https://youtu.be/uO8DOzj3soE?feature=shared

David Litt is the Creator and Showrunner of the hit TV Series King of Queens. He’s written on shows like Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Out of Practice, Big Bang Theory, and more.

Show Notes

David Litt on IMDBhttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm0514439/

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Autogenerated Transcript

David Litt:
The lesson I’d like to impart if there is one. It really is fun to be a wise ass and funny and make everybody laugh. But you gotta bring something to the table or you’re just gonna get fired. Yeah. Yeah. You’ve great to be funny and crazy and do bits and hopefully bring up the level of people’s spirits in the room because it can get Yeah. It get arduous. Yeah. Yeah. But if that’s all you do and you’re not contributing, you’re gonna be extraction and you’re gonna get, so that, that’s something that gets earned over time.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jam. Hey everybody, it’s Michael Jam and welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I have a very, very special guest today. This is my old friend David Lit, who is the creator of perhaps one of the last giant hit multi-camera sitcoms. King of Queens. <affirmative> King of Queens. That’s, there really haven’t been too many multi-camera hits. There’s been a couple, but not many. And so here he is, David

David Litt:
And not many that have run 25 years continuously.

Michael Jamin:
You mean still in syndication? You mean still running somewhere? Still

David Litt:
Never been off the air since 98.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. Well we’re gonna get to all that. I want hear. Let me just give you a little bit of roll up. So, cuz I want people gonna wanna know what else you had done. So you actually wrote on Real Monsters, which is My wife was a voice on that show. I think we talked about that. She was Dizzle

David Litt:
Dizzle, Yeah. Now that character may have left. I left to do a sketch show.

Michael Jamin:
What show

David Litt:
Was that? After? About six months. So I was there, but was I o uh and Crumb.

Michael Jamin:
Crumb. Interesting now. Okay.

David Litt:
Great place to work, by the way, for anybody who has the opportunity.

Michael Jamin:
What in Kids

David Litt:
Classy.

Michael Jamin:
What’s that? Where you cut out?

David Litt:
I dunno, Classy Cupo. Oh yeah. A great place to

Michael Jamin:
Work. But they, Are they still making stuff though?

David Litt:
I don’t know. They used to rug wraps. I don’t know if they still do, but they’re unbelievably opposite and really great to creatives. And

Michael Jamin:
So, in other words, if we can build a time

David Litt:
Machine, My first,

Michael Jamin:
So your advice,

David Litt:
My first job I got was on a Real Monsters and the earthquake hit the first day I started. Right. The North Northridge quite there. So to their credit, they paid everybody, even though they were closed for a couple of weeks. They paid everybody.

Michael Jamin:
Interesting. They were in the studio too. How well did you get that job? Cause okay, let’s start from the beginning. You’re from Queens. You live that life of King, right? And so we’ll get there, but how did you get your first job On writing?

David Litt:
Yeah. I don’t like to brag by telling people I’m from Queens, but Yep. You can’t hide. I am

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>.

David Litt:
<laugh>. Not obvious.

How did I get that job? Here’s how I fast forwarding a little bit. I moved from New York to LA the first week or two I was there. I made a commitment. I was gonna go to every party I got invited to. Cause I’m not a party guy. I don’t like going to these, but I felt like I had to make friends. I needed to meet people. So somebody, a friend of a friend said, Hey, come to this party out in the Palisades. I said, Okay. I meet this kind of diminutive little woman. Little girl. Very sweet. We chatted for an hour and I go home and I get a call the following day from her and my ego. I’m thinking, Oh ha, she’s totally into me,

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>.

David Litt:
But she wasn’t, as it turned out, she wasn’t into me at all. But she had a job for me and wanted to know if I was interested in it or not. And of course, little did she know I was living on my credit cards. I was literally, I had four credit cards maxed. And I was taking cash off the fifth to pay the four. Did

Michael Jamin:
You have any

David Litt:
Kinda, And she was going, Are you interested? It was, by the way, I still remember it was 2000. It was 2000 a week. And I was like, Yeah, I’m interested,

Michael Jamin:
But you wait. She and she worked for Klasky Shpo.

David Litt:
Her name was Laverne McKinnon. A shout out to her. She made my career, She made my life. I mean, she took a chance. She didn’t know me from shit. She just thought, Oh, this guy’s buddy.

Michael Jamin:
And you had a script ready. She must have read your script.

