WRITING TV SITCOMS
by Ken Levine
1-Hour, 45-Minute Audio Seminar; Instant Download!
A personal message from Dan O'Day:
You can learn about sitcom writing from some
professor or author who makes a living teaching or
writing about it...Or from an Emmy award winning
writer/producer/director who continues to be in
demand after 30 years in the biz. Ken Levine
knows TV comedy...and tells it to you straight.
Emmy Award Winning Writer/Producer/Director
Ken Levine (Cheers, M*A*S*H, etc.) Gives
Straight, Honest "Insider's" Answers To These
- What's the best way to work on your comedic voice in small doses
that will also improve your sitcom writing? Stand-up? Prose
humor? Blogging? Improv? Penthouse Forum letters?
- Do scriptwriting classes help, or are they a waste of time and
- What's your best advice on rewriting? For instance, when you
have a script that's decent but not great, how do you find the
problem areas and fix them?
- In today's limited sitcom world, is there really ANY hope for a
newbie/freelancer of a) getting work on an existing show or b)
pitching a show to a network? It seems sort of futile....
- What's the best way to get started in a successful TV sitcom
writing career? What are the steps to actually landing a position as
a staff writer?
- How old is too old to start writing sitcoms if you haven't worked in
- Story vs. Dialogue: How much is worked on in the writer's room
collectively vs. individually? Which do you think is more valued in
terms of career opportunities? Or are they looked upon equally?
- How much improvisation/changing/rewriting happens during the
actual recording of a sitcom? Or is it strictly line by line as written
in the script?
- How is a particular episode's first draft written and then improved
upon? Does one writer create a first draft alone and then have the
large group revise it together?
- Why would a writer choose to submit to the limiting, frustrating
writing process of a TV sitcom?
- What lessons did you learn about sitcom writing that you could
only learn from being part of the room and wasn't taught through
classes, reading books, or writing specs?
- I've heard more and more agents/executives want to read pilot
specs. What do you think is the best piece of advice on writing a
- When is the best time to send out spec scripts? Are agents always
reading? When is the prime spot to be considered during "staffing
- In my spec script, is it better to follow the voice of the show or to
showcase some of my own — even if it differs somewhat from the
- What's the most important part of writing a pilot as opposed to an
episode for an existing series?
- How are the 22 minutes of a sitcom story structured?
- How do you spice up with humor a scene which is there only
because of its expositional value?
- How do you create characters that resonate with you and
- What do you do when you realize a character you've created is too
Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/
producer whose television credits include
(among many) M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier, The
Simpsons, Wings, Everybody Loves Raymond,
Becker, Dharma & Greg. He and his writing
partner created the series Almost Perfect,
starring Nancy Travis, and wrote the feature
film VOLUNTEERS (co-starring Tom Hanks
and John Candy).