do. So I <laugh>, I put my hair in these pokey little weird braids, and I put on like, I think I had on overalls and a, and a coach whistle. Like, I dressed up like a, like a dorky sort of you know, camper. And I played, and I auditioned for this role with like a serious side sort of synt s situation where I was like a slightly odd, perhaps I never grew up. And I had this very serious speech impediment sort of thing, and it was a crazy idea. And the, the casting director looked at me, like tilted her head out from behind the camera and said, I think I need to take you to the director,

    Michael Jamin (27:29):

    <Laugh>. They didn't know what to do with it. And that's so funny. They

    Maggie Wheeler (27:32):

    Didn't know. So I came, I went in to meet Nancy Myers and Charles Shire, and I, and I, I was still in my crazy outfit. I was still ready to go. And he leaned over to his wife at the time and he said, does she really talk like that <laugh>? And she said, no, it's, she's Janice

    Michael Jamin (27:49):

    <Laugh>. She <laugh> she, did she talk like Janice

    Maggie Wheeler (27:54):

    <Laugh>? So anyway, I got that role, but they didn't let me play her that way because Right. It was Disney and they didn't want you know, any kids who might have a sibling has to feel upset about it. So I had to lose that. Right. But that's how I got that movie

    Michael Jamin (28:08):

    By going on the limb.

    Maggie Wheeler (28:10):

    Crazy. Walked out there like a nutball.

    Michael Jamin (28:12):

    But tell me about, like, from your, from where, tell me about, from where you sound like, what's the, what's etiquette on set for an ac for an actor or even, or a guest actor? Like, what does it, what does it look like to you?

    Maggie Wheeler (28:24):

    What is etiquette on set?

    Michael Jamin (28:26):

    Like, what are you supposed to do? How are you supposed to behave?

    Maggie Wheeler (28:30):

    Well, that's interesting. I think when I immediately, like, I, I feel like I go through this rolodex of images in my mind from the sets where nobody talked to me, to the sets where I didn't have a proper dressing room to the sets where I was nervous because it was such a well-oiled machine, and I was slipping in to mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, and then I thought, and then it, it takes me right to kind of my first series job where I felt really sensitive about the guest ca at cast. And I always invited them into my dressing room and gave them a place to be. Right. so as a result of some, as a result, being so experienced along the

    Michael Jamin (29:06):

    Way, because it's hard. It is hard. You're stepping into a job that's already there and it's hard. I mean, it's like you're already insecure and now on, on top of that.

    Maggie Wheeler (29:16):

    Yeah. Some people say they really don't like that role of being a guest on a, on a series. I do really like it. I'm, I, I, I've, I don't feel, so maybe it's because I've done it so much that I don't feel so threatened by it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I mean, the first time I did it was on Seinfeld and and I, and I, there was no, like, when it was lunch, they all scattered, like the lights got turned on in the kitchen and the cockroaches around, like, they were, they were all gone. It turned out they were up in the writer's room having like a catered lunch. But I, I didn't, no one told me anything. And I didn't know anything. It was my first, you know, guest role on a, on a big series like that. And I was really lost. Right. And then I had to ask somebody and they said, oh, you just go down to the commissary. Right. You know, but somebody, and I didn't have a dressing room on that show, so

    Michael Jamin (30:00):

    Well, you had, you had some kind of changing room.

    Maggie Wheeler (30:02):

    I must have, but I did. It wasn't quite, quite, you know, what I, what what I had later on. So anyway, but it was just one of those odd moments where I, like, there was no one telling me what to do and where to go. And so there's that. And then I don't really know how, what is the etiquette? Like, you just have to be ready to take care of yourself. That's it. Right. You gotta be ready to feed yourself, hydrate yourself, show up when they need you, go back to your room and pull it together in the in between and like Right. Manage your fear or your insecurities or whatever. So when you get back down. But, you know, I, I, it's funny, like, yeah, I don't know. I have found myself in all kinds of circumstances where I have felt

    Michael Jamin (30:41):

    Did you prefer more multi-camera, which is shot? People don't know. Shot, shot, live in front of a studio audience or, or single camera?

    Maggie Wheeler (30:48):

    I, I like 'em both.

    Michael Jamin (30:49):

    But it's a different way of performing, don't you think? Or No. I mean, how does it, how do you approach it, whether it's single or multi?

    Maggie Wheeler (30:56):

    Well, yeah. Single camera is something, I mean, multi, multi camera. I've done a lot more of, I would say. And, and and I've, you know, I really enjoy it because it's like live theater and you've got the response of the audience, and it's just that adrenaline rush of everything happening in the moment and changing things in the moment and fixing things in the moment. And it can be, you know, and that's really exciting. And that's how I started. I mean, you know, the new show was my first big show, and it was sketch comedy in front of a live audience. Right. And it was, it was, you know, I earned my stripes in doing that. And then, you know, but then when I did Californian Cation, I, I absolutely loved every moment. It's a lot long, you know, your schedule's a lot more unpredictable. You're there four in the morning, or you're leaving at four in the morning, or whatever it is. Yeah. And you basically have to hang your life up on a hook and say, I'll, it's hard. See you when it's done.

    Michael Jamin (31:44):

    Yeah. And how do, how, what about working with directors who are aren't, who really can't know, don't know how to talk to actors, <laugh>, what's that like for you? <Laugh>?

    Maggie Wheeler (31:53):

    Usually I get fired when that happens. <Laugh>, that has happened. I've gotten mean fired a few times. Well, I've been fired from a few jobs in my life.

    Michael Jamin (32:02):

    Because they couldn't, they didn't know how to talk to you. And what do you mean they couldn't get the performance outta you or what?

    Maggie Wheeler (32:07):

    I mean, each one, each circumstance is different. But in the, the most recent one was a situation where I was hired. I was hired without auditioning. And I was told before I was hired that they were concerned. They wanted to offer me the job, that they were concerned about hiring me. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, because they, the character was similar to Janice. Right. And I said, oh, well, I mean, you know, I can play any number of women from any number of burrows and I can give them all that flavor, but of course I'm not gonna play Janice. That's not gonna happen. I mean Right. You wouldn't want me to do that. Right, right. So I arrived, I had been on the East coast on vacation with my family, and I arrived back and it was end of August. I went straight to the job. Oh no. I got the script <laugh>. And the first, the first line for my character was oh, dot, dot dot, my dot, dot.dot.

    Michael Jamin (32:58):

    That's not good.

    Maggie Wheeler (32:59):

    And I thought they do that. They can't really want that. So Yeah. I,

    Michael Jamin (33:03):

    They can't, they can't

    Maggie Wheeler (33:04):

    Do that. I don't know if you, you had the distinct pleasure of watching the television show, mob Wives, but I was a bit of a fan of Mob Wives. Fantastic reality show. And and there's a, a woman on that show, her name is Tria Zo, and she is like, you know, mob adjacent, and I love her. So I decided I'll play Dita Zo. That's what I'll do. That's what they'll get. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I went in and I, we had the table read and all the people were there, and there was a strange vibe on the set. And then we went into rehearsal. Then it came to network run through day, which is Wednesday. And we did the run through. And this director who I don't wanna say too much about him, but I will say he's very, he was very tall and and yeah, he, he was a comp complicated character. And he came over and he looked down at me from his, like perch of six four. And he said, they're not happy.

    Michael Jamin (34:03):


    Maggie Wheeler (34:04):

    And I said, what? And he goes, they're not happy. And I said, why? And he said, because, you know, you're not giving them what they want.

    Michael Jamin (34:12):


    Maggie Wheeler (34:12):

    Janice. And I said, what, what do they want? And he said, you know, and I said, I, I'm sorry, I don't. And he said, well, they want Janice.

    Michael Jamin (34:22):

    Oh God.

    Maggie Wheeler (34:22):

    And I said, well, they can't have her.

    Michael Jamin (34:24):


    Maggie Wheeler (34:24):

    You know, I mean, and then I, and then I had to get, like, I had to get a little brave and like crane my neck to look up at him and say, look, I didn't just get off the bus. This character is, you know, created from another show. This is, we're on the Warner Brun lot. Go ask them. Yeah. If James Chan's character's name to Janice and pay me a little bit more. And then you can have what you want, but you can

    Michael Jamin (34:43):

    Yeah. Get the right to her.

    Maggie Wheeler (34:44):

    Play her, call her this and play me the, anyway, then I went into wardrobe and I said, listen, don't work hard.

    Michael Jamin (34:50):

    <Laugh> <laugh>,

    Maggie Wheeler (34:52):

    I'm gonna be fired today. And they said, no, you can't be fired. They can't do that. They can't ask you to do that. That's not possible. I'm like, can't watch you watch me. And then I, I had to go do a a, a radio, a podcast about voiceover, drove across town, went into these to see these folks to do their podcast. And I said, Hey, you know, I'm probably gonna get a call cuz I'm probably gonna get fired. And anyway, sure enough, they fired me by the end of that day because I wouldn't play that character. And

    Michael Jamin (35:18):

    That's surprising because you're supposed to be as writers, you're not supposed to, you're supposed to know that you don't do that. Like it was, you have to have some shame. <Laugh>.

    Maggie Wheeler (35:26):

    It was cuckoo. So, yeah. So things have happened to me. I don't want, I don't wanna badmouth directors cuz I'm still trying to be an actor.

    Michael Jamin (35:33):

    <Laugh>. Well that's not that. I'm just saying not all. Like, because directors have two jobs. They have to work the cameras and they also have to get the performance out of the actors. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And sometimes I see some, it's, it's rare to find a director who really could do both Perfect. As amazingly. Well it's hard. Yeah. Because it's two so different skills and sometimes I see a director talking to, it's like, oh no, that's not, that's not gonna work. You're not, that's not gonna get the performance outta of them.

    Maggie Wheeler (35:57):

    I think I've been lucky that I've worked on so many great sitcoms and those, most of those directors are just, you know, like they know that genre so well. Yeah. I think I, I have also worked on shows where somebody is a little bit newer and they feel like there's a lot they should be doing in the way of the, of directing. And so they're kind of going overboard, like tweaking a lot of things that might not necessarily need tweaking. And that can be a little frustrating. Yeah. But you know, I'm so blessed because working on friends was just the most incredible creative understanding and agreement that that existed between, you know, from all angles. Yeah. And so the actors had a lot of free reign to, to, to work things out, to suggest things, to offer things. I had come from a show before that where I used to joke that they should cl in the credits, they should call me Clay Pigeon because you know, a clay pigeon that you throw up and shoot at.


    Right. Uhhuh. Because every time I would say the slightest thing, I would say, would it be okay if over here instead of if I said and No. No. Okay. And that's the way it was. There was just actress, shush, do your job, read every word on the page, don't change anything. Right. And sometimes it's like that. Right. But I have to say, I walked onto that friend set and I could breathe and so much great comedy came out of that Yeah. Environment. That slightly freer, more respectful kind of exchange of an environment. I mean Yeah. But I know

    Michael Jamin (37:21):

    There's a reason why it was a great show. I mean that show, it was amazing how they kept on reinventing. I was like, you know. Yeah. It was obviously an amazing show. It's amazing. Wow. But so what, and so what advice then, I guess, I guess I have to ask you, what do you give to, you know, so you have two beauti, we talked about this yesterday. You have two beautiful daughters like I do. And this is, this is a problem because they're <laugh> because you have beautiful daughters. That's a problem. And it's in and of itself <laugh>. And then, but, and one is once again into acting and, and it's like, yeah, like we talked to us. You can't, you can't discourage that cuz you know what the word is cuz you got to live that life. Uhhuh <affirmative>. Like, how it's not, that's not fair. <Laugh> <laugh>. So what do you, what do you tell her? What do you, you know

    Maggie Wheeler (38:08):

    I think, you know, when, when what has saved me over so many years of staying in the business and obviously longevity is often, you know, half the BA or more than half the battle because mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, there are these so many long stretches where nothing is happening. So yes. Staying in the game, obviously I, you know, I didn't, I didn't get friends until I, I mean, I'd already been acting for a long time Yeah. When I got that job. So you have to have staying power. And in order to have staying power, from my perspective, you have to have other things in your life that make you, that let you know that you have, you're living a life of purpose. Because if acting and performing is the only thing that defines your purpose, in my opinion, you're in trouble.

    Michael Jamin (38:59):


    Maggie Wheeler (39:00):

    You have to. And whether that is this, and I used to tell, you know, again, I've spoken to actors of every sort of age from little to not so little over the years. And I used to say to the little ones, do, if you know how to sew a button on, teach someone else how a sew a button. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> or if you know how to make a pie, make a pie and give it to somebody. I don't care what it is. Just whatever else you have, whatever other abilities you have in your kit bag that involve being purposeful that don't involve the mother. May I game of, can I take two steps forward? Yes. No. Yeah. You didn't raise your hand. Go back seven steps, you know,

    Michael Jamin (39:38):

    Uhuh, it's constantly asking for permission. When I was on, just shoot me, for some reason we did the, the the acting, the auditioning in the same bungalow as the writers. So I'd come to, you know, work, I'd go to my office and then there'd be a long row of actors auditioning. And it was, I, it was always heartbreaking to me. Yeah. It was like, because you'd have whatever, 10 actors for this part and probably three, three could probably do it and only one would get it and the other two would go home thinking, what did I do wrong? Or why can't I get the break? Well, because only one person can get it. That's the problem.

    Maggie Wheeler (40:12):

    Yeah. Only I, you know, I, we used to refer to it a lot of us when I, we were back like in my early twenties, and we would go all through all the processes and all the hoops and all the rings of fire. And then you get down to the network and they bring three actors to the network and you know, they've already chosen one. So basically it's just a gladiator sport because people have to die <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (40:32):

    There has

    Maggie Wheeler (40:33):

    To be blood on the floor. Yeah. Or, or it didn't happen. So, you know, we always knew that we were there as a human sacrifice, some of us mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin (40:40):

    <Affirmative>. Yeah. It's hard. So Yeah. So you had to just find ways have other worth and to feel. Yeah. Yeah. And make your own opportunities,

    Maggie Wheeler (40:49):

    I guess make your own opportunities. I mean that's the, I guess the beauty for this new young, younger generation is that there are so many ways of creating now and creating content now mm-hmm. <Affirmative> that we didn't have, you know? Right. I mean, we had like, you know, we had, we had movie, we had like home movie cameras back when I was 19, 20, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but that was about, we couldn't edit them. Right. so, so, you know, now there's just so much opportunity to make content or even at the very simplest level, if you're an actor, you know, to get people together and sit around and read something the way we used to do, it's like, let's read and play or, you know, like, let's just do anything so that we feel like we're making, we're making something, you know, even if it's gonna be gone by the time we were done. True. So, I don't know. It is, it is not an easy road, but it's, you know, you know it, you know it, Michael.

    Michael Jamin (41:37):

    I I I know it. I still think actors have it a little harder than writers, but, but

    Maggie Wheeler (41:43):

    Maybe it's, well we can't do it alone.

    Michael Jamin (41:45):

    Yeah. Well that's true. But I, yeah, it's, it's just, it's a hard, difficult, but I have a lot of respect and especially, oh God, <laugh>, you know so I've, I've worked with actors, I've directed actors and then as you saw when I, cuz you came to my show and I was like, oh, this is so much harder than, than it looks <laugh>. This is so much harder. I have such new respect after doing it myself, it's very hard.

    Maggie Wheeler (42:11):

    Yeah. I think they make, you know, like certainly in some of the directing programs now, they've make the directors take acting classes just the way they make, you know, I don't know, football players, I think you should in ballet. I don't know what it is, but, but yeah, so, so I think it's a good, it's a good move. I mean that my, my daughter Gemma, who just came out of a four year screen acting major mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at college, had a chance to do everything from, you know, acting to writing, to directing, to editing to all of it. I, and I think that's what an incredible opportunity mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to start out your, your career, having this kind of, you know, fully dimensional experience of what it is to make, to make something.

    Michael Jamin (42:50):

    I think, yeah, I say that I think actors need to study writing. I think writers need to study acting and I think directors have to study both, you know? Yeah. You have to know how to converse with both those people. Yeah.

    Maggie Wheeler (43:01):

    I think that that sounds like a be a better world. Let's, let's live that than that one.

    Michael Jamin (43:05):

    Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. That make believe world <laugh>. Wow. It's just so interesting to hear your side. I don't know, it's just hear your side of the process of what it's like, you know, I don't know. Do, do you feel, I guess we talked about a little bit, but yeah, I mean, how much, when you're on set do, cuz you have to talk to, on, I'm, I'm babbling here, but you have to talk to, you have to please the director. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> you also have to know, especially if you're guests are, you're really there to serve the main actor, the main character. Yeah. You're really there to serve them. It's their story and not make it about yourself. And and then also if there's a showrunner you, you may, you may begin conflicting notes from the director versus the showrunner and that and the show. You know, how do you, how do you navigate all that?

    Maggie Wheeler (43:55):

    I think like, it, it, you know, it's a great improvisation and part of the acting job is the material that you're given and, and the job you're given to do. And the other part of the acting job is the rest of what you just described. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, it's just, you know you have to, you have to improvise your way through those conversations, through those moments where someone's talking to you and telling you something, you're not sure, you know, what it is that they want to mm-hmm. <Affirmative> they're asking you to do mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but you don't wanna seem like somebody who doesn't know what they're asking you to do. It's all acting. I kind of think from the minute you get there till the minute you go, and obviously I, I mean I'm I'm saying that slightly sarcastically because not, it's not true in the best of circumstances.


    You can relax into your sort of auth authentic self or your authentic experience. There might be somebody there who is generous or kind or, or you can laugh with or you can roll your eyes at if you're, if everything's, you know a jumble or confused because there's a director who feels like you're not getting it or anything, anything is possible. You know, I mean, I, I just saw Meryl Streep like a clip of an interview with her and she's saying, oh, well, you know, sometimes they tell me to, to where my mark is and that I should move to the left. And then inevitably I'll go. Right. And sometimes I do that three times, even after the director has told me not to go to the right because Yeah, I'm like that I forget things, you know, so she, I'm not perfect. And so she was really funny, just kind of bu busting the myth of, you know,

    Michael Jamin (45:33):

    So she wasn't being willful. She was like, I forgot.

    Maggie Wheeler (45:35):

    No, she just forgets. She just does what she, she's in the moment she's acting. She does. And I, and I can do that too. You know, I when you said you were a fan of Dream On and I was too. Of course. Yeah. And working with Brian, Ben, Ben, I mean, that guy never missed a mark. He, he knew I, we made a movie together in New York years and years ago. That's how we first met. And it was called, I, well I think it's called Divine Obsession. I think it was called God's Payroll. And maybe at the end it's called Divine Obsession. I can't remember. But anyway, I think it was, it was my first movie and and Brian was such a technician and he knew his mark and he never missed it. And he, it was incredible. I would watch him and I inevitably, I would step too far or not step far enough or lean over to the right or walk in the wrong direction or what. I mean, all kinds of things. And that guy was like a machine. He knew exactly where he needed to be and he got there every time. And and so working with him on Dream On was also wonderful because he was just, he's so, so

    Michael Jamin (46:34):

    Great at what he, it's so hard cuz you have to be in the moment, but you also have to be thinking of the note you just got. Yeah. And you're blocking. And also, but also forget all that cuz you need to be in the moment. Yeah. Oh, oh. And also, what am I supposed to

    Maggie Wheeler (46:46):

    Say? And when you're doing a, a sitcom, you know, they, you, you, you run through the thing, you run through the scene, you rehearse the scene, then they send you away, then they bring down the, the stand-ins, then they block the scene and they put all the marks down. Then you come back and the stand-in has like 27 seconds to say to you when you walk in your mark's over there. And when you step across the stage, it's over there. And when you make it to the couch, you're gonna see there's a mark that's right underneath the last, the back left leg of the couch. That's where your left foot go. It all happens so quickly. And I, yeah. When people start talking to me like that, I'm like, Uhhuh, <affirmative>, uhhuh, <affirmative>, uhhuh, <affirmative>. And I just think, I hope I remember what she said.

    Michael Jamin (47:19):

    Wow. And then especially on a multi-camera show, if a joke tanks, the writers will run into the set, say this in line instead. And you, but I, and just remember to just memorize. That's right.

    Maggie Wheeler (47:29):

    The other one, now there's a new one. Get ready. Go. And some people freak out. You know, I mean, you know this also in the, in the, in the land of animation because you know, we, I, I saw it happen when we were working together on one of those shows where somebody came in not really understanding what Yeah. What that world looks like and how quickly things get thrown at you and how, how fast-paced it is and like, do it again, but 10 pounds heavier, do it again. But now her hair, her face is blue, you know, whatever. She stuff happens quickly.

    Michael Jamin (47:57):


    Maggie Wheeler (47:58):

    You know, and, and some people freak out and, and, and seize up.

    Michael Jamin (48:03):

    There's not a lot of time. Yeah. That's another thing. Not a lot of rehearsal, least on the shows that I do. It's not a lot of rehearsal <laugh>. Do you, is it different for you? It's like you're hired Go <laugh>.

    Maggie Wheeler (48:14):

    Go and go. Yeah. But it's, you know, when it's fun, it is the most fun. Absolutely the most fun.

    Michael Jamin (48:21):

    Yeah. That's the, that's the thing. When I was doing directing for the other voiceover, if I knew a actor wasn't gonna get it like the did you couldn't do it, I'd say, okay, let's do it three different ways. Three different ways. And then thank you so much. Cuz you just don you know, you don't wanna embarrass them, you don't wanna hurt them and you just know you're gonna recast it later, you know? Yeah. That's hard. That's hard. That doesn't happen a lot, but sometimes it does. Cuz you don't audition. You just bring, bring people in. You bring people,

    Maggie Wheeler (48:48):

    They come in and hopefully they can do it. And, and yeah. I don't know. I don't know that, I mean, I find that to be the most fun. I love that world Uhhuh. And when I started out in animation working for Ranken Bass, we would do these table reads because it was a fixed cast, right. There were like six of us, or five of us. I was the only woman. And and we'd have these table reads for each script and they'd give us all a chance to audition live for the new characters. So I was able to audition for male characters. Interesting. And the men were able to audition for female characters and Wow. We could all audition, audition for the cyborgs and the, and the, you know, whatever the little Martian, you know, creatures or whatever, the genderless creatures. I, I don't know. It was, it was a, it was a great opportunity and really one of those things where you're like, okay you know, just, just go. Don't be afraid. Give it a try. You're gonna get it or you're not gonna get it.

    Michael Jamin (49:40):

    Yeah. Yeah. How interesting that you're Yeah. So much fun. Yeah. Wow, Maggie, thank you. This is a lovely talk. Well, I wanna make sure, I wanna plug everything you're doing. I, we talked about it, but we can, let's remind everybody, let's

    Maggie Wheeler (49:52):

    See. See I, what's going on? I'm heading to New York in January to do a live event for, at the friends experience at the end of January. And I'm not gonna say too much about that, but I am doing that for for a day on the, I think the 24th of January. But

    Michael Jamin (50:07):

    How could they find excited about that? How do they find it if they want to go see it? How do they find it?

    Maggie Wheeler (50:10):

    Oh, I think it's Apri. I think it's press. Oh, I think you can, I think it's press kind of thing. Friends. Friends. But I'm excited to, it's a Friends of Friends event, right. <Laugh>. I, I don't know, maybe it, it, I don't, I'm not sure. I can't say much about it cause I don't know everything yet, but I'm going to do that. I have two sort of indie projects that are, that are, are in the possible works in the next year, which is nice. So if those things come, do

    Michael Jamin (50:32):

    You wanna talk about that or No,

    Maggie Wheeler (50:33):

    I don't think I can talk about them yet. If, if those, if they come true. Okay, then, then, then we'll see. One of them I will say is working with a really wonderful young director from from France. Her name is Charlotte Gabriel. And she did an incredible short, which I highly recommend friends, fans go and find. It's called the One Who Never Saw Friends. It's, oh wow. I think you can find it now online. It's in French. And it's a brilliant and hilarious short about these people on the day of their wedding when the groom discovers that the bride has never seen the show and, and, and everything falls apart in this crazy and epic way. So I, I hope to be working with her this year and great. So that those things are kind of hovering. And I'm, I have a children's book that's gonna get finished this year that I'll be self-publishing. So yeah, if you guys follow me at goldenbridgechoir.com I'll send out big mailings through my mailing list when those things happen. What else is going on? I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. It's all, it's all up in the air, Michael. That's the beauty of the creative life. That's, who's the hell knows what's

    Michael Jamin (51:36):

    Next. That's what it's like being an artist. Yeah, that's right. Thank you so much. This is this is, I dunno, this is, I I, this is an honor having you here and I thank you so much for coming.

    Maggie Wheeler (51:45):

    I am so honored to hang out with you and talk to you. You know, I love you so much and Yeah. I've, you know, I, Michael is one of the people. I mean now I'm talking to the audiences if you're not here, <laugh>. So you're one of the people who has given me work more than one time in this industry. Yeah. And I am tremendously grateful for those opportunities. Both of them were so much fun and they were such great opportunities for me. And I look back at them with incredible fondness and and I absolutely love the work that you're doing now and just seeing you on stage, reading your stories is so powerful and so emotional and so funny and brave. And I've said it all to you in private, but I'm saying it publicly. Yeah. thanks for having me.

    Michael Jamin (52:26):

    Thank you so much. Don't go anywhere cuz we wanna talk to you when we're doing this. All right, everyone, thank you so much for listening. Yeah. Again, you can follow me on social media @MichaelJaminWriter and what else? Oh yeah, free. Our, my free newsletter is at michaeljamin.com/watchlist. All right, everyone till the next episode. Thank you so much. And yeah, keep writing. Okay.

    Phil Hudson (52:48):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJamin,Writer. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhillAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

    52m | Jan 25, 2023
  • 064 - Comedian Taylor Williamson

    Taylor's Website: https://taylorwilliamson.com

    Taylor's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylorcomedy/

    Taylor on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2743976/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Taylor Williamson (00:00:00):

    They could have gone way harder on me. These real, these reality show contracts are insane. Like lawyers tell you, don't sign them like they have the rights to like, own your soul forever and things you make for the future and stuff. You can find the contracts online. It's really, really bad.

    Michael Jamin (00:00:13):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin.

    Hey everyone. It's Michael Jamin and you're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This. I got a special guest today. I always say that when I have a special guest, but this time we have a world famous comedian. And now what does comedians have to do with screenwriters? Well, comedy writing, it's a form, it's a form of writing. Taylor. So we're here with Taylor, Taylor Williamson, who was, let me get you, lemme make sure I get this right. You runner up on America's Got Talent. What, what, how long, what, what year was that? Because

    Taylor Williamson (00:00:48):

    We, we just say recently, fairly recently. Recently in the spectrum of time, you know,

    Michael Jamin (00:00:52):

    Yesterday. And the how I met you was because, so we've been friends Taylor, we've been friends for a long time, but which means I'm probably not gonna be as nice to you as on this podcast as if we weren't friends. So you're just be far warned.

    Taylor Williamson (00:01:08):


    Michael Jamin (00:01:09):


    Taylor Williamson (00:01:10):

    <Laugh>, you're not gonna be as ni you're gonna be less nice to me cause we're friends.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:14):

    Yeah, it's the chat. It's all cordial. You're on our podcast. So that's how, I mean, it's

    Taylor Williamson (00:01:18):

    Not cordial,

    Michael Jamin (00:01:20):

    But I wanna tell everyone how we met. So we, we met, I guess a few years back. It was, it was a w it was a little bit.

    Taylor Williamson (00:01:27):

    Sure, sure.

    Michael Jamin (00:01:28):

    And you had, you had just, I guess you had just won or, you know, runner up to America's Got Talent and comedian and you were, you were poppin. And so I don't remember exactly how, but you, our manager's teamed us up and you had an idea for a TV show based on your life. You were looking for writers. My partner and I met, we met our managers, teamed us up. We we met in kind of conversation. We liked what you had to say. And we thought, yeah, let's, let's try to develop a show and see if we can get it off the ground. And that's kind of how it works, is like, some people say like, well, I'm a comedian. Make a show about me. No, no, no. You don't understand. You were having this moment. You were, you know, you were, you were meaningful to the network because of your appearance on the, your, your success on that show. And that's how we went about it.

    Taylor Williamson (00:02:13):

    Right? No one else even wanted to meet with us. And then you guys seem so excited. I was like, are they playing a trick on us or are they terrible? <Laugh>, why? No, I'm, I'm have, I'm slightly, I mean, I'm joking about the mean part. Unlike you being serious about the mean part. Yeah, <laugh>, there was one other fancy showrunner guy who was attached, I think, while you were also attached. And I was confused. What was hap like, why we have,

    Michael Jamin (00:02:37):

    We, we couldn't have both been attached. That's not possible.

    Taylor Williamson (00:02:40):

    I don't know. There was a guy, I'm just, I'll, I mean, obviously I'll tell you, we, you already know this stuff from years ago just to remind you. But like, there was another like, executive producer guy who was attached and then you guys, when we met with you guys as well, and everyone was gonna be a part of it in different ways. And I guess you would've been the

    Michael Jamin (00:02:59):


    Taylor Williamson (00:03:00):

    I guess. But then I thought he was, I didn't, I don't know what's going on. I, you know, I'm the, I'm the dumb comedian who's just all these, these, these Jewish people are telling me what to do. And I'm Jewish, by the way. I don't wanna sound like the new Kanye West. I was making a, I was playing along with Kanye. Wait, I playing against You're Jewish. Can you say me Hebrew Happy Hanukkah <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin (00:03:20):

    Hebrew <laugh>. Dude, I wanna know, I wanna know. So Taylor's a, you know, com touring comedian. You work all the time. You tore the country. But I wanna know, I guess I wanna know how you broke into the business. Like how did you go from open mics to getting paid to do this?

    Taylor Williamson (00:03:38):

    We'll, we'll cut out the last 12 minutes. That I said so far, right?

    Michael Jamin (00:03:42):

    If you No, I, that's we're gonna lead with that. <Laugh>

    Taylor Williamson (00:03:45):

    <Laugh>. I feel like you have like real writers, those people that say, let me just say that. Well, are we just gonna talk more about that? I think that's interesting. We

    Michael Jamin (00:03:52):

    Could talk about anything you wanna talk about.

    Taylor Williamson (00:03:54):

    I don't mean I, like, I made jokey answers to whatever, but yeah, we, I, it was, I think it's important to share this stuff. And I, I came up, I had to show idea that I liked and then my, my friend is I'm taking over the show.

    Michael Jamin (00:04:08):

    No, no. Okay. I'll get back to what we have. We got some time to fill here, so we'll get back to my questions.

    Taylor Williamson (00:04:13):

    Well, so no, I'm taking over, I'm answering your question, buddy. Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:04:16):

    I know, but I was steering the conversation away from your answer.

    Taylor Williamson (00:04:19):

    So then Jillian Bell, who's a great comedian, actress, writer person and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, she was interested in the show and and then she wanted to produce the show. That's right. Signed. It's a fun facts show business. I used to be with the management company that, that she was with, and I was no longer with them. And I brought this idea to them and my reps were not enthusiastic about it. Yeah. But then, so I, and I stopped working with them, but then a year later, Jillian Bell was interested in the idea, same show, then me go into their office with Jillian and then they're like, Jillian, this is a great idea. <Laugh>, I'm like, the show. This

    Michael Jamin (00:04:55):

    Is funny. She, I totally forgot that she was involved in it, but that's an, but that's right. Cuz she brought another piece to the puzzle. It was like, yeah. And you did, which was like, it's all about how many pieces of this puzzle can you, like, how much more can you bring to the table? And her involvement, the fact that you had this other, you know, she was a, she's an actress, actor, producer she's trying to get into the producing field and that was another piece of the puzzle, which made it more meaningful. So that's how Yeah. You weren't just like some random dude, you know, you kind of put these pieces together.

    Taylor Williamson (00:05:24):

    Yeah. And then obvi, I mean, she helped tremendously and I wouldn't have gotten to you and Siever if if it was not for her. And then we met with you guys and it was such a joy and we could talk about it as much as you want. But but anyways, but how did I start comedy? I, I was 17. I was like, I got into STEM comedy in high school. I never liked comedy as a kid. I remember being at the airport and the, as a child and some guy was like, I'm a comedian. Ugh. And he is like so obnoxious. And I've always hated that kind of comedy. Like, people are like, look at me, I'm a comedian. I got some jokes. You know? So I think that that scarred me for life. So I was like, I don't like, and my brother liked comedy stand up comedy, so I said, I don't like stand up comedy cause like dumb sibling ri sibling rivalry stuff. And it makes no, I'm not proud of anything. So I'm saying I still stand by hating those obnoxious comedians who like, tell it when the com Hey, I'm a comedian, nice to meet you. Like, you know. Yeah. I don't need that. And then then,

    Michael Jamin (00:06:19):

    But that's funny cause I always say like, people who have to advertise that they're funny, <laugh> not be funny. You know what I'm saying? They have to put it on their business card, you know? Funny guy.

    Taylor Williamson (00:06:28):


    Michael Jamin (00:06:29):

    But, okay,

    Taylor Williamson (00:06:30):

    Go ahead. And for the record, I've been saying I'm not funny. This entire, I've this entire convers we believe, I believe you <laugh>. Fair. Good. I'm glad that's clear. Yeah. And then in high school I got into standup a lot as a being a fan of it. And then and then I'm from San Diego and rest in Peace. Her name is Sandy Seashore, Mitzi's daughter from the comedy store. Polly's sister had a comedy workshop in San Diego. And I'm, I'm 17. And I'm like, oh, that seems like a way to start, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I don't necessarily encourage comedy classes.

    Michael Jamin (00:07:08):

    Why not?

    Taylor Williamson (00:07:10):

    At first standup comedy, improv sketch. Yeah, standup fine. It helps you get your feet wet and you learn structure and stuff. But generally you're learn. I learned what not to do really. I don't, you kinda, there's

    Michael Jamin (00:07:24):

    No structure though. What do they teach you there? You get comfortable learn on the funny, on the funny word.

    Taylor Williamson (00:07:29):

    Yeah. It's just like helping dissect. I don't know. Everyone has, there's no curriculum for comedy classes, but I learned a lot of things, what not to do. And I watched things being rewarded. Everyone should be like, this is not what I want to do. This is not right. And you're in the class with a bunch of crazy people too, honestly. You know? And

    Michael Jamin (00:07:47):

    What kind of things do you learn that you, you're not supposed to

    Taylor Williamson (00:07:50):

    Do? I, as I was saying that I was like, that's gonna be a, a follow up question. I can't think of one, but like, rule of threes all this, I don't, I don't like the, I don't like these. It's just like, yes, those are things, right? But then also it doesn't have to be as such, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> I'm trying to think of like better examples of that. But here's the positive that I got out of it is if you're fat, talk about it. If you're skinny, talk about it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and the, this is what I got out of the class that's invaluable, is that everything I got picked on in school was things that were like my superpower as a comedian or a writer. So like, all the bullies were like, Hey, you talk weird or you walk weird or you're a dork. And I, and I, I was able to spin all of those into, I go on stage, hey, so I'm weird and I, I talk weird and I walk and then people are like, we like you. And it's just kind of a beautiful thing to do comedy writing. It's

    Michael Jamin (00:08:45):

    So funny. Yeah. This is what I say all the time to people, which is talk to talk about your vulnerabilities. That's what you want to talk about. And, you know, in screenwriting. But it's the same thing with standup. You know,

    Taylor Williamson (00:08:55):

    If that's, yeah. And I guess it's a standup that I, I, and I, I don't have better answers than this at the, off the top of my head cuz it was so long ago. But I remember like, it's like you learn to go like, oh, I'm half Jewish and I'm half Italians, so that means I like pizza that's on sale. You know? And then they go, right, great. Like, no thanks, come on. So it teaches you that kind of, but it, it does teach you what a joke is and it teaches you to get comfortable on stage and it teaches you what's out there. But I don't know, it can make a hacky hack comedian, you know?

