If you’re looking at posts on TVWriter™, then most likely you’re dreaming about getting into showbiz as a writer of, well, of something. Although the following article takes a pretty specific look at comedy, much of what it says applies to dramatic writing as well. So we TVWriter™ minions want y’all to know that we definitely think this little career guide is worth your reading time:
by Nicole Dieker
For young, ambitious comedians in 2015, what is a comedy dream job?
If we had asked this question 20 years ago, the answer probably would have been simple. If you were of the performing bent, you’d dream of being “a Leno” or “a Letterman,” or maybe having a long stint on SNL before transitioning into movies. The writers among us would have fantasized about sitting in the writers’ room at one of these famous comedy shows — or, more likely, working on The Simpsons.
But the comedy landscape is rapidly changing. Young comedians no longer have to decide whether they want to be a Leno or a Letterman; they can also dream about being a Colbert, a Stewart, a Fallon, a Corden, an O’Brien, a Kimmel, a Meyers, a Wilmore, or an Oliver — and those are just the late-night shows.
Today’s comedians can also dream about starting their own YouTube channels before transitioning into their own television series, the way Grace Helbig made daily YouTube videos for years before hosting the The Grace Helbig Project on E! (while still making three YouTube videos a week). Or, they can dream about writing or starring in online comedy videos for CollegeHumor, Above Average, BuzzFeed, and other sites known for their hilarious — and viral — comedy shorts.
It is even still possible to write for The Simpsons — although today’s comedians are more likely to dream about writing for Bob’s Burgers, Broad City, or any new project developed by Tina Fey or Amy Poehler.
We are living in comedy boom times, where an explosion of opportunities on ever-expanding cable networks gives us the opportunity to experience a panoply of shows and sitcoms reflecting a diversity of comic voices. Add in the internet and the options to both create and consume comedy form an infinite plane, where browser tabs include everything from Amy Schumer’s videos to Brandon Bowen’s Vines.
What is life like in the comedy boom, and what does this mean for the comedy dream job? Has it changed since the 1990s, when people were, as Above Average’s head writer Celeste Ballard put it, “fighting for the same staff-writing job on Friends?” Are there more dream jobs to go around, or are comedians still chasing the Leno/Letterman apex — and which comedian is currently filling that top spot?