So says April Kelly, who is, btw, a helluva writer, even if she has retired to, um, Lynchburg, TN.
Here at TVWriter™, we’re not quite sure that it’s actually “easy.” But as LB says, “It beats working. Beats not working too.” Close enough?
Novelist, former TV writer enjoys life in Lynchburg
by Kelly Lapczynski
“Writing is easy,” former television writer and producer April Kelly told members of the Tullahoma Woman’s Club Wednesday. “Good writing is hard.”
Kelly would know. For nearly four decades, her writing has been tested in comedy clubs, Vegas acts, and on television, earning her two Emmy nominations and a current nomination for the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus award.
Her Hollywood career began in 1975, when she read that novelty Western singer Jim Stafford (Spiders & Snakes) was going to have a summer variety show on ABC. As the executive director of a Tampa, Fla. advertising agency, Kelly decided that her 30-second ads were “funnier than what was on the air,” and she took a gamble. She knew of Stafford and felt that, though he was certainly Country, he was not “hayseed.”
Fearing that Hollywood writers would take Stafford in a distinctly Hee-Haw direction, Kelly felt that she could find a more appropriate voice for him. And though there weren’t many women working in comedy at that time, she took a creative leap. She sent 100 pages of spec material – songs, sketches, monologues – to the show’s producers. When she hadn’t heard anything two weeks later, she sent another 80 pages.
On a Friday afternoon, a producer called from Los Angeles: “Can you start Monday?”
“Opportunity like that does not knock twice,” said Kelly. “I said yes. I quit my job. I gave away everything including my car, I put my books on a Greyhound bus, and I got on a plane Sunday night. Monday morning, I was at ABC and I was a comedy writer.”
“It was a 10-week job. I had $1,500 to my name and no car, but it was 10 weeks guaranteed work.”
For the next few years, Kelly wrote variety shows for John Denver, The Jackson 5, Donnie and Marie, The Captain and Tennille and Paul Lynde among others while also honing her comedic skills as a stand-up comic.
Her stint as a comic was relatively short-lived. “If you’re a singer and you go out, you can stink and at the end they’ll all applaud politely. If you’re a comedian pitching jokes and you don’t hear laughing, you know you suck. You can’t pretend they like you.”
So, because writing paid “actual money,” where stand-up did not, in 1978 Kelly accepted a position as the only female writer on the quirky ABC television series Mork & Mindy.