    Michael Jamin (00:09:32):

    And then what came next? So it open mics after that you put together a five minute act or

    Taylor Williamson (00:09:36):

    Something. So I was k very tenacious and ridiculous. And I knew I was very, I did very, I was very good for my age. And this is also the time when not everyone's on Instagram and TikTok and all this stuff. So like, I was maybe one of the three 17 year old standup comedians out there, Uhhuh <affirmative>, like, you know what I mean? So I was probably the best music quotation of fingers. 17 year old com, I don't know. So I got all, I got attention and I was really good, especially in front of that supportive body. It's represented by their friends and stuff, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I didn't invite anybody, but like in that safe space, I, I don't know, I was very good at my age. I don't know, this probably sounds douchy, but, so I moved to LA to for college, but really for comedy. And it was very humbling doing an open mic that was not that safe space. And then the crowd wasn't so supportive. I'm like, what, what's wrong with you people? Oh wait, that's not real. This is real. You know? Yeah. But I got really good video footage, videotape, footage b you know, BCRs, those things. And who,

    Michael Jamin (00:10:42):

    Who brought the camera?

    Taylor Williamson (00:10:43):

    So the comedy workshop, you pay like four, 4 billion and then you get to do the eight weeks, then you get a tape at the end. So I got a killer tape. So I sent that to the, the producers of the Tonight Show, <laugh>. I sent it to the last comic standing producers. I sent it to Eddie Brill, who booked David Letterman. So like, I was 18, I was, gosh, was it before I was 18. And did

    Michael Jamin (00:11:08):

    They they write back? Yeah. Did they reach out? What'd

    Taylor Williamson (00:11:10):

    They say? Yeah. Every time.

    Michael Jamin (00:11:12):

    <Laugh>, what'd they

    Taylor Williamson (00:11:12):

    Say? These guys, every time I remember I never got, I don't believe I ever got them on the phone. Eddie Bri Letterman guy called me. I remember, I remember being in college 18 in the hallway. I had a voicemail from the booker for Letterman. Nowadays I would've recorded it and saved it. You know, this is like flip from time. So, and he was like, thanks for the tape. Funny jokes. Cause I remember reading somewhere that he responds to every bird, everyone who submits. And I remember he said, yeah, you can't do the AIDS joke on the show, <laugh> the aids. It was like, you g it wasn't a AIDS joke, but it was like, the joke was, I was trying to be Bitch Hedberg at the time, you know, like brilliant one-liner guy. I'll show me one of those guys. So like, I remember being like, all these people are walking for aids, so I'm against aids.


    I don't know. You know what I mean? Right. Some dumb joke like that. And he's like, you can't say that. You can't say that, but keep working at it. Whatever. And the Bob Reedit Tonight Show was so sweet and he seemed accessible to me cuz he was a judge on last comic standing, the first few, few seasons. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So he would send me the tape back, say, thanks for the tape, keep working at it. They would literally return this sender, but with a note and Thank you. And, and then the last time he called me or sent me like the third time, he was like, you don't have to keep sending me tapes <laugh>. But he is still supportive though. You know, like, it was like, Hey, you don't have to keep doing, it wasn't like, leave me alone. But like, it was like, I think, I think he called me to tell me to stop chill, chill a little bit, you know,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:39):

    Give some, give some time. But then like you would, do you know if other comics who do this, like reach out? Is that how you Well,

    Taylor Williamson (00:12:46):

    I think funny shows, I think crazy 40 year olds do it now. I think. Like, I was cute cause I was young. Oh, I, I can't imagine what their emails are like now. You know? Now it's much of insane. Not well,

    Michael Jamin (00:12:56):

    But you wouldn't, you don't know anybody. Like, you wouldn't do this to get booked on any of these shows. Now that's not, I

    Taylor Williamson (00:13:00):

    Mean, I mean now I, I do, but I know the people Uhhuh, <affirmative>, you know what I'm saying? Now I'm like, I've done all these things. Would you please take a look at my, I ha I nowadays, if I wanna get on like James Cordon and I have the guy's email and I make a five minute tape and I send them a nice email, hi, I'm Taylor, I've done these things. Or how you been? We had coffee one time, whatever. But I Does

    Michael Jamin (00:13:22):

    That work? Does that stuff work?

    Taylor Williamson (00:13:24):

    Yeah. I mean, I haven't been on James Cordon, so maybe not. But yeah, they, I mean, if you're professional in this business, like Uhhuh <affirmative>, I've a mistake that I've made, and I'm even sure my reps would agree, like, don't go through them for everything. Like I, I used to think you have to go through representation and get shit done. Can I curse on this show? Yeah. A a big mistake I made in this business is not using my personal relationships that I have and just reaching out myself.

    Michael Jamin (00:13:48):

    That's so, man, dude, it's so interesting. Cause I say the same exact things, but for screenwriter, like I say, people think that I get, I need an agent, I need a manager. Like, that's gonna change your life. And the truth is, it's not, you still gotta do 99% of the work yourself.

    Taylor Williamson (00:14:04):

    <Laugh>. I honest, I'm grateful to any of my reps who are listening to this. They're not listening. And I mean it sincerely, like I've been news for 19 years. So like, I have like old men wisdom, even though I'm not like a thousand years old yet. But like almost everything that I've gotten that was like monumental or big, big deal was without representation. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> like respect to them for making the deals way better than it would've been at them itself or to, to them for making something. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> taken to the next level. You know, that's their jobs. You know, I think most honest and classy agents and managers would agree that Yeah. Like they, they pour gasoline on fires, but you have to start the fire yourself. Yeah. And like, you gotta do it. And I thought it was unprofessional to reach out without them.


    Now do, like, I'm, I'm selling unscripted shows right now. That's kinda what I'm hustling on. And I just say, Hey, Jillian told me this, or her sister told me this. She was a producing partner who's brilliant too. Like, yeah. She just goes, Hey, I had a meeting with, I'm making up, I had a meeting with paramount today. Oh cool. How was it? You know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I, I call my agent agent and go, I said, I have these three pitch meetings today. Can you please reach out to some of these places I don't have? And sometimes I just go, can you gimme their email? Cause they have Rolodex.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:28):


    Taylor Williamson (00:15:29):

    Interesting. Do I sound like a crazy person right

    Michael Jamin (00:15:30):

    Now? No. And so you set up the meeting yourself? Is that what you're saying?

    Taylor Williamson (00:15:34):

    Honestly, I set up a, like I try to do it myself and then I reach out to them if I need help, even for comedy club bookings.

    Michael Jamin (00:15:40):

    Whoa. Let's talk about that. What do you mean for comedy book? So you have a, you don't have a separate booker for

    Taylor Williamson (00:15:45):

    Comedy clubs? I have a booking agent who's awesome and, but like, I just got a gig in Atlanta at the com, at the Punchline comedy club out there. And the guy texted me cause he knows me, right. I'm just long enough before I know the pe I know them. So I can just like some, some of these owners of comedy clubs, I can just text and say, Hey, I've done your, you know, I've done the club 10 times, you know? Mm-Hmm. So like, I've been there the 30 days of my life. I've hung out with these people. Hey, can I I'd love to come. I'd love to do a weekend with you guys. You have anything

    Michael Jamin (00:16:15):

    Coming up? Is that, and is that what you do? I mean, you'll fly to Atlanta and you'll do a couple of shows at this one club? Or do you go on tour? Like, do you go from Atlanta to the next city, whatever the next city, Raleigh. I mean, we used to, you might make a tour of it or do you just keep flying back and forth to la

    Taylor Williamson (00:16:30):

    That's kind of, a lot of people are doing that now. Like, I mean, that's always been kind of, if you're like gym Gaffigan level or like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, whatever. Like if you're a superstar, you're, you're doing like theater, theater, theater, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I'm still comedy club level guy. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So I do weekends. But a lot of these TikTok stars, like people who are getting like independently famous just from their social media, like yourself, honestly, they're, they're doing off nights at comedy clubs. So like, they're doing like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, they'll be in Cincinnati one night. They'll go to date in the next night. They'll go to Toledo the next night.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:08):

    Why Off nights though? What's that about?

    Taylor Williamson (00:17:10):

    Because the weekends are tradition. The business is changing so much. But in comedy clubs, the weekends are traditionally held for quote, established comedians. Uhhuh, the idea being that if some randoms walk in, they're gonna have a good time. Like, I'm Taylor, I'm a comedian, I've been on America Set Talent, I've done Economy Central, all these things. But like, if people just walking, cause they wanna see a comedy show, they're probably gonna be fine, you know? But like on a Tuesday they would book a TikTok dancer or they'll book someone who just got famous cuz they're really funny and people are connected to their jokes, but they haven't been around that much.

    Michael Jamin (00:17:52):

    But they can still put Get Asses and Cs.

    Taylor Williamson (00:17:55):

    Right. But also the other side of it, the business side of it too is if I do a weekend, I can get a guaranteed deal. Uhhuh. <affirmative>, that's enough for me to come out no matter what. If we sell lots of tickets or not, but the people going on a Tuesday, they could make more money than I if they sell every ticket. The venue is more willing to give up equity in ticket sales on an off night than on a weekend.

    Michael Jamin (00:18:18):

    And so what does equity ha like splitting the door?

    Taylor Williamson (00:18:20):

    Yeah. So like if, so a a comic who, if you can sell out 300, 400 seats or whatever the venue seats on a Tuesday night, you can say the venue give me 80% ticket sales, I'll, I'll fly on 80%. Yeah. Or more, you know, I'll come in on Wednesday, you get drink sales, I'll get the ticket sales And the clubs. Have

    Michael Jamin (00:18:40):

    These venues have 300 seats or is it some of

    Taylor Williamson (00:18:42):


    Michael Jamin (00:18:43):

    A lot? Or is that just like the number of shows? Because I thought they're like, I thought most of these clubs are smaller.

    Taylor Williamson (00:18:48):

    A lot of comedy clubs now are switching to bigger venues because they're trying to compete with theaters. Okay. Because thanks to Netflix and social media, comedians are selling more tickets than they've ever sold. Ever. Like, like there was just, there's a poll star that just came out. This is public information. Like Burt Chrysler made 25 million touring last year. This year.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:11):

    Like we almost, we almost did a show with Bert <laugh>. Yeah, we talked about it. Now he's 25 million. That's a lot of money. His house wasn't that nice. <Laugh>.

    Taylor Williamson (00:19:19):

    Well that no,

    Michael Jamin (00:19:20):

    It's wasn't 25 million.

    Taylor Williamson (00:19:22):

    Well now he has three houses. Neil Brennan just did a podcast with David Letterman bragging about how Burt er is killing it and let him in like was like laughing, rubbing his eyes like 25 million <laugh>. That's probably more, that's legit. Probably more than he made doing his show. Legit, you know, and

    Michael Jamin (00:19:39):

    Just touring.

    Taylor Williamson (00:19:40):

    Yeah, just touring. And I mean, to be fair, that's gross sales before commission, right? I mean, as we all know, like that's before 30, 30% commission. You know, you're aging 30% commission.

    Michael Jamin (00:19:50):


    Taylor Williamson (00:19:50):

    Man. Tour manager, lawyer, maybe no lawyer for touring

    Michael Jamin (00:19:54):

    Your tour manager. They take 10%.

    Taylor Williamson (00:19:57):

    I'm, I said business man. So your manager takes 10%, your agent takes 10%, your business manager takes 5%.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:04):

    Well you don't need a business manager, but you need touring manager.

    Taylor Williamson (00:20:08):

    I, so I don't know how he does tour manager. I'm just thinking like, normal manager. Wow,

    Michael Jamin (00:20:13):

    This is so interesting. I didn't know this talk was gonna be as interesting as it is.

    Taylor Williamson (00:20:16):

    Oh, you know what Mr. But last thing I say is Bert said on a podcast that he said that just talk to him. You actually, you don't have to talk to him. Just talk to me. I'll tell you about him. He said he wouldn't take a movie or TV show right now. The wildest thing to hear a comedian say I get it. But like that's so not how we all started. Because he's making so much touring and he has, he has gigs booked and he, his fans, he has such connection with his fans.

    Michael Jamin (00:20:40):

    That's so interesting. Cause I've never ied to develop a show and it was his idea. And then he kind of, I think he lost interest of his own idea probably because he is like, I don't need to do this. I can make more money on, on the road.

    Taylor Williamson (00:20:50):

    Wow. Yeah. And it just, the dream is just different now. Like I started in 2003 and like I, my dream at that time, I'm sure we talked about this during one of our writing sessions slash therapy sessions for me. Yeah. But like, I wanted to do like Timal and Drew Carey, Ray Romano, all that, that you become a really funny comedian. You work hard and then you pair up with brilliant comedy writer like yourself and then you get a sitcom. And that's not how it goes anymore. Most people don't want to bolt at Cam sitcom even like Yeah. You know what's kind of interesting too? My girlfriend is an actress, so she's brilliant and then comedian and all the things. She's absolutely brilliant. And she's Filipino and she's, I said to her like, I had all these people I wanted to be like, and I don't know what to do anymore. You know, one of those things. And she's like, that's cool that you had people that you watched on TV that you wanted, that had a blueprint for you. Cuz I never had that. I was able Oh,

    Michael Jamin (00:21:51):

    So you're saying because she's Phillips there weren't any role models for

    Taylor Williamson (00:21:53):

    Her. There was no like, oh, I wanna be like that. I wanna be like that. It was just kind of like rufi respect. But like the guy who played Rufio and Hook and Tia Carre Respect, you know, I think she's

    Michael Jamin (00:22:01):

    Yeah. Yeah. But

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:02):

    Like, yeah. It's just

    Michael Jamin (00:22:04):

    Interesting. But she's an actor comedian.

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:05):


    Michael Jamin (00:22:07):

    And does she, so she, do you, do you work a lot with her then?

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:11):

    We are pitch show together, actually, but no, no, she's not really standup. She's more of a Oh, she's a standup, but she's, she's an actor and stuff.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:17):

    So how did you meet her then?

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:19):

    We met doing standup like a million years ago. We, but we reconnected recently. Wow.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:25):

    Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. And so you, and so I, so when you, when you talk about reality show or or unscripted, what, like, what are you, you don't have to tell me your ideas, but is that your, for you to star in some kind of unscripted show that you're

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:37):

    Saying, yeah, please don't steal my ideas.

    Michael Jamin (00:22:39):

    I, you, I don't, I don't, I don't know anything about scripted. People ask me about scripted all the time. Like, I don't know how it

    Taylor Williamson (00:22:45):

    Works. I don't know how it works either, honestly. But it's what you said though. It's, you have an idea and then you get people, people go, I don't know. And then you get someone attached to people trust and they go, oh, that's a great idea. <Laugh>,


    You convinced the person who people res have, who has the equity in that field and status or whatever you wanna use whatever word you wanna use. And then and that's, that's what I've done. So like, I, the, the success I've had in unscripted TV is I had a travel show on Spike tv or a pilot a few years ago mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I knew this guy Tom Beers, who's like a genius. He's like a mad scientist for unscripted television. And he's, he's got a really inspiring story. Like he became a superstar, like in his fifties. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And like, he wasn't a millionaire to his fifties, but then he became like super millionaire. He created Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers and Oh and a Thousand Ways to Die in Storage Wars and stuff. And he won the Emmy every year for Deadliest Catch. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:23:42):

    I loved Deadliest Catch.

    Taylor Williamson (00:23:43):

    Yeah. And and so I, I knew him through cuz he was the c e O of Freemantle after he's sold his company to Freemantle, which produced a G T. So, and I had a holding deal with Freemantle and N B C. So I just reached out to him after I had some bummer business stuff happen. And I just reached out to him. Cause there was a nice guy who I know he saw me perform and he liked me and he was nice to me. And then and then he started his, I messaged him on Facebook. Like, I, like I don't have his phone number, you know? Right. And this is a few years ago. And then he, we met up and we brainstormed a lot and him and his partners and at his company and we got a pilot with Spike TV after. And it was like, this is like a two year process by the way. Like Yeah. It takes forever. It was a whole thing. And then you selling a pilot, I didn't get any money, you know what I mean? <Laugh>, I making a, I didn't get any money.

    Michael Jamin (00:24:41):

    Didn't make any, you didn't make any money at all. Went the budget of the show. Tell me what your, so tell me what a holding deal for the ever loved one. Listen, what exactly is a holding deal?

    Taylor Williamson (00:24:50):

    So I got the janky kind of holding deal you get nowadays, like I hear comedians from the nineties talk about their holding deals. They would get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to be exclusive to networks.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:03):

    Yeah. And never actually get anything made. But they would hear pitches or sometimes they would pitch. Right.

    Taylor Williamson (00:25:08):

    Yeah. So it's like you just, you they'd get pilots or they have shows built around. I mean, I'm telling you, I'm telling you know about the audience. You know, you tell the audience

    Michael Jamin (00:25:15):

    No, but you tell me what, what your, what your janky

    Taylor Williamson (00:25:17):

    Holding was. So I got the Janky Reality show holding deal where, and they didn't force it upon me. Like I was flat grateful for it, but I think it was $10,000. So from being America's Got Talent, they had the option, they could have gone way harder on me. These real, these reality show contracts are insane. Like lawyers tell you don't sign them. Like they have the rights to like own your soul forever and things you make for the future and stuff. You can find the contracts online, it's really, really bad. But they didn't

    Michael Jamin (00:25:44):

    You don't sign those, you don't sign those contracts

    Taylor Williamson (00:25:46):

    Or Well, I did it when I was a contestant cause I was desperate.

    Michael Jamin (00:25:50):

    Well, that, well that's another thing. Okay. So you did sign one of those contracts, the A G T, but they don't own you now?

    Taylor Williamson (00:25:55):

    No, no, no. And it was for a couple years. And it's confusing cause I was on the show last week, but the contract ended after a couple of years. It's confusing. But yeah, they

    Michael Jamin (00:26:04):

    They keep on calling you to back into,

    Taylor Williamson (00:26:07):

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So

    Michael Jamin (00:26:08):

    Heidi, I know Heidi loves you.

    Taylor Williamson (00:26:09):

    Yeah. she says hi by the way,

    Michael Jamin (00:26:13):

    <Laugh>. I know she does.

    Taylor Williamson (00:26:15):

    But so the, there's a contract that I signed that I'm sure is similar. It's probably worse now honestly. But they have the rights to like specials and ticket sales and all these things they could have claimed because like One Direction, Simon Cal owned one sixth of One Direction, I believe. Interesting. Cause they were an X Factor show.

    Michael Jamin (00:26:35):


    Taylor Williamson (00:26:36):

    Right. So he, he put them together and he owned them. So they, but they didn't take a penny from me. But the holding deal was, they had the option for a holding deal and I could have fought it and they, I don't think they would've enforced it upon me. Right, right. But and I heard that kids can get out of this stuff. The crazy, if you're under 18, you can just be like, I'm 16, leave me alone. Whatever you sign. I think there's a thing I heard that's if you're a teenager that wants to be in a reality show. But so I, I had like a $10,000 holding deal, which my reps thought it was a good idea to go with it because I would be touring so much that whole year and then we could develop something. It was the NBC and Fremantle. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. I was frustrated by it because I wasn't supposed to audition for things outside of that. So I felt restrained while it didn't go the way I hoped it would. But because Do you

    Michael Jamin (00:27:25):

    Do a lot of auditions for acting parts?

    Taylor Williamson (00:27:27):

    Not as much as I like, but I do. Oh really? Yeah. I just auditioned for Caribbean Enthusiasm and I was so excited cuz I've al I've never been able to get that even on audition. And that's my dream to be on that.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:36):

    And so was that for casting or did you go directly to Larry?

    Taylor Williamson (00:27:39):

    It's all online now. Oh. So from my understanding, when you audition for Kir, you go, you go to Larry. Like you're, you play, you play with him. Right. But Right. Even like my cousin's an actress, my girlfriend, like the most successful p people, it's still on tape.

    Michael Jamin (00:27:55):

    Yeah, right, right. I forgot about that. It's been so long.

    Taylor Williamson (00:27:58):

    <Laugh>. Yeah. But, but even, even like an improv. So, but I'm saying that even like an improv audition, which is curb. Yeah. Like you just ramble with your friend that you're filming it with.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:07):

    See that's, that's hard, especially for improv cuz your friend, you have to play with your friend. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Wow. And so, yeah. So, so how did you go from, I have so many questions, but how did you go from that first standup you're doing open mics to actually someone paying you?

    Taylor Williamson (00:28:24):

    I got my first paid gig about a year in like, I got a lot of, so I sent my tape to like, everyone you should never send your tape to like, like just cuz I had a, I was, I mean, looking back, I was very, if you go online you can find some clips. Thankfully that took out the problematic stuff. It was different time period. <Laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. But like, I'm not, but like but like I was very good for my age and like, so I sent my tape to people and then I got booked at the improv in Ontario when I was 18. That was my first paycheck.

    Michael Jamin (00:28:54):

    You to tape when you, okay, you say you're taped to Booker, to the owners of comedy

    Taylor Williamson (00:28:57):

    Stores. Man managers and agents. I contacted manager agency. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:29:01):

    But is that okay?

    Taylor Williamson (00:29:03):

    You should not do that. It's not the move to do. It's insanity. And it's a different time now where you don't need to

    Michael Jamin (00:29:08):

    Do that. So how would, so how would you, if you're trying to break in, so how, if you, how are you today? Go get, if you're doing open mics for, I don't know if you're ready after doing,

    Taylor Williamson (00:29:16):

    I can tell you exact what someone should do today. Yeah. To post their clips on in my day. You don't post your clips. I remember when I, when I, I was submitting for, I made a tape. I'm trying to remember exactly why I made a tape. I uploaded it to YouTube at private YouTube. I don't even think private was an option or I didn't know how to do it. I don't know. But I uploaded a clip on YouTube and this is 2007 mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And I wanted it anyway, I got on Craig Ferguson when I was 20 in 2007. And I rushed to get the tape off of YouTube. Cause I didn't wanna have my jokes on YouTube. Cuz the, the thought back then was, and I still did fix this in my, myself, my head. I, I started like two a couple years too early.


    Cuz the ti the, the business and rule the rules in our brain just changed so much. I don't know if you, if you, if you ever feel like that, but you, you're such an amazing job doing things the way you things are done now. But anyways, but we didn't want our ec clips online because we thought people are gonna come see us perform. They're gonna hear the jokes again. And comedy doesn't work the way music does. Where you want to hear the, the repeat of like, I could hear a Foo Fighters sing Everlong 12 times in a row. Be like, this is great. You know? Right. But stand up. You don't wanna hear the same joke 12 times, you know, so, but now, like, you want, you want your clips online and I struggle with that cause

    Michael Jamin (00:30:37):

    So Well why do you want your clips online? Do don't, I mean, don't you still feel like they don't want to hear your jokes again?

    Taylor Williamson (00:30:43):

    Yeah, but that's not, it's not how younger people are or anyone is. The consumers aren't like that now. I think they want,

    Michael Jamin (00:30:49):

    If you act online, will they go see it at a club even though they've already heard it? Yeah, they will. They will see it. They'll hear it

    Taylor Williamson (00:30:54):

    Twice. I don't think people hold on to joke memory like that.

    Michael Jamin (00:30:58):


    Taylor Williamson (00:30:58):

    Yeah. And, and enough people, I think the idea is that listen, say best case scenario, even if you're famous, 40% of the people saw that clip you posted. They bring a date, they bring their friends. Right. There's gonna be enough people laughing where everyone's okay and their friends says, I love that joke. Oh yeah, I saw 'em on Instagram. That's why people be excited that they knew about it. And now people are into like, I'm old and I always liked if music was on mtv, I liked it. But if they're indie, I didn't listen to it. Which is so stupid and ignorant and not thank God as an artist. Other people don't feel like that, you know. But like, people want him, people like loving some Instagram comic now. And like I have a buddy, Ralph Barbosa, he's a really special young comedian. He's like 26 or 27 out of Dallas. He's been posting clips on Instagram and TikTok. He went from like 4,000 followers in April to like 160,000. Now in December when we're taping this and on TikTok, he has way more,

    Michael Jamin (00:31:57):

    He's posting clips that he records at a club.

    Taylor Williamson (00:32:00):

    Yeah. He's po he's selling out more tickets than like, I think than I sold. I don't know, I don't know all his numbers, but I think he's selling you more than I sold after being on America's Got Talent for a Year. You know what I'm saying? Interesting. He just sold out eight shows at the Hollywood Improv in, in February.

    Michael Jamin (00:32:19):

    And how many seats is that?

    Taylor Williamson (00:32:21):

    I don't know. 200 something really. But he sold them out months in, in advance. It's wild. It's wild. It's wild. And they gave him the Wednesday night cuz he's a young comic who's new and whatever. Then they gave him a slate, show ends it, then they gave him a Tuesday, they gave him LA show Tuesday. Then they're like, okay, you want the whole week <laugh>. I haven't seen that since. Wow. Maybe Joe Coy or Gabriel Glacia. You know, that's

    Michael Jamin (00:32:43):

    So interesting because, because you really are, you're, it's hard to get people outta their house on a week weekend, a weeknight. And yet they'll come out to see

    Taylor Williamson (00:32:50):

    Him. I commented on one of his posts, he's this kid open for me. He's like my little opener. I say Little is younger than me, like, but like, he's like, he's a kid who, when I went to Dallas, he'd be like, can I open for you again? And like, you have any other gigs? And I'm like, you know what? He's funny. He's nice. I would take him to lunch and like, I treated him the way I wish people would've treated me when I was that age, you know, and younger or whatever. And and some people did. And it meant a lot to me, you know? And like I knew he's special. I knew he is gonna do something, but how do you know he's gonna be like in two years? You know? Wow. And but he opened, he was my opener in Dallas like seven months ago. And now he's like, he's gonna be in la I'm like, can I, can I open for you on your shows

    Michael Jamin (00:33:33):

    <Laugh>? Is

    Taylor Williamson (00:33:33):

    That right? No joke. You know. Wow. Like, and and I'm actually coming, I'm working on a, what's kind of special too is like me and Chip Pope, you know our friendship. Yeah, yeah. We, we were, I said to Chip cuz I, I talked to my friend who was producing a thing for Netflix, like a new faces type thing for standups in like February. And I was like, you gotta get this guy Ralph and audition. And so we came out for that and I was like, Ralph is so special, we gotta come up with an A show for him. And like, so we've been talking about it for a while and now serendipitously he's become like this little superstar. He's in Dallas and he's, he got represent, he's got the biggest agent and biggest manager. He didn't have to move to la he didn't have to move to New York.


    He's staying in Dallas. It's, I'm posting on social media being funny and working hard. He was seen the, the Alleg. So anyways, but so we're, we're working on a show with him now, which I'm really excited about a scripted show. And wow. But the last thing I'll say on that is the confusing thing for me is it used to be you tap dance for like a, a, a gatekeeper. Like trying to get some kind of producer to like, I hope they were your email, they booked me or whatever, whatever. Now you're, you're trying to make an algorithm like you

    Michael Jamin (00:34:44):

    Well, but I, but I think it's more about, cuz I say something like this as well as people are saying, well how do I break into Hollywood? How will you read my script? Will, like how do I get a manager or agent? It's like, dude, all of this stuff you could do on your own. Yeah. You, you don't have to beg for permission. You just do it. Yeah. They do it and make it great and people will come to you.

    Michael Jamin (00:35:07):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    Taylor Williamson (00:35:31):

    You know what's funny? It, it sounds k like easy for you to say or it sounds kind of like, like bullshit advice on mm-hmm. <Affirmative> at first. Like, like how I used to, I remember they, how do, like an agent will they find you? How do they find you will get it seen by them? Well, we gotta get booked. It, it was just like, but what comes first? Chicken and their egg kind of thing. Whatever. And what you just said sounds the same, but now is like, someone's been around a long time. You're right. And it sounds not fair and it sounds ridiculous. I'm seeing it all day and like, can I tell you my agent, I, I'm with a great agent at a great agency and like they rep Dave Chappelle and stuff. He's not, I, I don't think I'm speaking out of turn for, I don't know. But like, I mean, he would come on and say the same thing. He would say, it's the somebody he told me a few months ago, if you're on tonight's show, it's not going to, it's not what it used to be. Right. My, I he didn't say this, I'm saying this, but I bet my agent would rather represent somebody who has a million Instagram followers than someone who was just on this Tonight show.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:32):


    Taylor Williamson (00:36:33):

    And has no followers and but has potential and like they, you something special. It's not the current, it's a more valuable currency to have a big social media following than to have been on Jimmy Fallon.

    Michael Jamin (00:36:46):

    Interesting man. It's changing so much. It's, but see, to me, I, I would think that gives people hope because it's like you, you're more in control of your destiny than you think you are. You meets empowering, you know,

    Taylor Williamson (00:36:59):

    It's, to me, it's stressful for me. It's stressful because like, I was like climbing this ladder for so many years and then the the then like game changed. Everyone's on this other ladder. I'm like, what about this one? But this one, everyone's like, Hey, have fun over there, but we're over here. So beat them or beat them or join them. What is it? Join them or, I

    Michael Jamin (00:37:16):

    Don't know. Well, what is your, like what, what is your goal? What at this point you're traveling, you work all the time, every you work every week that you wanna work.

    Taylor Williamson (00:37:25):

    Yeah. You know, it's confusing coming outta Covid. It's confusing. I've had, I had like some almost things that went to shit cuz of Covid. I had like a thing that was supposed to happen. Like I was gonna start working for Fox. I always liked wrestling. You know, we talked about that and like, yeah. And I was gonna start being a correspondent on Fox primetime being like a daily show type correspondent. But for wrestling stuff, like talking to fans and wrestlers and celebrities and like that kind of thing. So I was gonna be on Saturday night primetime Fox WrestleMania 2020. And like, and then if that went well, it'd be, I'd be on the weekly Fox Sports show after that.

    Michael Jamin (00:37:59):

    But why is that? Why

    Taylor Williamson (00:38:01):

    Is that Covid Covid shut down Covid? No, no audiences, you know, so then, right, that was on Fox. And then since, by the time then Fox canceled the show I was gonna be on before Covid stopped being closing down everything. And then by the time fans came back last year, w b kind of transitioned to n b nbc. So Fox is kind of like, we're not gonna keep making this kind of stuff cuz you're with

    Michael Jamin (00:38:26):

    Nbc. Well, why do you care? The, because is it more about the exposure about the moneys about the lifestyle or, you know, cause that's, it would've Fox comedy,

    Taylor Williamson (00:38:33):

    But I would've gotten to be a, a comedian. I would've gotten to be Taylor being silly. I wouldn't be work. That wasn't a job working for ww it would've been a job with Fox Uhhuh <affirmative>. So I would've been same as Frank Callo and Rob Riggle do for NFL's Sunday, you know.

    Michael Jamin (00:38:48):

    Oh, I didn't know that. Frank Callo is

    Taylor Williamson (00:38:49):

    That? Yeah, he's, I mean, Frank's been doing that for a year, for 15 years, probably. Like, oh, John Madden impression got like, blew him up. Yeah. That's probably, that's probably bigger for him than Matt TV maybe.

    Michael Jamin (00:38:59):

    Right? That

    Taylor Williamson (00:39:00):

    Sounds interesting. So, so that would've been a thing that led to more hosting opportunities and just like, I'm so grateful for America's Got Talent, but my struggle has been I, I'm always confused on these things. Am I supposed to talk about how great I am and how great perfect things.

    Michael Jamin (00:39:14):

    We, we talked, we're honest here on this podcast,

    Taylor Williamson (00:39:17):

    <Laugh>. Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I think, I think it's important to share stuff. And that's a, that's honestly another confusing thing in this business too, is it used to be, I remember talking to Tommy John again about this. Do you know Tommy?

    Michael Jamin (00:39:28):


    Taylor Williamson (00:39:29):

    He's a brilliant standup who's just become a superstar TV writer, producer, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And but he's like this killer stand up. And but I remember talking to him, we did Last Comic Standing in TW 2010, and I remember him saying, I don't respond to fan mail. You gotta pretend Brian Regan doesn't turn to fan mail. You gotta be like, you're Mick Jagger. You know, you gotta make the crowd think that you're famous. Like that's the, that's the attitude that people had. You know, like,

    Michael Jamin (00:39:54):

    But now it's not that.

    Taylor Williamson (00:39:55):

    Now it's like if you don't return an email, like, or a DM or don't resp, people think you're a jerk sometimes, you know? Is

    Michael Jamin (00:40:01):

    That right? You're supposed to respond.

    Taylor Williamson (00:40:03):

    It's confusing, especially during Covid, everyone's doing Instagram lives and interacting and stuff and like mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, I don't know. I I need you. I don't know, people, people wanna be friends with you now or feel like they're friends with you. Yeah. I don't know if there's a point to this, but oh yeah. So now, but then now also people want to hear artists be vulnerable and talk about like, yeah, things are hard right now. Like yeah, like Covid shut down my career. I couldn't work for a year. Like, right. Some people, I don't know. They, they leaned into the TikTok and all that stuff. And for me, that wasn't healthy for me, for my brain to just go hard on that. And, but anyways, it is a confusing business and but I have a lot of cool things going on too, and a lot of potential things. And

    Michael Jamin (00:40:48):

    So why did you, because you're from San Diego, so why did you move to LA then for that reason to be more connected to other opportunities?

    Taylor Williamson (00:40:55):

    I moved when I was 18 and I had to go to college. Oh. And I got into Cal State Northridge one of the greatest schools in the country. It's like Harvard. It's like Harvard and Harvard

    Michael Jamin (00:41:05):

    On the highway.

    Taylor Williamson (00:41:07):


    Michael Jamin (00:41:08):


    Taylor Williamson (00:41:08):

    Is that what they call it?

    Michael Jamin (00:41:10):

    <Laugh>? Maybe. I, they call the school that they don't call that

    Taylor Williamson (00:41:13):

    I've never heard of. That's funny. But yeah. So I got, but it was my excuse to move to LA and I, I wanted to be, well, I thought that the owner of the comedy store's daughter likes me. I thought I was gonna be like, I was so a little bit too tenacious, like cringeworthy going for it, you know, like I remember calling the comedy store saying, I took Sandy's comedy workshop. <Laugh>

    Michael Jamin (00:41:33):


    Taylor Williamson (00:41:34):

    Yeah. And you get it. But just knowing,

    Michael Jamin (00:41:35):

    But you're a kid.

