Navigating through the challenging process of writing a comedy pilot, this book will help screenwriters to create an original script for television. Practical and accessible, the book presents a step-by-step guide focusing on the key elements of the process.
Incorporating both the history of TV comedy as well as its current evolving state in this age of the dramedy and an ever-increasing variety of broadcast and streaming platforms, the book will serve as a guide for the fledgling sitcom scribe. Author Manny Basanese breaks down the comedy pilot writing process from what may be perceived as an overwhelming, time-consuming mission into a series of much more manageable, smaller steps (from logline to outline to 1st, 2nd and polished draft). Utilizing his experience in Hollywood’s sitcom trenches, the author offers real-world advice on such topics as building the comedy pilot "world," creating memorable comic characters, sound sitcom structure, and the importance of crafting an emotional through line in a comedy pilot. Finally, there is also practical career guidance for marketing this just-completed script and breaking into the industry with advice on various topics such as the value of networking as well as gaining representation in the competitive Hollywood jungle.
It is ideal for students of screenwriting and aspiring comedy screenwriters.
Table of Contents
Introduction: the serious business of comedy: why laughing matters 1. What is a pilot and why write one? 2. Getting started: turning your idea into a comic pilot premise 3. Single or multi-cam? Workplace or family comedy? Decisions, decisions! 4. Rise of the dramedy 5. The animated comedy pilot 6. The "tween" comedy pilot 7. Choose your platform: network, cable or streaming 8. Comic characters: finding the funny 9. Finding your pilot story 10. Sitcom story structure: it's no joke! 11. Crafting your pilot logline 12. Pilot outline: blueprint for success 13. Your plot device toolbox 14. Your Cold Open: grab us! 15. Your pilot’s beginning: setting up your series "world" 16. Middle magic: obstacles, complications and escalation 17. Your pilot ending: begin where you finish! 18. Your 2nd draft: making a good thing better 19. A note about notes 20. The power of punch-up: mining the laughs 21. Your polished draft: is it ready to show? 22. Pilot pitch prep! 23. Breaking in: marketing your comedy pilot (and yourself!)
Manny Basanese is an Associate Professor at Emerson College in Boston and has been teaching screenwriting in their innovative Comedic Arts program since 2014. Before that, Manny was a sitcom writer/producer. His credits include Wizards of Waverly Place, The Steve Harvey Show, Family Matters, True Jackson, V.P. and The Tracey Ullman Show. In addition to his series and staff work, Manny has sold comedy pilots to "E!" Channel, Sony Television, The Disney Channel and Paramount. Manny has been a member of the Writers Guild of America since 1987.
'A must-read for any aspiring TV comedy writer'
Rick Hawkins, Emmy-winning writer/producer
'Industry insider Manny Basanese has created the perfect roadmap, not only for how to write your comedy pilot, but for how to get it sold. Whether you’re a newbie writer or a more seasoned vet, this must-have book is overflowing with insightful tips and practical advice which will help you navigate the complex pilot writing process from logline to pitch deck.'
Professor Martie Cook, Founding Director of The Center for Comedic Arts at Emerson College
'Extraordinary flight in writing TV comedy with Manny in the pilot seat guiding you every second from take-off to landing. Reading this will empower you with confidence to create your story idea into an authentic, successful series.'
Weiko Lin, Author of Crazy Screenwriting Secrets: How to Capture a Global Audience