How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

Norm Macdonald died today. He was one of my claimed admired funny bodies of all-time. I was advantageous abundant to account Norm in 2011, advanced of the admission of his brief Ball Central show, “Sports Actualization With Norm Macdonald.” Accepting to sit bottomward with Norm Macdonald for an hour to ask him about some of my admired things in ball (the Bob Saget Roast, the Frank Stallone punchline, and his underrated sitcoms) was a career highlight at the time and that hasn’t changed. I’ve approved to add as abundant added actual as possible.

Learn How to Write a Sitcom That Sells
Learn How to Write a Sitcom That Sells | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

The afterward account took abode in New York City on March 31, 2011 and was originally appear in two genitalia on April 2011.

Before we dive into this, let me say that Norm has been one of my favorites aback his time as the Weekend Update anchor. It was affectionate of surreal to sit bottomward and allege with addition whom my accompany and I accept watched and quoted for what seems like our absolute lives. I like to anticipate that I didn’t breach into my own claimed adaptation of The Chris Farley Show, but who knows. The allurement to stop the account at a accidental moment, aces up my articulation recorder and say, “Note to self…” was adamantine to deny. I like to anticipate I didn’t break. I anticipate I alike fabricated Norm beam already or twice. Basically, it was the highlight of my career as an interviewer, blogger and fan of comedy. Enjoy.

Part 1: Norm on sports blogs, bank and Dennis Rodman

SD: I watched your angle up special. (Me Accomplishing Angle Up) How continued accept you been alive on that material?Norm MacDonald: I don’t know. I’ve got a lot of angle up. It came calm appealing quickly. There was alone one allotment that took a continued time. It took me like 6 months to bulk out.

SD: Which one was that?NM: The one about murdering a woman. I mean, that took a continued time. It’s a actual aerial allotment to get amusement from.

SD: Do you allot alive a lot?NM: Yeah, yeah. I adulation accomplishing angle up. Anytime aback I started accomplishing actualization business, I’ve done angle up and aggregate abroad was aloof a ancillary thing.

SD: Do you bout much?NM: I bout all the time. I alive in LA. If I was in New York, which I – God I so ambition I lived in New York. You charge be so ailing of audition me say that. (This was directed at a PR actuality in the room. Norm had never told me he capital to alive in NY.) New York, you aloof [go] from club to club, its absolutely fun to do, but LA’s not like that. So, yeah, I’m consistently on the road.

SD: How continued accept you been alive on this show?NM: We taped a presentation for it in like in, f-ck, I anticipate it was November or article like that. And then, yeah, I anticipate it was November. It took us, we formed out it for about a ages – The presentation I assumption they alarm it – in November. Afresh we aloof waited to hear, afresh we heard in February, or article like that. Aback afresh we’ve aloof been aggravating to get calm pre-taped pieces and actuality because we can’t absolutely address the jokes for it until the anniversary of the show.

SD: What’s the breakdown activity to be of pre-taped segments adjoin breaking news?NM: It’s activity to be mostly that week’s jokes. We’re activity to accept that week’s jokes, we’re activity to try to do a abiding exhausted allotment for one allotment and a pre-taped affair for one piece. Sports jokes will be the agent throughout the absolute thing. Because that’s what I like doing. I don’t like accomplishing man on the artery things. They assume to be done to death.

SD: It’s affectionate of like accepting aback to the Weekend Update stuff.NM: Yeah, yeah, I adulation the Weekend Update stuff. We’re – I’m aggravating – there’s a lot of centralized discussion, but I’m aggravating to accomplish this as abutting to Weekend Update as attainable because I absolutely admired Weekend Update.

SD: With the adjacency of the internet, are you afraid that all the acceptable jokes are activity to be taken by the time you air?NM: Well, luckily, the acceptable affair is that we accept sports because, my God, if you accept a allocution actualization monologue. That’s a way harder book because there’s 400 allocution shows so I don’t alike apperceive how those guys address monologues because every antic would already be done. At atomic with sports… I capital to do it live, but, uh… Ball Central wouldn’t let me do it live. So we’re activity to do it the night before. We’re activity to do it Monday night. Actualization it Tuesday. So we’ll be absolutely abutting to live-to-tape, so the actuality we’ll do, it will about all be about that weekend, Saturday and Sunday. All the jokes will be about Saturday and Sunday.

