2014 Launch Pad Pilot Competition Top Comedy Winner Ted Sperling sat down for a rousing session of our Launch Pad Twitter Chats. Sperling’s pilot, “Garret Goes To Washington,” can be described as a reverse “Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” When a rich, privileged teenager is kicked out of his eighth boarding school, he’s sent to live with his blue collar relatives in Tacoma, Washington. Additionally, the first episode of his web series “Online Daters” reached one million views on Funny Or Die.
In case you missed the session, here’s the transcript of Sperling’s Twitter Chat:
@MyTrackingBoard: To get this Q&A started, we gotta ask, @Tsperlz how did the Launch Pad competition affect your career #shamelessplug
@Tsperlz (Ted Sperling): It’s been great. It hooked me up with my new managers at Energy and it’s also gotten my work a lot of other exposure
@2writestuff: Any advice for writers who aren’t funny but need to add in some comedy to their scripts?
@Tsperlz: I guess try to play it real and not shoe horn a corny joke in there. Funny stuff happens in real life.
@filmwritr4: How much of a challenge is it to write an effective comedy sketch within a short time frame online?
@Tsperlz: it’s very challenging. I think a great sketch will need rewrites and tweaks and notes, but it’s possible
@filmwritr4: I ask mainly bc I’m working on my own sketch comedy web series, a satire of cable news but w/in context of a “newscast”
@Tsperlz: awesome, shooting stuff is smart and fun and a good way to get better and funnier. Goodluck with it!
@Tsperlz: like weekly or nightly as a spoof of cable news?
@filmwritr4: Thanks! I’m writing each episode, but the production is being coordinated all over the place @filmwritr4: Thanks so much Ted! Will definitely keep you posted and thanks for the well wishes!
@filmwritr4: The name of my show is called THE LATE, LATE NEWS, and the show’s Twitter feed is on @LateLateNewsTV
@filmwritr4: Mainly traditional setup/punchline humor? I’ve been writing jokes like that on my show’s Twitter feed as an extension of the show
@filmwritr4: Another problem I’m having is with dialogue, specifically topical humor. What are some good ways to write those kind of jokes?
@Tsperlz: that’s cool, just jump in and do it. even if you don’t love how it turns out there will be value to it
@Origami_Mami asks: Comedy is so subjective. How do you write with mass appeal?
@Tsperlz: good question. there’s no shame in loving mainstream comedies and knowing why they’ve worked broadly. you want to write in your own voice but you want more people than not to say Yup that’s funny
@Tsperlz: the more you read and write the easier you can say “that’s funny” or “Nope, that’s not funny”
@2writestuff asks: Is it harder to get notes on jokes rather than story elements? Do those feel more personal?
@Tsperlz: yes, because you can love a joke and have someone say it’s not working and be like damn are they right?
@Tsperlz: but trust your gut. if you love something make an argument for why it’s so good, if u r getting notes
@filmwritr4: regarding topical humor setups/punchlines: does the punchline need to be “true” regarding the story
@Tsperlz: depends on the tone and the rules for your show or sketch. depends on how u r spoofing cable news
@watsupjustine: I’m a comedienne. How do you ignore the voice in your head telling you you’re not funny?
@Tsperlz: be confident and steadfast about your funniness but keep working and writing new stuff and tkng notes
@Tsperlz: people who are smart and are legit funny will have self doubt but create stuff that makes you laugh
@Tsperlz: also just not caring about that and hammering forward and writing scripts you think are hilarious
@Tsperlz: every script is a magical opportunity to teach yourself how to laugh again, haha half kidding
@taylor_622: You mentioned improv classes in your bio. Would you recommend them for aspiring comedy writers?
@Tsperlz: re: improv. YES! Sign up tomorrow. it awakens the funny parts of your brain and gives you confidence
@Tsperlz: you meet awesome people and it’ll make you want to act in your own sketches which is super fun.
@Tsperlz: the LA comedy scene revolves around @ucbtla so definitely get involved. IMHO.
@taylor_622 asks: Thanks! Who do you think are some of the best improv actors working today?
@Tsperlz: huge fan of Chad Carter who we lost to NYC. Also Eugene Cordero Tony Cavalero Lilan Bowden
@FratDawg: what are your favorite comedy inspirations?
@Tsperlz: Classic Simpsons, SNL, Seinfeld, Arrested Development, Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest mocku
@RobbyGallais: What’s it like writing for @funnyordie? Those guys are comedy gods.
@Tsperlz: shameless plug – look for the 2nd ep of ONLINE DATERS on @funnyordie next week. first ep here
@Tsperlz: actually don’t, I do independent stuff, upload it there bc it’s great. would love to tho
@2writestuff: 2 parter – are you branching out of comedy? And and you doing any features? Comedy or otherwise
@Tsperlz: have written features in the past and am working on one now. But I’m a comedy guy through and through.
@Tsperlz: I always say features are like longer pilots that have a complete ending. or something.
@2writestuff: R, Pg-13, PG? A little of everything?
@Tsperlz: even if it’s a family comedy like my pilot GARRET i’ll try to push the envelope. I like edgy dialogue.
@WhiAmionTwitt: you’re like famous and stuff. lolsauce. Cc: business ferrets.
@2writestuff: What channel would be your dream channel to get a show?
@Tsperlz: All the way to the N..B..C (30 rock spoofing Silence of the Lambs) ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, FX, Netflix
@2writestuff: No WE Network?
@Tsperlz: If I had to narrow it down to one I would say NBC. Or ABC. Oooh, or maybe HBO?!
@TheRealKennyKoo: theodore or edward? #importantquestions
@Tsperlz: great Q! Theodore and us Theodores don’t look too kindly on Edwards who go by Ted CC @Waffles1776
@onechocohall: Hi Ted, curious if you have some method for capturing comedic thoughts as they come up, for later use?
@Tsperlz: I send a lot of emails to myself and tag them with ‘script idea’ so I can go through later.
@RobbyGallais: hilariously unrelated follow-up: when did u know your script was ready to submit?
@Tsperlz: I developed the pilot with producer @noahweinstein he was great about pushing me to keep punching up
@jonhess1005 How did you first go about seeking representation for your work when you were just starting out?
@Tsperlz: networking, working in the industry as an assistant, entering great competitions like the LPPC
@jonhess1005: ALSO how soon after the competition were you repped?
@Tsperlz: About a week! So that’s pretty cool.
@MyTrackingBoard: Big big thanks to @Tsperlz for spending this hour & change with us. We can’t wait to see your upcoming projects!