    Taylor Williamson (00:41:36):

    I'm a kid. But like, just knowing who is answering out the fucking bitter door like phone guy, like, yeah, thanks buddy. You know what I mean? Like, they were nice to me. Actually, I remember I talked to the guy who, I think it was Duncan Trussel, who's a great comic. I think he was the talent booker at the time. Anyways. But I moved to LA and then I went to New York for a couple years. But now you don't have to live anywhere really. It's really Right. My, my girlfriend's an actress. She's living in Atlanta now. And she's on big shows. She's on huge shows. But like, that's where you don't because they they film in Atlanta. Right. You don't have to, you don't have to. It's really weird cuz everything I've <laugh>, I'm talking like I'm 70, but like everything, the rules, it's completely like, like, like an, it's like a, like an earthquake and everything is all different now.

    Michael Jamin (00:42:27):

    Yeah, no,

    Taylor Williamson (00:42:28):

    I can, and it's not bad at all. It's, it's good in many ways, but it's confusing for like an old man like me. Like, wait, this is how it is. This must be how racist people feel. You know, like, yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:39):


    Taylor Williamson (00:42:39):

    We like diverse, we like minorities. Now what?

    Michael Jamin (00:42:44):

    But what I want have other things. I wanna men get to you cuz I, you know, so much to,

    Taylor Williamson (00:42:49):

    I don't sound sad, do I? I'm, I I think it's information to share with a fellow artist,

    Michael Jamin (00:42:54):

    Listeners. I, I think this is super interesting. Maybe I, I love this conversation.

    Taylor Williamson (00:42:58):

    I got a puppy for the people watching. It was a cute puppy.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:00):

    I don't think that's a dog though,

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:02):


    Michael Jamin (00:43:03):

    How dare you?

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:04):

    I enjoy your humor most of the time. But when you talk about the love of my life is beautiful. She's Jewish by the way. She says happy Hanukkah. What

    Michael Jamin (00:43:12):

    Is your name again? Your dog?

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:13):

    This is Betty.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:14):

    Betty. I didn't know that. I didn't know that was her name.

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:17):


    Michael Jamin (00:43:18):

    You don't know why is she squint? Why is she why is she squinting like that? Why is she eye fucking me like that

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:22):

    Sir? How dare you? She's, she's falling asleep cuz she's comfortable looking in your eyes.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:28):

    Oh, she's, ah, she's in transplant my eyes. I wanna talk because I wanna talk about how you transitioned from writing just jokes. Like you're saying you wanna be like, do a Mitch Headberg head.

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:38):

    Oh, that transition.

    Michael Jamin (00:43:39):

    Yes. But then not the other one. Not the yeah, not the other one, but you kind of, how you found your voice.

    Taylor Williamson (00:43:46):

    Yeah. That's one of those other things that people go, like, when people say how long does it take? There's no rules, but like how long does it takes you to find your voice? I think Pan, I could be making up a complete story, but I feel like he said it took 20 years for him to become like, to really find his thing, whatever, while people say 10 years, whatever, there's no rules for anything. Like you could have a car that's 10 years old, but you can drive it three times. That's not the same as someone who does 500 shows a year and hustles whatever. But like, and some people have, we've all, I started comedy when I was 17 and I was, wasn't a full human. So like I, I didn't know have things to ex life experience to talk about things. Everyone's and everyone's lives are different.


    Whatever. There's people who start, there's this special guy who's he just passed away, but he was in his eighties shoot, I'm gonna find his name before we hang up on this cuz he's so special. He is worth mentioning. But he was 80 in his eighties doing standup comedy and he started, and he had all this to talk about and it was really cool. And I'm gonna talk to you while looking his name, but how did I find my voice? Is that the question? Yeah, yeah. I dunno. You just live your life and you keep doing it. And like the, my favorite compliment I get, and the first time I got this was really made me happy. Someone said, you're the same onstage as offstage. Like, well,

    Michael Jamin (00:45:02):

    But I would say though, from watching you, I would say you're onstage, you're 10% more than

    Taylor Williamson (00:45:07):

    Yes, you are off stage. I mean, the way you're,


    You're an observant Jewish comedy writer. So you can see, you can see that. Yeah. Ideally it's you with the volume turned up, you know? Right, right. So yeah, like, but I used to be, if someone's bored and wants to see it, like my first Craig Ferguson appearances on YouTube. So if you'd having Taylor Williamson, Craig Ferguson in 2007, I tried not to smile. That was my shtick. And like, that's the problem, like, cool problem. Like, it's not good or bad, but being seen early, you're being seen while before you know who you are. But then, as you know, as a writer or artist, this is always so frustrating to me. But now I try to look, I I have to remind myself that it's a positive thing. This is what, this is what I got from the comedy workshop. Sandy Shore said to me, rest in peace, Sandy.


    She said, after my set, I destroyed my, my first set I demolished like, like it was ridiculous. But I'm saying that not to practice sound like an asshole. But my point being, it went so well. And then I walked up stage and she said to me, in six months, you'll be embarrassed by that. And I was like, fuck you lady. That's my head in my head, you know? Right. I didn't know what she's talking about, but I've learned, and I still feel like that when I listen to a tape of my, I record all my stats on the audio. I look, I, if I listen to some of them from a year ago, I used to go, Ooh. But that's good. That means you're getting better. You know, you're

    Michael Jamin (00:46:28):

    Growing. How often, how do, how often do you write new material and how do you go about writing the material?

    Taylor Williamson (00:46:34):

    I used to be really good writer, like writing every day and all that stuff. And then cause I'm more, I really see myself as a joke teller, you know? And oh, by the way, answer your question is, you'll see how I evolve the second time's on Craig first, and I'm smile. I'm trying to smile, I'm trying on purpose to smile, and then I still remind myself to smile on stage. Right. And I remind Why

    Michael Jamin (00:46:56):

    Do you feel like you have to, why do you feel like you're not smiling?

    Taylor Williamson (00:46:59):

    By the way, Marty Ross is the guy in his eighties who's really special. Look up m a r t y, Marty Ross. He's an 80 year old comedian. Anyways. But and and I, I think it's my, I was always just appalled by, I had such extreme judgment for comedians who walk on stage, like, whoa, I'm a comedian. You know? Like, I love Robin William. Like, like I love the legendary guys like that. But like, like I would do open mics and I would watch a guy go on stage and just b like give it his all. And there's two people in the crowd. And like, it just made me so uncomfortable. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, this is clearly my problem, not theirs, you know? But I think I have a, I don't know, I, one of my struggles as a performer is I, I don't know, I don't know how to articulate it. Like, I feed off the audience. Like, if the audience likes me, I work harder and I do better. Yeah. But if they don't like me, I kind of have like a Fuck you. I don't, I don't care. You know? Right. well,

    Michael Jamin (00:47:57):

    How do you go about writing your material then?

    Taylor Williamson (00:47:59):

    Yeah. I don't, I, I've gone kind of lazy lately in the last 15 years, <laugh>. But like, I kind of work out on stage. I have ideas. I mean, it used to be even beginning of my lazy face, Twitter, remember Twitter used to be for jokes and stuff. Yeah. I was just like, oh, that tweet did good. I'm gonna try to turn that into a bit. But the problem with tweets, from my experience, for me, it was more premises than punchlines. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, like, I remember I had some joke, some tweet, they got a lot of traction. I forgot what it was, but something about like,


    This cop keeps following me. He must really like me. Or I don't know what the joke was, whatever. But I remember just saying it on stage and it bombed. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But I re I realized, oh, it's a premise. Right. It's not the funny part. Right. So that was confusing to me. But now I, I write ideas in my notepad just randomly. Then I go on stage and I fuck around and I kind of sandwich new ideas between between jokes that work already. So I have a, I go, I have a good opener. I open strong and then I might do two, two jokes. I know work, and then I'll just ramble on something new. Cause I'm also trying to become less jokey. I'm trying to become story storyteller guy, which is very, very terrifying to me. And I still haven't figured it out.

    Michael Jamin (00:49:18):

    That's interesting. So, because you don't wanna just constantly be testing out material because you wanna people, you also wanna show people your best stuff cuz

    Taylor Williamson (00:49:26):

    The Yeah. Like when people comes, and that's something I, I blows me away that like, there's comedians that don't do, like I work out the comedy store in LA mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and like, we still have to bring it. Like, you can't go, it's not open mic night for me, but it is for, I don't know, George Wallace if he comes in, you know what I mean? Like it can be, but he's still gonna be funny cuz he's George Wallace, you know, but who I don't, I think I've seen there once in my life. I don't know why I'm using his name because I don't think he was gonna la but like but there's like, in LA you work out and then when, when I go on the road mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's 93% ready to go. Right. And if the crowd's with me, I mean, I'll, I'll do something else. But I think as you get better and do this long, you don't bomb anymore.

    Michael Jamin (00:50:13):


    Taylor Williamson (00:50:14):

    You kind of know how to, like, I know how to recover from a joke not working. Like I, I can bomb have a joke bomb, and then I can say something and then the crowd's with me and then I can move on. Like, like it never happened, you know? Right, right. Like, I don't let it, it destroy me or the performance.

    Michael Jamin (00:50:28):

    Yeah. I remember we, we saw you. I don't remember where we but club we saw you at, but

    Taylor Williamson (00:50:32):

    You probably the improv,

    Michael Jamin (00:50:34):

    I always forget. No, no, that's not Melrose. I don't think, I don't think it was that one. I thought it was like, maybe the comedy story. Is that possible? Or

    Taylor Williamson (00:50:41):


    Michael Jamin (00:50:43):

    But you were so comfortable on stage, it really was like, wow, this guy's really, he knows what he's doing, you know? Oh, thanks man. Yeah. You really knew what you were doing. You were very Yeah, I, I, I know Steve. I felt the same way. I was like, wow, this guy's tight. You know?

    Taylor Williamson (00:50:56):

    Oh, hey, thanks. No, I was always so excited to work with you guys. Like, you guys are my kind of people just like smart comedy writers. Like, it's still my favorite style of comedy jokes. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> just like, like,

    Michael Jamin (00:51:08):

    Well why do you wanna get into a storytelling? Cause that, that's so interesting to me that you wanna

    Taylor Williamson (00:51:12):

    Do that. I've wanted to figure it out for a while cuz one of my problems is, or my, I'm jealous. Like if Louis CK has a new joke mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:19):


    Taylor Williamson (00:51:20):

    He's seven minutes.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:21):


    Taylor Williamson (00:51:22):

    If I have a new joke, it's 12 seconds. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:24):

    Right, right.

    Taylor Williamson (00:51:25):

    And, but my joke will hit hard. Like, Dan Minz is one of my favorites. You know Dan Minz? No, he's a great standup, brilliant standup, but he's Tina on Bob's burgers, but he's also like a brilliant co TV writer and producer and stuff.

    Michael Jamin (00:51:37):


    Taylor Williamson (00:51:38):

    Best jokes you'll ever hear, like, so good. But like I heard Seinfeld and Tom Papa talking about this. But like, people don't, in general, the masses don't want jokes in, they don't wanna watch Rodney Dangerfield. They don't wanna watch someone go on stage and just talk about stupid things that aren't real. Like the mince goes on stage. So he'll talk about his girlfriend then he'll say, my wife just died. Then he'll say like, I'm single <laugh>, but it's just sick. It's so funny. Just, you'll just hear great jokes that make No, there's no, it's, it's, but I, people

    Michael Jamin (00:52:10):

    Don't, that's so interesting because I feel that, go ahead.

    Taylor Williamson (00:52:12):

    I'm, I'm sorry. But pe people just want to, people want to hear you talk. You know what my cousin said to me? And he's really smart, funny guy. And like he's talking, he's like goofing with me, but serious. He's like, Taylor, once you start being a real comedian, you're gonna become so famous. And what he's, what he meant by that is like, so my parents got divorced and I have mental illness in my family and I don't just people who just talk about their tragedies, their STDs, their fucking, all this shit that you quote private stuff. I don't, you know what I'm trying to say? Yeah. People want to hear that stuff. And the comedians who are blowing up and selling 15,000 seats, which never existed before, podcasts and Netflix with, with within re with, with a few exceptions, they're all talking about vulnerable stuff that, oh my gosh. I truly don't even wanna talk about. But it makes people happy and feel seen and

    Michael Jamin (00:53:11):


    Taylor Williamson (00:53:12):

    And they feel connected and that's what people want. And so I don't have to do that. But it's interesting to me and like, I'm, I'm a unfortunately, but fortunately for our, I have a lot of fucked up shit in my family and my life and stuff. So I feel like it's, it is worth exploring, but it is like, I feel like I'm at open mic ni 91 when I start talking about something real.

    Michael Jamin (00:53:38):

    But you see, when I, you know, I, I, I did stand up in college and I moved out here, I did for 10 minutes and then I was like, I just wanna be a comedy writer. But, so I've always loved standup, but to me it always felt like it, it still feels like empty calories and it's the real, the meaty stuff, the emotional stuff, the personal stuff. I was like, that's, you know, that's, that's what I feed on. Like, that's why it's so interesting to me, you know?

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:01):

    Yeah. Yeah. Like, I mean

    Michael Jamin (00:54:06):

    That's, that's the storytelling,

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:08):

    Right? And and, and that's what you're up to now, right?

    Michael Jamin (00:54:10):

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:11):

    That's so cool, man. I gotta come to your show. I really want to see You have multiple shows, right?

    Michael Jamin (00:54:17):

    We did. I did, we did eight shows in LA then two in Boston, and then we'll start touring a little more soon when the book is out.

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:25):

    But it's, it's, I saw you posting of different themes. Yeah. That's insane.

    Michael Jamin (00:54:31):

    Yeah. Yeah, it is. It's long. I wanna talk to you more about it off the air after

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:34):

    When we're done. Yeah. I don't wanna talk to you. I don't wanna talk to you off the

    Michael Jamin (00:54:36):

    Air. Oh, what you're gonna have to <laugh>. So, cuz I want more, I want more your your opinion on stuff, but yeah, that's what I'm doing. And yeah, it's just, it's so interesting.

    Taylor Williamson (00:54:46):

    So for example, by the way, like someone like yourself, like you're not, you're so acclaimed as a TV writer and all this, but you're not known at all to comedy clubs as a standup. But you're somebody, yeah. Okay, that's fine. But you're somebody that you could hit up a comedy club and say, I could sell 200 tickets or 150 tickets in Baltimore. I give me 80%. Here's

    Michael Jamin (00:55:10):

    The thing though, detail. I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't think I want to. The minute you go to a comedy club, people are okay, we're gonna heckle this guy. Whereas you go to a theater, it's a totally different experience. You

    Taylor Williamson (00:55:21):

    Know? No comedians don't wanna be in comedy clubs either. That's, that's why comedy clubs are turning into like, like they're some of are in clus with comedy clubs anymore. They're trying to be like performing arts performance arts center kind of thing. Trying to make a classier and bring people back to, to comedy clubs.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:35):

    That's interesting. But they're still serving alcohol. Right. And they're still having, and people are still heckling. Right.

    Taylor Williamson (00:55:41):

    And you know, the problem with social media that is driving me crazy and I sound like an old bitter scrooge again, people are blowing up by filming them. Their heckler comedian destroys heckler. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:55:55):


    Taylor Williamson (00:55:55):

    I'm, every time I see one of those, I'm like, what the fuck are you doing? Why? You're encouraging hecklers. So comedians are going on stage and they're f cause you one, you don't wanna give away your material for reasons we talked about. Yes. It's good if your joke blows up, but you'd also prefer not to post your joke. So you're people posting the improv moments between their jokes, which isn't comedy. I mean it's fun. It's fun. I get it. It's fun and it's spontaneous, whatever. But now people are heckling more and people getting attack on stage. Yeah. Are they? Yes. Yes. And they're getting, people are getting attacked on stage more cause people are filming it and posting it and like, there's, I mean, God bless her and I don't know her and I'm not blaming her and why not do so if this happened? So zero much respect to her. But like she got on Jimmy Kimmel cuz someone threw a beer at her and then she, she tried saw

    Michael Jamin (00:56:44):

    That and and she handled it well.

    Taylor Williamson (00:56:45):

    Yeah, yeah. Handle, I didn't see, I'm, I'm very ha I don't, I'm being much respect, but it's like, that's how you get on TV now. Yeah. So now you are hoping you get heckled or have a glass. I got, I had someone throw a glass at me, but once, but I didn't film it.

    Michael Jamin (00:56:58):

    <Laugh> it was worthless. Yeah.

    Taylor Williamson (00:57:01):

    But like, we've all had that kind of stuff. But like, I think it's lowering the art form and it's also making it more dangerous artistically and physically. So I do obviously like theaters are classy and the better thing about a theater crowd, a hundred percent of people came to see you. Right. There's not gonna be a bachelorette party or a birthday party or people are Yes. Wait, why aren't you fun here? Why are you being emotional? Right. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:22):

    Right. Because people have asked me, will we perform your my club, my co No, I'm not gonna perform in your comedy club. I don't, that's not, it's the wrong crowd. No.

    Taylor Williamson (00:57:29):


    Michael Jamin (00:57:31):


    Taylor Williamson (00:57:31):

    Although, can't tell you, I just, I just did a private party the other night. Yeah. The best gig of my entire life.

    Michael Jamin (00:57:37):


    Taylor Williamson (00:57:38):

    Financially <laugh> Uhhuh and like, and I, I opened for this famous, I don't know if I should say, I don't know. I'm trying to be respectful. Sure. But I opened for like a really famous SNL guy at some in San Diego at someone's Christmas party. And like, they're all just in, I didn't know I thought it was a business. Cause I do private events of businesses, but I showed up and it was like someone's house and I was like, what it was, and they're all wearing onesies and stuff. There was a bunch of rich people. Yeah. And like, they paid the best paid gig of my entire life to open for somebody. I can't imagine how much he got. I'm just like, this is what it's all about. Yeah. Fuck. I'm trying to sell out big theaters and all this stuff. Just rich people who own McDonald's. If you guys wanna, if you guys wanna have me come before for your Christmas parties, I'm available. That's my new Yeah,

    Michael Jamin (00:58:23):

    Me too. Do you wanna book both of us? <Laugh> Rich? Any rich people listening to my podcast?

    Taylor Williamson (00:58:29):

    No, dude, it is why I even when I was like, like I'm proud of where I, what I'm doing and stuff, but like my status after American of Talent was, I, it was boy bigger than it is now. Just how it goes. You know? And like I never got, I got twice as much as I ever got for events back then.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:47):

    Oh really? Yeah. So your, so your, your rate has actually gone down since then because your

    Taylor Williamson (00:58:51):

    No, my rate, I'm saying my rate doubled.

    Michael Jamin (00:58:53):

    You wait. After American got Talent, it doubled and it's still where it

    Taylor Williamson (00:58:57):

    Is. No, I'm saying, I'm saying my rate <laugh>, I got this venue, this, these people paid me twice as much as I've ever been paid when I was blowing up.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:09):

    Okay. no. Okay. You're referring to it today. I see you're the, the show you just

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:12):

    Did. The point is that I have a good agent,

    Michael Jamin (00:59:16):

    <Laugh>. That was never the point. <Laugh>.

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:18):

    The point is, I'm, I'm rich until my air con I have to pay off my broken air conditioning

    Michael Jamin (00:59:23):

    Unit. <Laugh>,

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:24):

    Being an adult is crazy. Like, I literally just made a bunch of money and my, my air conditioner broke and that's 10,000. It's probably $9,000. I live in a townhouse.

    Michael Jamin (00:59:34):

    Oh, you own a tent house. Oh.

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:36):

    And I own my, I townhouse and they have to get a crane and put on the roof and all this stuff and

    Michael Jamin (00:59:41):

    Oh, aw, that sucks. That

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:44):

    Sucks. But being adult's terrible. I don't kid, I got a dog, but like,

    Michael Jamin (00:59:48):

    That's a dog.

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:50):

    Sir, this is

    Michael Jamin (00:59:51):


    Taylor Williamson (00:59:52):

    What is wrong? Do you not have love in your heart?

    Michael Jamin (00:59:54):

    No. No. I, I had a dog. She was a golden retriever, so I know what a dog looks like. That's all I'm saying.

    Taylor Williamson (00:59:59):

    This is, you're this is a hate crime. This my dog's Jewish and this is offensive.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:04):

    Well, I'm just saying it's you know, let me see the purse that you carry her in <laugh>.

    Taylor Williamson (01:00:09):

    I carry her in a backpack. I've been encouraged. I I've been encouraged to get one of those doggy Bjorn. I did it for like a day and I was like, I can't, I can't, doesn't

    Michael Jamin (01:00:20):

    Isn't the dog supposed to walk? It's like exercise for them.

    Taylor Williamson (01:00:24):

    <Laugh> the problem. My dog is, she's 4.9 pounds Chihuahua. Yeah. And it's like carrying, it's like walking a feather.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:32):

    Yeah. Right. It's

    Taylor Williamson (01:00:33):

    A little, it's a little bit it's not as if you're trying to get business done.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:38):


    Taylor Williamson (01:00:39):

    Backpacks efficient. I walk, I take her to the park and she runs around.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:42):

    That's nice to you.

    Taylor Williamson (01:00:43):

    That's nice. How dare you shame me and judge my, my opinion.

    Michael Jamin (01:00:47):

    This is Taylor. This has been a, a very interesting talk. I

    Taylor Williamson (01:00:52):

    Can I do a good, I feel like I came off cynical or

    Michael Jamin (01:00:55):

    No, I don't. This is gonna be gold. I think everyone's gonna love this is gonna, this is gonna blow up. This is gonna put you back on a map. Really. We're gonna get you a lot of rich people gigs.

    Taylor Williamson (01:01:03):

    Hey rich people, please hire me to perform at your events.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:07):

    Well let's tell, tell people how to find you on social media and stuff.

    Taylor Williamson (01:01:12):

    I am on Instagram and Twitter and TikTok. You're the like, people are like, I gotta talk to my little sister to figure out how TikTok works. And I'm like, no. Call Michael Jamin

    Michael Jamin (01:01:23):

    <Laugh>. That's,

    Taylor Williamson (01:01:24):

    That's the TikTok star I know. But I'm at Taylor Comedy and Facebook, Taylor Williamson and taylor williamson.com. I was runner up on America's Got Talent and I was on last comic standing on some of other things. But if you go to my website, I have cl clips of all the things and I'm on tour. When is this gonna air?

    Michael Jamin (01:01:43):

    Probably, no, probably about a month or so. We'll drop it.

    Taylor Williamson (01:01:46):

    Well show's coming up in Atlanta and Boca. Okay. Shalom Boca. Yep. And then what's the other one? Green Greensville One of the Carolinas.

    Michael Jamin (01:01:57):

    But we can sign up on your website for all your touring dates and stuff and

    Taylor Williamson (01:02:00):

    Calgary, Alberta, Canada, somewhere in Michigan.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:04):

    Look at the sky. Listen, you got a lot of mileage on your

    Taylor Williamson (01:02:07):

    Frequent flyer. I gotta pay a mortgage. I gotta feed a dog.

    Michael Jamin (01:02:10):

    That dog doesn't eat much.

    Taylor Williamson (01:02:12):

    She gets the fancy expensive food, but she's so small. She's so small that it's not, it's it works, you know? Yeah. Anyways. But can I say, can I tell people though that I like getting, I got to, we, we, we came up with a show together and it was such a wonderful experience. It meant so much to me that that you and your partner believed in me and my idea. Like truly, like it meant the world to me. Huh?

    Michael Jamin (01:02:35):

    We were off the mark that day <laugh>.

    Taylor Williamson (01:02:38):

    Why? Like I said, there weren't many other people interested and then but it meant so much and it was so fun pitching and I felt like I was doing something right with my life and it was turned out to be a big waste of time. <Laugh> and no, but it was, it just some things were just right place, right time and some things are not. And then, yeah. But I'm so grateful it got to work with you, be friends with you and stuff and it's been really such a pleasure watching you to go on your new journey. And I take full credit for you for it, by the way, cuz we had a talk like two years ago and, and I told you not to do what you're doing, but I told you something else and then you're doing this instead. And so I feel like I don't

    Michael Jamin (01:03:13):

    Remember what you told me I should. That we have to review on that. A review on when we get off the air review. Cause I have a lot of questions for you, but more not

    Taylor Williamson (01:03:21):

    I'm, my point is I'm taking credit cause I'm taking credit cause you didn't do what I said, but then you did something else. Cause you're like, I'm not gonna do that. I I pushed you in a different direction.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:28):

    Yeah. Which is just as important. Bad advice is just as good as important, as good as thing. <Laugh>.

    Taylor Williamson (01:03:33):


    Michael Jamin (01:03:34):

    Taylor, I thank you so much for being on the podcast. Everyone just go follow us guy. He's a sweet, very funny guy and I just think the world of you're a good dude, man. You're a good dude.

    Taylor Williamson (01:03:44):

    Hey, thanks man. Likewise. And let's hang out with the, just shoot me a lady sometime.

    Michael Jamin (01:03:49):

    Which one is that? Who? Laura?

    Taylor Williamson (01:03:51):

    This the star who's, what's her name?

    Michael Jamin (01:03:53):

    Laura and Jacomo. Wendy Mallek. Who

    Taylor Williamson (01:03:55):

    Can we hang, can we hang out both of them?

    Michael Jamin (01:03:57):

    <Laugh>? I've worked. Yeah, they're both lovely. They're both amazing people. So

    Taylor Williamson (01:04:02):

    I, we we'll, we'll get dinner soon. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (01:04:05):

    Okay, Taylor, thank you so much everyone. And

    Taylor Williamson (01:04:08):

    Thanks everyone

    Michael Jamin (01:04:09):

    And yeah, for everyone. What else? Do I have the table before I sign off? Yeah, go get on my watch list. Michaeljamin.Com/Watchlist is my free weekly newsletter. I sent out tips for the industry and I got a free lesson for screenwriting MichaelJamin.com/Free. And if you wanna see where my show is coming, we'll be touring. Go to Michael Jamin.com/UpComing to find out where I'll be in your, when I'll be in your city. All right, everyone, thanks so much. Until next one. Next time keep writing. Okay.

    Phil Hudson (01:04:37):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

    1h 4m | Jan 18, 2023
  • 063 - Ideas Are Worthless

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

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    37m | Jan 11, 2023
  • 062 - How Do I Know When My Script Is Done?

    How do I know when my script is done? Is there a definitive moment when you become aware that it is finished? In this episode of Screenwriters Need To Hear This, Phil Hudson & Michael Jamin discuss how professional writers can know they've finished their screenplay or TV script.

    Show Notes

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcripts

    Coming Soon

    45m | Jan 4, 2023
  • 061 - Let's Talk About Page 1 Of Your Script

    Don't save your best stuff for last; start it off in a way that will grab the reader's attention and show that you've got something to say. In this podcast episode, Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson discuss the first page of your script and what you need to do to stand out.

    34m | Dec 28, 2022
  • 060 - TV Writer/Producer Danny Zuker

    Danny Zuker is a TV Writer and Producer known for Modern Family, Just Shoot Me, Off Centre, and Grace Under Fire.

    Show Notes

    Danny Zuker on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0958521/

    Danny Zuker on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Zuker

    Danny Zuker on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/dannyzuker

    Danny Zuker on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dannyzuker/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Automated Transcripts

    Danny Zuker (00:00):

    So like, the people interested on the podcast who are aspiring and whatnot. Yeah. I mean, it is, and you can attest to this, and everybody I know can attest to it. Is he getting punched in the face contest? I mean, and there's no shame in stopping. It's just how many times he can get punched in the face. Because you will continually, I mean, I recently been punched, you know, I did a pilot and it was like all the way and boom, punched in the face and it's like, it never stops hurting. And at some point you just decide not to get up. I'm just not there yet.

    Michael Jamin (00:26):

    You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.


    Hey everybody, welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin. I got a special, very special guest today, Mr. Danny Zucker. You don't know who he is. You don't know who. I barely, we worked together on many for many years on a show called Just Shoot Me. But I want to, man, I want to, this guy is, you don't understand this guy in the industry. He's known as a joke machine. He is known as the guy who comes in and hits that home run joke that makes everyone just laugh out loud in every episode. And so, let me just talk about his credits and I'm gonna bring him in. He's got a ton of credits. So I guess we'll talk about this, but we, I guess he started out on the Arsenio Hall Show as a joke writer, evening Shade, which I didn't, I forgot about that cuz I was a PA on that show. But not when he was there. Roseanne, listen to his credits. Roseanne Grace Under Fire fired up. He probably, do you want, is it okay if I mention No, I guess I shouldn't mention

    Danny Zuker (01:26):

    That one. No, you can totally mention all the terrible

    Michael Jamin (01:28):

    Ones. <Laugh> jhu Me. We were, we, we worked together. Jesse Off Center, which he created Coupling the Men's Room, another show he created Surviving Suburbia, the Unusuals modern Family, which you've just got off of. So he was there for many seasons. But then also God the Devil and Bob Norm watching Ellie Oliver Bean come to Papa Stacked. I mean, dude

    Danny Zuker (01:54):

    Act I'm glad you finished on Stacked By

    Michael Jamin (01:56):

    Though. Yeah, that was a, yeah, <laugh>. But what a man, dude, you have some, you have some you in in this podcast right now, I would say you have the second best credits.

    Danny Zuker (02:07):

    Who have you had who've had

    Michael Jamin (02:09):

    <Laugh>? No, I'm talking about me. Oh, no, your, your, your credits are fantastic, dude. I mean, a

    Danny Zuker (02:14):


    Michael Jamin (02:15):


    Danny Zuker (02:16):

    But great memoir in me when I want to get out of the business.

    Michael Jamin (02:19):

    Oh, but also you do, well, you, well, you can start writing it now, I suppose. <Laugh>. How dare you. How dare. But also can I even talk about this? Do you have a famous book about where you, you and Trump? You got into a this is before he was president, right?

    Danny Zuker (02:34):

    Yeah, it was, it was I think 2014 back when everybody hated Trump. Not just people who could read

    Michael Jamin (02:41):

    <Laugh>, but, and so you just started trolling him on Twitter

    Danny Zuker (02:44):

    Just randomly and just a little, like, just a small little tweet. It was like, and then he exploded and then we went onto a month long with hundreds of tweets back and forth. And if you go back and look at it, cause it went rebal when he got the nomination. But if you look at it, he didn't like I was just a beta test. There's nothing he said about anybody else, whether it's like whoever he wants to talk about that he didn't first try out on me to no effect

    Michael Jamin (03:08):


    Danny Zuker (03:09):

    And always bugged me when the Democrats would say like well it's so hard to fight against. It's like, no, just read what I did. It's not that hard. I feel like anybody could dunk on him.

    Michael Jamin (03:18):

    I remembered thinking though you, that he picked the wrong fight. You don't pick a, a Battle of Witch with professional comedy writer. That's not what you want to do,

    Danny Zuker (03:25):

    <Laugh>. It's all I do. It's, yeah, it's like, it's like me getting into a Dunking contest with LeBron. It's not gonna work out. I have one skill period. I can't do anything other than this. It's all I was trained to do.

    Michael Jamin (03:36):

    And this was at Modern Family where you were a writer, and did you, did you wanna, did you bounce off any jokes off of anybody?

    Danny Zuker (03:42):

    No, in fact, I mean, I would, he started to go after Modern Family, like when he would, you know, and that became like something he would pick out at that point that when he started doing that, I went and I talked to the cast and the other writers and the cre co-creator Steve and Chris, and I said, Hey, like, you know, my show, I would just go forward, but it's your show, right? And they were like, no, get him. It's like, fine. And it was like, I have to say, like back then, you just have to remember like, he was a, he was such a safe target. Like I would have to scroll for scroll and scroll and scroll to find one tweet that supported him. Like one reply that supported him. And I'm sure it came from somebody in his office. What was weird and why I knew like, oh, shit's different is it went viral again in like 20 16, 20 17.


    At which point I got a lot of like, you are an asshole. Y O U R. I got like, it was like, there was a lot of hate. Like people were on his side all of a sudden. It was like, what? Because it was Republicans, he was a joke. Right. You know? Right. and, and so it was like, whoa. It was really weird. And it was yeah, I mean it was, you know, I, I continued, I continued to be a voice, but, you know, I I, I had threats. I was hacked. I had a lot of stuff go down that was like sort of yeah, it was like, it, you know, it, it got a little bit scary. I mean, it's scarier for women who went up against

    Michael Jamin (05:05):

    Him. But at, at some point though, did he just block you?

    Danny Zuker (05:08):

    Oh, within the middle of that. And then by the end, after months, he blocked me and I stayed blocked all through his presidency. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (05:15):

    And then how did that become a book?

    Danny Zuker (05:17):

    Well, I was doing it like at the 20, what was it? The the midterms, the 2018 midterms. I was part of like a democratic affiliation. Like there was some fundraiser. And they had asked me if I wanted to do like a live reading of my Twitter war. And like, you know, Tim Simons from a VE was there and he said he had an un enviable job of being Trump. And we did it. And then another friend of mine who does a lot of this stuff says we should put that out as a book. And, and then we just, I just wound up doing it.

    Michael Jamin (05:47):

    That's fantastic.

    Danny Zuker (05:48):

    Yeah. I mean, it's just a little, it's a hundred pages. It's like, it could not be sort of, and and, and I comment on the little tweets as they go along and Yeah. So <laugh>. But and then I gave it to ch Yeah. And then I gave it to charities like, you know, Uhhuh legal aid for people at the border and Planned Parent, like all the things he, oh

    Michael Jamin (06:04):

    Good. Oh, now tell me. So I don't, I remember, it's so funny cause we worked together 20 something years

    Danny Zuker (06:10):

    Ago. I know a lot,

    Michael Jamin (06:12):

    But I, you remember, just so my audience knows, you were the guy who all of us wanted to impress in the room to make laugh. You were the guy cuz it was your approval. Yeah, it was. Because if we could make Danny laugh then Paul Yeah. Because you were the home run hitter.

    Danny Zuker (06:29):

    But that, but that room had, I felt like that room had a lot of heavy hitters. It's very flattering to know that. I mean, I always thought, you know, I thought you and your partner Siever were like, it was just, everybody was good.

    Michael Jamin (06:40):

    We were, we were all baby writers. But it, I mean there were definitely, it was a really talented, I think that might have been one of the most talented rooms I've been in, to be honest.

    Danny Zuker (06:47):

    It was certainly one of the, it was one of those rooms where like, cuz Just Shoot Me was a show that really survived on jokes. Like, it was like, the way it was built, it was like, it wasn't, you know, it wasn't about like a lot of touchy-feely moments, you know, or we'd get to them occasionally. But it, what it was most successful at was like, you know, what are the s in that world? Yeah. And, and, and so, and we had a lot, you know, it was a lot of really good people. So,

    Michael Jamin (07:11):

    Man, and then, but you started, I forgot about this as a, as a joke writer on the Arsenio Hall Show.

    Danny Zuker (07:17):

    Yeah, it was weird. I mean, I got <laugh>, I mean, I was quite young. I was like, I think like 24 or 25, and I managed to get like a like a pa job on that show. Cause I'd worked on as a pa on another show with a producer there. And anyway, I got there and, you know, we're doing run through things and it, you know, writers there had 13 week contracts. And in the first 13 weeks that show became an amazing hit. Like he was on the Coming Time magazine and he wound up purging a lot of the staff on a Friday. And I just went home. This, you know, I went home that night and now long ago, and on a typewriter looking at newspapers typed up a bunch of jokes and on Monday handed up, you know, my submission to some of the other writers there to put it in with the packet.


