The Philly Spec

I spent yesterday working on the sitcom spec that I started in class a few months ago. This was the class I dropped, but then promptly returned to, once I was contacted by my teacher. She asked me to come back and give what I could in class, even with my crazed schedule. This woman really is something amazing – if you’re in the NYC area and looking to learn how to write sitcoms, I highly recommend her class at The Peoples Improv Theater.

Anyway, I decided to write an episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Originally, the plan was to write a 30 Rock script, but that’s a spec many aspiring TV writers are covering. I also considered Entourage, but something was telling me to save that for a second round of writing. It’s Always Sunny…, however, went untouched in my class, so I went after it. Plus, it is my hometown. And – no offense to my fellow Delaware Valleyians – but the fun of the show is its wild exaggeration of “the Philadelphia crazy”. Now granted, I never knew anybody who fed his friends raccoon meat, but we are talking about the town that once pelted  Santa Claus with batteries.

It’s very exciting: sitting down, brainstorming, writing this stuff out, cross-referencing (which means actually watching episodes of the show). There is, of course, The Fear. It’s something that’s been on my mind ever since I began to consider writing as a career option. When enough time has gone by – and that initial rush from a great idea comes and goes – The Fear finds a way to settle in: no money, odds against you, wondering if you’ll be 30 and actually be getting paid to do this stuff. The Fear can easily derail you. I’ve fallen victim to it, as have all writers. In fact, I would say it’s the same for humanity in general – who among us has ever lived fearlessly?

Here’s the way I see it: nobody has guaranteed me anything. If I want it, I have to work for it; and even then, there’s no time stamp on my birth certificate that says “Will completely succeed on xx/xx/xxxx.” When I think about that too much, it becomes easy to let myself get sidetracked; make my spec (or screenplay) a second priority. But instead of taking the easy way out, I remind myself, “What will be gained if I do so?” The answer is the same thing every time – regret. The way I see it, you can make money anyway you want at any point in your life. But if you don’t do what you want, when you want it, then you’re just wasting time. Maybe it sounds corny, but I didn’t come to New York to live with regrets. So – even when I do have those moments of anxiety – I try to remind myself that I am talented at writing. Somewhere out there, someone appreciates what I’m doing.

So, the spec is coming along – I wrote the beat sheet a while back, and the goal is to get the outline done by the end of today. Once the outline is done, revise it, make sure it makes sense (in context to the show), and then I’ll probably send it to my teacher before I take a crack at writing the script itself.

In between, I’m trying to come up with some new stuff for my next open mike on Tuesday night. Right now, I just seem to be talking about dating. Hey, it’s a start.


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5 responses to “The Philly Spec

  1. Minkoff

    Great choice of sitcom, by far the most laughs for the buck (they filmed the pilot fot what, like $400?)!

    Just make sure its loaded with drugs, knives and incest, and touches on a theme we all love and can all relate to (racism, abortion, poverty, religion, and banging other peoples’ moms).

  2. Rachel Crosbie

    I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie always reminds me of Frank Barth. Let me know how your script goes.

  3. sgold2009

    Hey – Can you post your “Sunny” spec, I would love to read it. I did a Sunny spec of my own and found it to be a very enjoyable experience. You can check mine out on my blogs. Would like to compare notes sometime. Best, SG

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