David Litt:
No, not at that point. She subsequently read something. But at that point it was like she was going on instinct. Like, Oh, this guy made me laugh. Wow. We have a comedy coming up and she, let’s bring him in and meet with

Michael Jamin:
Him. And so she worked with in development at, She

David Litt:
Was right underneath Arlene and Klasky and gpo. That’s the Klasky and the Tupo.

Michael Jamin:
And they’re the producers of that, the show that, But how long had you been in LA at that point? And how were you making a living before that at all?

David Litt:
Let me think. Yeah, she was okay. I had literally just gotten out here. I was living in New York and I was working in advertising and I was writing sketches sat, I was writing sketches for Saturday Night Live. They didn’t know I was writing sketches for them, but I was doing it right. Somebody I knew and a manager named Barry Secunda. Okay. He managed Franken and Davis and another guy I feel like I owe a lot to because he didn’t hang up on me. He didn’t like, He said, Come in, let me read your stuff. He read all my shitty sketches that were, at the time I thought, this is genius. Now, when I read them now, I’m like, no. Yeah. So he hooked me up with a manager here in LA that he knew. And he was very encouraging.

This is Barry <inaudible>. He said, Look, your stuff is great. You have the potential, but you’ve gotta get out to California. You cannot be a full-time comedy writer from New York. It’s very difficult. And that’s one thing when people call me for advice, I always ask them, A lot of people, the main thing, they don’t wanna move away from their family, their home, their friends. That’s the scariest thing you could do <affirmative>, but you’ve got to be ready to do it because you’re very, very likely not gonna get a job if you’re not in Los Angeles. I say this all the time, once you get good in Los Angeles, once you get Michael Jamin level, you can live anywhere in the world. Yeah. Not you a different Michael Jam. Yeah. That I have to.

So I, at that point, I made the choice, I’m gonna move. And luckily I had supportive parents. They were like, Here’s five grand, go move and chase your dream. They didn’t make fun of me or tell me not to do it. Or I bought ps. It’s not like I had much choice. I had one semester of Queens College <affirmative>. I had no other real alternatives. So you think not like I’m dropping at med school. <laugh>. So then I got here, and at that first, Let me think. Yeah, pretty much the first week I was here is when I met Laverne and got that job. Maybe it was two weeks.

I don’t know if I, Did I ever tell you the story of I moved from New York, I give up the most phenomenal studio rent. Anyone who knows New York, it’s such incredible thing to get a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment. I still remember $580 a month for a gorgeous studio. They had just redone it, knew everything. And I had to make a choice. Do I leave this and move? I mean, I would still be living in that apartment. So finally I got the guts to move. Okay. My agent, what happened is, I’ll give a little secret, I don’t even know if they do this anymore, but there’s something they made back then called the Hollywood Created Directory. Right? It was a big green book and it had all the agents in it, their phone numbers, what agencies they were with. So what I would do every day after my day, my shitty day job, which made me wanna hang myself in advertising. I worked at CBS with a couple of very nice people. They were not the problem. I was the problem <laugh>, just get that outta the way.

So I went out to a couple of agents in la, about three or four of ’em said, We really love your material. I was shocked. I didn’t think I was going to get any agent. And as it is, I wound up getting my pick of about three or four, Not a level, but d plus level. Some pretty good agents. What we now would probably call boutique agents. The somebody at Broer was interested. Broer Carlin. Yeah. Yeah. So, right. Yeah. I mean, you of what I speak, but listen to this. It gets so great. I decide to load. I’ve never been to Los Angeles in my life. I load everything up on a truck. My buddy, I know one person in la he goes, Stay on my couch until you find yourself an apartment. It’s fine. I said, Okay, great. I appreciate it. I get out here, The agent that decided to take me on, I don’t know if I should give her name or not, but she says, I want you to meet me. There was a place called Cafe Fro. Yes. I don’t know if you remember it. It was on Melrose. It was a big in West Hollywood. In West Hollywood. And I was, like I said, doing the multiple credit card thing. And I needed a job. So I had just applied there to Cafe Fro and they were about to start me on Monday. <laugh>. So here I am, meeting with my agent on a Wednesday, Thursday.

