Comedians have always faced a choice between political submission and true craft.
Write to Kill
How Comedy Can Save America.
ACT ONE: THE SET UP
As a child of the 1980s, I didn’t have YouTube, Netflix, or a cell phone. We had something better. It was called HBO. I had unfettered access to all of its content, anytime. And back then, 99.9% of the content was comedy specials. They had a stand-up special every weekend. And so, I became a nine-year-old George Carlin expert. Later, I had a Sam Kinison obsession. In high school I had an Andrew Dice Clay cassette tape in my car. I spent a summer obsessed with the Jerky Boys. And of course, of COURSE, I would stay up every night—on school nights!—for Dave. David Letterman was my dad; well, either him or John Hughes.
When I graduated, I made the obvious decision to be a TV comedy writer. What else would I be? My college mentor had the same idea. He busted his ass, wrote a few good spec scripts, and today is one of the richest longtime showrunners in LA. His success is stupendous. For years whenever we watched his show and his name appeared in the credits, I would impress the kids by telling them I knew that guy.
In my post-college years, this friend would call me and demand to know why I hadn’t finished my spec script yet so he could get me a writing job. A spec script is a speculative script aspiring writers use as a sample.
“Finish your spec and I can get you a job!” my friend would implore. The job, if I got it, would be as a television writers assistant, where you would sit in the room with the Lampoon types and take notes. So I worked on my spec. At the time, everyone wrote Friends and Seinfeld specs. I was working on a Just Shoot Me, since the bar was lower.
Reader, I never finished writing it. There was something about…the idea of being in a room all day with other comedy writers that seemed uniquely horrific. I’d hung out with those guys, the Odenkirks and Groenings and welp, those dudes are nerds. Like, super nerds. I was a 25 year-old chick. I wasn’t a groupie and I’d worked hard in college to leave my nerdy high school years behind. I’d put a lot of effort into being cool. Now I was supposed to join the ultimate Team Dork? I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
And yes, I admit it—I was lazy and unmotivated. I blame my parents: they accidentally gave me a credit card in college. Did childhood privilege lead to my failure to snag a high-paying writing job in my youth? Fortunately for my career, this golden age of parental freeloaderism soon ended and I was eventually forced to support myself.
Meanwhile, I watched miserable talentless hacks go through the same writing internship program I’d completed with an older female TV writer with lots of Emmy Awards on her shelves. Her other interns got dumb jobs on terrible unfunny shows—because they had written their spec scripts. They stunk, but they had something to show at least. I would gnash my teeth in jealousy, but still I was unwilling to do the work required to get into a real writers room.
Instead, I kept getting other non-comedy writing jobs that did not require me to grovel to pasty-faced Harvard Lampooners around a conference table (I almost typed “pastry-faced,” which would have worked just as well). Writing comedy became a hobby, instead of a career.
Then I figured writing sketches would be easier—after all, they were short! Just a few pages! Much easier than an entire thirty-minute sitcom spec.
After taking some sketch writing classes at UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) in New York, I pursued sketch writing jobs at SNL and The Daily Show (I know, I know, but this was back when those shows were still funny—and I was not a political radical). Folks, my packet of sample sketches for The Man Show was a work of art. Absolutely NSFW. However, once again the hellacious archetypes of that world scared me away. On paper some of the writers were funny, but in real life they were awful: stiff, awkward, and let’s be honest, kind of creepy. Where were the normal funny people? Was I the only one out there?
But Peachy, you may be thinking to yourself, girls aren’t funny, and that’s why you failed. You’re just not that funny, okay? Perhaps. I agree that girls aren’t funny. In fact, girls are the opposite of funny. But because I am a lady and not a girl, perhaps I get an exemption. Joan Rivers was funny. Tina Fey was funny. They exist! But Peachy, you’re…not Joan Rivers or Tina Fey.
Hey, nobody’s perfect!
Soon after these half-hearted attempts at sketch comedy I found a “real job” writing for faceless and humorless corporations. Did you know that humorless corporations pay really well? I could finally pay off those college credit cards! Well enough that my unfinished Just Shoot Me and Friends specs languished in a drawer, my Man Show packet collected dust in a file, and my hilarious sketches never saw the light of day.
Reader, I never finished a single script.
That is, until last year.
ACT 2: FUN AND GAMES
Wokeness has killed comedy, as we know. There is literally nothing funny to watch on TV. I don’t even watch TV anymore, like, at all. Liberal comics like Dave Chapelle and Ricky Gervais skewer some aspects of wokeness, but still operate in the Realm of Woke. Like many of you, there is simply nothing produced by mainstream studios that entertains me anymore. Can’t something be done about this?
Good news, America: I think something can be done about this. In fact, I did something about this!
Last year I started fantasizing about a television sitcom that could make the kind of jokes you’re not allowed to make anymore. A sitcom that could complete the early promise of the Roseanne reboot, before Disney killed her beloved character with an opioid overdose. Hilarious! I recalled the greatness of All in the Family, where Archie Bunker sparring with Meathead allowed two generations to mock each other and find common ground. I loved Family Ties, which had a hilarious premise of two ex-hippie parents raising a teenage Reagan-loving Republican. I don’t think you’re legally allowed to put conservatives on TV anymore, unless you make them Nazis or domestic terrorists.
To help fill the sad, pathetic void of comedy on the “right,” a writer friend and I wrote a TV sitcom pilot about a normal American family living in abnormal times. The series is called “The Whites,” since that’s the family’s last name, and in the pilot episode, “Cancelled,” every member of the family gets cancelled, permanently.
Here’s the summary of Episode 1: “Scott’s wife is sent home from work during a race affinity group meeting, his son is sent home from school for running a banned books club, and his daughter is sent home from college after an outbreak of pox. Which means it’s the worst possible time for everyone to find out that Scott has a really big secret—one that could get the entire family cancelled…forever.”
Here are the characters:
SCOTT WHITE, late 40s. A formerly successful chef left unemployed by the pandemic.
JENNIFER WHITE, early 40s. Scott’s wife and the mother of their two children. Jennifer recently went back to work full time as a conflict resolution mediator.
SUSAN WHITE, early 70s. Scott’s mother. Susan left her retirement community in Florida to move in with her son and his family in California. Her hobbies are QANON and quilting.
GUS WHITE, 15. A 9th grader at the local public high school. His hobbies are lifting and crypto.
GWEN WHITE, 19. A sophomore at a local liberal arts college, with all that that entails.
T.J. DAVIS, 22. A gender studies TA at Gwen’s college, and Gwen’s new boyfriend, T.J. is active in the anti-fascist movement.
We can’t pitch this show to the networks, so we put the entire pilot script on Amazon. Read it and tell me what you think!
ACT THREE: THE BIG FINALE
Our show, and many others like it, are going to have to be written and developed and produced if we have any hope of winning back the country’s heart and mind. To win, we need to start telling the right jokes. We can kill wokeness by simply killing, as the stand-up comics say.
He who controls the means of comedy production controls the world!
So buy our pilot script. Support creative projects by and for our side. And let’s make America LOL again. Together.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.