Will you please welcome, Emmy award winning television writer, Earl Pomerantz.
(CUED) AUDIENCE APPLAUSE
Thanks for havin’ me.
It is our pleasure. Earl. You specialized in writing in the half-hour comedy format.
Yes, I did.
And how long did you do that?
For parts of the past four decades. Or, to be more precise, for all of the two in-between decades and for sizable hunks of the first and the fourth.
Would it then accept the title “Expert” in writing in the half-hour comedy format?
There are five of us. One’s too rich to speak to anyone, two are dead, and one won’t come out of the house. So here I am.
And it is indeed wonderful to have you.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? When exactly did your interest, that ultimately led to your becoming a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format, begin?
(I MENTION MY OBSESSION WITH TELEVISION WATCHING GROWING UP, HIGHLIGHTING THE COMEDIES THAT PARTICULARLY INSPIRED ME.)
Great. Now of course, starting out, you weren’t immediately a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format. How did you develop your abilities, such that you ultimately became a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format?
(I ACKNOWLEDGE SOME OF THE GREAT WRITERS I WORKED FOR, WHO HELPED SHAPE AND INFORM WHAT ULTIMATELY BECAME MY PERSONAL WRITING STYLE.)
You certainly had quite an education, didn’t you? Tell me, as a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format, when coming up with an idea for a show, what is it that tells you, “This one has the makings of a half-hour comedy series”?
(USING A SHOW I CREATED, PERHAPS "BEST OF THE WEST" AS AN EXAMPLE, I EXPLAIN HOW IF I’M EXCITED BY THE ARENA, THE CHARACTERS AND THE RELATIONSHIPS, I FEEL CONFIDENT THAT THE ELEMENTS EXIST FOR A VIABLE SERIES.)
Super. Now, as a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format, do you have any theories concerning what exactly it is that makes people laugh?
(I COMMENT ON THE CONTINUING FRAGMENTATION OF THE AUDIENCE. THERE ARE FEW THINGS TODAY THAT WILL MAKE EVERYONE LAUGH. WHAT’S FUNNY TO ONE GROUP MAY BE NOT FUNNY, OR EVEN OFFENSIVE, TO ANOTHER.)
How true that is. Finally, not to become too pedantic on the subject, but as a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format, ‘Whither, the sitcom?’
Where is half-hour comedy headed in the future?
(I ANSWER THAT, SINCE I NO LONGER SEEM TO BE INVOLVED IN THESE MATTERS, I REALLY DON’T CARE. I THEN SOFTEN MY BITTERNESS BY QUOTING THE LEGENDARY ART LINKLETTER, WHO SAID, “PEOPLE ARE FUNNY.” AS LONG AS WRITERS CAN CAPTURE PEOPLE IN THEIR MAGNIFICENT FOOLISHNESS, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE HALF-HOUR COMEDIES WORTH WATCHING.)
Thank you for your thoughtful, knowledgeable, and at the same time often quite amusing responses.
Happy to be here.
Now with our few remaining moments, are there any final words of wisdom you would care to pass along?
I don’t know about wisdom, but it’s good to remember that television can be a great learning tool. Someone considering a career in TV writing may have watched this show and learned something that could help them. But like everything, there’s another side to television. The television can do damage by broadcasting programs….
…that sew seeds of hatred and division…
…just because Freedom of Speech says they can…
We don’t want to hear it!
…and there’s money to be made doing it.
Why are they booing me?
Because you’re a specialist in writing in the half-hour comedy format.
But I have something to say…
About the half-hour comedy format?
Then nobody wants to hear it…from you.
Ladies and gentlemen…
The “down” side of specialization.