So I’m right now, picture this, My stuff is still on a moving truck coming across the country with no destination because I haven’t found an apartment yet. I’m going to look for an apartment and I’m gonna then call the moving company and say, Here’s where you need to deliver to. So in the meantime, over lunch, as we’re having lunch, this agent is acting kind of odd. And I’m like, Why is she acting so weird? So finally it comes out, she says, Listen, I need to let you know I’m leaving the agency. It was innovative artists. She goes, I’m leaving the agency. And I’m like, I’m not joking. I just got there. Hadn’t been there 24 hours. Right? I’m like, Okay, well I’ll go with you. Where are you going? She says, No, I’m leaving the business entirely and I’m suing them for sexual harassment. I, we’ll have to get the name afterwards. Cause I think you may have had the same agent. <laugh>.

So she <laugh>. I’m not joking. <laugh>. Well, I have to say that we turned out to be good friends as time went on. I don’t wanna give too many specifics, but we’ll talk after. Yeah, yeah. We’ll talk off the air. But the good stuff is off the air. I don’t want the four people listening to know <laugh>. But what happened is, and by the way, tapping this whole thing, when we get outside to get our cars, she goes, Do you have money? I don’t have any money and I can’t pay the valet part. <laugh>, I pay for her valet. But here’s where the story turns into a positive. So I called all the agents back that I had that had been willing to take me on and that I had passed on. And I told them what happened. I said, I came out da da blah blah. Luckily I had left it on good terms. And I did wind up connecting with a great agent at Premier Artists <affirmative>. Her name was Susan Sussman. Okay. A great one of those agents that knows how to start people on their way to their first job. This is back in the days when people had actual patience with your career and would nurture you along and you know, remember that baby.

And she was great. And that was when I fortuitously met this woman from Klasky, Cheapo and I, within two days or something, I called Susan Sussman and I said, Look, I think I may have a job. Can you negotiate this for me? <affirmative>. And the rest was history. She took me on. And that was that.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. But then why did you leave real monsters so quickly though?

David Litt:
I left Real monsters because I, It was a real Monsters was a Nickelodeon children show. And that wasn’t, while it was writing and a great introductory job, it wasn’t my dream. I mean, I didn’t come out to write children’s comedy and you who know me, that’s not really my wheelhouse. Right. I

Michael Jamin:
Should go.

David Litt:
Yeah. I left because I had gotten through a friend a contact to do this show called The News. It was a takeoff of Saturday Night Live directed by the son of Don Wilson who direct Saturday Night Live. His name was Michael Wilson. He was the producer of the news. And it was sketch shows

And we had so much fun. It was such a great gig. It was like everyone off in their offices writing sketches, <affirmative>. And then what would happen is every three weeks we all went down to Florida to Orlando for budget reasons and we shot on whatever that dolly would, or whatever it was. Some sound stages down there. Wow. It was such a great gig. So much fun. Now I would probably be a little snobby about it, but at the time it was just a great job. And we would write all the sketches in LA at Sunset Gour. Right. Some of the writers would write one or two sketches with each other, sell ’em alone. And the best sketches made it down to Florida and got

Michael Jamin:
What became of some of those.

David Litt:
Got writing, got on the air.

Michael Jamin:
Cause a sketch writing is so specific. Did many of them go onto sitcom writing or are you in touch with any of them?

David Litt:
I’m in touch with a couple of them. Not many made the transition.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

David Litt:
I guess. What are they doing now? Trying to think. There’s not a lot of sketch work for people. So if you can’t do it, you’re screwed. I mean, if you can’t do something else, what are you gonna do? There’s not a lot of work for, Yeah, I mean Sketch is a very, very specific art that you either get it or you don’t. How to end the sketch. Right. Sometimes there is no end and you just chop it off in a very douchey, uncomfortable way. Right. I’m sure everyone is seeing those sketches where you’re like, Wait, that’s the ending <laugh>. But that said, it was the kind of job where you went in. You did as well as you let yourself do. There was no one looking at their

David Litt:
watch.

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it’s Michael. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not gonna spam you and it’s absolutely free. Just go to michael jam.com/watchlist.

David Litt:
Okay. So were, I’m sorry. So you were saying you were working as a property manager? It was reaching a point though, where I was, it was so tempting to have free rent, but I was getting pulled in two directions. It was like I’m getting my sketches on the air and I’m getting a call. My toilet is Blo <laugh>. So I’m like running home from a table read to fix a toilet. So finally, again, much New York, I had to make a hard choice and get away from the comfortable, these look pretty good on me <laugh> and get away from the comfortable. And I quit the job and I wound up getting, moving out, getting an apartment. And that was that. Then from there, let me think from there, Oh yeah, then I wrote an Ellen Spec, Remember Ellen? Of course with Ari Gross. And I love that show.

