Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Back to School

I am going back to school.  Sort of.  I’m taking one class, online, about TV comedy writing.  This will probably elicit a number of questions, like “why school?” and “why TV?” and “what about these government agents in black helicopters that sit with sniper rifles and thermal scopes a mile away from my armed compound?”  (Okay not all of you may have that last question.)

First, school: I need to get off my ass and do something.  I need some deadlines, and I need to have some people look at my stuff.  And I don’t know if I could hack an MFA program, and I definitely am not quitting my day job.  But I would like to challenge myself a little, and take something.  And it’s a little daunting, because aside from training classes at work, I have not been in a classroom since 1995, which is 15 years ago, which is downright scary.

Why TV?  I am getting to the point where chasing the long-form novel or the Raymond Carver sculpted story just isn’t me.  I mean, I am beating myself up learning this crap, trying to follow it, and maybe I could, but it’s just not my skillset.  I need to find some other form that’s closer to what I do.  Maybe that’s writing TV comedy.  Or maybe it’s punching up jokes for sketch comedy.  Or maybe it’s writing a regular column, or writing for something like the Onion.  All I know is I come up with a lot of way-out ideas, and I punch them together fast, but then get bored of them fast.  I need a format that fits that well.  I have been reluctant to even think this, because it is some form of defeat in a sense.  But it isn’t.  I mean, Picasso was a good painter, but I bet he’d struggle painting department store shelves for a summer.  And I did that with no problem – I’d kick his ass, given a skid of 36x18s with no metal prep and a couple of gallons of semi-gloss oil.

I really have no idea how the comedy writing world works, or where to go to find out.  I have this sneaking suspicion that the two cities you want to be in for this are NY or LA, and of course I didn’t do shit when I lived in either one.  But at least I’m not in Possum Pouch, Arkansas.  One thing that is possibly limiting is I have no interest in performing.  If I did, I would go to whatever UCB-type sketch comedy place and max out as much as possible, since it seems like that’s the way to cover all of your bases.  But I have zero interest in stage time.  I mean, I took my college speech class at 8:00 AM in a summer session specifically because I hate talking in groups.

Okay, I need to go log into this course site and figure it out.  The last time I had a class discussion online, it used VAXNotes, if that dates me at all.