SD: What affectionate of autograph agents do you have?NM: We accept the two guys I wrote Weekend Update with. Like, they’re the best writers. They’re like the best writers I adulation from the Letterman Show. The aboriginal Letterman actualization that are absolutely awesome. They all apperceive sports like crazy. Afresh we accept 4-5 guys who don’t apperceive annihilation about sports. We feel like its important to cull us aback and not get to cabalistic because it will all alluvion into like, jokes that alone like bristles bodies will understand. Afresh on the pilot they’re like We had to cut down – I’m like, what’s amiss with that joke? – No one accepted it. No one knows who that guy is. 

How to Write a TV Pilot — E.M. Welsh
How to Write a TV Pilot — E.M. Welsh | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

NM: So, we had to accomplish it accessible. We accept a lot of guys ascendant us aback from accepting too… Cuz I can absolutely get into the minutia of shit. You balloon that the bodies on Ball Central, it’s not a sports allocution radio network. So we accept to accomplish it attainable to everyone.

SD: Is the pilot activity to air? (The pilot was funny, but best of the accountable bulk was acutely from the Fall.)NM: No, the pilot’s not activity to air. Apparently a allotment from the pilot is activity to air. I saw this guy on the Internet, the guy who did the MMA thing. That Kyle kid, I absolutely admired him on the Internet, I laughed so hard. So I was like let’s get this guy. This guy’s fucking alarming at interviewing.

[That guy was approaching SNL casting affiliate Kyle Mooney. Here’s the segment.]

SD: So he wasn’t absolutely your nephew? (This was a antic and I affirm it fabricated Norm laugh.)NM: No he wasn’t my nephew. So we’re activity to accelerate him to like three or four events. I anticipate we’re sending him to NBA playoffs and shit. I appetite to get added correspondents too. I appetite to do that affair on Update area you accompany the guy out and he talks beeline into the camera. I like the adjacency of attractive appropriate into the camera abundant added than edited pre-taped pieces.

SD: Accomplishing the sports show, there haven’t been abounding ball sports shows that accept worked.NM: No, they never worked.

SD: Do you guys apprehend a lot of sports blogs?NM: Yeah, they do more. I apprehend sports blog somewhat, but I’m affectionate of absorbed to alert to sports radio. I accept been for a continued time. I get it mostly off FM. And also, I’m aloof acquirements computers. For the aftermost f-cking week, bodies accept been aggravating to explain blogs to me. I didn’t alike apperceive what they beggarly because we accept our own centralized blog. They accumulate cogent me and I still don’t understand. Finally aback I accept I’ll understand. But again, like you don’t appetite to get too arcane. I’m now watching a lot of sports blogs on the computer.

SD: How are you affection Cheep so far? (@NormMacDonald)NM: Oh, Twitter. I didn’t apperceive how to do it a ages ago. Now I’m f-cking absorbed to it. I adulation it so much. I didn’t accept what it was. I never accepted it. I was like why the f-ck would some guy… who the f-ck cares if Sean Penn is bistro a hamburger? You know? I never accepted why anybody was on it and afresh a guy accomplished me to do it and I can’t stop. I’m like everybody else. I was cerebration of starting abstracted Twitters. I’m cerebration of accomplishing a sports cheep aback the Sports Actualization is advancing up. I anticipate I’ll do that.

SD: I saw your video that you acquaint with your bracket.NM: Yeah. F-cked up that, man. I adulation that I put that on video. Two out of 5.9 amateur they said had the Final Four on ESPN. Don’t apperceive what happened to those two.

[This was the year area Kentucky, UConn, Butler and VCU fabricated the Final Four.]

SD: Yeah. I agnosticism they apperceive much. It’s like affairs a action ticket.NM: Yeah, that’s about the alone way you could do it. One guy said his kid picked. If you were knowledgeable, it’d be absurd to aces that.

SD: With added claimed activity actuality of athletes advancing out, does any of that agency into your bank picks?NM: There’s a guy I apperceive that does a blog. I apperceive this kid because I acclimated to action and bits and I knew handicappers and stuff. And this guy, he acclimated to ball poker with me. Nate the Great. But he does a New York Times blog area all he does is crunches numbers and the odds, he tells the exact allotment that that aggregation will win. He crunches numbers and he sims the affair a amateur times and wait, what did you ask me? I feel like I’m on Adderall.

(Norm was mainlining coffee that day. He asked to be cut off assorted times.)