And by the way here, this is a great lesson for anyone who cares enough to listen to what I’m saying. <laugh>, a lot of times people say, I wrote a lot of specs. I probably wrote about 12 or 15 specs. I wrote a Herman’s head. I wrote a lot of just shows I really liked. I didn’t worry so much about will it get made, Will it, I just knew it was like sharpening my knife. And I wrote an Ellen, which everybody was like, Why are you writing an Ellen? No one’s watching it. It’s not, Back then the big ones were mad about you and mm-hmm <affirmative> Seinfeld. And I said, I just love it. I don’t know. I mean, I love it so I wanna write it. And so I wrote it. And then Michael Whitehorn, who I co-created King of Queens with, he and I had already worked together on a show called, He had hired me on a show called Ned and Stacy with Tom Church.

Michael Jamin:
That was another great show.

David Litt:
Yeah. I loved it. It was a lot of fun. Michael was a great teacher and mentor. He would let me come to the mixes. I, I was still a staff writer at that point and he was bringing me to the mixes to,

Michael Jamin:
Or just you. Did he take, did he really just,

David Litt:
He was taking anybody who felt they wanted to go. A lot of people just wanted to go home after a long day. But if you were really dedicated and wanted to learn, he was 100% about including you and explaining how come you’re doing that? Why can’t you, can’t we do it this way? And he would explain and it made some really just dumb questions. I would ask him. And he was great. And I think from Ned and Stacy it became obvious. We worked well together, <affirmative>. So that when King of Queens came along, he was very open to writing something together. Sony had a standup comic on stand or whatever, a holding deal,

Which was Kevin James and Michael called me and he said, Look, I found this comic, I think he’s pretty special. What do you think? And I watched it and I thought he was incredible too. Now, if I’m being honest, I needed the gig. I probably would’ve said he was incredible no matter what. But he was, you could just tell Kevin was special. So the next thing, Michael and I are writing this pilot together and that was another great experience. We wrote the whole thing in three weeks, <affirmative>. It took no time at all. It was, you know how it is, even with songwriters at least talk about

Michael Jamin:
<affirmative>

David Litt:
When they write a great song, it doesn’t take it take a month, it takes 10 minutes. Right.

Michael Jamin:
But what’s

David Litt:
Interesting is, and that’s how

Michael Jamin:
But you like, Sorry, go ahead. Well what’s interesting is because was his cloud, he had a good idea, but he also, you needed him, right? Because he had a lot more clout. He was

David Litt:
Way bigger. Oh yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

David Litt:
Yeah, very much so.

Michael Jamin:
Some of those people think, Well how am I, do I sell my show? But they’re like people off the street, you know, have to find someone who’s in the position who can sell a show.

David Litt:
Yeah. I mean, without getting into too many specifics, I will say that after N and Stacy, I was sort of the golden child in the new writers that were out here. I was a little bit sought after and I got on a show that doesn’t need to be named, but it was for me, it started out as one show and became another. And I just felt like, hey, this isn’t what I signed on to do. <affirmative>. And that made them very angry. Coming from New York thought I’m going to use the honesty approach and I’m just gonna tell it. It is, Well it would’ve been better for me just to say my uncle died and I gotta leave <affirmative> instead of the truth. Because the truth hurt. The truth was rather they kept asking me, In fact, I remember, what show are you going to? What did you get an offer? I kept saying, I don’t have any other offer. It’s not about another show. I had the balls even at that point.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. You ever do that now, Ever?

David Litt:
I don’t think so.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

David Litt:
I don’t think I would now. But at that time I just was filled with myself enough that I said, So what happened was, in that interim is when Kevin, as, when Michael came to me with Kevin

Michael Jamin:
<affirmative>

David Litt:
And the studio was the same studio of the show, I just left <affirmative> and they were not having it. They were like, We want you never to work again. We intend on ruining you. We want to squash you like a bug. They were very upset at my hubris that I had said they were done. To Michael’s credit, he fought for me. I mean, he didn’t have to <affirmative>, but he went to the mat. He was like, Look, if you don’t bring David in on this, I I’m not gonna write it.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. And that show made a ton of your show made a ton of money for the studio.

David Litt:
It did. It did well, yeah. Yes it did very well. Yeah. It changed my life. He changed my li Michael changed my life

Michael Jamin:
And then, Okay, go on. Do you wanna tell a little more more of that, Creating King Queens or getting it how the pilot shot and I’m sure people want to hear your

David Litt:
Yeah, sure. Yeah, we wrote the pilot, like I said, it took two or three weeks. It just flowed. It was like

Michael Jamin:
Then casting it. Okay, you had Kevin for sure and then you had a

David Litt:
Casting. Well we’d already had Kevin and we knew, well the second we met with Leah, we knew that’s our couple.

