Four Comedians Talk Writing Process

Jumping jacks to facilitate blood flow to the brain? A rigorous daily writing ritual? Sometimes it’s hard to know what the best process is for writing.

Four comedy writers shared their own writing processes at a recent Austin Film Festival panel. Larry Doyle, former writer/director for The Simpsons and writer of I Love You, Beth Cooper… Dan French, comedy writer and former staffer for late night TV shows…Tim Talbott, screenwriter and Comedy Central staff writer… and Jay Wade Edwards, TV Producer and Editor for Adult Swim.

I found their individual styles intriguing.

Larry’s early writing work was as a reporter. Thus, he was accustomed to planning in his own mind. But when he went to work for The Simpsons, he had to learn how to think aloud. Now he can do both. But when he works on a project alone at home, he likes to listen to music on headphones as he writes. He always has a number of projects going and sometimes has trouble focusing on just one.

Dan has no trouble writing if he is interested in a topic.  He finds that he goes into his head constantly throughout the day to work on a project. He can even “write” in the back of his head while talking to someone else.

Tim likes having a writing partner to laugh and work along with.  Having grown accustomed to the South Park writer’s room, he is most productive while having someone to bounce ideas off of. Tim always writes to please himself as the audience.

Jay sets aside four hours on Saturdays and four hours on Sundays for writing.  He does laundry as he writes, so that he can have a frequent reason to get up and engage in physical activity.  His theory is that this helps him access the other side of his brain.

Thanks to all these gentlemen for sharing their insights in Austin.


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