How to Write a TV Pilot, pt. 12: Pre-writing & Outlining  by Luke
How to Write a TV Pilot, pt. 12: Pre-writing & Outlining by Luke | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

SD: Stories about players claimed lives factoring into bank picks? NM: No because that’s what this guy does. He puts ah… I’ll acquaint you one affair I did one time. Aback I was absolutely into my gambling. I was at Saturday Night Alive and Dennis Rodman came into the show. He was a bedfellow on the actualization and the Bulls were arena the abutting day adjoin the Knicks at noon, right? I said, Dennis Rodman is f-ckin’ there, he’s got like 8 wh–es, he’s smoker edger and shit. All of a sudden, like, we’re at the afterwards party, its like four in the morning, the guy’s still bubbler and partying. I’ve got this central information. He’s apparently activity to blot the abutting day. So I bet adjoin the Bulls and he had like 300 rebounds and like what? I assumption these guys can just… I assumption abnormally with basketball you aloof be benumbed and ball the f-cking game. That was my one time I anticipation I had central information.

(CONTEXT: On May 11, 1996, Dennis Rodman fabricated an actualization on Saturday Night Live. The Bulls played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden at apex the abutting afternoon and Rodman affective 19 rebounds in 41 account as the Bulls took a 3-1 alternation advance in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That’s why he’s a Hall of Famer.)

SD: If Sports Actualization becomes a big hit, do you anticipate you’ll be asked aback to host the ESPYs?NM: I’d adulation to host the ESPYs. Aback I did the ESPYs, what was absorbing was, you apperceive the athletes were actuality and they comprised a baby bulk of the audience. And abaft them was the crowd, the New Yorkers you know. Aback I was accomplishing it, the army admired me and I had no abstraction the athletes f-cking hated my guts. Afresh I see it on TV and I do a antic and the cut a afflictive guy. I was like “Oh God, I like that guy and now he hates me. But all my heroes… But Tiger laughed! It was a pro-Tiger joke, but Tiger laughed. He’s my hero. I adulation Tiger.

SD: So there’s not abundant Tiger actual in the new show?NM: I’m not activity afterwards Tiger. I’m not activity afterwards anybody really. I’m such a sports fan. Like you were saying, sports shows haven’t really… I don’t anticipate they’ve succeeded because in accepted they haven’t absolutely been sports admirers examination them. I don’t accord a f-ck about guys’ claimed lives. I’m not activity to be arbitrary to them. I anticipate its antic that Plaxico Burress is in bastille for f-cking cutting his own leg. I anticipate that’s crazy. I absolutely feel apologetic for him. I’m not activity to accomplish fun of bodies aloof because. I adulation sports and I’m not activity to advance anybody. Like O.J. Simpson wasn’t an amateur at that point. That was like aloft sports. I don’t like Ben Roethlisberger but, you know, guys do things, they accomplish adultery, I don’t accord a f-ck about it.

Part 2: With Norm on The Saget Roast, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Stan Hooper.

SD: Would you alarm your amusement as array of “anti-humor?”Norm MacDonald: Um, no. Some of it. A little bit. It depends. I like to f-ck about with ball sometimes. I agreement with it. Like with angle up, I don’t do any anti-humor because its aloof not fair to the audience, you know, aback they’re advantageous and actuality like that. Sometimes aback I’m not actuality paid or something.

SD: Like the Saget Roast?NM: Yeah, like the Saget Roast. That was aloof a little bit of an experiment. I can’t insult people. I don’t apperceive how to insult bodies and alarm them names and stuff. Because I would feel absolutely bad because aggregate you say, it has to be like true, you know, or it doesn’t accomplish any sense. So I couldn’t do that. I could never do it to a abundant amateur or somebody I didn’t absolutely know. I couldn’t say, “Oh, Betty White, what’s amiss with your vagina?” Whatever the f-ck they say. I couldn’t alike attending at, I couldn’t alike anticipate of accomplishing it. So Saget kept bugging me to do it. And afresh I anticipation of this abstraction on the aftermost day. I said, alright, I’ll do it. And afresh that day, I was activity to do it I was cerebration what the f-ck am I activity to do? And afresh I anticipation it would be a fun agreement to try to do – ‘Cuz ball is like a cardinal of things and one is the joke, it has to be funny.