Michael Jamin:
We

David Litt:
Had tried to get Jerry Stiller, but he didn’t wanna do it. Initially he was coming off of

Michael Jamin:
Seinfeld,

David Litt:
Seinfeld and he just didn’t really wanna do another series. But when he read the script, I guess it clicked. He got it. So once we had those three in place, it came together at that point. How

Michael Jamin:
Were the ratings in the beginning when you finally got on the air?

David Litt:
The ratings in the beginning were solid but not stellar. We built pretty well. The thing that benefited us a lot was being Kevin, being friends with Ray Ram Romano,

Michael Jamin:
<affirmative>

David Litt:
Kevin doing guest spots on Ray’s show. There was a lot of crossover and a lot of helping hands and it made it a lot easier to stick around a while and do crossovers cuz they were in each other’s worlds.

Michael Jamin:
It’s so sad cuz those days are over. Those days. Are those, It just seems like it’s, Yeah,

David Litt:
It is kind of sad. I mean it’s unfortunate because it’s a great format if you do it right and not a hacky old fashioned way

Michael Jamin:
Then okay, so you did that show 200 or so episodes cause that, Okay, I wanna say how I met you. I met you, we on, I was on out of practice, we were both on, and I guess we brought as a consultant, you were full time in out practice, right?

David Litt:
I had an overall deal at Paramount. Right. And they assigned me to out of practice, I think it was like two days or three days a week.

Michael Jamin:
And I remember being on that show, that was Chris Lloyd and joking and Chris Lloyd, he later co-created Modern Family. Chris Lloyd, he Rand Frazier. He has more Emmys on. He has a mantle full of Emmys like that.

David Litt:
Yeah. Chris is a

Michael Jamin:
Emmys. And so Chris is really one of the most highly regarded writers in Hollywood comedy writers in Hollywood. And I just remember, and I couldn’t be remembering that wrong, but in my memory meeting you, this is how you would write a scene if you wanted to have a comedy writer join <laugh>, a TV show, if you’re writing a scene, a comedy writer enters a room. This is how you would’ve written it. Cause I remember we were working on a story and you were late and you came in your faces, you burst into the door, we’re working. So suddenly the door flies open and then your face is kind of red because you’re, you’re probably running through the parking lot cause you’re gonna be late and you’re carry couple of boxes of gum <laugh> gum and the room was false silent. Right. Cause you just in, you’re like, Sorry I’m late. And then I think I was the first to break the silence. I was like, Oh, okay. You the gum. Right? And you Yeah. And you without missing. Yeah. Yeah. I got plenty of gum. Don’t worry about the gum and you just it down.

I, the rumor was that you were brought onto the show because, so some comedy writers are, they’re not very funny in real life, but they can write a scene. They know how to be funny on paper. And then some commentaries just are just funny the minute you meet them <laugh>. Right. And that was you. And you came in and it was really part of it was like this guy David, he’s, we want him cuz he’s gonna lighten the mood. He’s just kind of, he’s got <laugh>. He’s gonna lighten the mood in the room. And that’s exactly what you did every day. It was always like <laugh>. I mean, I can’t remember. There’s so many. Well

David Litt:
It’s funny because I loved, I really surprised myself with how much I loved working with Joe Keenan and Chris Lloyd. Yeah. Their reputation was a little bit maybe serious. Yeah. But fra, they weren’t like jokes.

Michael Jamin:
What’d

David Litt:
You say?

Michael Jamin:
They were the Frazier guys. So they had this reputation of being kind of these very smart and serious writers. And they certainly were both are amazing, amazingly talented writers. Oh yes. Had the seriousness about ’em. And you were brought on almost like the comic relief to the comedy verse <laugh>.

David Litt:
Yeah. I think they enjoyed me. I was the fun monkey.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And it was because that was, you had already had your King of Queens money. <laugh>, like none of us had that money in our back pocket. But

David Litt:
Right. Everybody was nervous.

Michael Jamin:
We were worried about being fired. Right.

