Future Comedy Writers of the TV World – Lissen Up!
by Michael Schneider
Less than a year ago, Bryan Donaldson was working in IT at an Illinois insurance company. But as newly-minted late night star Seth Meyers began scouting writers to join his Late Night with Seth Meyers staff, Donaldson’s Twitter feed, @TheNardvark, caught the comic’s eye.
The host and his executive producer,Michael Shoemaker, thought that Donaldson’s 140-character quips (one example: “The addition of Jenny McCarthy could be the shot in the arm that The Viewneeded but not the one her kids still need”) would work well as monologue jokes. Donaldson packed his bags and moved to New York, where he had never even visited, to join the show in time for its February launch.
“Twitter has completely democratized the way we find writers,” Meyers said at last month’s South by Southwest festival. “You read their last six months of Tweets and you can tell immediately if they have a great sense of humor.”
In order to land a TV staff job, writers used to just submit scripts that they had written on spec. Those scripts are still a factor, but now social media gives showrunners like Parks and Recreation‘s Michael Schur another way to gauge a job contender’s skills. Schur says he hired two writers, Megan Amram and Jen Statsky, after enjoying their humorous tweets.
“It’s great for producers, it’s a new way to find someone who can write jokes,” he says. “You get to see how their brain works.” Schur also likes that Twitter forces writers to be “really concise and a good editor of their own material.”
Additionally, Twitter gives Schur a chance to do more due diligence on potential hires beyond a spec script, which could have been polished by someone else.