NM: So I anticipation I would do jokes that aren’t funny. Another affair is delivery. So what if I did the commitment amiss also. All that would be larboard would be context. Aloof the abstraction of addition accomplishing bad jokes. I got the abstraction because the guy told me, you’ve got to be shocking. The ambassador of the show, “Just try to be shocking!” So I thought, well, that would be the best abominable affair to do would be… I begin the jokes in a book my dad gave me aback I was a kid alleged Jokes For Retirement Parties. Aback I started angle up, that’s aback he gave it to me. It was absolutely candied of him. Like he had this stupid, f-cking banal book, “Hey maybe this will help.” And its all these jokes for a guy’s retirement party. I’ll aloof booty the jokes out of there. There are all these cool old references. But that was aloof a little experiment. It angered a lot of people.

SD: I accept to say, the blow is one my friends’ and my admired buzz segments.NM: Oh really? Cool. Sometimes, it’s adamantine to do. You don’t apperceive what you’re accomplishing because aback you’re continuing up there. The absolute time I was staring into the afflictive face of Alan Thicke. He was like sitting at a table. And he aloof f-cking hated me the absolute time.

SD: So you won’t be accomplishing roasts afresh anytime soon?NM: No, you can alone do that once.

SD: Is the bigger affliction in your career casual on the amateur dollar question?NM: Yeah. (No averseness whatsoever.)

[The final catechism starts about the 23-minute mark.]

How to Write a TV Pilot, pt. 12: Structure  by Luke Giordano
How to Write a TV Pilot, pt. 12: Structure by Luke Giordano | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

SD: Really?NM: Yeah, acknowledgment for bringing that up. I absolutely do – I do anticipate about that a lot. I f-cking anticipate about that a lot. And actually, that had to do with bank also, abnormally enough. Because there were two – there was a big aberration I fabricated in that. Which is I anticipation Regis knew the acknowledgment to the f-cking questions. And it angry out afterwards that bodies told me no he doesn’t apperceive the answer. So I anticipation he was giving me exact clues, like “Are you sure?” And I’d go “Yeah, it’s the Southern Cross.” And he’d go, “Are you sure? You can use your lifeline.” I’d go, “Oh, OK. I guess.” So I f-cking threw abroad all my lifelines with ones I knew and I get to the f-cking aftermost one, appealing f-cking abiding I apperceive it…

NM: What happened was during the commercials we were backstage. And Regis is a huge fan of Notre Dame. So we’re watching Notre Dame ball and I had like fifty thousand dollars on the game. And Regis was like “What the f-ck? What’s amiss with you?” I had money on the bold and I told him how much. So afresh aback we got back, now aback I watch the f-cking clip, which I’ve apparent like 200 times to bethink my nightmare. Aback I f-cking saw it, aback I accomplished aback I saw the clip, he goes, “You’ve got a bit of a bank band in ya don’t ya? You appetite to exhausted the game.” And was like, “Holy f-ck, he thinks I’m on…” Now aback I attending aback on it, I anticipation he was adage “F-ck it! Don’t f-ckin.. It’s the amiss answer. Do no f-cking accident it.” You apperceive what I mean? But now attractive aback at it, he saw some f-cking idiot fucking backstage afraid like a pig watching the Notre Dame game. He anticipation I was aloof berserk academic at the final answer. But yeah, man. I capital the balloons and money to abatement bottomward so f-cking much. If you don’t win it all, you’ve f-cking absent in my opinion.

SD: I’m apologetic for demography you to that aphotic place.NM: Yeah, man. That was cruel. And f-cking affair lives in consistently on the f-cking computer. Honestly, I about never watch myself, but I’ve watched that so abounding f-cking times. Aloof like masochistically.

(It should be acclaimed that Norm was additionally bedlam while cogent that story. I didn’t cartel ask him if Paul Newman anytime had the adventitious to bawl at him.)

SD: How do you like hosting High Stakes Poker?NM: Oh, I adulation that. That’s really, absolutely fun. You know, I’m a little bit conflicted because I really  adulation poker and I adulation Gabe Kaplan. You know, Gabe Kaplan is a way bigger poker amateur than me and a way bigger poker analyst than me. He’s absolutely f-cking good. He’s my admired poker analyst. I was affectionate of abject that he larboard because I’d rather watch him than me, but it’s fun to do. It’s affectionate of adamantine to do because you see their aperture cards and its adamantine to go, like, “What the f-ck’s this guy thinking? Clearly the added guy has a 6!” So I was aggravating to do it – I was saying, “Can we block the cards from me?” That’s how I did it. I got them to block the aperture cards for me so I wouldn’t see the f-cking aperture cards. All these guys, they can see the aperture cards so it’s so accessible to be like “What’s this guy? Why is he? It’s acutely a bluff.” If you adumbrate the aperture cards it’s way harder to do. Afresh it’s absolute game.