    You know, they, because I knew they were looking and they knew I wanted to write. And on Monday, like he did one of my jokes. And then like on Tuesday he did two of my jokes. And on Thursday I had a good amount of jokes in. And on that Friday, the following Friday, he hired me. Wow. So it was like, but I, you know, I'd been doing jokes, you know, I don't, I wasn't, it's funny, I was like, we were doing a move in our house, like we were remodeling, something had to move out and we get, so go through all of these boxes and in one box I found, oh, my Arsenio jokes, like a big book of my Arsenio jokes. And I thought, this is a gold mine. I can sort of recycle some of these and put them in things. And I started reading through them and they were also shit. It was like, it was nothing salvageable <laugh>, but I guess it worked for there.

    Michael Jamin (08:43):

    That's so, you know, cause I was a joke writer on the mic and Maddie's show for a little bit, and I had this

    Danny Zuker (08:48):

    That's right.

    Michael Jamin (08:49):

    But I would go through my material. I, I have the same like a binder like gold. Right. And I looked at it recently, I was, was like, there's nothing in here. It's terrible. It's

    Danny Zuker (08:57):

    Terrible. I would never hire this fucking guy.

    Michael Jamin (08:59):

    <Laugh>. But, but was it your goal, like in high school to be like a on to work, like late night or what? Or scripted?

    Danny Zuker (09:07):

    Yeah, it was. I mean, I really, you know, I wanted, I, I mean I, in high school I was doing some standup poorly, you know, cause I had nothing to say and, but I really did. I wanted to be on Letterman or snl. And and, you know, I got outta college and I did, like, I put together this reel that people seemed to like, and I got into Letterman it as like, you know, I talked to like Gerard Mulligan and a couple people there, and I mission and then, and I got my first rejection letter from them and the second one from snl. And and and I still have those. And they're, they, they, they're, because, you know, you go through that. I wound up getting a job with but glad up getting a job with Howard Stern, who was doing some box pilots.


    He was gonna be the show that followed Joan Rivers Show. Right. And they never went, but it was, it was a couple months producing a week of shows, you know, practice shows. And well, a couple good things came outta that one. I've been friends with him for 30 something years as a result. Bob who was in my wedding, and right. But then, but then I also met a producer on that show who liked me, and he brought me out to, you know, he brought me out. He said, I have a a pa job out here if you want it. And, you know, so it all led from that. So,

    Michael Jamin (10:12):

    But you never decided to like resubmit to SNL or

    Danny Zuker (10:16):

    Letterman? I did. I mean, I was, you know, I was absolutely planning, but then I wound up getting an opportunity to be, you know, I, I got, I, I I wanted to. And then I came out here. It's funny because before I got the Arsenio Hall ugh, this is a really dark, like, horrible story. Before I got the Arsenio Hall show <laugh>, I got I was like up for like, to be a baby writer. If you remember Pat Sack had a late night talk show mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah. That was Pat s Show. And was a lot of my friends, a lot of good people were there. Like, you know, Fred Wolf who went on to write a lot of stuff for all those movies for David Spade and Chris Farley. But like, so I was submitting packages and the head writer there, this guy Monty, I don't mind trashing him on this.


    He, he he put me through the ringer. Like I kept submitting like over the course of you know, weeks of submitting to him and with notes. And I was like, fine. I was like young and prolific. Anyway, I wind up going in and I get there and there's another guy, there's writer Rob Young, who went on to write Forleo for many, many years. And he and Mon said, here's the thing, you're both baby writers, so if you don't mind, I'll make you a baby writer team. You know, you'll means splitting a salary and all that and you have to be okay with it. And we're like, I was broke and had gotten no credit card. We were like, yeah, let's do it. My family was in town, my mom and my two sisters and and my stepdad and we're like all getting ready to go out and celebrate.


    And as I'm getting out the door, the phone rings and it's Monty. And he said, you know what? We've re he gave me a key to the office, by the way. We've reconsidered. We're just gonna go with Rob. Oh my God. Like, after offering me the job. And I literally like my knees buckle and it was like the darkest meal ever. So I was really depressed for exactly 12 hours. And the next day Marla, this woman who went up to Bruce, the Arsenio Hall show called me and said, I can't offer you a writing job yet, but if you want, you can come in here and be like, like a, like a segment pa. And I was like, yes. And so that's all I wanted was the opportunity. So it was like literally I had disappointment for 12 hours and

    Michael Jamin (12:14):

    But still that is crippling that disappointment.

    Danny Zuker (12:16):

    It was crippling. I've never forgotten

    Michael Jamin (12:18):

    The Yeah. I feel it just the way you said

    Danny Zuker (12:21):

    It, it was really cruel. I mean, it was like I described, I mean, to like the people interested on the podcast who are aspiring and whatnot. I mean, it is, and you can attest to this, and everybody I know can attest to, is he getting punched in the face contest? I mean, and there's no shame in stopping. It's just how many times he can get punched in the face. Because you will continually, I mean, I've recently been punched, you know, I did a pilot and it's like all the way going and boom, punched in the face and it's like, it never stops hurting. And at some point we just decide not to get up. I'm just not there yet, but, you know. Right. But but

    Michael Jamin (12:53):

    People don't, yeah. I think that's important to know. Like even us at our level, <laugh> is none of it's a cake walk. Everything's, you know, a lot of rejection.

    Danny Zuker (13:03):

    It, it's true. And I'll never forget this cuz so there's a writer under studio Hall show. He's about like eight or nine years older than I was. And, and like we would pretty young staff and, but, and we were going like, all the way to Vegas, why did you ever come to Vegas with us? And he's like, you know, and he pulled me aside, he took me for a lunch. He goes, he said, you, you're good. You don't wanna stay here in late night the whole, your whole career. You should, like, I'm taking the time. A friend of mine is doing a pilot. I'm helping him with it, and I'm pu you know, and I think you should be thinking about like starting to speck out half hour. And I thought, okay, you know, he's very avan Well, that pilot he was working on was, and his friend was Larry David, who was working on the Seinfeld pilot. He was Larry Charles. Right. and, and, and, and, you know, so he, you know, it was a real inspirational thing that moved me forward. And years later when I'm first getting like my first like, you know, I'm a story editor on like evening shade or one of those things. And I remember running, talking to him and I said, it must be nice to not worry about the next thing. And he is like, oh, I worry every single day. And

    Michael Jamin (14:01):

    This is who, who? Larry Charles said this

    Danny Zuker (14:02):

    Larry. Charles, yeah. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I thought, like, I thought, is he just saying that to make me feel good? But then, you know, as I saw it, I saw like the people from friends leaving the hottest show on friends, like not, you know, scr you, it, it doesn't carry over. It's like you, you, you get in the door more. Right. But you're still subject to the same humiliations most of the time.

    Michael Jamin (14:24):

    Why did they tell you, why did he tell you you don't want to be in late night for the rest of your career?

    Danny Zuker (14:29):

    He thought that I want, he said, if you, he, he more said it this way. He said, do you want to be in late night? Do you have aspirations to do more? Because it can be a golden, you can, it can be like a golden handcuffs because what can happen is it becomes comfortable and you won't do anything else if you wanna do something else. And he thought, and he, and he said he thought I was good enough to, he thought I had the ability to go do something else. I, and and that was all it was. It wasn't like he was belittling it mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, he just knew I had aspirations beyond it. And he said, while you are working on something good is a great time to be working on the next thing. Right. And I, I, I, I took, I I, I took him seriously. I

    Michael Jamin (15:06):

    Mean, but you had to learn a whole different thing. You had to learn how to write stories. That's a

    Danny Zuker (15:09):

    Whole different thing. You don't, and but didn't you find this for you? So you started as a joke writer. You don't know if you can do it consistently until you do it. And then you find out, oh, I can. Right. It's the same thing with half hour. It's like, I don't know if I can do this consistently until you find out you can.

    Michael Jamin (15:22):

    But I remember the first couple specs I wrote the first were terrible. Then I wrote a couple that were decent. And then after wrote that first decent one that got me an agent. I remember the, I got soundbite agent and then I remember thinking, I, I don't know if I can do this again. I think that's it. I think I got lucky.

    Danny Zuker (15:37):

    Oh dude, I'm utter, even to this day, I have to tell you, like I've, I, I'm utterly convinced that every job I have is the last job I'll ever have for my whole career. And that this is the script where I'll be found out.

    Michael Jamin (15:53):

    <Laugh>. Yeah. Yeah.

    Danny Zuker (15:55):

    Where the, where the big, where the, you know, it's it's imposter syndrome I think. But it, I don't know. I, I've never met somebody who turned into script and was so freaking proud of it to me or something like that. It's like, oh, this one's gonna kill where that was any good <laugh>. You know? Right. Like, that kind of confidence doesn't means you haven't like, questioned

    Michael Jamin (16:11):

    It. And what were those early days like for you on those early shows like Roseanne and like, what was that like?

    Danny Zuker (16:17):

    I loved it. I mean, cuz I, I did discover I was good at it and they were like, it was competitive, which I liked mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And it was like, you know, I held my own. I was like, you know, I did a really good, I felt like I did a really good job on Evening Shane. And they recommended me to Right. Roseanne. And I was a good hire there. And I'm, you know, the Roseanne was one of these situations where like 30 something writers, cuz she would hire all these people. But there was one like, main room and, and, and, or like, like two, you know, of the main writers. And it was very egalitarian, you know, it wasn't just like, okay, you're co-executive producer, you're gonna be in that main room. Or the, it was egalitarian. And, you know, I had worked, you know, as a second job. I worked myself into the main room. Now keep in mind that also meant working on weekends, but it was still,

    Michael Jamin (17:00):

    What do you mean as a second job? What do you mean?

    Danny Zuker (17:03):

    Well, no, it wasn't a second job. It was like I said that you would, I, it meant that if I got into the main room, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I would, you know, I would work longer for the same about someone here. Oh, oh, I see what you're saying. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (17:16):

    Yeah. Right. And and they were, yeah. Cause the hours were really tough on Roseanne. I remember

    Danny Zuker (17:20):

    They were hard. No.

    Michael Jamin (17:21):

    Yeah. I remember getting, it's funny, I remember getting interviewed to be in the night pa on Roseanne. I was like, the night pa Yeah. You start around midnight. I'm like, oh, start at midnight. <Laugh>. That doesn't sound like a good job.

    Danny Zuker (17:35):

    Yeah. I remember, I think at one 30 in the morning, Rob hen at one point saying, guys, if we just let's focus, we can get out here early

    Michael Jamin (17:42):

    <Laugh>. But he wasn't. So what time, what were your hours? Like what time did you usually work until <laugh>?

    Danny Zuker (17:50):

    It depended, but like, you know, cause she would blow up the script several times and you had to deliver it. Yeah. And you know, sometimes we'd have to start from scratch. And so, you know, we saw more than, you know, I saw several sunrises. We called it working from Howard to Howard. Like, you'd come in listening to Howard's Stern and you go home listening to Howard's.

    Michael Jamin (18:04):

    Oh my God. And that's, and that's rough. I mean, I've been at a couple

    Danny Zuker (18:08):

    Young though. It, it helped to be young.

    Michael Jamin (18:10):

    Right. I know. Imagine doing that now. You'd be, I don't know guys, it's getting, it's, it's right five-ish. It's getting dark <laugh>. I go, now

    Danny Zuker (18:18):

    I wanna eat my dinner at four 30 now. So it's like different

    Michael Jamin (18:21):

    <Laugh>. So then all your other jobs afterwards. Just interesting to follow. How were they just mostly connections or your agents submitting you? How have

    Danny Zuker (18:29):

    Almost all were con like, so what happened was, so yeah, so Evening Shade led to a connection because Victor Fresco was friends with Rob Yuen. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and then Tim Doyle who was coming in also. And, and, and so I got there from there. When I went to Grace Under Fire, it was Kevin Abbott. It was like a, a a splinter group. Us went on to that. From there Kevin wound up getting like a brillstein deal off of that. And then they were like, he, they were asking who else is good over there? And he recommended me. So then I got a Brillstein deal and did my first pilot. And when that didn't go, I was like on, I was somewhere like on vacation, you know, my wife. And, and I got a call from my agent that about like, Hey, they're looking to bring somebody on the show, just shoot me. And you know, you know, I read the script, which I liked. I, you know, I hadn't seen the first pilot and I was wrapping up and so I, I don't how many You were there from the beginning

    Michael Jamin (19:23):

    Right? From the pilot. Yeah.

    Danny Zuker (19:24):

    Yeah. So what was how many did you do that first season? Because I came in in, in at the le Yeah. So I came in on episode six of that

    Michael Jamin (19:32):

    First season. You were there, you were there for the first episode. Final episode of Season of Season One. I don't remember

    Danny Zuker (19:37):

    That. Yes, I was, yeah. Wow. Okay. Yeah. Cause we were, yeah. Cause I, yeah. And so yeah. So it was yeah. So that, and that's how that led. And then from there, you know, that led to a lot of different things. And, and you know, you know, it is, you start to develop a name, so then you at least Right, you can at least get in the door, you know, a little bit. So,

    Michael Jamin (19:56):

    And then, but even now, okay, so how does it work for you now? What is it? I mean, even like, I know you just, you just had a pilot what it felt like. What was that process like?

    Danny Zuker (20:05):

    Well, it's, it's, you know, it's, hopefully it's gonna be alive again. But we, we gotten into some, some, a little good news, but, you know, I was talking about a couple pilots, but like, I, you know, I got, I having the same manager as I'm at Brillstein again as a management company. And over Covid, they were like, Hey, you know, you wanna sit down with Kevin Neon as this idea?

    Michael Jamin (20:25):

    Oh, right.

    Danny Zuker (20:26):

    Kevin and I wound up writing something that I really love. And here

    Michael Jamin (20:29):

    We go. Let's give him, give him a shout out.

    Danny Zuker (20:32):

    Oh, you got

    Michael Jamin (20:33):

    It. Yeah, because Kevin was a Kevin, Kevin's so sweet. He was the voice on, he was actually the voice on this animated show. He did. He's over there and

    Danny Zuker (20:41):

    Oh really? Which one?

    Michael Jamin (20:43):

    Glen Martin dds. So I work with Kevin. Oh,

    Danny Zuker (20:45):

    That's right. I

    Michael Jamin (20:46):

    Remember that. And he's, so, he's the sweetest guy. And so he's

    Danny Zuker (20:51):

    Been, he's been a pleasure to be in my life. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it was a real blessing.

    Michael Jamin (20:56):

    Well, I was just gonna say, so when he put his book out, I was like, yeah, I gotta give, I gotta help promote his book. Cuz he's just the sweetest guy, you

    Danny Zuker (21:02):

    Know? Yeah, he is, he's the greatest. And, but, you know, there's a perfect example. So it's Kevin Neen who has always acclaim. I don't have no acclaim. And, and like we write a pilot That's great. And we still get fucked around with, you know, it's like, sort of what I was saying, you know, it's like there's no, it never ends

    Michael Jamin (21:18):

    <Laugh>. Yeah, no, it doesn't end. And so, yeah. So that, so just so people understand those work, so the, you've sold it to, well, your, your studio paid, you

    Danny Zuker (21:27):

    Don't just We the studio. Yeah. And it was like, developed for tbs. Okay. And and then the whole TBS structure went out the window mm-hmm. <Affirmative> like in, in the midst of doing it. And, and we just got screwed. Now it came back to us and knock wood, we have something. But, you know, and then, you know, I'm just developing other things right now.

    Michael Jamin (21:46):

    Yeah. So you'll try to shop that. Right. And so,

    Danny Zuker (21:48):

    Yeah. Yeah. I mean this is the, this is the first year though when I, because I've been working on this animated show, housebroken mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's their second season. It's on Fox. My first animated show I've ever

    Michael Jamin (21:57):

    Oh, I know that. Oh, wait, wait, I know that one.

    Danny Zuker (22:00):

    It's with, yeah, it's with Gabby Al Gabby and Jen Friton did, and Ku it's like bunch of pets and group therapy. Right. Which is really a funny idea. Right. And it was super fun to do when it ended, like, in, in, I don't know, September, I mean, we're still doing post-production, but when it ended in September, I had a couple offers to staff or thinking like this. And I just, I said I, unless it was something I really wanted to do, this was the first time I decided not to do that. Not to run really in my whole career because I, I felt like I don't want to do that right now. I'm tired of racing and I wanted to, and I got to travel and I wanted to do certain things and work on what I wanted to work on. Right. It just sort of have faith in the process. Cause cause you know how it is, you miss a lot of life if you don't do that. So

    Michael Jamin (22:45):

    Yeah, well it's, there's that, yeah. It's like that trade off. Do you go on staff or, or try to develop on your own and you're just

    Danny Zuker (22:51):

    Yeah. And I'll go, but I also, it's just a trade off of like, if I don't go on staff now and I wanna go on staff later, I'll find something. You know, it's like, I'm not gonna just not do it in there, you know? Right. So,

    Michael Jamin (23:03):

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.


    Right. So now you're just coming up with ideas or teaming up with other people.

    Danny Zuker (23:31):

    Yeah, I'm, I'm actually supervising a couple pilots that I like and I'm writing one, you know, developing one on my own. And then, and, and, you know, it's been super fun and, you know, I'll start submitting again when, you know, shows get picked up. But it was fun. I got to go around the world

    Michael Jamin (23:45):

    Interest Oh, go around the world for for what? Oh, oh, because you're on yourself. You, you

    Danny Zuker (23:49):

    Just Yeah, my, yeah, yeah, yeah.

    Michael Jamin (23:51):

    Right. Interesting. And then, and so what was go, so your last, I guess your last big credit was Modern Family. So what was that a called, what was that like?

    Danny Zuker (24:00):

    Wow, I mean, what a credit. Oh, here's the thing. So I'm 44 when that show gets, you know, picked up and, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, especially like in comedy. Right. You know, you think like, I went prior, so it's kind of funny. So prior to modern Family, you know, a year before that happened, a full year, you know, we had a writer's strike. And right before that, Steve Leviton, who we know from Just Shoot me and, and Chris Le Lloyd were doing a show with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton called back to Back to You. Back to You. Yeah. Yeah. And and, and I didn't get hired for it, and I was like, really? I've done everything for, and it would've meant like I could've logged my deal and, and then the writer strike happened. It was the first time I went a year, like basically almost a year without working on anything.


    Right. And so I started to spec out a couple, I specked out a pilot that was a little bit more dramatic and wound up getting hired on a drama that Noah Hawley was doing in New York called The Unusuals. And it was like, and it was really fun to do a drama and easier by a mile. Right. And so BEC but and it was like, I was the funny guy in this, like, people, other writers would come to me if they need because it had, shouldn't have had a rye aspect to it and this cop drama. And so I could punch up and I was able to write a drama a script. And it was great. And that show didn't get picked up. But then I had a couple offers on other dramas when Steve called me and said, Hey, Chris and I have done this pilot.


    I think you should come in and take a look at it. You might be interested in it. Now in my head I'm thinking, I can't wait to watch this pilot and say, no, I don't wanna do it. Right. <laugh>, it's like hired other stuff. But I got five minutes into the Modern Family Pilot. And honestly, to me, it's the best comedy pilot I'd ever seen. Yeah. Like, for just like, it, it felt so fully formed already. Yeah. Like, but that cast, and it just like, everything clicked in a way that was magical. And I was like, I gotta get hired on this show. And so people asking, you know, it was gonna be a hit or did you know this? We had, there was a lot of pressure that first season to do something as good as the pilot and to be in that world. And, but we could feel it. We, you could, you know, you could feel something building like you could feel, yeah, this is something special. And and yeah, it was an amazing ride and I'm sort of glad to have that happen to me in my forties. It was particularly after a year of sort of, oh, slightly slimmer picking. So I really appreciated it and I knew it won't, I, I knew this doesn't go on forever. Like I know that that's a very unusual Yeah. And rarefied thing to happen.

    Michael Jamin (26:35):

    It's kind of like the last big, big hit, you

    Danny Zuker (26:38):

    Know? It feels like it, I mean, it, it, it's especially a broadcast hit. It's like Yeah. It just like, like it, it went from the beginnings of like, screaming is a possibility to like, no one watches network television at the time it's on anymore.

    Michael Jamin (26:53):

    Right. What's interesting about, I, I always love like writing in that show is like you've literally watched those children grow up to be adults, you know, on the

    Danny Zuker (27:03):

    Air same age. So Luke, the kid who played Luke and the kid who played Manny and Alex for that matter, Uhhuh <affirmative> were all the same age as my twin girls. And my son was younger. So I, I, I used to joke that I, I got to watch the kids who make me money grow up with the kids who cost my money

    Michael Jamin (27:19):

    <Laugh>, but, and how odd is it to write new stories? Like, it just seems like it's, you know, it's almost odd that because they're older now and you get, you're writing stories for them being older, you know?

    Danny Zuker (27:29):

    Yeah. But it's like you, that is actually, oh, for me, I did not mind that because I felt like in those first couple seasons it was very, you know, we in all purged our lives for like stories. Right. And so I was just waiting for my kids to grow up and do something more interesting.

    Michael Jamin (27:48):


    Danny Zuker (27:48):

    Right. You know, you know, and I think, and, and I think a lot of us were, and so I didn't mind that you were moving into those, those stories. I mean, it gets hard though. I mean, you know, we joked like, you know, everybody's like, oh, you know, it wasn't as good in season eight or whatever. It's like, well, let me put it this way. It's like the most interesting family, you know, most like the Obama's, let's say when they're at a dinner party, they have at most 15 to 20 stories they tell me. Yeah, yeah. That's it. Tho those are their go and they're the most interesting family, you know, like, we did 250 episodes, or each family had like, it's hard, you know, you, you, it's, it's, it's different. And we're not like animated, so they have to be somewhat ground. It's all you can do like meta episodes, like you can do like on The Simpsons or things like that. Although I wish we could have <laugh>, but

    Michael Jamin (28:34):

    But I, and I always, cause I always talk about like how writer's mind their own life for stories. But you have a famous, you famously took a story from your life, I think, right? And you said in one of the, at least one of the episodes was the, it was the fire. It was the fire. I'm thinking of the firemen.

    Danny Zuker (28:47):

    Yeah. I didn't write it, but I, I told it in the room. I had had a okay. So yeah, it was like the, the, I live in Manhattan Beach and the the e EMT workers there are like famously good looking dudes. Like I Right. Some, I, it makes me question where I am on the sexuality spectrum.

    Michael Jamin (29:06):


    Danny Zuker (29:07):

    Anyway, I wound up having an attack, which I thought was a kidney stone. It turned out to be gallbladder. It was like, but at two in the morning and I wake up and I feel like I'm being stabbed to death. Right. And my, my wife Annette. Annette, you gotta call nine one one. You gotta call 9 1 1. It's like, she was like, okay, it's gonna be fine. She calls 9 1 1 and then I'm on the floor and I don't see her, when I hear the, the firemen like knocking on the door like, Annette, Annette, where are you? And then she comes out of her closet and she's dolled up <laugh> like she, cause it was the middle of the night she put on, she's looking you up for the fire bitch. And we just did that word for there.

    Michael Jamin (29:40):

    Right. So you go in to, and you tell the story the next day in the writer's room, and then it goes right in the script.

    Danny Zuker (29:45):

    It's amazing. And it's amazing cause you start to lose any shame. So like, one of the things like I'd worked, I had known Brad Walsh who was part partnered with Corgan and Walsh. Right. I'd known him for many, many years before this. Worked on a show with him, a couple shows with him and never, and, but we get into that first season of Modern Family and we're like looking for stories. And he is like, and I see him struggling and he is like, okay, fine. My sister and I were part of an ice dancing team. <Laugh>. Like, it's something he wouldn't tell us ever except we needed it.

    Michael Jamin (30:16):

    He, you needed stories, right? Oh, you give, yeah.

    Danny Zuker (30:19):


    Michael Jamin (30:19):

    You'll give your mother. I mean, people don't realize, like you're, it's late at night, you're trying to come up a story and like you do, you'll swab someone's arm for a story. You know, like a good story is so hard to get.

    Danny Zuker (30:31):

    Now I've only like, like there's a time on like, it was actually just shoot me, I think it was. But like, we're looking for a story on some kind. And it was the only time I'm tell it here, but it was like that my wife at the time, she, she actually said I would rather you didn't do this cuz they, they want, they'll watch her. But it was, it was, it was this very simple story. It was like, like I used to fly my in-laws out here before they moved out here to come see the grandkids. I was like, you know, of course you're gonna come over there and say I'd fly and I do this back and forth. Happy to do it. I'm a generous guy. It likes been good. But then I found out like they'd get the ticket and then at the airport would pay for the upgrade to first class <laugh>. And it like, sort of like, wait a minute, <laugh>. And it shouldn't have bothered me, but it did

    Michael Jamin (31:13):

    Wait. But, but they were paying it out, the upgrade outta of pocket. They were paying for the upgrade.

    Danny Zuker (31:18):

    They were paying for the upgrade. But it was like, I guess you pay for the upgrade. You like what? Like,

    Michael Jamin (31:23):

    Oh, if they can pay for that, when they could pay for the ticket, you're saying? Yes, I got,

    Danny Zuker (31:25):

    Well not even, but but of course that's me. That was not like, and even as when I was pitching the story, I said, this is gonna be my problem not there

    Michael Jamin (31:33):


    Danny Zuker (31:34):

    But I said, so I, so I, I put the ki on, I, I stopped, but that's about the only time I have I all embarrassed people in our lives, you know?

    Michael Jamin (31:43):

    And, but, and so yeah, I mean, so, but, but basically there, so there are other stories in Modern Family you took from your, from your life as well, basically?

    Danny Zuker (31:49):

    Oh, tons. All of us did. Yeah. We, we, we, we, we had one like five twin daughters and at one point, like, so we had to go to a we had to go to a parent teacher conference when they were like in, I don't know, second grade. And my daughter, it's Lily and Charlie, my daughter Charlie, I mean Charlie, my daughter Charlie, you know, we're sitting there and it's and and then I say, Hey, so your dad and I, you know, tonight your dad and I are gonna need to split up. And and it's like, so do you, is there, do you have a preference? And it's like, and she just thought about it for a second. She goes, well I love dad, but I think you'll take better care of me. And she thought like we were, and she was so calm about us splitting up. Like she just like, yeah, I get like obviously that's <laugh>. So she was like, it was just such a weird, and so we had Luke basically do that with Claire and and Phil.

    Michael Jamin (32:47):

    So yeah. Wow. That's so, yeah. You just got, it's like you're just gonna be conscious for your life. But go, but go ahead. What

    Danny Zuker (32:52):

    You were gonna say? No, we had a lot. I mean, Steve's kids walked in on him having sex in the pilot when Luke, they do the thing, we're gonna shoot you Luke. Right. That is the deal. If you shoot your sister, he has actual footage of him doing that to his son. <Laugh>.

    Michael Jamin (33:07):

    Yeah. That I remember thinking that this, I remember watching the pilot thinking this had to be from his life. And it doesn't sound right. <Laugh>. He shouldn't have done that.

    Danny Zuker (33:15):

    Yes, exactly. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin (33:17):

    Now, when you go about creating a pilot, other than the Kevin Neon thing, which is, you know, a little different cuz he has this like how do you go about, how do you start thinking about ideas?

    Danny Zuker (33:26):

    It's, it's a variety of ways. Like there's some that are just like, oh, this is an idea that's been sort of itching that, that I've been itching to do. I mean, and in the day, you know, I would think like, you know, but there's just an idea that I'll get in your head. The other way is somebody comes to you with an idea or a piece of casting. I have one right now that was kind of a, I'm not gonna talk about it here, but it was like, right. But it's, it's cause I'm, I'm, I'm down the road. But it, it was so wild idea that came to me with like, some good casting associated, but it was just one line and it's broad and silly. And I was like, how am I gonna make that work? Right. And they actually went away and on a trip and, and somebody just clicked how I would do it. And so I'm, you know, I've written up treatment and so hopefully that thing goes, but it's, sometimes it's an actor. Sometimes you read an article.

    Michael Jamin (34:13):

    Do you, are you, do you develop sometimes with actors? Cuz we never, we develop for comedians but never actors really.

    Danny Zuker (34:19):

    It depends. I have developed for an actor why They're usually a comic actor though. Yeah. You know? But yeah, that's, that's about it. Yeah. I have, I mean, I know where do you guys get your, what do you do with your ideas? I mean, and don't they mostly come from your heads? Are you talking about it or it's such a hard target to chase?

    Michael Jamin (34:37):

    Is this a hard part of it that we struggle with? Cuz you always hear this as like, why are you the only ones who can tell this story? And you're like, well I'm, we're not. You know, I mean, and, and the other thing is like, well I'm a writer, I can kind of make up stuff. Like, so they, but they always want to hear like, why is so you have to always, it always has to be personal, which is a little hard. It's like you run out of the personal things. And so yeah.

    Danny Zuker (35:02):

    It sound like an obvious, this is gonna sound like a question, and maybe this just speaks to me not being a good guy, but I, I know this, but don't you lie

    Michael Jamin (35:10):

    <Laugh>. But you, you, you exaggerate, you, you basically say, you know, you try to extrapolate, well this is, I this didn't happen to you, but something similar happened to me, you know,

    Danny Zuker (35:20):

    But I'll be like, okay, so this is based on a guy I went to school with.

    Michael Jamin (35:23):

    Right. But is that good enough? Because then they'll, but then they'll say, okay, but then go get the guy who you went to school with. Hey, get him in here. It's his story.

    Danny Zuker (35:32):

    <Laugh>. No, no. I mean, I, I no, what I will say, this is my real, real, you know, I'll, I don't know. I can, first of all, I do think when you're writing a show, no matter what you're putting yourself right in all of those characters, I think it's a silly request. I do try, even if it was like something science fiction or it was something like broad and big, I will always try to craft an origin story that is usually mostly true. But just like, you know, I had this experience, like how do I explain like I'm doing something with somebody right now, an animated show that I'm supervising that has a lot to do with mental health stuff. Right. And this girl cracked it. And it was like, so when I'm coming in I say like, I've tried to do mental health issues for a long time. Never found the key. I think she did. This is like, and, and so that's my, that's my part of the sales pitch in this. And

    Michael Jamin (36:20):

    It's so interesting cuz we don't even supervise. It's not, it's not that I'm opposed to it, but there's not a lot of money to supervise something. And you wind up doing a lot of the work. So,

    Danny Zuker (36:33):

    Well, I'm very careful with what I pick in the supervision. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I'm also very careful what my, you know, rate will be. So I, for me it was like, oh, okay. I, but, but, but it's like, no, but it's like I'll take, I, I, you know, somewhere along the way it's gonna be a gamble, but I wanna be with somebody who I know is gonna, and I'm very explicit about that. I always say like, if I'm going to wind up co-writing this, we are going to be back here to renegotiate because my deal is very specifically not for scripts. And Oh

    Michael Jamin (37:00):

    Really? Okay.

    Danny Zuker (37:01):

    Yeah. And I'm, and I'm pretty clear with that, with my management and stuff like that. Because if I'm gonna do that, then I'm gonna take a piece of it. I normally, I don't, I I don't want to, I wanna help them do it and then I'll run it if it goes right. But I, but I'm just, when I was younger, I had a couple people, I had one person in in particular who's sort of supervising me, who took over something and I feel like Crash landed it before I was ready. And, and I'm so careful not to do that. I'm just there. So I, I really do wanna make it that person show.

    Michael Jamin (37:33):

    But the problem is cuz and I, I haven't, we haven't done this, I haven't experienced, but my fear is you'll turn it in the studio will not be happy with it, with their work, with their draft. And then you will have to do all that work. You will have to do all that regretting.

    Danny Zuker (37:51):

    Well, I'll have to do some work. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But I'm, I'm picking people I think who's have a pretty good sense of, right. I, I'm betting on certain people. I'm not betting on like somebody who is just like a comic. I'm betting on somebody who is at least writing or has some work

    Michael Jamin (38:09):

    To. And so those people, they don't come to you out of the, I should be clear, they probably don't come to you out of the, off the street. They come to you through channels, through agents, managers, stuff like that. Yeah.

    Danny Zuker (38:17):

    Or through, or through like pods. They, somebody we're developing this or we, we love this pitch. And that's sort of what happened with this, this animated one

    Michael Jamin (38:24):

    Doing so. Right, right. Interesting. Now have you done a lot of animation? That's something I I didn't know you got the all that

    Danny Zuker (38:30):

    Just this housebroken show. That's the first night I've ever done.

    Michael Jamin (38:34):

    It's been very all on Zoom.

    Danny Zuker (38:36):

    All on Zoom practically. Yeah. Yeah. All on Zoom. But it was a real blast. Now I kind, I didn't mind it.

    Michael Jamin (38:43):

    Right. Well you had to be in your house, get to relax too.

    Danny Zuker (38:46):

    It was kind of fu It was. Yeah. I mean, and also just having something like, you know, it was, again, we went into the pandemic, nothing was going on during that. I was just sort of sitting home riding pilots and, and doing stuff. And I was like, oh God, am I done again? Am I done? Then I got a call from mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, Gabby and Jen and that production company that if I was interested, I could come there. And it's like, I loved every, you know, I love those guys and it's all these a bunch of really great people over there. It's like basically the whole cast of Veep is isn't that thing

    Michael Jamin (39:14):

    <Laugh>? Oh yeah, I know. And

    Danny Zuker (39:15):

    It's a, and and, and it was just like, it's just been a blast, so. Right.

    Michael Jamin (39:20):

    Wow. And so, and I also know, I, I noticed you've been, you've been performing a lot too.

    Danny Zuker (39:25):

    Yeah, I have. I started doing I started doing standup a little bit. I'm, I took a little break, but I've been going, yeah, I took like a 30 something years break from standup. But it's been fun. Cause like I have stuff to talk about and I don't care what happens. Cause I already have a career. Like there's no stakes in it at all.

    Michael Jamin (39:41):

    And you go, I mean, and so you go up, how often do you up?

    Danny Zuker (39:44):

    Well, when I was doing it more, I was going up a couple times a week and little clubs, little club shows. I was actually I shortly before the Pandemic was going through a divorce and but I was dating somebody who was a comic and so, and she did a lot of club shows and would put me on. And then we just recently broke up, so now I need another Ed doing club shows. What I wound going though, I wound up going to Edinburgh. A friend of mine who's a comic was doing a show at Edinburgh at French Fest. And I opened for him, like, for four shows. And it was really a blast.

    Michael Jamin (40:12):

    It's so interesting. We're talking about doing that. What, what was your experience there? I I would definitely talk

    Danny Zuker (40:17):

    About that. Loved it. Yeah. We have to talk. I'm actually thinking about putting something up there myself.

    Michael Jamin (40:22):

    Oh. And they gotta talk now. We definitely

    Danny Zuker (40:23):

    Have to talk. Yeah. Yeah. We'll talk afterwards.

    Michael Jamin (40:26):

    Wow. Now I wanna, I wanna <laugh> stop this conversation talk, but, and so, but do you wanna do more? It's so interesting. Like, do you wanna do more performing? Because

    Danny Zuker (40:36):

    I always like, I love to perform. I don't need to do it as a career. What I find is I just like the process of it. Right. I like the way it makes, like, I had this epiphany when I started getting up on stage, like right before the pandemic, a friend of mine was doing the DC improv and at this point I had like, and was gonna needed a, like a, a feature. And so I was like, she's like, do you have 15, 20 minutes? And at the time, I had five. And she's like, and I had a week to go. It's like, well, I'll figure it out. So I, you know, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, you know, just on all the way over, I get it. And I got there and I'd written some stuff and like, there was a joke I had in the act that I thought was, it's gold.


