Tyler: Getting Your Feet Wet

For many students, taking the first concrete step toward a higher goal often comes in the form of an internship, a research position, or an artistic production of some sort. I’ve had a slightly different experience with thrusting myself into my ideal future.


Since my tween years my bedroom television was permanently tuned to Comedy Central, for want of a remote control. I’ve since decided it’s a safe bet that my best, if not only, professional hope is to become a comedian or comedic screenwriter. Naturally, the first step toward this goal, other than having a screenplay magically greenlit for production, is to perform standup comedy. I had been subconsciously building up material for a set since my awkward and oblong middle school days, but I still lacked the courage to get up on stage.


When I returned home from studying abroad last semester, I told my mom I planned to do an open mic set. As any parent who learns his or her child is seeking to make a career out of public self-loathing and mockery of others, she was ecstatic. She pressed me for the next several weeks when I evaded the goal at all costs, to the point where she became a terrible annoyance. Because I really wanted — needed — to do this, I eventually decided to use my mom’s coercion to my advantage. I convinced her to double her harassments until I became so furious that I had to either block all communication with her or do stand-up comedy. I did both.


About a month ago I did my first stand-up set at The Middle East in Cambridge. Since then, I’ve had no nerves about performing. I’ve been able to effectively assess the hilarity and appeal of my own jokes based on the response of several diverse audiences. Success in this sort of pursuit relies largely upon creative interpretation of the commonplace. It’s extremely beneficial to evaluate oneself based on objective responses. I’m saying your friends will always think you’re funny/smart/capable, even when you definitely aren’t. That’s what friends do. Trust the experts.


Every college student knows how quintessential gaining “experience” is. If you don’t go beyond academic practices, you’ll most likely be at a hefty disadvantage in the real world. (Whoa, really? Thanks for the advice, man!) But it’s especially important to seek guidance from authority and to actively self-evaluate. So, as soon as you have identified that pivotal passion that guides you, immediately put yourself in an environment that is conducive to furthering it. Do whatever it takes to get your feet wet. Even if you end up with an estranged mother.

Sarah: How to be Funny

Last semester, I waved a bittersweet goodbye to my required courses. This semester, I loaded up on Film & TV electives and hit the ground running. It’s been a hectic semester, but in the best way possible. All my classes are practical and very hands-on (and don’t have finals!). In my production class, I made films. In my creative producing class, I put together packages for talk shows and documentaries. I’ve been busy doing the things I love to do and hope to make a career out of, and that’s what college is all about.

I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to perhaps my favorite class this semester – Writing Situational Comedy Scripts. The class teaches the fundamentals of comedy storytelling and how we see it executed in the current television market. Essentially, it’s a class in being funny. The coursework involves writing several drafts of TV spec scripts, or nonprofessional scripts written for existing shows. The class is taught by Michael Loman, one of COM’s stellar faculty members. Professor Loman was a staff writer for The Cosby Show, Happy Days and All in the Family, to name a few, and also acted as Executive Producer of Sesame Street for 10 years. Needless to say, he is qualified to teach the class.

Over the course of the semester, the class completed two major projects. The first was a group spec script for a current sitcom – ours was Modern Family. Since almost all shows have a staff of writers who group write, this part of the class is meant to simulate the writer’s room. We were all responsible for writing and pitching a story outline to the class. Then we picked one story and went to work. We all know how much of a struggle group projects can be, so imagine the plight of 16 writers – 16 loud, opinionated writers – trying to create a quality script. There was a lot of fighting, a lot of laughing and a whole lot of bad jokes. But in the end, we produced something to be proud of.

The second project is a personal spec script, which we completed on our own. This project is your chance to shine. I decided to write for one of my favorite new shows – New Girl. I spent weeks creating an outline, writing drafts and meeting with my professor. Oh, and rewriting. And rewriting, and rewriting and more rewriting. Now I have a polished spec script for a new series that I can use when I start applying to jobs (which is crazy soon!).

So on that fateful day when you must bid adieu to your requirements, find solace in all of the cool COM classes you have yet to take!