Yes, it’s true. Successful television writers aren’t born that way. They’re real people with actual and often obnoxious jobs first. This is the story of one of the lucky ones who made his writing dream come true:
by Joe Berkowitz
People move to Los Angeles every day to embark upon careers in the promised land of show business. Most of them end up dwelling in entertainment purgatory. Nobody knows exactly which factors set people on the path from nowhere to somewhere, but talent is only part of the equation. The rest of it seems to involve some dark-arts combination of making connections and working your ass off. For Matt Mira, both happened once he became a Genius.
Like many other ambitious young writers who have bills to pay, Mira began working at a job completely removed from the field he hoped to conquer. He was an Apple Genius Bar employee, toiling away the hours with dysfunctional iPhones. Amazingly enough, though, it was this very gig that indirectly launched Mira’s writing career and took him where he is today.
It’s tough to say how Mira is currently best known. Over the last four years, he has become familiar to comedy fans as one-third of The Nerdist–both in podcast and, later, TV-form–alongside cohosts Chris Hardwick and Jonah Ray. He also divides his time between another podcastwith film producer Scott Mosier, and a writing job on Comedy Central’s@midnight, which Hardwick co-created and hosts. As the projects he works on continue evolving, it will probably get more difficult to pin him down.
Mira’s story is one of not only creating opportunities, but also rising to meet the ones that happen along. Recently, the writer and comic talked to Co.Create about chance encounters, gradually quitting a day job, and why figuring out how to work the comedy machine is harder than getting an iPad to work.
Mira moved to L.A. from Boston to become a comedy writer. While he was working at the Apple Store during the day and performing at open mics around the city at night, he met two people who changed the course of his life and career. “I sold Chris [Hardwick] an iPod case one day, and then we just started talking about comedy. He said he was doing a show that night at UCB [L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theater] and asked me if I wanted to come. I went and then we stayed in touch and started having lunch sometimes. He helped me figure out how to get booked on shows in L.A. and further my standup. Not too long after that, [comedian] Jimmy Dorecame to the Genius Bar too and we had a nice little rapport. When he was starting a podcast, he thought to ask me how to do it. What was funny was I had no idea how to produce a podcast–I had to buy a book and learn how to do it in about three days.