    Like I, I just know the stroke is gonna work as an open. Yeah. And the first night it didn't really work that well. And I, I came back, my first night was a little rocky, but my fir there were two shows a night, two, I mean, so the first show first night was a little rocky, not terrible. It was not like I bombed it, not terrible. So, and but from second show, I started to figure stuff out and it got, got good, except that joke didn't work again. And I was like, well, I don't know, keep going. It'll work tomorrow. Third try still doesn't work. And with that and so forth, Joe, I abandoned it. But what it, what was interesting about it for me was this, I'll write a joke for a script and a table read and it won't go well. And I will be convinced. I don't, I didn't go out to table read, but it's a good joke, right. And it'll work and I'll fight for it. And sometimes it'll get on. And now I'm thinking it should be a very obvious realization to anybody who's not a complete narcissist. But to me it's like maybe, I don't know,

    Michael Jamin (42:11):

    <Laugh>. But the thing is, Danny, if I was, if I had to, but if I had to bet, if I had to say who could, what comedy writer do I know could go and put together a standup act in an evening li or you know, in a couple of hours who could write a fricking five or 10 minutes in a couple of hours and kill it would be you. Because it's just, it's just easy. If, you know, if one thing bomb, whatever you can, you'll pitch on it. You get the one that works.

    Danny Zuker (42:36):

    I, I, I feel like that's the case for me. And I also think like, you know, you know this, there's like the two kinds of comedy writers. There's the extroverted ones, and then there's the ones who are just like quiet, but like, you know, good on the page and like, you know, really, and, and you know, will pitch. They're assassins when they pitch, but they're not, like, they don't have that perfor, they're not frustrated performers. Right. And and I just, I just really enjoy it. I mean like, and again, I enjoy it wherever it is. Like I enjoy it in a club with 10 people or in a theater with like 200. It's like, for me it's like been, it's been really kind of, it's just about the process. Like I am no goal to, like, I, I'm not looking to get a Netflix hour. Like I don't, none, none of that appeal. None of that happens. I just like doing it. I find that the process of it works a different part of my brain and like my, you know, I, you know, like I said, like in like in the course of a couple years, my marriage ended, my job of 11 years ended and then the world ended and it was like, yeah. So I was like, grasp, you know, so it was like, it was a lifeline.

    Michael Jamin (43:37):

    Were you, did that, I mean, did that panic you at all? Did all that, that's a lot to hit at one time

    Danny Zuker (43:43):

    By the ti? Well, no, because by the time the world ended, my, my marriage like was, that was going through nine months and I'd survived the worst of it in Annette and Ireland we're super close. We're like, we're best friends. It's like the best. And then the show ended did, which was a little bit trauma, you know, traumatic and it was going on. But having survived the uncertainty of a show ending and a marriage ending, by the time, like everything shut down, I felt like, I was like, oh, I've been living in chaos for a while. Come on in, I'll show you. You know, it's like, lemme show you around,

    Michael Jamin (44:11):

    Let me show you. And that was, and that's kind of what your act is now? I mean, or no,

    Danny Zuker (44:15):

    No, no. My, my most of my act. I mean, it depends. I mean, I do a lot of my act about like oh my God, how far have I fallen? Or I talk about, I talk, I talk a lot about, like, I talk about like when a joke doesn't work or something like that. It's like, oh, they, you know, thing doesn't work. The, the Academy of Television Motion pictures and scientists really liked it though. And like, I'll talk about like my, I, I'll, I'll, I'll be falsely humble about that. Right. And also it's, it's been interesting to, to discover, you know, when I go out to a lot of these club shows, I am considerably older than a lot of the comics who are there. But like in my head, it doesn't feel that way to me. But I can tell that that's how I perceive. And that's also been interesting to talk about just being older.

    Michael Jamin (44:58):

    Do you think, cuz so many of these comments wanna get into actually sitcom writing, and do you think they look at you and like you're the guy? Oh, there's,

    Danny Zuker (45:06):

    There are some who look to me who there you can, but you know, this can't you tell when someone's talking to you and wants an opportunity? Or is just like being cool? I I, I, I can usually tell.

    Michael Jamin (45:18):

    Well, but no, but I wonder if, I wonder if, not that they're like sucking up to you, but if they're just in awe of you because of everything you've written. You know,

    Danny Zuker (45:25):

    I think they're, I think there are some people, yeah. I mean, I'm sure that they would be impressed with that aspect of it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I, I, I'm pretty good at putting people at ease though. Cause that makes me uncomfortable. If people start doing that. I mean, I know it's all coming from a good place. I just, right. I, I don't, I don't like it's too much pressure to be vaunted. It's like I will like, cause all I can think of when someone's looking up to me, it's like, I'm gonna so let you down. It's like you have no idea how disappointed you be, really

    Michael Jamin (45:53):

    See it. It's interesting cuz that whole reinventing, okay, so even in the comedy room, even, I remember, like you were, there were times you'd be on stage in the con there were 10 of us in the writer's room and you're on stage. And so it seems like you are a perfor. You really are a performer, but this is you, this is like a big deal. Reinventing yourself, especially at this age. It's kind of, it's very intimidating, I think, or no for not for you.

    Danny Zuker (46:16):

    No, no. I love it. It's, it's, I I am so much more afraid of stagnation and things like that. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And it's, you know, and it, it's, it's interesting because, you know, especially as you get older and in comedy writing, you know, my full career, they were like, you hear like a certain subset of writers as they got into forties talking about ageism, which I'm not saying doesn't exist. Of course it exists. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But what's interesting is some of the voices that were complaining and the loudest about ageism I would see on the show. And then we'd be pitching some, they'd be pitching something and then somebody like younger might say, yeah, that feels like a little famil, you know, familiar. It'd say, Hey, it worked on this, you know, and then they would disregard. It's like, this is what worked on, you know, growing pains.


    It's gonna work here. Right. And I, I really clocked that. And so for me, part of doing standup and hearing, like I say very, like, I'm interested in comedy as an exploration date. And I think writers don't understand that. It's like a lot of people, comedy people don't understand it. It's like, yes, this was really funny and you could be upset that you can't say this word or this word anymore, but you rolled your eyes at the generation that came before you too. Right. Like, remember that. And you have to like, it is constantly changing. You must, the big experiences I've had is like, I can't wait to show my kids when they would get older when starting to get older. This is classic comedy. And to watch when you watch it again for the, there's certain things that hold up, but a lot of it doesn't hold up that well.

    Michael Jamin (47:41):

    Yeah. Right. If someone said like, okay, they wanna put you on tour and you tore the whatever, like a, like a, like a road comic, would you do it?

    Danny Zuker (47:50):

    I mean, if I, I might, I mean now in the, it's different. I, if you asked me this before, the age of Zoom, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I'd probably say no. Now if I, if I got to that point where, you know, I would wanna be good enough, like I have many opportunities to cut the line given to like, you know, my status. I know people who, like, if I wanted to, I could suck up to somebody in a much bigger club and say, Hey, gimme a couple spots here in a way that younger comics wouldn't. Right. But I, I, I desperately don't want to do that because I wanna be good enough to get that spot, you know, I'll work it out there and when I get there, you know, so, yeah. I don't know. I have a weird ethos about the whole thing. It's probably just the way of me procrastinating doing more, but

    Michael Jamin (48:34):

    <Laugh>, that's interest. It's so interesting. I, anyway, I I know you, we actually, you do have a, you have a little of a time limit, but I wanna, and I wanna talk more off camera, but I want to, is there, yeah. Is there, is there anything I can pro plug or send people send if they wanna know more about what you're doing?

    Danny Zuker (48:51):

    Yes. I'm on all social media @DannyZucker, Z U K E R and, and yeah. What else? I got nothing to promote right now. I, I don't know, I don't have any dates till after the new year, so I don't know what those are gonna be. We're able to performing, but but yeah, that's it.

    Michael Jamin (49:07):

    But follow there to know when your next pilot gets picked up or whatever. <Laugh>, when your next show. Yeah.

    Danny Zuker (49:12):

    Thank you for saying when,

    Michael Jamin (49:13):

    When, when. All right everyone, thank you so much, Danny. I can't thank you so much. I'm so happy that you did this. This is oh,

    Danny Zuker (49:20):

    I'm so fun. Respond to you, man. You've always, you've, and also you've always been one of my favorites, so dude, like I a handful full of people in there that I

    Michael Jamin (49:27):

    Dude, you're kind. So that's it everyone. Thank you so much. Yeah, continue. What am I gonna say at the end of the podcast? Well, if you wanna get on a free newsletter, go sign it for that. I send it out once a week at michaeljamin.com/watchlist. And and that's it. Continue following you know, on Instagram and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. Okay. Thank you so much, Danny. Thank you again. All

    Danny Zuker (49:48):

    Right, you're welcome.

    Phil Hudson (49:51):

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

    49m | Dec 21, 2022
  • 059 - Dealing with Rejection

    Rejection is a part of life. Many of us spend every waking moment finding a way to avoid rejection, failure, or negative feelings. As a writer, one of the best assets you can develop is the ability to recognize this process is coming up short and starting again until you finally get there. This week, we take a deep dive into the subject of rejection for writers.

    Show Notes

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Course - https://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lesson - https://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlist - https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin:

    I hear people all the time, like say, oh, it's too hard to break in, as I always say, break in as a pa because if to get the job you want, you wanna get as physically close to the job, to the person who has the job that you want. Whatever that is. Writer, director, producer, whatever. Physically close you're listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear this with Michael Jamin. Hey everyone, this is Michael

    Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters Need to Hear This, the podcast where we have screenwriters talking about things we need to hear. And I'm back with Philadelphia, Phil Hudson. Phil, welcome back.

    Phil Hudson:

    Thank you. It's good to be back. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Been good to be back.

    Phil Hudson:

    Many weeks of not being here.

    Michael Jamin:

    Um, yeah, there's been a lot going on. Lot going on.

    Phil Hudson:

    I had a baby.

    Michael Jamin:

    Brand new baby too.

    Phil Hudson:

    I personally, my wife did nothing. I did it all. Now my wonderful wife, um, we brought a baby boy into the world and we're super happy. And so we've been, he sleeps, which is great. And, um, yeah, dealing with a toddler now. The two year old is now immediately a toddler. Mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin:

    <affirmative>. Wow. How and how, how's she taken him to this new kid?

    Phil Hudson:

    Um, it was interesting. She was really hesitant it first that we tried to do cute photos of her holding the baby brother and she just shoved him off immediately. Yeah. She, and wanted nothing. And now she like, will go over and give him kisses and try to give him little nozzles and she, she's, she's, uh, accustomed and loves it. So.

    Michael Jamin:

    See, that's nice. Yeah. Well, this brings us right to our topic we're gonna talk about today. It's dealing with rejection, which is what your baby son is now dealing with, with his sister rejection. Yep. And this is something all screenwriters have to deal with, not just aspiring writers, Phil, even people, my level and above. If there is above, is there an above? Yes. Which point?

    Phil Hudson:

    I think, I think it's, it's something everyone is dealing with, like rejection is that like dealing with rejection is a skillset everyone needs to develop. I think for riders, we're just putting ourselves out there so much. We're bearing our souls and what we do. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> that it feels more raw and vulnerable. And I think vulnerable, very important. We've talked about

    Michael Jamin:

    That before. Yep. And that's the first point is actually the fact that you are getting rejected means you are putting yourself out there. And so good for you, for good. For anybody who's getting rejected, it means they're trying. And then, which is already light years above people who are not, you know, who are not putting themselves out there. So I'm just gonna share, you know, my experiences of rejection and how I deal with it. And um, and maybe that'll help cuz I, I just want you to know everyone listening, like, I deal with a lot of rejection. This is the business <laugh>, I don't think of personally anymore. So just on a, on a, on a, on a macro scale, you know, when my partners shop a pilot, maybe one at a four they buy, which means, you know, three quarters or just failures. That's just how it goes.

    So, you know, I don't, I don't even take a pot. I I I don't take it personally. I was like, oh, okay. They didn't buy it. Well hopefully they'll buy the next one. Um, and, and even backing it up a little bit, you know, I hear people all the time, like say, oh, it's too hard to break in, as I always say, break in as a pa because if, to get the job you want, you wanna get as physically close to the job, to the person who has the job that you want, whatever that is. Writer, director, producer, whatever, physically close. This is just what you're doing, Phil. You are literally physically close to these people and a lot of people in that industry. And, um, but people say, well, it's hard just to become a PA and they start Yeah. You have to know someone.

    It's so hard. It's like, hold on. If you're complaining about how hard it is to be a production assistant, that's what PA stands for for, you can forget about being a writer. Cuz writer is way more hard, way harder than being a pa. I mean, so get that outta your head. Don't complain about how hard it's about being a pa. You know, that's, it's a hurdle you can achieve. It's just hard. So, um, and also another thing people don't even realize, and things have changed a little bit in the past, I don't know, probably 15 or years or so, but up until then, you could make a a, a professional screenwriter could make a really good living writing and getting paid to write screenplays that never ever get on screen. They never get made. And maybe things are a little different now, but it's also, it's not unusual to write something and not have it made. I mean Right. We sold two movies. It's a 20th century Fox. Neither got made. And when they weren't, they didn't get made. I wasn't like, you know, I was like, yeah, I didn't expect it to get made. That's how, this is how the industry works. As long as I get that, that check, you know? Um, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    I, I was gonna say that reminds me of like my uncle, um, he's just a small town guy, just super, he's not, he's not simple, but he just, he loves his simple life, if you will. And he was telling me that one time he bought this old truck from a neighbor mm-hmm. <affirmative> and went and bought it. He signed the bill of sale, he got the title, he drove it home and the next day the car wouldn't start. And I was like, oh, did you got sold a lemon where you're just so mad? And he is like, no, I bought it. It is now mine. It is no longer that person's responsibility. It's not my responsibility to figure out what's wrong with it. And it's like, oh, it's just a spark book. $6 car works just fine. Right. That person, you know, it's no longer that person's problem cuz they sold it to me. And this is the inverse of that. Once you sold it to them, you're done. And that's okay. I think you helped me wrap my head around through this podcast and the conversations we have is that, hey, I have exchanged a good or a service. I now have a check. I no longer have any ownership of it. I should worry about what happens to it from there on out, because I got what I got.

    Michael Jamin:

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative> some people. Yeah. Some people, they, they have asked me questions, well, if you sell a project and it doesn't get made and they don't get made, most don't get made, uh, can you buy it back? I'm like, why would I buy it back? You know how hard it's to sell that I got that money. I already spent that money. I don't wanna buy, I don't wanna buy it back. I will co I will create something else and work on that. Why would buy it back? That sounds crazy. That sounds,

    Phil Hudson:

    I think it's cause people are so tied to their ideas. Yeah. I think it speaks to maybe it's a little bit of scarcity mindset mm-hmm. <affirmative> where you feel like this is the best thing I have and I need, this is my last shot and nothing I do will be better than this or I don't have any, anything else. Um, and, and that's why they're worried about that. It might be one of the best ideas ever. Mm-hmm. But ultimately that's not your decision to make unless you want to be an indie filmmaker and then you should just go make your film.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. So that's exactly right. So how then, like, I guess the next question would would be like, how do I define success if, if, if I get so much rejection, what does success look like? And to me, I think anyone listening to it, I think there's a couple. You just change your criteria. To me, success is getting, getting to do what I do on a daily basis for, you know, as long as I get enough money to pay the bills, success is like, okay, so I don't have to go to another job, <laugh>, I don't have to drive a, a cab or whatever it is. I get to do what I do in the field that I choose. And sure. Wouldn't it be great if I made 5 million? Yes, of course. But, uh, the fact that I don't have to do this other job. Okay. That means I'm successful.

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative> success could also just be mean. And, and for those people who are even not at that level, what does success mean? Success could mean just writing something that moves people. Like why is that, why, what's wrong with that? Like, okay, so I didn't sell mm-hmm. Did it move someone? Isn't that the goal? Isn't that why you're doing this? Is to write something from your heart that moves people? And if that's not your goal, then what are you doing? Why are you want to be a writer? What is it that you want? Do you want the parking spot that says write or on it? What is, you know, what exactly do you want?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. And that's why you want your personal essays and you've, you've talked about that, right? Yeah. Is it's self pure self-expression from you without anyone else having any control over it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's not, you're not selling it to anybody. You are trying to compile it into your own book. Right. I think we've made that public, but you are ultimately doing it because it's your personal form of self-expression. And it gives you the opportunity to do that to move people, which is what Yeah. The reviews have said that people who've attended your live events, they, they said they, they've been deeply moved by

    Michael Jamin:

    It. Yeah. And that's that, honestly, that is an honor. The fact, and like one thing I, so I just did two shows in Boston and I'm trying to convince myself that I broke even, I didn't break even. Right. <laugh> <laugh> because I have expenses I had to fly and all that stuff. Um, but, um, but the, the, the gratification that I got, it wasn't even from like, like selling out or counting the tickets or hearing the applause. The, the gratification I got was afterwards, like meeting people in a lobby or outside and then getting the, just like hearing like, oh man, thank you. Like thanking me. They paid me to sit in a theater to listen to me. And yet they're still thanking me because I gave them this experience. Like, that is the gratification part. That's what I take the joy in, you know.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's awesome. Kind of backing up a little bit to this, and it's on the, the same subject you said, you need to redefine what success looks like, right? Yeah. Another thing that I think you've done really well, and it might have been a couple weeks ago, you put a post out on social media saying that, you know, if you are a writer and you have written, you are, you know, if you have written you are, or you are writing, you are a writer. Yeah. And that reminded me of this blog post I read back in 2008 or 2009. It might have been on John august.com. Um, but he talked about, someone talked about like, what is the definition of a professional writer? Is it someone who writes every day? Is it someone who gets paid for something they have written? Is it someone who has something done that you can, you can go watch in a theater? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and you are saying, and correct me if I'm wrong, if you are writing, you are a writer.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    So that is success in and of itself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that is, you know, someone, uh, so I let, there was a post that someone made on social media that I, I saw and, uh, not on my account. And they, they, some guy accused this other guy, uh, you're just a failed actor. You're just a failed artist or whatever. He's failed something. And I was like, man, that's such a dumb thing to say. Like, you're not failed. It's if you're doing, if you're trying, you're, how is that a failure? A failure is not trying, a failure is like just giving up before you even try. Like you're, there's no such shame as a failed artist or an artist. You're, you know, and it's like, and the, and the example that I used is like Van Gogh arguably the greatest artist of all time. You know, he died before, before he was known. He died, you know, in a, I think it was at a Mendel institution.

    He didn't like, he was known one when he died. So does that mean he's a failed artist? Van Gogh? Is Van Gogh a failed artist because he didn't make any money when he was alive? Like, that's crazy. You know? And so I think if you just have to have realistic, you just have to define not realistic, but you have to, to redefine how you see, uh, success and his success. If this time spent being creative, like, how, to me that's the time best spent. How is that not like what is there better? What? Well, no time spent shopping is, is more valuable. You know, time spent, stand watching tv. No, I think time spent creating, regardless of whether it gets made or shopping, you get paid. That to me is like, if you can afford that, if you have the life that can afford an hour a day or half hour a day just doing that, that's success.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Yeah. And I think, um, again, reframing that principle, this term we talk about in personal zone reframing, which is looking at your perspective through a different lens or mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, making a different story in your head about what it means. And I might be jumping the gun in here a little bit, but I, what I think you're getting to is one of the best strategies for dealing with rejection is reframing what success means. Because if I'm successful just for having finished a screenplay or a pilot that I love and I feel is representative of who I am today, not 10 years from now, or not my perfect myself, but who I am today, that's success. Passing it on to other people who ultimately don't like it or don't think it's works that might be rejection from a commercial perspective mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it's all it is, is a litmus test for where I am today. And it doesn't expect me.

    Michael Jamin:

    And it's like what you're saying, like, to complete a screenplay, that's a big deal. That's a lot of work. You know, I I'm assuming you didn't write it in an afternoon. Like it's a lot. It's a big time commitment. A lot of thought went into it. And then when you finally finish it, that's a big deal. Most people only talk about writing a screenplay. Yeah. You know, they talk about it, but did you? And you did it. So that's success, you know?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. It's huge.

    Michael Jamin:

    Um, what else did I wanna say about this? Uh, oh, there's another, it's funny, I, I had this years ago when I was writing a King of the Hill, uh, uh, another writer on a John Collier who went on to become the showrunner of bones many years later. John's a is a great guy. And I remember complaining about something, uh, and I, and about it was, you know, it was jealousy, professional jealousy about something. And Collier said to me, he goes, you know, uh, there will always be someone younger than you, less talented than you, making more money than you. And I just thought that was perfect. I was like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. You know? So, you know, compare, you know? Yeah. That's just how it is. So you don't, I don't need to compare myself to that person. It's okay. So I'm, it's not, the world isn't always fair. The most talented people don't always win, you know, but that's, that doesn't mean it's not worthless. Doesn't mean you have less worth than somebody, or your work is less, less worth, uh, worthwhile. Um, yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. I mean, think about just, uh, what it means to be an Olympian, right? For example, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the you're the best of the best of the best. And the top point, like 0, 0, 0, 0 1% of them get a gold medal. Yeah. Does that mean being an Olympian and getting a gold, a silver or a bronze makes you a failure?

    Michael Jamin:

    Not a, or even, there's so many people, especially like in women's gymnastics who are so good and they don't even make the team because of, you know, there's only so many slots and it's like they could have easily been on the team, you know?

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. So, and, and there's stories of that happening too, where I think there was a, a skier from from Canada who didn't make the national team there. So he moved to Australia, became a citizen in Australia, and ended up winning the goal that the Winter Olympics for Australia.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow. Right. Yeah. So he was good. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    It's, it's a statement of, um, sometimes circumstance and, um, bad luck or bad timing prevent you from being, seeing the success in air quotes that you think you deserve. Uh, but you ultimately have the ability to change that. And I think that's something I appreciate about your message that you put out on social media and on a podcast, is stop giving control to everybody else and just take control of your own.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Stop asking for permission. And I'm, I am the same way, man. There's things that I want outta my career that I am not getting, and it doesn't, okay. I will figure out how to do it myself. Becau and I practice what I preach. Am I disappointed about? Yeah. But it is what it is. And so move forward and to be honest, so much about success in life is just not stopping. It's not, it's just like, it's just not quitting. It's just keeping, you know, it's, it's, everyone drops out. It's so hard that the fact that people drop out and stop doing it, that's good for you. That, that's cuz as long as you're committed to not stopping, that's good. That means, you know, you're still on the game whenever the people are just dropping out because they drop out because it's frustrating and it's hard. Good more room for me. You know,

    Phil Hudson:

    Literally, uh, your, your competition goes away. So I think I've heard people say you'll, anyone can make it in Hollywood if you're willing to, to last long enough. Yeah. Just last, the people around you, and we talked about this too, I think, um, you know, I look at the people that came from film school that I graduated with or I associated there and probably like half a dozen, dozen of those people here in Los Angeles, and two or three of my roommates have moved back to LA or moved back to their hometowns.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Cause they just,

    Michael Jamin:

    They they didn't want enough or it is too hard. Yeah. Which is fine. It's a Well,

    Phil Hudson:

    They change their priorities. Right.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. And that's fair too. That is totally fair to change your priorities. It doesn't mean you're a loser. It doesn't mean you are a quitter. It just means, okay, now that you've gotten a little older, other things are more important to you. Okay. Yeah. There's nothing wrong with no shame in that. Uh, it, it's just the shame is not, it's really just not trying when you had the chance. Like that's, that's, you know, because I, I say, I've said this and I hope I haven't said this year, I probably have cause I repeat myself. But like, everything comes with a, in my opinion, everything comes with a price. Everything you do in life is either going to, you're going to either pay with sacrifice if, you know, if you want it bad enough, you're gonna sacrifice, you're gonna, or it'll, you'll pay in regret if you don't try it.

    You know, one or the other, you're gonna pay my opinion regret costs more than sacrifice. But that's, that's a personal decision. So, you know. Yeah. And go, I just say go for it. And there's so many people. But, but you have to really put yourself, you know, you really have to be committed to putting a, a serious effort. Like, you know, take the time and work on your craft if that is, you know, all these things that you can do that other people just don't do, just out of laziness, you know? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so whatever it is, like, even if it's like following my, watching my post, what post, one post that I posted day on Instagram or whatever, that's a three minute commitment. Can you commit to that? And if you can't and the these posts are meant to help you. And if you can't commit to that, what's going on in your life? What's going on with you can't find three minutes, you

    Phil Hudson:

    Know, the priority issues there. Right.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Look, I, I think, I think is there a need to decompress and a need for self-care? Absolutely. Is can you push yourself a lot, lot further than I than you think you can. Yes. Um, each of us have our own pain thresholds and tolerances, but those things can be developed over time. And so that doesn't mean you go to the gym and you blow out and you bust your butt as hard as you can day one and then you can't lift for five days because you're just so sore. You know, it means showing up and doing the minimum effective dose. What's that little bit that you can do today to get ahead Right? And you can transition your life. Yeah. I was, was a really interesting podcast. There's an episode of the Tim Fair Show with a, uh, an investment in Graham Duncan. And he talked about this principle of, of timeline horizons, which is I'm projecting out how far I'm gonna get things done. And often our timeline horizons are days and weeks, not years or decades. Right. And if he pulled up the number, and I'm gonna mess up the, the number here, but you can Google and look it up, but it says, if you look, think about the seconds, right? Like the how seconds work, A million seconds is 11 days. Mm-hmm.

    Michael Jamin:

    <affirmative>. Okay.

    Phil Hudson:

    A billion seconds is like 31 years end some change.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    <affirmative>. And so if you think about how rich you are in seconds and how valuable that time is mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the question is where are you spending those seconds? Right? Right. Are you spending those seconds on social media watching random stuff? Where are you engaging with and learning from people like you and other people who are ki trying to teach people and help the next, um, you know, group of screenwriters take, you know, come to Hollywood and succeed.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Are you putting in that time working? Are you developing your story ideas? Are you breaking them? Are you educating yourself through YouTube videos, through um, taking online screenwriting courses? Are you take reading books? Are you, you know, working mm-hmm. <affirmative> and building a network of people. That's all valuable stuff that is part of the job. Screenwriting. Not just sitting down at the computer typing in final draft. You have to do all of those things.

    Michael Jamin:

    And I'll, I'll say this as well, like, let's say you don't want to, let's say you decide not to be a screenwriter and do something else. Like, just to be clear, whatever line of work you go into, you will deal with rejection <laugh>. So it's like, it's not like the Hollywood owns, uh, has the monopoly on rejection. So you might as well get rejected from doing something you want to do <laugh>. Yeah. You know, that's no

    Phil Hudson:

    Point. That was really interesting too. Cause I had an experience recently in Hollywood where, you know, I ran into trouble with somebody who was not necessarily what call a benevolent person they were mm-hmm. <affirmative> just kind of self-interested. And they tried to throw me under the bus for some things and I remember calling you and I was like, man, it made me wanna just give up and walk away. And he's like, that's cuz you've been working for yourself. If you've been working in any other job, you would've dealt with these people. Right. But I've been so employed for so long, I don't have to deal with crappy people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> being crappy, but they exist everywhere. So yeah, they're everywhere. Okay. Am I gonna deal with in a corporate gig in to, in Toledo or am I gonna just be in Hollywood and do what I want to do anyway and just put up with it here? It's the same, same problem.

    Michael Jamin:

    And and this speaks also to actors. Like, you know, you wanna talk about, you think it's hard for me in a writer. I, I mean actors, they deal with rejection every day. But the smart ones, they reframe it. And so like the, I mean, oh, it's brutal to be an actor. And so they, back in the day when we were doing auditions in person, it wasn't uncommon for me to go to my office and then pass literally 10 actors sitting in the hallway outside my office waiting to read for a part. And then you call 'em in and you audition and you know, nine of them are not gonna get it. And one of them, only one will. And all 10 of them worked their butts off the night before preparing. Uh, then the next day they slept across town in traffic running from, you know, leaving their job, whatever it is to try to get this audition. And only one of those 10 actors is gonna get it. And so it's brutal. But the smart ones, they consider that audition as that's what, that's the goal. Uh, I get a chance to perform for three people, that's it. But I'm performing for three people. I'm not getting money, but I'm still performing for three people and just trying to impress them. And okay, so I didn't get this job. Maybe I'll get the next one. You know? Uh, yeah. And, and as long as I impress people

    Phil Hudson:

    Or Oras your wife Cynthia, who's a very talented actor, you know, she says is making an impact in the room so that the casting director remembers who you are. And that's how she got a lot of her work. I get a lot of auditions and they're from, um, acting or casting directors who know who I am. And they, they call me in for specific parts. Cause I'm a type, I'm, I'm not, you know, the leading man that most people think of. I, I play a type, um, you know, on the subject of reframing, since we both brought it up, I think it might be worth exploring a little bit just for a second and helping people understand what that is. Cause I'm sure some people don't understand that conceptually. So what we're talking about here is, there's several ways of looking at it. And you are gonna come in based off of your experiences, your unique experiences of life, you're gonna come at that with a story.

    And that story's going to say, man, I busted my butt and I'm sitting in a room with 10 people who literally look just like me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, same height, physical build, everything, odds of me making this one in 10. I'm not gonna get this part. And if you let that affect you, you're gonna go in there and perform at a lower level than you could have otherwise. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Or you could tell yourself a different story, which is the reframing, which is I get the opportunity to perform for three people. I am an actor. This is incredible. Right. Right. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or I get to go in and make an impression. You know, I think it's that, I don't know how true, how true it is, but it was that George Cloney story. Go, I go into the room and I think I started seeing success when I started saying I'm the solution to their problem. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> instead of I want them to give me this part.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, exactly. Exactly. Absolut's a reframe. What, what can you bring to the table? We'll get to that. But I should also say like, some people say like, you know, so I, I've worked with some writers who maybe you make you wonder, how do they, how are they here? Here? Like, they're not that good. How are they in the same room? And you know, but the truth is they're here cuz they didn't give up. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, good for them. They didn't give up. Uh, so that's why they're there, you know, and, and you know, maybe even if you think you have no talent, well maybe you could be one of those people by not giving up <laugh>, you know, don't give up. That's all. Just keep at it.

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

    So, okay, so one of the things I'm, I'm creatively most just, I'm just really into now is writing and performing, uh, my one man show. I'm just into it. And, and part of me wishes, ah, man, I wish I had started this 30 years ago when I was young and really made a go out of it. Right? Because now I'm kind of old. Uh, but the truth is I couldn't have done it then. I did. I wasn't a good enough writer back then to do it. This what, you know, I just, it took, this is how long it took. It takes a long time to learn how to write. Uh, and so, you know, it is, it is what it is. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know,

    Phil Hudson:

    That's a really important note for people is oh yeah, you've had 26, 27 years experience, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in Hollywood mm-hmm. <affirmative>, yeah. Years in Hollywood trying to break in before that college, lots of that time putting in effort knowing this is what you wanted to do and you're literally saying, I can do this job now. I couldn't do this 26 years ago.

    Michael Jamin:

    No way.

    Phil Hudson:

    10 years ago

    Michael Jamin:

    I got rejected from the Creative writing program in college twice. So I wasn't good enough to get into the creative writing program. Then when I moved out here and I took an a, uh, a writing class, uh, my, my teacher thought he was doing me a favor by saying, you know, you're not gonna be a good writer, you know, to do something else that way you'll be happier. And I, I was like, no, I, no one gets it to tell me what I'm gonna be. You know, I'll just have to, I may, I just have to learn more. I just have to study harder and just keep at it. Um, and, and you know, I had a, a moment honest, maybe, uh, maybe half a year ago, um, where I kind of just had this realization. I just finished writing one of my stories, my personal essays, and I had this moment where I kind of realized like, damn, I'm now the writer I always wanted to be when I was in college like that. And it took 26 years to get there, but I'm there now. And it's like, you know, it takes as long as it takes, but I, I went, I moved as fast as I could.

    Phil Hudson:

    It takes as long as it takes. Yeah. All. And are you ready? I didn't get outta the storm. Right. Yeah. And if you're not, then go be happy doing something else. And I, and I, I hated that advice. I heard that advice a lot. It's like, if you could be happy doing anything else, go do that.

    Well, I don't agree with that. Cause I could be happy with a lot of things, but at the same time, I know I would be unhappy 20 years from now sitting at the theater knowing I didn't give him everything I had to do this. Right. That the unhappiness and you talk about rejection or regret earlier. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is this, there's something that people do that I think is a really powerful, um, experience, which is going into retirement centers and, um, you know, assisted living members Yeah. And spending time with them and talking to people at that last stage of their life. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and all of them talk about their regrets. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I regret not doing this. Not chasing that dream. Not going after that girl or that guy, not mm-hmm. <affirmative> pursuing that thing, not, not taking that vacation, not spending more time on the family. It's all regret, regret, regret. And so,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. So you, you're not gonna regret trying. You'll say, okay, it didn't work out. I didn't succeed, but you're not gonna regret having tried. Why you wouldn't.

    Phil Hudson:

    I just had a really, you know, I had to go in and do, um, ADR for the role I played on Tacoma fd, which was a really cool experience. And afterwards we were talking, it was me and, um, two of the guys who work on our post team. Uh, one of 'em was senior level, one of 'em, you know, uh, uh, coordinator level. And we were talking about Brian, cause the coordinator wanted to be a writer. And he, we were talking about scripts and the other one was like, yeah, I went out, I came out to LA and I gave him what I had for like 10 years. And I was good enough to get meetings. And then I remember I was a reader for, um, a studio and the film phenomenon came around and I read that script and I thought, that is what I want to write. That is so good. And then it clicked, I will never be that good. And that's like, that's what it realized. Okay, I gave it my shot. Now let me have a career in Hollywood that I can still enjoy.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. And that was for him, his moment. You know, it was like, I try,

    Michael Jamin:

    But he could, I, I, I disagree. He might've, he might've, he stuck with it. He might have written,

    Phil Hudson:

    There you go. But for him, that was his moment. And he doesn't live with regret about that.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Okay. Which, which, yeah, he could, he continued to push through it probably.

    Michael Jamin:

    So I did a post a couple of days ago, or weeks ago, I don't remember. But, um, some people think like, what are the odds of me making it in Hollywood? You know, there's, there's too many people I'll ne I'll never become a screenwriter. I'll never, you know, I'll never make it. But the truth is, the odds aren't as bad as you think they are because yes, everyone and their brother has a script that they're trying to sell and one and dreams of, you know, whatever. I have an idea why one, yes. So many people have that, but the vast majority of those people are not serious about it. They're just not. And so it's like saying, you know, entering the New York City marathon where it's some, I don't know, like 50,000 people enter that race, right? And she would say, oh my God, I gotta beat 50,000 people.