SD: Which brings me to my abutting question, accept you anytime run into OJ or Frank Stallone?NM: I did run into OJ actually. Frank Stallone, I met his brother and he told me a funny story. He was like, “Hey, booty it accessible on Frank.” I said f-cking, “Yes sir!” He told me this funny story. He said aback he did Rocky in Philadelphia, he said appropriate afterwards he did Rocky, his brother absitively to become a boxer. Frank, you know. So says f-cking everybody in Philadelphia exhausted the bits out of him. Like, “Hey, I get to exhausted up Rocky’s brother!” I assumption Frank was never the aforementioned afterwards that. All these arena guys were like, yeah where’s Rocky’s brother?

NM: Yeah, I did bang into O.J. already at a golf course.

SD: Did he apperceive who you were?NM: It was f-cking so camp because I was with Kato. (As you’ll see in the Millionaire clips above, Norm and Kato were friends.) I was golfing with Kato and, uh, he was like on the abutting green. And Kato said, “Let’s run away.” I was like, no. Let’s go allocution to him and he’s like, “No, no.” But Kato was my ride, so I had to go with him so I didn’t get to accommodated O.J. But I accept a activity that O.J. wouldn’t accord a f-ck. I don’t anticipate alike anticipate he’d be mad. I bethink one time he was interviewed by Chris Myers afterwards the annihilation -I beggarly afterwards the acquittal. All the questions were about the murder, you know? Afresh at the end, O.J. says, “Oh, by the way, Acknowledgment for all the football questions.” As if he’s activity to ask him football questions. It was so funny.

SD: Aback was the aftermost time you went out for a beer with Don Ohlmeyer?NM: I accept annihilation adjoin Ohlmeyer. He’s a acceptable guy. He invented the Banknote game. I consistently like Ohlmeyer because I consistently brand sports and he did so abundant big bits in sports. He aloof f-cking didn’t apperceive annihilation about comedy. It’s not his fault. He’s aloof a big idiot. I mean, hey man, he invented the banknote game. He’s a acceptable guy.

SD: Which actualization do you ambition you could accompany back, if either: Norm or A Minute With Stan Hooper?NM: If I could accompany it back? I’m affectionate of afflictive acting, so I’d abundant rather do Weekend Update or the sports show, but amid the two, I would rather accompany aback Stan Hooper.

SD: Why?NM: Because I had an abstraction for Stan Hooper that never got realized. You know? Stan Hooper was like this agreement I was accomplishing that never got off the ground. The abstraction of it was, it was declared to be like a acceptable actualization and afresh at the end of the aboriginal year, a drifter comes into boondocks and kills my wife. And afresh the abutting affair I capital to change was accomplish it crazy, to allurement the admirers into cerebration it was one actualization and afresh aloof f-cking do a hay-maker at the end of the season, but they never let me get that far. They knew what I was activity to do. I explained it to them and they agreed with it and everything, but it never got there. It was all set up and it was acceptable added destructive every show, but alone did like 10 shows or something.

NM: I had it mapped out for like 25 shows, absolutely what would happen. We alone got to ten. They anticipation it was some wholesome show. The admirers didn’t apperceive what was activity to happen. One of my abounding bootless experiments.

How to Write a Pilot for a Television Series - Script Magazine
How to Write a Pilot for a Television Series – Script Magazine | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

SD: Are you still abutting with any of the guys from SNL cast?NM: Attractive aback on it those guys were… I knew at the time they were the funniest guys in the world, but there was Sandler, Farley, Spade, Rock had left, but he was still blind around… And I knew best of them from angle up anyway. We weren’t absolutely account actors. We were aloof like.. Aloof to be in the allowance with them. Sandler throws me into a cine already in a while. Kevin Farley’s out here. We break close. Sandler, Spade, Schneider, Tim Meadows. We all adhere out still. It was such abundant fun. I was advantageous to be with those guys. They were the funniest guys. Abnormally Chris Farley.

Unfortunately, the account concluded here. I was accepting accessible to ask him about Artie and candidly would accept sat and listened to him allocution until aegis abject me out of the building. Aback a PR actuality told him I had catholic all the way from Albany, he let apart a patented, “Good lord!” To adduce Chris Farley, “That was awesome.”

How To Write A Pilot Sitcom – How To Write A Pilot Sitcom
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How to Format TV Sitcom Scripts - The Script Lab
How to Format TV Sitcom Scripts – The Script Lab | How To Write A Pilot Sitcom

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