    If I wanna win the marathon, I gotta beat 50,000 people. No, you don't. Only a couple dozen of them have any chance, have any shot of actually winning the thing. Most of those people are just, they're running for the fun of it. They're running to say, say they did it. They're running to maybe beat their previous time, but only a couple. It doesn't have any shot of winning this thing. And they train every day. They take it seriously. They have habits and they race. And these guys, these men and women want to win the thing. So if you wanna win the marathon, you don't have to be 50,000 people. You have to beat two dozen people. That's it. That's it. And the same thing with being a screenwriter. Most people just don't take it seriously. So you don't have to beat, forget about those people. Are you taking it seriously? Are you studying? Are you working? Are you working every day? Are you right, working under craft? Or you're learning? Are you improving? Are you that person? Because then you might have a shot.

    Phil Hudson:

    That's another beautiful reframe right there for anyone who's keeping score, right? Yeah. Oh look, I gotta beat five 50,000 people. No, you need to be beat two dozen.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Or less. You know,

    Phil Hudson:

    It's, but it goes back to what you've always said though. You have to treat the job. If you're gonna be a professional screenwriter, you have to be a professional. Yeah. You have to get up, you have to write, you have to do the daily habits that get you there. And if you're not doing that, then again, you don't have three minutes to listen to Michael Jam and give you a tip today about screenwriting. What are you doing with your life? Why are you doing this?

    Michael Jamin:

    But also, if you don't enjoy it, if you don't enjoy the sitting down and writing, if you're not getting something out of that. And why do you want to be a writer? And, you know, cuz you're, are you doing it for the money, for the fame? There's other ways to become famous and rich than, than doing that. So, and, and, and by the way, there's a lot of work that I have to do as a professional writer that I have to do for free. So if I'm not enjoying that part, like why am I doing any of this? You know? So like, why, why do you wanna be a screenwriter if you don't enjoy writing? You know?

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    I do a lot of work for free

    Phil Hudson:

    Clout fame, prove people wrong. Again, there's

    Michael Jamin:

    No clout. I don't walk into the supermarket and people fuck they, they throw food at me. You know, I, I What's the clout <laugh>? No one cares. No one cares. Uh, you know, you gotta do it for yourself.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, I know. Uh, reality TV stars who, uh, flip houses on TV and then they can get into clubs because they have recognition. I know a lot of writers who no one knows who they are at all.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, no one know. I mean, it's so funny that, uh, it's so funny. There's only a handful of famous writers, really. I mean, I guess Quentin Tarantino, who else? I mean, who, I mean, you can name it a handful. Sean Writers Sorkin. Right. He's probably the, he's a great example. Aaron Sorkin. But the rest of us you never heard of.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    You know, uh, and but we, we exist

    Phil Hudson:

    <laugh>. That's right.

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    Right. So

    Phil Hudson:

    You had some beautiful notes here about, um, rejection, some experiences. Like, there's this Einstein quote that I think is really Oh

    Michael Jamin:


    Phil Hudson:

    Certain my Einstein, my shameless Einstein behind me. I've had this thing for years. But, um, yeah, I think that that quote's pretty beautiful. And I think that's a, a good point that would help people.

    Michael Jamin:

    He said, Einstein has a famous quote. He, he said, and he was smart. We can agree on that. The most important decision you'll ever make is, is the world benevolent? That's it. And this is, I mean, it's almost, it's very spiritual and you're like, Einstein said that. Yeah. And it's because if you think the world is benevolent, if you, if the universe is out to give you and, and help you, then you will see proof of that everywhere you look. If you think the world is malevolent out to get you, then you will see proof of that. You'll see all, everything will back up that, uh, will support. It's funny, I was just watching an episode of, um, uh, Gimel del Toro's, uh, curiosity Curio, whatever it's called. He has a, he has a, uh, a television show about, you know, it's like an anthology series.

    And in this one episode, there's this one guy, and he's kind of like, he's bidding on a, um, uh, one of those lockers, the storage lockers. I can't remember the actor. He's, he's a good actor. He's great. But the point is, this guy was like on the bottom of society and everything he saw was, I'm getting screwed left and right. Everything. That's how he, that's how he saw the world. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> is just that through that lens. And even when something good happened to him, it was, nah, the world is out to screw me. And, you know, and there are people who think that way. And the other hand, if you make the decision that the world is here to help me, every little thing, even when the, even when things aren't going my way, that's just a sign of the universe giving me this little challenge to help me in a different way. You know? And if that's how you see it, you'll just be a happier person. You

    Phil Hudson:

    Know, again, it's a, it's a frame. You get to choose which frame the lens through which you view the world. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I, to back to something you said earlier that reminded me of this anecdote from when I was in sales, you know, I didn't want to be a sales guy. I, I kind of pushed back, but it was, uh, in the middle of the recession and I had to take the job. It paid way more than I was thinking of about other jobs I was doing. And so I was like, okay, we'll do it. And I, I sucked for like six months, honestly, looking back, it's kind of amazing. I wasn't fired, but my boss believed in me. And he gave me this book on sales and I read it, and in it, there's a note, like right at the beginning, he says, A sales champion has to remember that every no gets you closer to a yes.

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It's just an average. It's a, it's a law of averages. I know that for every 10 people I ask for the sale, one or two of them is gonna say yes. And so instead of being upset or feeling rejected, because everyone shoots you down, you know, eight of 10 are gonna shoot you down, say thank you. Why? Because that person, you just save time, not wasted. It's gonna get you to the person who's gonna give you your Yes. Faster. And so that's what this is. I mean, you're, you're just, thank you so much for that rejection. Now I'm closer.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it, it's even deeper than even the see, you write a screenplay and doesn't sell, but the process of writing it gives you some kind of joy or satisfaction or helps you see the world in a different way. Or meditation gives you some kind of, yeah. It brings you some kind of inner peace or whatever. Isn't that like, why isn't that wonderful? You know? Yeah. And so even like, that's a great point. I go back to the show that I, that I'm, that I'm doing. It's like, I wrote this bunch of pieces and people were really moved by that. And like, I was just so, they were grateful to me, but I was grateful to them. I really like the fact, it just brought meaning to me that I was able to bring meaning to them. Like that, that I told them a story that touched them.

    That, and I say this and every, the, the goal, whenever I'm writing a piece and you can't achieve it on every piece, it's just not possible. But cuz there has to be a different, every, every piece has to be a little different. But like, when I'm writing, I'm always thinking, how can I get the person who read this or who watched this or see my goal is like, they just left the theater, they just saw my show. Can I get them to sit in the car for just a few seconds before they turn the ignition on and just feel like, what the hell did I just see? Or what did I hear? Like, like, can I get them to just stop for a second and feel it? You know, that to me is the victory. It's not, it's really not. It's nothing else. Um, and, and sometimes he, like so many people afterwards said to me, oh, you should, will you trim this into a TV show? Will you sell it as like, I don't, I don't even know. That's not the goal. I swear to God, that's not the goal. Um, if I did sell it as a TV show, I'd make some money. I would have to make some changes and compromises that I don't really, that's not why I'm doing this. I don't wanna compromise anybody. Like after doing this for so many years, I don't wanna compromise it anymore. <laugh>. I just want to do something that's, uh, you know, authentic to my myself.

    Phil Hudson:

    You're, you're taking the advice you give everyone that follows you on social media, hundreds of thousand. I hope so. Follow you, which is put it out there. Just, just put it out there.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Put it out there and see, do

    Phil Hudson:

    It yourself.

    Michael Jamin:

    Put it out there and see if you can, uh, affect people on an emo you know, on some kind of emotional scale. And don't think about yourself. What's in it for me? No. What's in, what's in for them? What can I give them? How can I give them an experience?

    Phil Hudson:

    Serve, it's serving them. Yeah. Um, this, this ties into a principle of neurolinguistic programming, nlp, which is just a, it's a pseudoscience around psychology, but it just kind of looks at how people think about things. And it's, there's one principle that that really stood out to me, which is when I feel love, right? Like mm-hmm. My wife tells me she loves me. What is that actually saying? Or when I tell my wife I love her, it's the inverse. When I tell my wife I love her, what I'm really saying is, I love that I can love myself through you. Right? Mm-hmm.

    <affirmative>, I feel love for myself. When my daughter comes up and says that that, and hugs my leg when I come home, I feel love for myself. I feel I am lovable. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And effectively, if you think about it from this emotional passing or transition that we're talking about here, that's what I'm hearing you say is you are transitioning an emotion to these people mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that they are unwilling to or uncapable of filling in that moment themselves. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And when they come give you gratitude, it's giving you gratitude for the time, energy, and effort you put into it just as much as they're feeling for whatever it is that you triggered inside of them.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And it's, and it's a gift if you look at it as a gift that you're giving somebody. Cuz not everyone can write or write well or not everyone wants to go there in. They're real. And it's painful to go. Some of the stories I tell, like, I can see why people wanna ignore that kind of stuff. Yeah. Uh, you know, it is painful, but, um, if you can give them that, you're really giving them a gift. And, uh, and that's so gratifying to give someone that experience and move them in such a way, like why does there have to be a dollar sign attached to it? Like, you know what I'm saying? You don't, and for anyone's listening to this, you don't have to, you don't have to sell your script to, uh, in Hollywood for a quarter of a million dollars to be successful.

    Like, can't you stage something at your community theater <laugh> and, and get that same emo? I mean honestly, can't you? Why, why and why not? Yeah. You know, why can't you write something small and put it up on this community theater or have them have them stage it for you, whatever. And as long as the writing is good, you can give the same number of people, you know, a small number of people, whatever, 80 people at a time, a wonderful experience. And you don't have to get paid a quarter of a million dollars. You can get paid nothing and still feel on top of the world.

    Phil Hudson:

    What's the value of impacting just one person.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. Right.

    Phil Hudson:

    Huge. Tremendous. I mean, think about yourself. How many times have you gone through your life and someone impacted you in a way that changed, changed or transitioned. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> your day or your week or your entire life. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's probably a small one that that person doesn't even remember that is so valuable to you. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And we get the luxury and opportunity to do that as riders. Yeah. And, uh, Michael, I I just want to again, thank you for the perspective that you put out there, because so many people, and I'm a hundred percent guilty of this comment at it from a, from a capitalist money hungry perspective of I want, I want, I want significance from my peers. I want to feel special. I want to feel like I I'm worth something in the small rock in the middle of a space. And all you're saying is you can do that. And you don't have to be, you don't need approval from anybody to do

    Michael Jamin:

    That. Yeah. You don't need Exactly. Hollywood. Right? You don't have, Hollywood doesn't have to give you permission. You can do it on your own. You just have to know how to, you just have to know how to do it. You have to write, you have to get good at it. So you, so you can do it that's on you, but you don't need anyone's per, uh, permission to do it even

    Phil Hudson:

    If it 26 years.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. There is a story. It's funny, the, one of the stories that I'm telling, uh, next week actually my show, I have another two shows in LA next week. And so one of the stories, it's kind of a funny little thing. So when I was in college, my friend and I went to uh, uh, we were walking through Neiman Marcus and there was a, you know, in the mall and there's a woman spraying cologne. And so, uh, do you want it? So we, we both, I walked through the cloud and, you know, whatever I was wanted 19 or whatever I was. And uh, and I said to her, I don't smell anything. Right. And it was such a dumb thing to say like, <laugh>, why am I calling her out? Right? And she said to me, oh, that means you're not ready for it. And it was such a condescending thing to say, <laugh>, and I was fuming and I spent the next 20 years fuming over this.

    Like, uh, uh, and then, you know, cause it's like, how would you say that? And that became the subject of one of the pieces that I'm performing, uh, next weekend, which is basically I reframed it. I thought, well what if I write a story where this woman who I've voiced, like how dare she, what if she was right? What if I wasn't ready for it? And so that's the subject of the story. And that's just like a little moment. And that a tiny moment from my past that I turned into a 25 minute story, uh, and I get to do that. I get to do that because I'm a writer. But

    Phil Hudson:

    We all have this, what I love about that is like, I connected with that immediately just on the premise. Like I felt that in my, in my soul, and I'm sure other people listening us did too. And it took me to this moment, like when I was a missionary, um, you're out there and you're paying your way and you don't get paid to do it. And so we would be invited into, uh, homes and they would, people would feed us, uh, members of the congregation would feed us. And we went into this pretty wealthy neighborhood and it's like steak and potatoes, which is awesome. I'm on the border of Mexico and in America in Texas. And, uh, we sit down with a woman and she's like, oh, so what do you guys wanna do when you get back? And at the time I was like, oh yeah, I think I'm gonna go get my mba. And she goes, oh, that'll be good for you. You could run a subway <laugh>. Oh, the indignation I feel is still from that comment. It's just like, who do you think I am? Like <laugh>, you know, I could run a subway

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's why it's great to write about that.

    Phil Hudson:

    What I love about that, immediately I came back from a mission and I got a job as a manager of a sandwich show.

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. There you go.

    Phil Hudson:

    I need mba.

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't need an, yeah. Uh, there's just so many wonderful things. Like, I don't know, if you're a writer, you get to go back and one of the, honestly, and I know I'm, I guess I'm changing the subject, but, um, one of the things about the show that is so interesting to me that I get to perform to do it. And again, this is not me, Hollywood. This is me performing in a small theater. <laugh>. Yeah. That could be anywhere. You know? And I, and it is everywhere cause I travel with the show. But, um, one of the things that, uh, that I get to do, I, it, it occurred to me, and someone brought this up during my, one of the questions the q and a after you tried for q and a and uh, is that I get to, it's a time machine. I'm up there on stage and I'm going back through periods of my life and I'm in it and I'm performing it and I'm living it as if it happened to me 20, 30, 40 years ago. And it's so powerful to be in that moment. And that's something only a writer, I guess and a writer performer can do, is I built a fricking time machine.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    You know, and so that's powerful to be able to do that. And that's, you don't have, you know, Hollywood doesn't have to pay you to do that. You can do that on your own if you know how to write.

    Phil Hudson:

    And the flip side of this conversation is if you do that and you do that well that is the kind of thing that draws attention and will probably read to Hollywood paying you to do that.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's possible. Yeah. It's po we'll say it's in, it's so interesting. One of the other things is, I, I, what I should mention is like, during this time machine when I'm performing and I'm in it this time, and some of these moments are from childhood, which are painful or funny or whatever. This time I'm reliving it, but I'm not alone. I'm with a room full of people, you know, I'm not alone. And it's, uh, it's a wonderful ex, you could feel it, you could feel, you could hear a needle drop, you could feel Yeah. Uh, people on the edge of their seat, you can get there. And, uh, like, and so what, so what if I didn't make a <laugh> a ton of money from this? So what isn't that great? You know? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. It provides value and meaning to your life, you know? Yeah. World where many people struggle with that. I struggle. Yeah. From time to time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uh, yeah. We all do. And I, part of the thing is I get a lot of writers cuz they follow me on, you know, social media. They come to the show and they say, man, you've inspired me. I'm like, good cuz you could do this too. Yeah. You have moments in your life you can do it. What's stopping you, you can do it.

    Phil Hudson:

    If there's anything that summarizes my experience with you, Michael, as a mentor and a friend, it's mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can do this too. I, I think that that is yeah, a very beautiful summary of your perspective and why you put yourself out there is to help people understand you can do this too.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. You can do it. It's like I, I, if I can help you just take what's inside of you and express it in a way that's engaging to other people. That's, that's the hard part, right? Yeah. That's what we, that's what we teach. But if you've learned how to do that, then you're giving people a gift.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    You know? Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:

    Beautiful. Michael, any other thoughts on rejection or, or

    Michael Jamin:

    That's it. The beauty. That's how we deal with rejection. That's how, uh, that's it. It's how we deal with rejection. Phil, is there anything else we should No,

    Phil Hudson:

    No. I, I think, I think again, really, really positive stuff. It's great to be back here having these conversations with you. Yeah. I've truly missed, um, connecting with you this way and, and I, I hope that, I know that you've had some amazing guests on the podcast and I think that that perspective is mm-hmm. <affirmative> so beautiful for writers to hear and learn and see how these people made it happen. So most people are some really big names that we've all looked up to for years as well. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> where their stories have impacted us. And to have that opportunity to interact with him on his human level is, is pretty incredible.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's funny cuz when I talk to some many of my guests, I go, you're saying everything that I've just said on my social, and we just laugh cuz it's, we all have very similar experiences about, you know, success, failure, how to make in h what the, what the journey's, like how to increase, increase your odd stuff like that.

    Phil Hudson:

    So, but it's beautiful. I mean, that's, it's a, it is, I think it's unifying for people like me and people like me 10 years ago, or anywhere in between there who are just trying to make this happen. It's, it's a, it's a very important lesson for people to know that you can, you can do this too. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> here is the, here are the mental and physical hurdles you're gonna have to overcome to do that. And the emotional hurdles. And if you can break through and you can be vulnerable and you can push, you can reframe what rejection means to you. You can have an impact. Even if it means you never become a name writer like Aaron Sorkin. Yeah. But you can still have an impact, even if it's one person in your own town or one person who watches that you do video you put out. Yeah. And that's enough.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Enjoy the process.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    All righty, everyone. We're gonna, we're until our next podcast is what should we, uh, mention, Phil, should we

    Phil Hudson:

    Mention? Yeah, it's, look, we talk about this stuff all the time. We, you have a, a free first lesson from your screenwriting course@michaeljan.com slash free. And I think it is one of the most valuable lessons people can learn. It's literally the very first personal message you lesson you ever taught me, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> years ago

    Michael Jamin:

    You said. Yeah. Go grab that. That'll help for sure.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah, absolutely. Get that, get on the watch list, Michael jammy.com/watch list. You send out your top three pieces of content every week goes, that'll your Friday. Yeah. Um, do you have your online screenwriting course, which I am your biggest fan of personally? Yeah. The impact has had on my writing, and I know that that goes across the word for hundreds of people at this point.

    Michael Jamin:

    The whole thing was your idea. To be honest,

    Phil Hudson:

    <laugh>, I've, I I've been for years and I've told it so many times. Years. I mean, 20, 20 15. I, I was pushing for you to do that, and you're like, no, I don't. It's not what I gotta, that's not what I do. Like I don't have time. I'm so grateful. You did. I know there were plenty of people just like me who did. So michael jamen.com/course. You can go check that out. Um,

    Michael Jamin:

    Cannot, you know what else we can, you know, else we can unplug as I start touring with this, it's still whatever city you live in. If you want me to come to your city, go to michael jamen.com/upcoming and then enter your information there. That way when I do come, uh, when I get to your town, I'll, I'll, you know, you'll, you'll be alerted

    Phil Hudson:

    U P C O M I N G upcoming

    Michael Jamin:

    Up. Upcoming, yeah. Upcoming. Yeah.

    Phil Hudson:


    Michael Jamin:

    Um, all right, everyone.

    Phil Hudson:

    Yeah. Thanks guys. Appreciate it. Michael, thank you so much for your time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, thank you all. Until next time, be safe.

    Phil Hudson:

    Keep writing.

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

    50m | Dec 14, 2022
  • 058 - Writer/Producer Bryan Behar

    Bryan Behar is a writer/producer known for Wilfred, Glenn Martin D.D.S., and Las Man Standing. Join Michael Jamin and Bryan Behar in this deep conversation, perfect for emerging writers or aspiring TV Writers.

    Show Notes

    Bryan Behar on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0066864/

    Bryan Behar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bryanbehar

    Bryan Behar on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bryan_behar/

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Course https://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Auto-Generated Transcripts

    Michael Jamin:

    Someone said, well, you know, when are they gonna, are they gonna bring back multi-camera sick? They should bring 'em back.

    Bryan Behar:

    They exist Uhhuh. But they exist either for the very old or the very young. But there's been an entire generation that has been raised without them.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? And

    Bryan Behar:

    Which infuriates me because as a historian of the, of the genre, I look back as recently as a couple years ago, and in the previous, I think 60 years of sitcoms, the number one sitcom on the air, uh, in terms of total viewers had been a multicam in 59 of the six first 60 years.

    Michael Jamin:

    You're listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jam.

    Hey everybody, welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jam. I got a special guest today. But you know, the way, um, the Letterman show always opens with, you know, my next guest needs no introduction. Well, my next guest needs an introduction, but he's like, <laugh>. But, but you know what? All writers need introductions. No one's ever heard of any of us. But I'm here with Brian Behar and he is, dude, this guy's got a, he's a sitcom writer with a list of a laundry list of shows that he's worked on. I'm Brian. I'm gonna run through those cuz I'm sure you've forgotten half the credits. That's how many credits you have. All

    Bryan Behar:

    Right. I, I could name three, so please.

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>, we started his, his career with the illustrious teen Angel, and then we slowly move up to working. I remember that show. I'd forgotten you were on work. You had some,

    Bryan Behar:

    I started with Ned and Stacy, but that may not have appeared on the, on your laundry list.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uh, my researchers who basically just download imdb did not tell me that. But we're gonna go on the IMDB order. <laugh>, okay. That's accurate. Uh, then dag, remember that show with Andy and Eileen Baby Bob, you remember that show Baby Bob?

    Bryan Behar:

    The biggest hit I've ever been on <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    Then a usa

    Bryan Behar:

    And I still quit because I, as I told the Showrun my self-esteem can't handle running into anyone I went to high school with telling them I'm on Baby Bob. Sorry, Saltzman.

    Michael Jamin:

    Sorry. The, then a usa and then Andy Richter controls the universe. Guys, hang on. This guy's got so many credits then I'm with her. Although we're not sure if it's I'm with her or I'm with her.

    Bryan Behar:

    Brent Must Berger said I'm with her. So it was, I'm with her

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>, I'm with her. I'm coughing. Then eight simple rules. How many of the rules did you ever get to before they canceled the show, by the way?

    Bryan Behar:

    Uh, we were on the fourth rule.

    Michael Jamin:

    Fourth rule. I was on, by the way, rules of engagement. So, oh.

    Bryan Behar:

    And I've done three shows with the working of the title

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. Then, then the New Adventures of Old Christine. The, the old conventions of new Christine would've been better, but apparently that's okay. Then The Jake Effect.

    Bryan Behar:


    Michael Jamin:

    Weak shots. I don't even know what that is, to be honest.

    Bryan Behar:

    Oh, that was an, that was a highly touted one hour.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, so you can talk about some drama experience.

    Bryan Behar:

    I can talk about anything.

    Michael Jamin:

    It doesn't mean, doesn't mean what you're talking about, but you can talk about

    Bryan Behar:

    Any Yeah, no, you're not gonna be able to stop me

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh> then. Big. Okay. Big shots then. True. Jackson vp, which was on Nickelodeon

    Bryan Behar:

    One episode. I, I wrote a, I wrote a story. Let's not get carried away.

    Michael Jamin:

    All right. Let's not give you too much credit then. Wil, which we worked on together.

    Bryan Behar:


    Michael Jamin:

    Talking Dog Show.

    Bryan Behar:

    Oh, that's where's our other Talking dog show? That that should have been a, uh, oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Getting there. Glen Martin dds. No one knows what that is, but that's when we first worked together.

    Bryan Behar:

    But if you love, uh, Canadian cable Claymation shows you might like Glen

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. You might like it. Uh, last Man Standing

    Bryan Behar:

    Like animation with a laugh track that isn't jaber. You're gonna love Glen. You're,

    Michael Jamin:

    That's how they promoted it. Then, uh, last Man Standing, which you were not one of the last men standing on that show.

    Bryan Behar:

    No, I was the first to go. But

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. Well, Jack, no, Jack was the first to go.

    Bryan Behar:

    That's true. Greater

    Michael Jamin:

    Was the first to go.

    Bryan Behar:

    Then he came back and then he went again, and then he came back. So, yes,

    Michael Jamin:

    I didn't realize he came back. Sorry. Then saved me. I don't know what that is. Do you know what that is?

    Bryan Behar:

    Give me a moment.

    Michael Jamin:

    Was that just a letter that you wrote to your agent

    Bryan Behar:

    <laugh>? Um, I did, I did write that letter from the writer's room of Save Me <laugh>. Um, that was a show about Ann Hay, uh, think she Can Speak to God. And that was the least crazy part of the show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I did not know that. We'll talk about that.

    Bryan Behar:

    Yes, please.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uh, then we'll talk about Kirsty, which we worked again on You guys brought, I mean, me and my partner in on to do a freelance of that. And I had the great Cogan on the show a couple weeks ago.

    Bryan Behar:

    Oh my goodness. Well, you, you've got to everyone before me. Oh,

    Michael Jamin:

    I I, yeah. This is the bottom of the barrel week. I

    Bryan Behar:

    Know, I saw on the list. I was like,

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. Really?

    Bryan Behar:

    So go ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    Uh, I also have here Jennifer Falls

    Bryan Behar:

    And does not get back up. Yes. All yes, I've heard them all. Uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Ratings falls then Ned and Stacy we have on here. I don't know why it's, it's out of order here, but yes, that was 1997 N and Stacy there. And then finally, uh, you were the, you were the showrunner of Fuller House, the, the full House Free make.

    Bryan Behar:

    That is correct. I was,

    Michael Jamin:

    Now you,

    Bryan Behar:

    Is the first time you're hearing

    Michael Jamin:

    This. I had no idea. <laugh>, you've, now you're fond to say that I think you've, like, you've worked on 20, it's 26 shows. Is that what it is?

    Bryan Behar:

    21 shows in 26 seasons,

    Michael Jamin:

    21 shows. And think about, so this is a career, guys. You

    Bryan Behar:

    Are, this is a hard way to do it.

    Michael Jamin:

    It is the hard way.

    Bryan Behar:

    Apply for a new job twice a year.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And it's act I mean, to be honest, it was, um, it was more doable then than it is now. I mean, now it's really hard to do that.

    Bryan Behar:

    I have no idea what people do now. Yeah. Which is, which makes me a sort of, sort of a sham as a, a teacher of, of sitcoms as I'm trying to, um, encourage and promote people to take a, take the, the risk and, uh, and jump in. But, uh, I have no idea what a career trajectory, uh, looks like today. It was, it, it, it it was very, uh, understandable when we broke in. Yeah. Like, it, like there was a clearer path and you're like, oh, I can go from show to show and there's enough sitcoms and there's, you know, I can just, if I lose one job, I'll just walk to the next bungalow on CBS Bradford and knock on the door and hope somebody else lets us in. But

    Michael Jamin:

    That's, that's what I say. I say maybe I wonder if you agree. I say that, um, I think it's easier to break in now, but it's harder to make a sustain a career. What do you think?

    Bryan Behar:

    Um, well, I'm, I'm certainly not gonna disagree with you on your own show. I mean, you, you <laugh>,

    Michael Jamin:

    Please, if you do, I just edit it out.

    Bryan Behar:

    You have your burgeoning media empire here and I looking to be part of it. Um, God, how many does it? Okay. Um, I think you're right. Um, and by that, i I, I don't know if it's harder to sustain a career. I see a lot more people not entirely willing to commit to putting a career together.

    Michael Jamin:

    What does that

    Bryan Behar:

    Mean? Which, I mean, there's been such, um, on social media and in the press, there's such a sort of hype surrounding the concept of like the celebrity showrun that, and, and sort of with the advent of streaming services, that there's this idea that anyone can get a show on the air at any time and immediately jump from like an unemployed, unemployable, aspiring writer to a show runner. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> without doing any of the work in between. Like, you know, I know I hate to sound old fashioned, but you and I, we definitely put in the time working up the rung, working up the ladder. So when we finally got that call to run a show, I, you know, we, we had the skill set presumably, you know, we had been learning, we'd been acquiring a certain set of skills. Um, and I don't know that that is really like, promoted as much,

    Michael Jamin:

    But are you seeing people with not, with not a lot of experience becoming share owners?

    Bryan Behar:

    No. Um, but I'm seeing, but I'm hearing a lot of that's the aspiration.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, oh, yes. That's for sure. I hear that a lot.

    Bryan Behar:

    You know, like, you know, because I know you talk to a lot of people, you know, who were, you know, aspiring TV writers. And I, you know, I was doing a lot of talks on, on Clubhouse, and a lot of ask me anything kind of talks on, on Twitter and, and the, the question always sort of circles back to how do I sell a pilot to Netflix? How do I get a show on the streamer? How do I become a show runner? And it's not like, oh, what samples do I need Yeah. To break in? What skills do I need to move up the ladder? You know, it's just a different mindset. Like, it never would've occurred to me. I didn't, I didn't even sell a pilot or even attempt a pilot until I had been on 12 networks at college.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so fun, Brian. It's like, maybe we're just the old guys, but this is exactly what I say all the time. I mean, so I'm glad that I'm not the only one saying it, or thinking at

    Bryan Behar:

    Least. No, there are, there are two old guys in the Yeah, we have become the guys from the puppets, but

    Michael Jamin:

    The cranky old guys Yeah. In

    Bryan Behar:

    Waldorf and Staler.

    Michael Jamin:

    But, but you, so I wanna actually wanna mention this. I wanna jump around for a second. So yes, you are also teaching at Chapman University. You're teaching, uh, is it television writing? What are you, what's their course?

    Bryan Behar:

    Um, yeah. Um, I'm teaching, I, I just, I started last semester from, this was my first time. Um, and, and currently in this fall semester, I'm teaching two classes. One is a sitcom writing class, uh, for graduate students, uhhuh. And one is a pilot writing class for undergrads. And then I'm gonna do two, they've already asked me back, uh, for two sitcom classes, uh, in the spring semester.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wow, that's

    Bryan Behar:

    Great. Yeah. It seems to be what I do. Uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    So you're enjoying it then? I love

    Bryan Behar:

    It. I love it. And I, uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    You weren't sure if you were gonna enjoy it?

    Bryan Behar:

    No, I, it, it actually took a little bit of Mm, a little coaxing internally in the family. You know, my wife had a bit of a come to Jesus moment with me. You know how, I don't know if you've heard the old joke, but they say that in Hollywood, you're retired for seven years before you realize it. Well, I had been retired for three years, and my wife was certainly well aware, and I was, I was starting to get it. Um, and she really was, you know, she really sat me down and said, like, you know, is this what you wanna do the rest of your life? Just keep banging your head against the same wall? Or is there, is there a wall you can go around and find something that gives you joy? And this has been great. What

    Michael Jamin:

    Exactly do you like about it?

    Bryan Behar:

    Well, I like not being on a TV show, which apparently Hollywood, Hollywood and myself have the same, like

    Michael Jamin:

    You do have the same goal for you.

    Bryan Behar:

    They both, my, my, uh, agent manager, Hollywood producers and teaching, I'll see it the same way. <laugh>.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    No, I, I, I love, I mean, it, it, it's something so special to be around people who just are filled with nothing but hope and nothing but confidence. And, you know, it's really, I mean, if I have to spend my days around people who are positive and, and still love, have a love for the art and a love for the craft, and would give anything to be in television or be, you know, be by myself or be around a lot of bitter people complaining about why they're not in, you know, I'll take the four hours of driving down to Orange County anytime. Uh, it, it's, it's been great. And I didn't, I had no idea if I would like it.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, first of all, it's not really a four hour drive.

    Bryan Behar:

    It's, it's two hours each way.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Okay. Um,

    Bryan Behar:

    So yes, for clarity's sake. Okay. It's not a four hour drive each way, but it is.

    Michael Jamin:

    But, and I'm sure what surprises you, cause it does surprise me, is just, is how much you actually know about how to do this. Right.

    Bryan Behar:

    That's the other fun part. I mean, that's is, I mean, and I don't mean it in like a smug, self satisfactory kind of way that like, wow, I'm, I'm smart, I've learned things, but when you're, when you're actually seeing it through the perspective of, of new writers and, you know, and new students and, and you're imparting knowledge on them, and, and it's, and like you said, it's not even knowledge that you're aware you have. Right. It's, we've almost picked it up by osmosis. But I mean, you know, me and I think you're a lot, you're really kind of the same way where, you know, we were both students of, of television, students of the TV history, students of the craft, you know, more than a lot of people who we did it alongside. I mean, so I think it makes sense. The, the two of us have found virgins of, of offering guidance and coaching and Yeah. And, you know, and trying to impart expertise. But it, it is, it is really satisfying and gratifying to, to realize like, wow, I, I actually did learn something. I actually have a certain level of skill. And, you know, all those years were not for, not, yeah. I'm spelling not differently in those two cases, but

    Michael Jamin:

    K n

    Bryan Behar:

    O t not for nothing. Yes. <laugh>, I mean, I know you're from the tri-state area. I should, I should have said it more colloquial,

    Michael Jamin:

    But, um, and so, yeah. Good. So, and you're enjoying that and you, the class sizes are kind of small or what?

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah, I had, uh, seven last semester. My grad student was, is nine, and then 15, uh, I got 15 in my, uh, pilot class, you know, but it's, it's way tougher than I expected. You know, like, I, like they turn in, you know, like pages of a script or an outline, uh, the day before we go into class. And I, and I'm so like, you know, of, of the neurotic sense of I need to give them their money's worth, you know, they're paying a lot for the, so I write up about three pages of notes per student, per class. Wow. So, pilot class, that's, I'm writing up 45 pages of notes between the hours of two and eight on a Thursday night just to make sure I have something to give them

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of work, dude,

    Bryan Behar:

    You know, you know, on Friday. And it's like, wow, you know, I, I used to do half the amount of work for a lot more money, but it, you know, I don't know that I would do that again. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Let me be clear.

    Bryan Behar:

    And that's okay. I've made, I really have made my peace, which, which is threatening to people. You know, I had, I had lunch with a writer we both know the, uh, last week. And he is like, you, you want back in? I was like, no, I really don't. He's like, you can't be at peace. I'm like, no, I'm at peace. He goes, what if I offered you

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. And I was like, he goes, what if I offered you a job on a, on a, on a pilot? I was like, okay, well first you'd have to get it on the air and you're not going to offer it. I said, but yeah, sure. Let's say you offered me a job. I'm not gonna like turn it down out of hand. Um, but I don't think it's gonna happen. He goes, yeah, probably not. He goes, your old partner's, uh, wife works at the network. She never let me hire you anyway. I'm like, then why are we having this discussion? You, you better pay for lunch.

    Michael Jamin:

    Could you wait, can you say who it was?

    Bryan Behar:

    This was Marco from, uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, Marco, really? Marco

    Bryan Behar:

    From, uh, yeah, from our Kirsty,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yes. Marco from Hello Marco from Kirsty.

    Bryan Behar:

    Hello Marco from Kirsty

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    One of, one of my dear friends. But, you know, but I think, you know, for a lot of people that you know this, and I'm not singling him out, you know, that being a writer on television becomes one's identity. And, and it was for me for a long, long time, you know, you know, 25, 26 years, uh, of doing it. But it, you know, at some point you just have to read the writing on the wall, if that's, if that's where your career is at. And, and that's where I

    Michael Jamin:

    Are you still doing any other writing outside? Just for your, for personal reasons?

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah, I'm doing all kinds of writing, but none of which is with the intent of

    Michael Jamin:

    Making a

    Bryan Behar:

    TV show, selling a pilot or, or getting back in, you know, on staff. Yeah. And, and that's, you know, you know, we've talked about this off camera a lot over the last, you know, five, six years just finding our own voices and, and finding other avenues to, to write on, you know, on my own. And so I'm like, I'm still writing a, you know, you know, a lot of essays. Um, I, you know, I, I had written I think 40 essays for the Huffington Post, um, over the past five years, another 20, 25 for Medium. And, and then I've moved my stuff over, uh, to sub stack. Um, so I recently wrote a, an article about growing up in Encino that was shared 10,000 times. Um, and I performed it at a, um, wow. I performed it at a spoken word, and I,

    Michael Jamin:

    And that was all from Sub, it got shared 10,000 times.

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Wait, what? We'll plug it.

    Bryan Behar:

    Apparently. I know a lot about the Valley,

    Michael Jamin:

    But, and you have a lot of thought. We'll plug it again at the end, but I wanna make sure, might as well mention it now as well. What's your sub name?

    Bryan Behar:

    Oh, find You. I assume it's, it, it has to be Brian Behar. That's with Brian with a Y. But I can, I can check. I'm sorry. This is, this is not gonna make great television watching an old Jew look, look up his SubT. But, uh, I just, um, I just got O brian behar.com, but I just got two Twitter notifications saying that even though this, uh, episode hasn't aired, it's already been referred to as two Julie

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>, Elon Musk's ahead of time.

    Bryan Behar:

    <laugh>. He's,

    Michael Jamin:

    He's, he's, he's making it better. Um,

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah, I've lost 10,000 followers in the last week, and I don't think I've gotten that much less funny. I, but uh, I mean, there's, there's just a Twitter at Trisha. Yeah. So, as you, but in, in reference to your other question, yeah. I'm still still posting a ton on Twitter and on, on Facebook. I, I wrote a novella, um, which is just a novel that I didn't have enough words to legally call a novel. Uh, I've been writing my articles, doing spoken words, so really doing everything but the stuff that used to pay me. And, uh, but, and loving it

    Michael Jamin:

    And loving it

    Bryan Behar:

    And loving it.

    Michael Jamin:

    And that's great. I wanna, so I wanna circle back to stuff that I wanna ask you, how you broke into the business. Although it's odd because I'm not sure how helpful it is for people since so much has changed, but we might as well talk

    Bryan Behar:

    About it. Yeah. I mean, sitcoms used to be on Kiddo Scopes when we were breaking in <laugh>, you know, was it the Dumont network that gave me my

    Michael Jamin:

    First job? <laugh>, yes.

    Bryan Behar:

    I mean, my story is sort of, sort of interesting for people who like ancient history, <laugh>, um, you know, cuz in many ways I was an overnight success. I wrote one spec script and was on the staff of n and Stacy two months later. Um, but this was an overnight success that, that was seven years in the making, right? Um, between the time I graduated from college, brown University. Um,

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, for applause. Nothing.

    Bryan Behar:

    Oh, for applause. Hold for salute. Thank you. Thank you. Everyone still holding, still holding. No one seems to, no one seems to care as much as, as I do, um, between graduation and, and, and even knowing at the time of graduation that I desperately wanted to be a sitcom writer, it was seven years between then and actually getting my first job Right. Um, for the first few years. It, it just felt as though it was not like a conceivable path in my mind. It's, it felt like that was for like the funny people. That's what other people did. Um, but I knew I wanted to write mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and that was something I discovered at Brown. Like, I, I went to Brown thinking I was gonna be a lawyer, like all dutiful Jewish boys trying to buy their mother's affection through grades, <laugh>. Um, that didn't work. So I decided I might as well do something I actually am good at and something that I like. Uh, and I started to realize that like, wow, people seem to be laughing when I'm writing stuff for the school paper. So I knew I wanted to write comedy, but, uh, a job in advertising actually felt more, uh, conceivable to me. And, and as such, I went on that path and I, and I worked as a copywriter for seven years. And

    Michael Jamin:

    That was in New York, or out here

    Bryan Behar:

    On the west coast. Started in San Diego, then Los Angeles, and finished up in San Francisco.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    Um, and I was pretty good at it, and I was starting to actually get like a, a decent amount of success and traction, but all the while I could not shake the feeling that I really wanna write tv. I really wanna be a comedy writer. And if I don't try it soon, I'm gonna reach that point where I am too successful or too well paid at, at something I don't wanna do to ever take the chance. So, um, my old partner, uh, was a college friend Steve, and he said, Hey, I'm writing a specs script. And I was like, wait, you don't wanna be a TV writer? That's my dream. He's like, well, I'm doing it with another friend of ours. I said, well, tell her we're not doing it. And he and I wrote it over a facsimile machine while he was in LA and I was living in San Francisco. We were never even in the same room. Wow. And

    Michael Jamin:

    And he was an executive at the time?

    Bryan Behar:

    He was an executive. He frequently wore suspenders by choice.

    Michael Jamin:

    I'm sorry. He was a TV executive, right? He was at, was he at a, where was he? Wonder Brother abc. Where

    Bryan Behar:

    Was he? He was at Universal. He was at Columbia. He was at spelling and he was at nbc. Yeah. So he was well into that career, but he also, he was, you know, he wa he'd been to enough tapings and be like, wow, these people aren't that smart. Like, right. Like, I can write, I can write mediocre multi-campus, it comes as well as the next guy <laugh>. So

    Michael Jamin:

    You guys teamed up, you wrote a spec and then what?

    Bryan Behar:

    And then we, we were on staff two months later. How

    Michael Jamin:

    Did you get into, how did you get into someone's hands? What,

    Bryan Behar:

    Uh, well, he was dating the woman who became our agent. That

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And so, so there is that

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    I mean, he had dated her earlier. They had met in the, uh, UTA mail room. Hi. So

    Michael Jamin:

    That's right. She, she was my, our agent at one point too.

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. Um, but like I will say to our credit, like, she was like, you have to send it to me. But we were, we thought that it was almost not kosher and it sent it to some other people who were gonna sign us Uhhuh. Um, so it was a good, but here's the thing, it was a good spec. Um, and I see why we got hired, but we took a year to write it. Yeah.

    Because like, you know, we had unlimited time. There was no constraints of being on a show. And then we get to our first job and they say, oh, well we need our, your first script in a week. Right? Well, we had no, we had no system in place. We had never even been in the same city. Right. So we totally panicked, wrote it as quickly as possible, turned it in, and we're like, I think we did it. And we got called in by our boss, Michael Whitehorn is like, guys, you know, I have to say about this script. Like, it reads like a Marks Brothers movie. And I was like, well, thank you very much. I <laugh> I appreciate. He's like, no, this is terrible. He goes, I love the March Brothers, but that's not how you write tv. He goes, there's no story, there's no setups.

    It's just bouncing from joke to joke. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it literally read like it felt writing it like it was done out of panic. Yeah. And he, and he told us he was gonna have to fire us. And this was like, you know, I finally was living my dream after years and years. He did. You already. And, and within like a month it was, it was all gonna go away. And I had quit my career in San, in San Francisco in advertising. Moved down here. I had just gotten married, you know, I always like to say, other than death, divorce, and space travel, I took on all of life's great stressors in one month. But did And did you get fired from it? We did not. What happened? Here's some advice for you young folk. Yeah. Cause I know young folks like this podcast. Um, they might, they might to laugh <laugh>.

    Um, he said, well, legally, I have to give you a second script. So you know how long ago it was when you had a two script guarantee? Yeah. He goes, so I might as well let you write it anyway cause I don't have to pay you. Right. So at that point, we, we had nothing to lose because we'd already suffered like all the indignity of being fired and everyone in the room knew it. So we kind of just slowed down and like pieced it together a lot more carefully and a lot more artfully. You know, we still, you know, we still had a ton of jokes, but it wasn't in this like, frantic style. And he, and he, to his credit, he said, this is so much better. I'm gonna, I'm taking it back. I'm gonna let you keep your job. And we ended up staying there for 24 episodes and we wrote four of them.

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and we were, you know, sort of off to the races. But it, you know, so much attention is given to getting that first job. And so little attention is given to how do you keep it? Yep. How do you get the second one? How do you go from jobs two to jobs three and four? And that's like, that's the stuff that I'm trying to help people with both online and in my class, which is anyone can kind of break in with like, you know, and I've heard you talk on your, your ticks about one hit wonders. Like, that's not what people should be aspiring to. They shouldn't be aspiring to, well I, I, you know, I sold this one movie, or I sold this one pilot. But how do you get on a show? How do you, how do you keep, how do you stay in the boss's good graces mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how do you make friends on a staff as a staff writer, um, without being the annoying staff writer who feels compelled to fill the air with your voice mm-hmm. <affirmative> because you think that everyone's judging you and keeping score. And these are, you know, again, these are all super valuable, but, you know, lessons that are kind of lost arts in my mind. Um,

    Michael Jamin:

    I totally agree. It's also, you know, when I, the first script that I wrote, this is even Withouts before I met my partner, it was a good script. It got me signed by Bro Cro and Webner. But I thought I would never write. It wasn't my first script. It was the first script. I guess it was good, but I, I thought I would never do it. How could I do it again? I don't, I I got lucky. I didn't know how, I didn't know what a story was. I just got lucky, you know?

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. I hundred percent felt that and felt that for a long time. I mean, when I was writing like samples, and again, I, I, I sort of jumped ahead and didn't mention that I was trying to write samples for all seven of those years.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And I tried it with three or four different partners. I tried it on my own. Interesting. Um, and my real issue was I couldn't finish. You know, like people always say like, what, you know, what's the, what's your biggest advice? I'm like, finish a script. Yeah. Because I would belly ache at coffee shop houses all over Le Brea. Like, why am I not on staff? Oh, do you have a sample? Well, I've never finished one

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    You know, but like, how did people not know about me? I, I won't stop talking about it, but like, I think I, I, deep down I felt that if I were to finish a script and I don't get hired then like I no longer have a sustainable dream. Like as long as it was still out there, it was something that I could always like shoot for as a safety valve if I didn't like what I was doing in advertising or in life. But once you finish something, then it becomes tangible and people would read it. But if you don't do that, it it, there's no way for them to advance you. So, uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. I mean it's so interesting you say about keeping the job I did. I definitely talk about that as well. It's like, how do you keep your job? And so I've seen, I've seen so many, and you must see more than me, but young staff, writers just flame out flame. They get, it's a shame cuz you get this job, but you're not ready for it. And then you're done.

    Bryan Behar:

    You, I've seen so many people get the first job and never get the second job.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Bryan Behar:

    If you get the second job, there's a pretty good chance that you're in

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    Um, now again, that was in the mid nineties when NBC alone had 18 sitcoms on its fall schedule. Yeah. I don't mean 18 sitcoms on all the network, I mean, just on one of the networks. And it's not like the others, you know, were only doing, you know, biopics you, you know, this was an, an era where there was a clear path forward where you could, you could rise through the ranks. You could go from show to show you could take, you know, good credits and get a better job on another show. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, I mean we used to always, always, before we knew you guys, we used to resent the hell out of you. We're like, you know, cause we, you know, we'd been on like 10 shows while you guys were on Just Shoot Me in King of the Hill. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And it's like, wow, that is a, that is an entirely other way of doing it. Which is we, we would look at you and like, so you're telling me you can get on a really good show, stay there, do a good job, stay there for a long time, then get on a better show. Yeah. And do that for a long time. And that was, you know, and

    Michael Jamin:

    A lot of that is luck. Like, you know, we got on a good show and it went four seasons and you got on a show that didn't get, you know, four seasons and then you have to, and so yeah. A lot of that is, you know, that's just luck really. You know,

    Bryan Behar:

    A lot of it is. Yes. I mean, and yet, you know, like now I've had some opportunities to sort of reflect back on my career and there are situations like old Christine for example, which ran for six years, but we just ran for the first 13 episodes. Right. Um, you know, if I knew better how to play the game, um, or you know, not to take defeat so much to heart. Um, you know, and a lot of that had to do with like, sort of grappling with depression and a lot of things mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but like I, you know, if I knew now, if I knew then what I know now, I think there might have been a few opportunities along the way where I could have kept a job for longer. But, um, nothing I can do about that now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Not that it, not that really makes a difference, but Do you, do you see any change between the way young staff writers are today? Like when you were doing one of your last few shows and the work when you were first starting off, do you see a change in their attitudes or their readiness or anything?

    Bryan Behar:

    No. Um, I'm, I'm trying to think. You know, because I, I was very fortunate on Fuller House that I was able to promote a ton of younger writers from within the system, uh, and, and was able to give them their first staff writing jobs. Right. Um, and like that was a little different than how I had done it, which was, you know, in my case. And I think maybe, maybe in your case, but I, I don't wanna speak for you. Like, certainly in our case it was you write samples and you break in as a staff writer. And I see more and more that the only way in for a lot of people is to take other jobs on a show in the production working as a PA and then working up to a writing's assistant or start as a writing assistant then becoming the, you know, the, you know, the writing supervisor or, or you know, like that that sort of path, uh, of promotion from within seems to be a lot more common. I know that didn't answer your, that didn't answer your question specifically about the writers themselves. No. They, they seem just like young writers mm-hmm. <affirmative> who were, you know, who were appreciative of the shot. It seems like they've all been maybe out in the cold a lot longer than we were Yeah. Uh, before they get their first break. And I think there's less certainty about what comes after because there just aren't as many sitcoms in general and multi cams in specific.

    Michael Jamin:

    I did a post about this just a couple days ago about, cuz someone said, well, you know, when are they gonna, are they gonna bring back multi-camera sick? They should bring them back. And I was like, you know, at some point, maybe in 10 or 15 years, it might almost be impossible <laugh> because who

    Bryan Behar:

    It might be Im now.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, why do you think

    Bryan Behar:

    So they, they exist Uhhuh, but they exist either for the very old or the very young mm-hmm. <affirmative> and there's been an entire, and I'm sorry I didn't mean to interrupt you, but there's been an entire generation that has been raised without them.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And which infuriates me because as a historian of the, of the genre, I look back as recently as a couple years ago, and in the previous, I think 60 years of sitcoms, the number one sitcom on the air, uh, in terms of total viewers had been a multicam in 59 of the six first 60 years.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    Um, and this even includes like, you know, what you might call like the heyday of the single camera era. And yes, there have been a few hits that have become sizable monsters like Modern Family and The Office, but the Office even more so, you know, once it became syndicated or once it went to Netflix. Um, but even during that, those shows having their heydays, the top rated sitcoms were still two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory. You know, I mean, I am someone who strongly believes that, that the multi cam has always been more popular than the single cam. But, and maybe we've spoken about this before, but executives didn't think it was as cool to talk about it at their, you know, west side cocktail parties. And nobody wanted to be the one who developed, you know, a big embarrassing show with a laugh track. So they would just keep plowing ahead.

    Michael Jamin:

    But they always say they're looking for it because it costs less money.

    Bryan Behar:

    They always say it, but they never buy them. Yeah. And in fact, many times we would, Steve and I would sell a pilot to someone, um, as a single cam knowing that that's the only thing that those networks were putting on that year. And they say, no, no, no, we're really looking for multi cams. They would change our pilot to a Multicam and then pick it up and say, well, nobody's, there's nowhere, nowhere on the schedule where we can place us a multicam. Yeah. There's, wait a second. You made me do it. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Um, why do you

    Bryan Behar:

    Think, I'm not gonna say it would've gotten on anyway, so, but

    Michael Jamin:

    Why do you think they couldn't make it today? Do you think it's just a scheduling thing? Cause I had a different feeling about it.

    Bryan Behar:

    I think it's a scheduling thing on the one hand. Um, and I've read some articles recently about the difficulty in scheduling multi cams alongside single cams. There was an article just like this week in fact. But beyond that, I think it's, it is almost just like, why isn't there rock and roll on Top 40 radio because there hasn't been in 15 years, so there's nobody alive in that age demo who would listen to it.

    Michael Jamin:

    You think so? You think it's a viewership thing? Cause I don't, that's not what I do. I think the problem is, is I think it, when we jumped on a set, you know, when we first were on sitcoms, like, especially in Multicam, there's so much to learn about how to produce a multi-camera show that we weren't, we weren't even thinking of like running one in 10 15. Like, it was like, I don't know how to do this. Even when I'm working on it, I'm like, I wouldn't be, you couldn't put me in charge of this. And then, but now, but you, but you come out of a school. So like we were on Just Shoot Me and that came out of was on Frazier. So we kind of grew outta the Frazier School, which grew outta the cheer school. So there's like this column of like writers before you that you learn from.

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. It's like coming out of like the Bill Belichick coaches tree. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Right. Very

    Bryan Behar:

    Similar. You if you're, if you're a, you know, a co-executive producer on, on one on Levian show, then you can be the executive producer on when you get a deal on your next show. Like, very common to put


    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You could unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jamin.com/watchlist.

    Now, like if you wanted to put a single, a multi-camera show on the air, where's the talent pool other than a bunch of old guys or people who've never done it before?

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah. And, and, and like, you know, I sounded a little facetious earlier when I said it was the purview of the very old or the very young. But like, I mean that both in terms of the people who create it and the people who watch it, you know, it, it's either like pretty old fashioned, the last remnants of like CBS multi cams mm-hmm. <affirmative> or it's a Disney channel, Nickelodeon show. Right. Um, and what used to be like the mainstream of comedy doesn't exist that that really vast middle Yeah. Isn't there anymore in terms of, of multi cams, either in terms of like the space that's given on the schedule or in, in the age of the people who consume it. Yeah. Um, so I just think that people now think of it as old fashioned and kind of, there's a superficial, there's a fakeness to it.

    Yeah. An artificiality, not superficial, an artificiality to it. Cuz now that they've seen enough comedies that are written, you know, written and produced like little movies mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think it's part of this, it's part of the movie of TV that's happening in the more general sense mm-hmm. <affirmative> that, you know, when you look at the streaming services and, and I, and I think me teaching a class on pilot writing and like of the, of the 15 kids that are writing pilots, 14 are writing one hours mm-hmm. <affirmative> one is writing a single camp, but of the one hours most are done in like, in genres of, you know, it's superheroes, it's science fiction, it's it's space and it's zombies. Yeah. You know, like all of which wouldn't have been on television when we were breaking in. Yeah. It was multi cam comedies and procedural dramas and that was it. It was, and it was like you could wrap your hands around it. It doesn't mean that it was like a glorious time in terms of, you know, this great diversity of product, but like from the perspective of people trying to, you know, like rise up through the hierarchy, it was a lot more tangible and easier to comprehend. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    I was even thinking of shows, like even the shows were like, gimme a break or, or small Wonder. Like, those shows were also very comfortable, you know, or Punky Brewster, like they were comfortable shows they don't exist anymore.

    Bryan Behar:

    It feels like you're setting me up. But I am, I have long been of as much as I try to write edgy stuff and like you and I were on Will, I mean, you know. Yeah. Like we both have, you know, the bonafides of, you know, to write cool single camera stuff. But I've also been of the belief that the calm and sitcom often stands just as much for comfort as it does for comedy. Yeah. And all those shows you described, um, there was a comforting, soothing value. Now some of it has to do with, we were young at the time, some of it has to do with our own nostalgia for an easier time. But I mean, that's why I got into sitcoms in the first place because, you know, my family life was pretty rough. I didn't have a ton of friends, but I loved the Brady Bunch. Yeah. Um, and I found that even like, at a very, very young age, like I found that world incredibly soothing.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that's not a good example. Cause that was a single camera show.

    Bryan Behar:

    I know. But it, it doesn't feel like a single camera show. Um, and you're right. But, uh, I mean, but whether, but it was still, it was still a family sitcom. Yeah. Um, and like for instance, like when I, like when we were first offered the chance to write on Fuller House, not to run it, but just, you know, to be a co-executive producer in the first season, I had no interest mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I was like, I never saw Full House. Um, but two, but two things sort of changed my mind. One was my daughter, who was like maybe like 13, 14 at the time, and she's like, you're gonna take this meeting and you're not gonna fuck it up. She's like, this is gonna be huge. Because she, you know, she knew the power of the original Full house as a kid who sort of grew up on the reruns and like whatever, she was homesick from school, we would tape her five episodes of the Brady Bunch and five episodes of, um, full House.

    It seemed easier than actually parenting or offering her medicine. Um, but that's neither hit nor the other. But the other thing was realizing like, okay, I don't know Full House, but I sure know the Brady Bunch. And that full house served the exact same function for kids who were 10 years younger than me as the Brady Bunch did in my life. And I'm like, oh, I know what that felt like to Yeah. I know what it felt like to be that age and, and want to be soothed by a TV show and wanna feel like you're part of a, you know, a surrogate family on the air. And, and that that really helped, helped me as a way in

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    So realize is that kind of show

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It's an interesting, it really is an interesting time for writers. What are you, what are you, how are you advising your students to break in then? What are you telling them?

    Bryan Behar:

    Well, I try not to spend as much time on the how to break in mm-hmm. <affirmative> as to give them the tools that might open the door and might help them. And, and, and I, you know what, what I do, again, I'm, I'm, I'm sort of evading the question by design. Um, like for instance, I, I run my classes as if they were a writer's room. I push all the tables together. We sit around one big table with me at the front, like a big mock, just like the old days. Yeah. At one 20th. At one 20th. The salary. Right. Of, of, but like, I want them to get used to what it, you know, what it feels like to, you know, pitch amongst their peers what it feels like to, you know, offer an idea or a joke to somebody at the head of the table.

    So like, as far as teaching them the craft, I think I'm doing a pretty good job. I don't know that I have as much wisdom when it comes to how does one break in these days. Right. Um, I alluded to in a teeny bit earlier, which is one of the things I will say is do not turn down any job on a television show mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because that has become more and more the only way in is to rise through the ranks. It, it is entirely a function of who, you know, so many of the jobs come from the people doing, you know, the non-writing jobs that, you know, that lead into it.

    Michael Jamin:

    But you also have to be ready. It's not, it's not enough to know somebody. Your script has to, you have to know how to write

    Bryan Behar:

    Well. Yeah. I don't know that you're gonna get those writing assistant jobs or those pa jobs even without a script. So, I mean, you have to have a great script now just to get those jobs.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, okay. I wasn't aware of

    Bryan Behar:

    That. I think you do. I've

    Michael Jamin:

    Never, I've never read any, I've never asked a pa or write assistant to read their, I'd rather not read their script.

    Bryan Behar:

    Yeah, no, I, I, I mean, I'm of the, I'm of the, I'm the same way. I just would rather assume that they, that they're funny. Right. Uh, you know, after the interview, but like you, I, again, since I wasn't running the show, um, when we started out, I don't know if they had spec scripts originally. Right. I inherited so many of them, you know, so, but you know, but what I tell them is like, you know, you're sitting there behind the keyboards. Like, nobody wants you to be the one pitching jokes all day long, but like, pick your battles. Like, you know, I've seen, I've seen writing assistants like win a job from pitching a, you know, lobbying a giant joke out of the corner of the room when no one's expecting it. Right. You know, and in some ways, like the pressure's off. No one is expecting you to save the day.

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I always say like, if you really need to be funny, be funny at lunch, you know, like when you're just like, cuz then you were, if you're sitting around one table at lunch, you're all just people. There's not that same hierarchy. Right. People. And then a year from now when we say, oh, we need a staff writer, we were far more likely to say like, oh, so and so made me laugh, you know, you know, while I was eating my gato grill. Then, uh, you know, then have to read a stack of scripts. You know, you know, so like I say, like you can break it as a staff writer, the traditional way you can get hired, um, at, in another type of job. Like we've just been talking about within the production. And then there's all these writing programs that mm-hmm. <affirmative>

    Things still exist, even though Warner Brothers a few weeks ago said they were canceling the Warner program. They brought it back. They brought it back. Okay. Yeah. That's like, that is like the third way. And that, that's still a valid and beyond that, I don't really know how, I know people all wanna be discovered. Everyone, everyone wants to like write a pilot that gets bought by a streamer mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they wanna be a celebrity showrun. Right. And I don't know, I don't know that that exists, but it probably exists just enough that everyone thinks they can do it. Yeah. Like for instance, like I'm teaching at Chapman, which is a fabulous program. It like barely existed 20 years ago, and now it's like the fourth film school in the country according to the, you know, the most recent rankings. And like, their big claim to fame is the two brothers who created Stranger Things like in their twenties. Right. Like out of nowhere, I think they had one credit. And the next thing you know, they have a show that's the biggest show on all television in all mediums. Right. Streamer, cable pay, cable, anything. And I forgot broadcast that used to be a thing that we cared about. Um, but like, everyone's like, well, the Duffer Brothers did it. Why can't I create some, some genre of sci-fi? And it's like, you can possibly, but that's again, that's the exception. Yeah. What's gonna happen if you don't,

    Michael Jamin:

    I think that's exactly right. I think that's, that's the exception. It's, and it's such a remarkable exception that the media picks up on it and talks about it because it's what an unusual story. And then therefore people think, oh, that's how you do it. You know,

    Bryan Behar:

    And I guess that's, I mean, if we really were being fair, there's always been that media story of the V kid, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> 20 years ago it was Josh Schwartz, he's, he's 11 years old and he created the oc Yeah. You know, there's always, you know, there's always someone who got, you know, I think James L. Brooks was one of them, you know? Right. Like, there's always somebody who in their twenties gets a show on the air and ruin it for everybody else. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, but, but I mean, by ruin it by everybody else is it creates this illusion that all you need to do is sell a pilot, not learn how to write tv.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I, you know, I remember when we were first signed, or when I, yeah, I guess it was with Sheer signed and, um, our agent said, oh, oh, no, no. She said it to me before, before I was with Sheer. She said, you know, I signed one new baby writer a year. You're the baby writer. In three years you're gonna be running your own show. And, and I, and I, I, I smiled very play. Oh, that's great. And then after I hung up, I was seriously panicked. I was like, run my own show. I, I, I don't even know if I can write another script. Like that's the last thing I wanna do is run our own show.

    Bryan Behar:

    Of course. Now here's something I'm gonna admit to you that you're, you're gonna laugh at me. And, and, and That's okay. It would not be the first time. Like Steve, and, and, and I can't talk too much about it because it's part of ongoing litigation, some of the specifics of this. But Steve and I were offered the opportunity to run Fuller House, uh, beginning season four.

    Michael Jamin:

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

    Bryan Behar:

    Um, so we had been doing this for I think 22 years. I was like 53 years old, 52 years old. And I said no, because of the thought of running a show, even with 22 years experience, even at 52 years old, seemed inconceivable to me. Yeah. Now, you know, I have a history of severe panic disorder and a lot of other things that, that contribute to that. And then they came back and offered it to us again. They're like, no, no, we, we thought about someone else, it's you. And we said no again, um, because no, now we're, we're in a kind of an extreme case, but part of it was a function of that ship had sailed in my mind mm-hmm. <affirmative> as far as like being a possibility. Like when you, when you're hitting your, your, you know, your your early to mid fifties and you've not run a show, I think in it's a, it's a, it is a fair assumption to say that the business doesn't see you that way.

    Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like you're, you know, Steve and I were very competent number twos and very competent number threes mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but the thought of actually like taking on the big chair still seemed like something that like engendered panic. Yeah. And, and then, you know what? We did it and I loved it and I, I loved doing it. I was eager to do it again. Um, you know, we did 30, 31 episodes, uh, under our helm and like started to take on responsibilities and facets that I'd never, ever even thought about. Right. It was great. So, and I, so even though I never got to do it another time or another time yet, I'm thrilled that I was able to get past that fear because it really was like the sort of the last fear that was out there for me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But the thing is, when people say that, when people say, I wanna run my own show, and I said, do you, you don't even know what a Showrun does. Like why would you, like, why, why are you signing up for a job? You don't even know what the job entails.

    Bryan Behar:

    Well, because they've seen Matt Wener give an interview at the end of Madman or Vince Gilligan, the end of Breaking Bad. And they know that like, you know, they know what their salaries are and they know their celebrities. Yeah. You know, and they get good, you know, they get good tables at Mr. Chap. I mean, I don't know, but like, I didn't know what his, there was no such thing as a celebrity Showrun when we were breaking in. Like there were, yes, there were successful people. You know, like I was very aware who created Seinfeld and friends and who created Cheers and what the back ends were. Right. But that thing where, and it really is kind of a function of premium tv, like sort of the Post Sopranos one hour world, you know, the Mad Men, Sopranos, breaking beds, the Shield, the Wire Deadwood, like those have really kind of deified the one hour show runner as like pop culture celebrities.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And they've, they've sort of become the new film directors. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    So everybody wants that.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    And again, like if you see the Duffer Brothers do it, you know, at, at 28 years old or however, however young they were, um, people are, people rightly do ask Why not us? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But again, like I had been doing TV for 22 or 23 years before I took over that show and still had no conception of what running a show entailed. Yeah. In terms of just the sheer enormity of the pressure of the responsibility. And that was with two of us, and that was with two of us dividing the task. I had no idea how someone does that on their own. Yeah. Cause even with two people that felt like, like, like a, her her lay super human effort. Yep. You know, and I'm sure you found the same thing, like, um, there's so many different, you're making a decision all day long, every day at a furious pace. Yep. And yet there's nothing like it. Like it was such, it was, you know, and I don't mean like just from like a, the standpoint of like, I felt powerful, but like, there were like, having such a sense of purpose every day was fantastic. Uhhuh,

    You know, overcoming fears and like developing like a skill like that I didn't even know I needed to possess. Like, that was interesting. Yeah. You know, so I feel, I mean, it certainly helps me as a teacher because if I had never run a show, I'd feel like a little bit like a fraud offering notes and like fixing scripts and mm-hmm. <affirmative> having now having done it, like at, I'm not gonna say the highest levels, but a high level. Right. Um, you know, I feel like far more qualified to be the one teaching people. Cause I feel like I've done at least the equivalent of that in, in tv.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. It, it's, it's interesting because even as I, before I started doing, like talking on social media, I was like, well, you know who, I'm not Vince Gilligan, I'm not Chuck Lori, I'm not Steve Levitan. I'm not, I'm not the highest there is, you know, um, what,

    Bryan Behar:

    Well, two things come to mind. Number one, don't sell yourself short because you're still super high within, you're still super high within the, you know, the pecking order. Like, once you take out those, those few brand names, right. You've done it. You've, you've run multiple shows. You've run multiple good shows and people liked working for you. And, uh, you know, like the, the job we did together on, on Glen Martin was a pleasure. And, uh, you know, that's probably the closest I ever felt to like really writing in my own voice Yeah. And kind of just letting go and not being self-conscious and just writing whatever felt silly or funny. Right. So that's one thing you've done. But the other thing where I think you have a leg up in fact, is what was the last time Chuck Laurie or Steve Leviton had to really think about what they were gonna do next and plot accordingly. You know, like both of them just go to CS and say, get me a get me, you know, get me a show on Hulu. And they do. Like, but that's not like how people in real, in real life behave.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I, that's one I talked about with my wife. She goes, well, yeah, but that, those are the superstars you can talk to. You can speak to what does it mean to be a working writer who's not a superstar? Who's

    Bryan Behar:

    That's, that's a hundred percent right. It's a little insulting that our wives know about people who are superstars and they, they tend to usually be taller, um, Who had a here, but like, um, I don't, I don't know that Steve Levitator or Chuck Laurie or you know, or Larry David is gonna speak as, you know, as succinctly or as I impactfully as you do about, you know, the like day to day mechanics of breaking in, building a career, keeping a job. And those are, you know, those are the things that I talk about day to day. And, and now I've moved on to the third, you know, the third thing, which is how do I build like a sort of a purposeful life outside of the writer's room, right. And, and try to use the skills that I developed or the knowledge that I accrued and either help others or, you know, game satisfaction for myself. And I'm, you know, trying really hard to still do both without, you know, the, you know, the old crutches that I used to have, which is, you know, getting laughs from a, from a gaggle of Jews,

    Michael Jamin:

    It's so,

    Bryan Behar:

    And JB

    Michael Jamin:

    N JB, we, um, you know, I, when people, they'll comment on social media, sometimes I'll, I'll make a post and then I guess people are, I dunno if they're being argumentative or just trying to impress me or whatever, but they'll say, yeah, but Quentin Tarantino says, and I'm like, Quentin Tarantino is anybody just, is anyone mistaking you for Quentin Tarantino <laugh>? Yeah. No, I mean, have his career,

    Bryan Behar:

    But I mean, but they're, they're, I mean, it's beyond annoying, but that's always been the case. I remember like my, one of my first or second jobs running into like, the wife of someone I went to college with, and she's like, why aren't you on Seinfeld or South Park? That's what we watch. Yeah. You don't watch the shows you're on. It's like, okay, first of all, like, you're a viewer. You didn't create either of those shows unless you're, unless you change your name to Matt Stone. Like you're not those people. So like, pipe down a little. I said, secondly, you have to think about this. Like, it's the nba, like, hey, like I'm coming out of college, I wanna be on the Lakers. Who gives a fuck what you want? You were drafted by the Pelicans. Like, like, we don't get to choose where we write.

    Yeah. Like, oh, Tarantino said like, okay, you're not Tarantino. Like, trust me, I'm doing better than you are. So like <laugh>, you know, I mean, yes. But that, I mean, that's gone on forever and ever. I'll tell you a story. My grandmother re she rested me. She just, she passed away a year ago and she ended up being, she lived in 99 years and eight months and ended up dying as a very kind person for like the first 95 years. She wasn't Right. And like, she would admit that, and like, we had no relationship and like on, I, I had been on four jobs at the time. Um, and on all four she told me how much she didn't like the show. I was on <laugh>. So she invited Beth and I out for dinner. I hope it wasn't Glen Martin <laugh>. No, no, no, no, no. That would've been later that she didn't like, okay, what's, she's like, who watches Claymation <laugh>?

    Why is there a laugh track? Scooby <laugh>. But she, so she invites Beth and I have to dinner with her and her, her boyfriend. Um, and she's like, oh, that show that Then Stacy, I hated that show. And I'm like, oh, well I'm on a different show now. Oh, I don't like that show either. Okay. And I literally said, grandma, like I, I'm happy to tell you that before I, right before I came to dinner today, I came, I'm coming directly from a meeting. I had just had a meeting on Frazier. Uhhuh. Now Frazier at the time had just won the me for Best comedy five years in a row. Right. Anything's gonna oppress her. And she goes, Ugh. She goes, I hate that show. That's a dumb show, <laugh>. So I say to myself, okay, and I turn to Beth, like, she can see that I'm soothing, and Beth and I are Huling and I'm like, the woman doesn't know anything about television.

    She's an older, she's an older Jewish woman from a different era. She's not gonna like anything you do. She, she knows nothing about television. I was like, you're right. That's why would I get myself upset? She knows nothing. And then she says, why don't you write something like David Kelly mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then the boyfriend says, it's David E. Kelly. And then I realized, no, she knew a tremendous amount about television shouldn't <laugh>. Like she knew chapter in verse, everything that he had written from Allie McBeal to picket fences. She just didn't like what I was doing. Right. <laugh>, I don't remember, I don't remember how we got to this, but Oh, annoying people telling us our credits aren't good enough. Right. It's like, yeah. Like, I remember, I remember when people were on Raymond for the, you know, all nine years, and I'd be like, these lucky SAPs, like had, they haven't had to go through anything that we've gone through.

    They got one job. They had a, they had to go to a few movie nights on a Sunday with Phil Rosenthal never eat dinner there. Yeah. And to get nine years of fat paychecks. And that's just not, that wasn't our experience, but our experience certainly prepared us for more kinds of experiences. And I, and it certainly behooved me, I believe when it, when it was time to run a show, you know, I definitely had far more of an awareness of what I wanted a room to feel like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, what I wanted it not to feel like specifically. Yeah. Uh, you know, based on having had so many different kinds of experiences. And that's, that's like 0.2 that I always tell the kids, which is crying not to extrapolate from any one experience because it's just one experience. Right. Like when I was on Ned and Stacy and he didn't like our script and all the writers were bullies in the room, you know, and like Charlie Kaufman was over in the corner, like rocking back and forth cause they were so mean to him, and he'd already being John Malcolm.

    And I'm like, so they're really not gonna be nice to us. He had already written John Malcolm at that point already written John Malcolm. So he was like leaving the room to get called. Like, Michael Stip is on the line for you. You know, like, wow, you know, spike Jones is on the line. Um, and they're still being mean to him because he was shy and he was reserved. And it was, you know, it was the late nineties multi camera room where if you're not like a total misogynistic chauvinistic prick, you don't get to move up or be heard. Right. Or that's how it felt on that show. But then I was like, okay, but then my next job wasn't like that. Um, so I, I always try to impress upon people, like, the key is to have enough experiences such that no one experience becomes definitive in your mind because every show is different.

    Right. You know, like Glen Martin being the perfect example. I mean, but that was fun. You had fun, man. And, and you know, I don't tell you enough, but I should, you guys saved my life. You know, I don't wanna make this a depressing podcast, but, um, your, your listeners should know that Michael and, and his partner Seavert hired me less than two weeks after my father took his own life. I thought, I thought it was during, but okay. You remember it better than I, it was literally right before. Okay. Like, I would stay in bed and cry all day, and they're like, you have a meeting on a, on a, on a Claymation show, and then the tears are really flowing. And then it was like, oh my God, you thought the suicide was bad, Noah. But like, I mean, but, but for me to have a place to go mm-hmm.


    And a place to laugh all day and a sense of purpose. And the second we would finish, I would go back into my office or into my car and cry because I literally was like so bereft and like searching for like answers. But like, the fact that eight hours a day you guys gave me a place to laugh and to like, you know, feel good about myself was like, it's a gift. I can never repay you. I mean, I feel like I'm repay you a little doing your podcast, but I dunno that I could, I dunno, that I could ever fully repay you. But it was, you know, like it was such a meaningful thing that you offered me.

    Michael Jamin:

    But it was, it was actually very mutual because you, you know, you, we hired you and then you guys turned in your, your script. It's like, I'm like, oh God, thank God they can write <laugh>. That's a big deal. You don't assume,

    Bryan Behar:

    How would you know? At the time you were just like, well, they said yes to a Claymation show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. I have my doubts. They said yes to this job right now. I have my doubts about them

    Bryan Behar:

    <laugh>. And we were like, we were like, well, we have to take, I mean, these guys are, you know, these were the guys from King of the Hill. And they're like, why are, then we get there. You're like, why are you here, <laugh>, we know why we're taking it. We wanted to run a show.

    Michael Jamin:

    But that was, uh, boy, oh boy. Yeah. That was a fun show.

    Bryan Behar:

    But man, that was, that was fun. I would've done that for, I would've done that for years and years. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, that was the, that was the plan. But no one else <laugh> Nick had,

    Bryan Behar:

    Once again, it was not up to us.

    Michael Jamin:

    It was the par, it was the, that Christian Parents Association canceled us. They like, you know, and see, used to describe it, it was, this is the babysitting channel and, but at at eight o'clock, the baby channel turns the dick at night. But no one tells, no one told the parents watching.

    Bryan Behar:

    No, no. Because why would you, why would you think that the show puppets, you know, at a talking dog and you know, like all the, all all the hallmarks of what you're getting during the day, <laugh>, you know, plus a laugh track, you

    Michael Jamin:

    Know, <laugh>, they were shocked.

    Bryan Behar:

    You know, they were shocked to see Michael Eiser making television. I

    Michael Jamin:

    Think <laugh>,

    Bryan Behar:

    Isn't that the guy who created the Bazooka Joe movie?

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. Oh, we had some laughs though. But what we came on some really crazy stories on that show. Yeah.

    Bryan Behar:

    I mean, I mean, it should have been far more famous. If it wa if it was just, if it, I always thought, and again, you guys disagreed, I think, but it didn't matter because we all inherited the show Yeah. From, from other people. But like, I was strongly of the belief that a Claymation show would never work. Um, and if it had been a regular animated, animated show, I thought it would've worked really well. And it might have run for a long

    Michael Jamin:

    Time. I think only would've worked on a different network

    Bryan Behar:

    Though. And on a different network. Yeah. And maybe with some different actors and, and different writers. Why

    Michael Jamin:

    You bothered, I always like the claim, my problem with it. And then we go, well, we'll wrap up, we're going over here. But my problem with it wasn't, I liked the Claymation, I just didn't like the, the mouths being animated. The mouths were done by on computer. And to me, whenever we got slick on that show, whenever we did computer special effects, I didn't like that. I thought everything should be practical.

    Bryan Behar:

    I understand that. I used to, I, I forgot how I articulated it at the time, but it was very, it was very succinct, but it was like, it was a show for nobody.

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>, it was a show for TV writers is what it was.

    Bryan Behar:

    Well, but by which I mean like, if you were over 12, you were never going to watch a Claymation show. But

    Michael Jamin:

    Why would you watch that as opposed to animation? It's the same thing.

    Bryan Behar:

    It's not the same thing. I swear to you, Uhhuh, it is not the same thing. There's a reason that Bob's, that Bob's Burgers that started the exact same time is, is only in its halfway point now. Yes. I know. We've, and we've been done for a decade.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    I where do you the, something about puppets means that nobody over 12 is gonna watch and nobody under 12 was allowed to watch because it was so filthy. Yeah. So we, it was like the, it was the world's worst Venn diagram. <laugh> like, like our sweet spot where like couldn't find each other.

    Michael Jamin:

    But, but TV we liked writing it cuz we just did whatever it was like it

    Bryan Behar:

    Was Oh my God, the process of writing It was genius. Yeah. I've never laughed harder. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. And,

    Bryan Behar:

    And, and, and then I would see it and it was still funny, but I also knew that it had kind of a limited Yeah. Limited appeal certainly on Nick at night, where you don't go for original material like that doesn't exist. Yeah. Um, but like, I've had experiences where I've been on shows and I'm not gonna give names where we would laugh all day long, boy. And we have fun in those rooms that you'd watch the show, you're like, oh, were we laughing about,

    You know, it was okay. Those were rooms that were so fun and so funny. And then I've been on shows some with you Uhhuh, um, with it involved like an Australian dog, Uhhuh were so tv and I love Zuckerman and I love the show and it's a miracle that it turned out because the day to day was so pedantic it was a grind. Yeah. It, it was like being on like the world's hardest higher level philosophy class. Like, you know, like, you know, con to the early years. Yeah. And you're like, I don't know how this ends up. I don't know how this discussion ends up as a com as like a beloved comedy, but it did, um, same with Andy Richter. Andy Richter was just silence and watching Victor Fresco type. Oh. And you know, and then you're, and then you watch the show and you're like, wow. Somehow this went from like, you know, a torturous beginning to a hilarious show. And then a lot of multi cams have been the opposite. Yeah. Super funny rooms. Kind of funny shows.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah.

    Bryan Behar:

    So you never like, so those people like, you know, what's your favorite show? Like no, there's something great about all of them.

    Michael Jamin:

    People don't understand that as well. Sometimes like, you know, they think all this crappy, like, it's hard to make even bad television. It's really, we're all trying hard.

    Bryan Behar:

    It's harder.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    I mean, I, yes. I'm not gonna name that. I'm not gonna name names, but like, I've been on so many multi cams that are like impossible. Yeah. Um, and especially multi cams. Like, I feel like in single Cam you can always fake it with, you know, with some funny music and clever editing, but there's no faking a bad multi cam. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's true.

    Bryan Behar:

    If there's no laughter in front of the audience, there's no laughter. Yeah. Yeah. Now I've worked with one show runner who didn't care whether it was actually funny because the show was so popular and loved anyway, that it didn't matter whether the jokes actually were funny because he knew they were gonna get laughs anyway. Right. So that's a, that's a different thing, but like most shows don't have that kind of good will going into them. But a multicam that's, that's not, not firing and that you're having to like, throw out every night after run through and essentially start again.

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    I don't think I can do that again. I'm, uh,

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, you have to be young for that.

    Bryan Behar:

    I'm taking, I'm gonna take my zero savings and move on

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh>. I'm taking my chips off my chip off the table,

    Bryan Behar:

    My chip off the table. I still have a, still living off of a couple Israeli war bombs

    Michael Jamin:


    Bryan Behar:

    With my bar mitzvah and I'll be Right. But like, I mean, that's a hard life. That is a young person's life. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. People don't realize the hours on a multi camera can be really hard. Really hard.

    Bryan Behar:

    And I also didn't really realize that a lot of the, I alluded to it earlier, the, the kind of chauvinism and bro frat culture mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That, that was really more, I mean, I know it also, you know, you got it on Scrubs and you got it on a bunch of other shows. I'm not gonna name like Scrubs, uh, but like, you know, but, but that really was kind of a function of Multicam culture. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> of, we haven't talked about Eric Weinberg the celebrity rapist yet, but

    Michael Jamin:

    We haven't, we have not talked about it. That's <laugh> that be another, another episode. I said that's

    Bryan Behar:

    A whole nother, that's, that's where you and I saw the mystery, but like, no, but like, you know, there was an article about that, a really definitive article last week in the Hollywood Reporter. And what I found most interesting was not, I mean, the rapes were so abhorrent and the sexual abuse he inflicted on people, even in writer's rooms was so unbelievably despicable. But what was really fascinating was the stuff that like he just got away with and they went show to show and talked about the things he did to women on each show in the writer's room. That, and what he got away with because it was, Hey, it's the early two thousands and this is how a room has gotta be. And that I don't miss.

    Michael Jamin:

    But we, well we were, you and I worked with him honestly for I think two weeks. It was not a long time on Wilford and I, I didn't see any of that. I really didn't say any of that. It was, no, it was only two weeks, I think. And

    Bryan Behar:

    I don't think I was even there. I think I came, I joined the staff. I only saw him one day when he came and turned in a a turned in a script. He

    Michael Jamin:

    Might have done a, yeah, he may have done a free, he probably wasn't safe. He probably just did a freelance. So it was literally two weeks when he was there.

    Bryan Behar:

    But I had always heard stories not about rape obviously, and not about abuse, but just like jerky room behavior. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and like frat guy, bro. Kind of Bullying and like that kind and like, again, it was not limited to him, but he was sort of indicative of what passed for like room life then. Right, right. And I do think, and like, you know, as much as people our age frequently will complain about like new, the new, whoa, Hollywood and rooms are so this and, you know, sensitive now, like no, they're so much better than they used to be. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because it's not based on this like, abusive behavior. There's far greater representation within the rooms, within the stories you're telling and like, and like what you're seeing on screen. Um, I think, I think that's only better, you know, I think it's better. Like, you know, that all of our kids go to schools where, you know, they talk about sensitivity and, and like being a good person versus what we grew up with, which is like, don't be so sensitive. Stop crying, Brian.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, Brian, I, I can't thank you. This is a fun chat, man.

    Bryan Behar:

    Thank you so much for having me. I mean, it's always a pleasure to talk to. It's

    Michael Jamin:

    Always fun, but I wanna find, make sure, make sure people can follow. What's your Twitter handbook? Cause I know you got a big Twitter following it. It is for

    Bryan Behar:

    Now, at least for now. I'm, I'm, I'm still over 200,000, which is not bad for just like a But

    Michael Jamin:

    You were over 300,000 at one point.

    Bryan Behar:

    Um, no, that was you at TikTok. Um, but, uh, <laugh>, but Mazel Tom. No, but I, I'm, uh, I think I'm at 206,000, which, you know, for a guy who's just like, you know, nobody follows me because I'm a celebrity. They just like, I literally have taken kind of a lunch, a lunch pale approach, and I just tweet every day. So you can reach, see me at, uh, @BrianBehar. You haven't even made fun of me for being Turkish. No, I have not. Old Sephardic. I don't know, maybe that's the new you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Well, we're gonna, we'll translate this

    Bryan Behar:

    <laugh>. I thought we were gonna translate this into ancient Turkish in No, I thought you were gonna start out with, you know, here, we're live from downtown Anca <laugh>. This was great. You crack me up, you make me feel funnier. Um, and I've, I've been recommending your, uh, your TikTok uh, tutorials to all my students. A lot of them who I mentioned this to today had in fact seen them and, and have benefited from them. So that's nice. Uh, yeah. Keep doing what you're doing. I, I, I mean, you, you just took off and you really found a, a nice, a nice niche.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's surprising.

    Bryan Behar:

    It's surprising. Yeah. I hope it, I hope it sells your book because that's, uh, mean, but I mean, you're doing great stuff. I, I'm sorry I didn't see your, your, your your performance, but I will the next time.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, I'll, I'll, I'll, I should, I'll give it a plug, but I wanna make sure I, I get your plugs also your sub stack. What's, what's the URL for that? Again,

    Bryan Behar:

    I think that's just my name as well. Uh, it's beder dott stack.com. And

    Michael Jamin:

    You have, you have so many.

    Bryan Behar:

    You also find by any of my back articles on, uh, huffington post.com or medium.com by typing in my, the, uh, the name I just gave you.

    Michael Jamin:

    Go follow Brian, everyone.

    Bryan Behar:

    He's a real hoo. He's

    Michael Jamin:

    A oh, he's a hoo. Um, and, and that's it. Remember to sign up. Let me, I plug, this is where I plug everything. I do sign up for my free newsletter@michaeljam.com slash watchlist where I give away tips every take

    Bryan Behar:

    You over the world

    Michael Jamin:

    Got every Friday I take over the world. And then, of course, if you wanna see me tour on with my show, if you're whatever city you're in, go to michael jam.com/upcoming or touring. Brian, we just got back from Boston.

    Bryan Behar:

    You're like a Speedwagon. This is Fanta <laugh>. Why don't I get hired? I have all the current reference

    Michael Jamin:

    <laugh> have, all my references are fresh. Uh, yeah. Michael jam.com/upcoming. And, uh, and that's it. You can go, you check up, uh, you follow me on, on Instagram and, and TikTok at Michael Jamin, writer and Facebook, if you know what Facebook is, if anyone knows what that is. All right, everyone. Brian, thank you again so much for joining me. And, and don't go anywhere. I'm

    Bryan Behar:


    Phil Hudson:

    This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review, and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep Writing.

    1h 19m | Dec 8, 2022
  • 057 - Bob's Burger's Writer Greg Thompson

    Greg Thompson is a writer-producer known for Bob's Burgers, Glenn Martin D.D.S., and King of The Hill.

    Greg Thompson on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0860188/

    Greg Thompson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gregthomp

    Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

    Free Screenwriting Lessonhttps://michaeljamin.com/free

    Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

    Autogenerated Transcriptions

    Greg Thompson:

    Try to pay attention to the voices of the show. Know the show. Watch, watch every episode. Um, you know, when we were hired on King of the Hill, I, I'd watched King of the Hill, but I hadn't seen everything. But, you know, I methodically started plowing through hundreds of episodes at that point. I think maybe 200 episodes had happened by the time we, we joined it. So, and that's just kind of an education and you internalize the voices of the characters and, and it, it helps you. It helps you know what to pitch. You're

    Michael Jamin:

    Listening to Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jen.

    Hey everyone. Welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin and I got another special guest today. This is my old friend. I'm gonna, this is my friend Greg Thompson, and I'm gonna give you a proper introduction, Greg. So sit down, just relax. Let me just talk to the people for a second. Um, so Greg is a very successful TV writer and he started on bunk, a show called Bunk Bread Brothers. We're gonna run through some of, through some of the credits. I'm heard of Bunk Bread Brothers, then fired up, which was interesting. This was the heyday of nbc. This was when, uh, the character she lived instead of a clock. She was, she was a church mouse, wasn't she? Greg

    Greg Thompson:

    <laugh>. Yeah, she was a church Mass

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    Is second, second season. She moved into a shoe, uh,

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    It was Sharon Lawrence with, uh, Leah Remedy.

    Michael Jamin:

    Ah, Sharon Lawrence with Leah Remedy. This was back in the heyday of NBC shows like, uh, musty tv. And then a show called, I'm gonna run through some of your credits. Maggie, big Wolf on campus, then one of your bigger credits. 30, uh, third Rock from the Sun. Great show, then Grounded for Life. Another great show. Everyone hates Chris. Everybody hates Chris. Everybody hates Chris. Another great show. I'm in Hell. We're gonna talk about that. King of the Hill. You were there for many years. Glen Martin, dds. I never heard of that one, but I was involved in it. <laugh> then Now, most recently you were writer, what are you executive, co-executive producer on Bob's Bergs.

    Greg Thompson:

    So I, I'm, I'm down to consulting producer. Technically I was we'll talk, I was co exec. I was actually executive, I was actually executive producer to be, to be most technical. Well, yeah, we all got promoted up to executive producer after a

    Michael Jamin:

    Certain And what happened? Why did you get bounced down to co exec? I mean, a consulting producer.

    Greg Thompson:

    I decided to rank fewer, fewer days a week. So I, I've, I've, am I, do you still want me on the show?

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah, I'm, now I'm jealous of you. How many days a week are you working?

    Greg Thompson:

    I only work two days.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh. And of those two days, how many days are you really working? <laugh>?

    Greg Thompson:

    I don't know. Probably four. Cuz it filters into other days and

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    It does over it also. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    We're gonna talk about that. But I wanna get into the beginning, Greg. Cause I, I, I, so we met in the Warner Brothers Writers Program, writers workshop, or whatever it was called. Yeah, we did. And you were, were supposed to be you and your partner. Our Abrams were supposed to be the competition that me and Seavert were facing. And, but very quickly we realized we weren't, we weren't gonna, we weren't gonna make good enemies, <laugh> friends and love.

    But, but I gotta say, Greg, you've always been, and I know I've never, probably never said this to you personally, but you were, it may seem odd since we don't talk that often, but you were definitely one of my closer friends, closest friends in the industry, because I always feel like I, I feel like we're not in competition. I can always be, I can confide in you to tell you what's going on with my career. I never feel like I'm gonna get stabbed in the back. You always got my back. I got your back. So you, you've always been a great friend. And that's why as I thank, thank you for doing the show and helping everyone Oh, tell your story.

    Greg Thompson:

    You're, you're very welcome. You, of course, it's of course it's mutual. Um, and I'll just say at the Radcliffe or at the, uh, pardon me, the Writer's Warner Brothers Writer's Workshop, um, I was, uh, so intimidated by you and Seavert. I, uh, you like you, we were kind of sited. We were seated in kind of a big o and you were, you guys were like across the room and you already, you already had credit. You had a credit on Lois and Clark, which was like, you know, incredibly impressive. We didn't have credits.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's what you were, that's what you're, because there was no other reason to be intimidated by us. So we never said anything like, I

    Greg Thompson:

    Think, I don't know, you just, you looked, you looked the right part. Sea had this kind of scowl on his face all the time, which, which was very untrue to his personality. But he just looked, uh, super serious. Like, like he

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    Interesting figuring it all out.

    Michael Jamin:

    Turns out neither of us. It was a prestigious program. And, and it didn't help either of us. It didn't help. It definitely didn't help. But it didn't help you did it

    Greg Thompson:

    Other than Well, it, it did get us, it did lead us to an agent, which then, which then led us to our first job. So it actually did help us, even though the Warner Brothers, the studio was not interested in hiring us,

    Michael Jamin:

    Right? So after,

    Greg Thompson:

    After watching us work,

    Michael Jamin:

    As I tell our audience to catch 'em up, um, so yeah, we worked together. So we never worked together. We were just, we became friends on that. And then later, then later we shared a bungalow. We both had overall deals at CBS Radford. And so we shared a bungalow. We'd have lunch together. Remember we'd hang out in your office and just talk about ideas. Bounce Yeah. Each other that think an overall deal's great. That was fun. And then later was, no, king Hill was before that.

    Greg Thompson:

    King Hill was before

    Michael Jamin:

    That. Right? And then later Radford, our overall deal. Then later we hired you guys on, on Glen Martin. And you guys saved our butts. You and your partner Aaron, saved our butts. And then how did I Thank you. I almost, I almost thanked you by destroying your career. <laugh>. I only remember you guys, you guys came in, was it, it was season two, right? Of Glen Martin.

    Greg Thompson:

    Yeah. Season two. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:

    We, we brought you in. We had the money. We wanted very, we wanted season writers. And you guys came in, you always delivered great drafts, which is, is, I always say, this is all you want from a writer. Can you turn in a good draft? And you guys always did. And then there was talk of spinning off Glen Martin to a spinoff. And I remember we were like, Hey, we'll do this show. And then you could run the other show or which one, one or the other you guys could run. And you're like, eh, we got this other offer to go to this cartoon called Bob's Burgers. You don't wanna go to Bob's Burgers,

    Greg Thompson:


    Michael Jamin:

    You wanna stay here? <laugh>. And then, and thank God you took that offer, cuz I would've felt terrible like ruining your career. Cause that they spinoff never happened. <laugh>. And then Glen Martin was canceled and it jumped off just in time to go to,

    Greg Thompson:

    There was an idea that Glen Martin was gonna jump to Fox or something, and

    Michael Jamin:

    There was a lot of lies floating <laugh>.

    Greg Thompson:

    Yeah. It was probably Michael Eisner was planning these thoughts.

    Michael Jamin:

    Um, right. I forgot Fox. Fox didn't, Fox had no, had no knowledge of that. They weren't on <inaudible>

    Greg Thompson:

    <laugh>. But, uh, yeah. But yeah, I think we all thought the puppet animation genre was gonna explode. And, and I have to say, it's really funny. It's still, when I look at, I've dug up some old Glen Martin's. It is really funny. I mean, it is, it was an underrated show under watched certainly, but also underrated.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. Yeah. It was, we did some good stuff. You guys wrote some great episodes. But then, so you got the offer because Bob's Burgers co-create by Jim Dore. We both work with on King of the Hill. So he reached out to you guys. How did you have this Bob about, and why didn't he reach out to us? <laugh>?

    Greg Thompson:

    I didn't probably You were working. You, you're busy. Um, we

    Michael Jamin:

    Were busy

    Greg Thompson:

    Developed by Jim DotR. I should make sure I say that properly. Created by Lauren Bouchard, developed by Jim DotR. Um, yeah, he was just staffing up. And actually he, he had hired two other guys, uh, before us. And then there, um, and gosh, I'm blanking blanket on their names. Sorry. Um, but they had a pilot going, and their pilot got picked up to production. So they had to drop out of Bob's burger's mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and then that opened up a slot and Jim, Jim called us to, to come interview for it. And we saw the That's been, and, and you guys, you guys let us out of our Glen Martin deal early by the way. You, you did us a favor that not everybody would've done.

    Michael Jamin:

    That's that is true. Now some people wouldn't. But, but I think most,

    Greg Thompson:

    I most, I think most would good, good people would,

    Michael Jamin:

    Good people let you out. Our contract. Um, and so, and how many that was 2008, you've been on that? Oh, no,

    Greg Thompson:

    That was 2000, 2010. We went over there, 10, I think we, we went over to Glen Martin. We were there for actually second half of the first season through most of the second season.

    Michael Jamin:

    Oh, that's what it was

    Greg Thompson:

    Like Glen Martin. Yeah. So I think we wrote It's

    Michael Jamin:

    A amazing song. You've been on Bob's Burgers. It's crazy. Like that's, that's job security.

    Greg Thompson:

    Yeah, I was thinking, yeah, it's, it's 12 over 12 years now. And I, I'm wearing, um, I'm wearing the first piece of swag we ever got on Bob's. I don't know if it's visible on camera or not. This, this, uh, old hoodie, which is now just in taters. It's 12 years old. And

    Michael Jamin:

    Do you, is it hard coming up with stories that at the, for 12 years?

    Greg Thompson:

    Yes. Yes. Very hard. Um, also because unlike The Simpsons, which is kind of branched off into the peripheral characters, they'll do a episode about APU or whatever they used to. Anyway. Um, Bob's stays with the, the family. Right. And, and do

    Michael Jamin:

    You, how, how does the musical numbers work? How do you guys produce, you know, how do you write and produce that?

    Greg Thompson:

    Uh, well, I, Lauren is extremely musical. Lauren Bouchard very musical. So he always had, you know, a big interest in that. And he can, he can write and play. And then there are, you know, there are, uh, musical people, you know, uh, uh, on the show.

    Michael Jamin:

    Who writing the lyrics for that? Do you write some script or what?

    Greg Thompson:

    Well, we do, yeah. Yeah. Most of the writers will write some lyrics. I've written. Yeah, I've written some lyrics. And that's, you know, don't write the music occasionally. You might like take a stab at a tune for something silly, but yeah. And that's, that's like, and that's, that's like fun

    Michael Jamin:

    For the music as well

    Greg Thompson:

    Then. Yeah. Yeah. You do like the, um, yeah, we're like members of ASCAP or BMI or something. Yeah. And, um, yeah, there's actually been, um, two Bobs Burgers record albums that have come out. Didn't that sub pop?

    Michael Jamin:

    Were you with the movie as well,

    Greg Thompson:

    Though? Yeah, I mean, to a limited degree. It was, the movie was, was really written by, by Lauren and Nora Smith, who's also the, you know, his number two, she's also Show Runner. Um, and then, but all the other writers pitched in on Story and, and jokes and, you know, we looked at lots of cuts. And so we, we were, we were part of it. Uh, we're, we have credit, but, um, but they did the, uh, heavy lifting for sure.

    Michael Jamin:

    And, you know, you're kind of like the last writer, Guild of America. Cartoon <laugh>, one of the last, right. I mean, you're covered by the writer Guild, right? It's not ascap. I mean, not

    Greg Thompson:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, it's a, yeah, it's a, it's a writer's guilded show. Yeah. And I guess, like, I don't know, not to tell Tales Outta School. I think Disney is still trying to, you know, put shows on the air on, you know, Disney now owns 20th Century Fox Television. Um, still try to get, you know, II covered shows, which that's a, a guild with fewer, bene fewer benefits for your, your viewers.

    Michael Jamin:

    It's nonstarter now. It's like, it's, I, it's, it's the animation.

    Greg Thompson:

    Oh, is it really? Yeah. Okay. Things are tough. Okay. I didn't realize that.

    Michael Jamin:

    How did you, now you didn't start you, what was your career for the, for people who are listening, what was your career before you got into writing? I'll start from the

    Greg Thompson:

    Beginning. Um,

    Michael Jamin:

    Year was 1948.

    Greg Thompson:

    <laugh>. I was, I was 12. The, uh, that was

    The, I I would just say in brief that like, I always loved television growing up. I loved movies and television. Uh, and I, I became a writing major in college, uh, creative writing major, which wasn't, wasn't a good idea. Uh, but at all that time, it never occurred to me that there were people that wrote television <laugh>. I never looked at the credits. And so it never occurred to me that there would be a career doing screenwriting. Um, and so after I got outta college, I went into, I moved to New York and I got into, uh, book publishing and was a, worked in marketing for a few different publishers. Uh, book and magazine publishing. And that was go, that was my career. That was what I was doing. I was gonna be kind of a business person. And, you know, in, I wore a suit, uh, took the subway.

    Um, and then I went to business school to get an MBA thinking, well, that's the next step of my, my, uh, tremendous business career. And that brought me out to LA afterwards to work at the LA Times. Um, and, uh, uh, Aaron Abrams. So you bet you, before my friend, uh, had split up with his wife, he'd moved out to LA to be a screenwriter, and then his marriage had blown up. Um, so he had an empty bedroom. And I moved in with him to begin my job at the LA Times. And Aaron was trying to be a screenwriter. And so for the,

    Michael Jamin:

    From college,

    Greg Thompson:

    Uh, yeah, we kind of, we did an equivalent of the, uh, we, we did a little, uh, summer school publishing bootcamp kind of thing. Um, interesting. One summer after college, like a six week program, a little like the, the sitcom writing workshop in a way, but for people interested in publishing. Um, and so just like a summer school thing. So I met him doing that. We, we hit it off. We had, you know, kind of this instant, instant rapport. Um, and, uh, I thought he was hilarious and everything. And so I wasn't surprised when he eventually decided that he was gonna try to be a screenwriter. So then I move into the, I move into his, uh, terrible, messy apartment. Um, and, and I see like he is got a bunch of scripts. I'd never seen a script before. Uh, you know, it's kind of, it was pre-internet.

    You couldn't like, download scripts. It's like, oh, wow, this is weird. So that led me to reading scripts, talking to Aaron about what he was doing. Uh, you know, he very generously would ask me to read things he was working on and ask if I had any ideas or thoughts. Uh, and, and then, and then, and then Aaron suggested we were, we were having some conversation about the, uh, actually the NFL player's strike, uh, of the eighties. And he said, I always thought that would be an interesting movie. Um, so, uh, then he said, do you wanna try to write a movie about that with me? So together, we basically hammered out this, um, comedy that did not become the, was it a Keanu Reeves movie, but was The Replacements. Ours was called Substitute Heroes. And it was much like The Replacements. And, and that was the first thing we wrote together. And that ended up, um, we ended up selling that for a guild minimum to some place.

    Michael Jamin:

    Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you, and it's absolutely free. Just go to michael jamin.com/watchlist.

    Greg Thompson:

    The substitution Heroes, where did you sell it? Football comedy. Yeah.

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    Where did you want? And it ended up selling to like, uh, some producers for Guild minimum, um, low budget minimum, which was I think like $26,000 or something like that. Or maybe, maybe more. Uh, but that was, I, you know, obviously that would be thrilling even now to sell a movie for, you know, a little bit of money. So it was very thrilling to, to me and, um, and Aaron. And so, and then at the same time, like I'm working my LA Times job, and I wasn't enjoying that a ton. You know, I was in like this, I don't know, weird little group called Market Planning. And we'd do these like analyses of like Orange County advertising market and stuff that no one would ever look at. Um, and, uh, and the LA Times was a place, I always remember this. They would do casual Friday, one day a month.

    So you had to, you had to remember what Friday remember? Casual. Casual. That was before we were casual all the time. Yeah. Right. So you had to remember what Friday of the month was, casual Friday. So you could not wear your suit. Um, and then for our, uh, Christmas party, we had a, like an annual Christmas party. You'd have to come in an hour early that morning. And the, the Christmas party would be like, between the hours of 7:00 AM and 8:00 AM <laugh>, or 8:00 AM and 9:00 AM I, I forget when work started <laugh>, at least in my department, that's,

    Michael Jamin:

    You have to get up to your party. Some party.

    Greg Thompson:

    It wasn't <laugh>. Yeah, no, it wasn't, it wasn't festive

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    So it was that there was that kind of, it was that kind of play. So meanwhile, you know, then I'm like, you know, thinking, oh, well this, this screenwriting thing's working out great. I'll do that instead. Um, you know, and I think, you know, like, you know, we are getting a lot of meetings and I think, you know, in Hollywood, like a meeting sounds exciting. Yeah. It'll almost inevitably lead to nothing. But still for a moment you feel like, you know, you're driving on a lot, you have a pass, they're waiting for you, you sit down, someone brings you out water, you feel important. And, and it's, the people you're meeting with are almost always just filling their schedule to feel important. Yes. So you go in there and together, all of you feel important, and then you leave. It

    Michael Jamin:

    Sounds like you're, you've listened to my podcast. Cause I've said these words many times.

    Greg Thompson:


    Michael Jamin:

    Yes, <laugh> go important, but go on. Right. Then go. What happened?

    Greg Thompson:

    Uh, so then, um, I, I remember Aaron was like, he had this, um, he played like beach volleyball, uh, in this like league or something like that, even though he was terrible. But

    Michael Jamin:

    I don't, I don't believe that part of his story,

    Greg Thompson:

    But, well, I'll say he was on a beach volleyball team. Whether you could describe it as playing, I don't know. But I think he was trying to beat girls. And so, but he, but there were a couple like TV writers in his, in the beach volleyball group, and he said, these guys are all doing great. They all have like, big houses. Uh, they're so successful. We should like, let's forget movies. Let's try to write television. So we started working on, uh, some spec scripts, as you know, I'm sure you've probably talked about that at different times. And, uh, you know, we wrote an Ellen, you know, and a spec is your sample to get hired onto a show. We wrote an Ellen that I thought was great, uh, that I still remember what it was about. It was about Ellen dates her assertiveness instructor and then can't break up with him because she's not assertive enough. Which,

    Michael Jamin:


    Greg Thompson:

    Well, <laugh> well, for one thing, I, I don't know if there is such a thing as an assertive assertiveness instructor <laugh>, I think it felt, it felt right to us in 1994 or so. Um, but, you know, but we thought, okay, we've nailed it. We've written one spec, now we're gonna, now our career will begin in television. And everybody hated it. And I mean, you've probably experienced this, or people experienced people who've felt this way. They fall in love with their spec. They think their spec is great. It's really the, the first spec they've written. And they become very, very attached to it. Not attached to every part of it. Every, every element. They're not receptive to notes. And I, I think I was certainly that way about this, this one, but the, uh, the feedback was so uniformly negative. It was like, okay, well let's <laugh>, I think we have to write another one. So we wrote a Larry Sanders uhhuh, uh, a Larry Sanders spec, which went much better. It was just a much better show for us. It was more in our sensibility. It was. So, uh, that's the one that, uh, we ended up using to get into the, uh, Warner Brothers sitcom writing workshop.

    Michael Jamin:

    Yeah. And that, the rest, now Aaron, Aaron Abras was this, you know, we were both friends. One of the sweetest guys you ever met. And then he tragically died halfway through your career. And then I remember, I mean, it was just awful, but I remember either calling you or writing to you, and I was like, listen, cuz you had to reinvent your career at that point. You were, you had a writing partner that you relied on and you bounced things off. And then you had to become a solo writer. And I remember reaching out to you saying, listen, if, like, if you wanna, if you might need to write new samples, if you want help breaking a story or anything, like just call me receiver. Well, happy. But, but you never did. What was

    Greg Thompson:

    That like? I re I re I I, I, I do remember that, and I still grateful for that. Uh, but you and Stever both reached out and were were terrific during that time. Um, it was, it was fortunate for me that I was on Bob's burgers. We had done, Aaron and I had done a season on Bob's, so, uh, it hadn't even aired yet. Um, but it was, I'm trying to think when it got it. Season two order, I guess it didn't get that until it had aired for a few, a few weeks. Um, once Bob's began airing and the show got picked up for another season, which was a little nip and tuck, cuz the ratings were a little, um, or touch and go rather, uh, uh, the Lauren and Jim offered me, you know, the opportunity to come back as a solo writer. Uh, so I, I did not have to produce those other specs. I did have to write a pilot that Aaron and I had been contracted to write. So I had to, I did have to finish the pilot. We'd outlined it, but we hadn't written it yet. And, um, I had to, I had to write it. But when you, that was, so that was the first thing I wrote.

    Michael Jamin:

    And was it like, even now, do you hear his voice? Like, do you think, what would Aaron do here? Or, or are you like, you know, now this is, are you, you know, are

    Greg Thompson:

    You Yeah, no, I I I, I still totally do. Uh, I mean, he was, he's such a funny guy and, you know, it was, you know, he used to say like, you know, the, unfortunately the funny person of the writing team died. So the, the, the guy who's like, does little, I don't even know what my specialty was, kind of doing things Aaron did, but a little less well founded. Uh, and, um, but yeah, no, I'll, I'll sometimes if I'm, if I'm writing and if a, a joke will occur to me, and