David Litt:
Yeah, you’re right. I was a little more relaxed cuz I wasn’t sweating it so much. But once I got to know them, I wanted to do a great job for them.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I remember one time, this is one of my favorite stories, is that we’re stuck on a story beat. We’re stuck on this thing for, I don’t know, an hours or whatever, we’re struggling this beat. And then you kind of broke the silence. You go, okay, here’s the bad version. Let me tell you the bad version of the scene. And then you had spent five minutes laying out what you thought, what’s the hackiest worst version of the scene? <laugh>. And then Chris Lloyd just looks at you. He goes, What’s the good version? And you just go, Oh, I don’t have that <laugh>. And you always fucking lost it. Oh my God. It was so funny. Oh my God. Was

David Litt:
That the room where I used to have some funny bits that I would literally take around different rooms in there? Yeah. I’m trying to remember, was that the one where I would do milk and cookies time where I would stop for a minute, just totally, No, I would say to Chris, I’d go, Chris, it’s milk and cookies time. And he’d go, Okay, go ahead. And I would literally just shut off and have milk and cookies at my desk while everybody else continued to work. It was so funny.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, I remember you coming in. I remember you. I mean, I remember you coming in, you were one of the first people to buy an iPhone. And I think you came in with, I think you upgraded to an iPhone too. And you came go like this iPhone too is gonna change my life. It’s gonna change my life. And I said, I think I said no. But you said the same thing about the first time you got the first iPhone and the iPhone. You go, Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I said that. But I mean it now. I mean <laugh>, you really <laugh> the two <laugh>. I know I said it before, but the two, it’s gonna change my life. <laugh> the

David Litt:
Two is the one

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. You’re writing so much. Oh my God, you just made everyone laugh so much. I remember one time, <laugh>, maybe I shouldn’t even say it, but I’m gonna say it anyway unless you tell me to cut it out. We were on the stage floor watching rehearsal and you lean over to me real quietly and you go, Do you think Chris would mind if I flew to New York now <laugh>, I think he would. Cause he’s, he’s paying you, He wants here for the rewrite. And you go, Yeah, yeah, you’re probably right. And that was the last I heard of it. And then we go back to the room and you’re nowhere to be found <laugh>. And then you phone rings a couple hours later and I’m like, Hey man, where are you? You go, I’m at the airport. I’m getting on a plane. I can’t talk. Tell Chris I’m not gonna make it

David Litt:
<laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
It’s just so funny. And we were just all just laughing about it. Everyone throws the funniest bossiest thing. Yeah, you’re right. You’d get mad.

David Litt:
I did. I pulled a great one. I was on, according to Jim and the way they work there, each room would take a half of the script and go off. And I remember it was like we had our half and we were all working and one day after, I don’t know, we were maybe 10 pages in. I got up and I to go to the ostensibly to go to the bathroom. But instead I couldn’t fight the urge to just keep going to my car and go home.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. I couldn’t find it.

David Litt:
So I get home and there’s the greatest messages from the producer of the show going, David, I It’s Suzanne, you just left to go to the bathroom and you haven’t come back yet. We’re just getting concerned. So I guess we’ll see in a couple minutes and then another 10 minutes. Another message. David, it’s Suzanne, did you let us know what happened? You’re not back here and we’re getting worried. And then the third message was like, Did you go home? Oh <laugh>

Michael Jamin:
Like, wait, did you get in trouble for doing that?

David Litt:
I did not.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, I did not. See if you’re funny enough you can get away with this stuff. I would. Well

David Litt:
That’s what the lesson I’d like to impart. If there is one, it, it’s really is fun to be a wise ass and funny and make everybody laugh. But you’ve gotta bring something to the table or you’re just gonna get fired.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah,

David Litt:
Yeah. You’ve great to be funny and crazy and do bits and hopefully bring up the level of people’s spirits in the room because it can get arduous.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

David Litt:
But if that’s all you do and you’re not contributing, you’re gonna be abstracted and you’re gonna get So that that’s something that gets earned over time.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, for sure. Then well what? And so, oh God, that just hurts. It hurts my stomach. Thinking how funny that was <laugh>.

David Litt:
Tell ’em the story about the, what do you call it? The drone.

Michael Jamin:
The drone.

David Litt:
Was that with you? Where I brought a drone in on Oh no wait, that was Big bang.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. You right. I should mention these are you also worked on Big Bang for a little bit. What’d you do? What was that story?

David Litt:
Yeah, who was that if it wasn’t you, Chef? Well I bought a drone <affirmative>. Okay. And at the time they were very new. They go up a hundred feet and over. And so I bring it in

And I’m like, Hey guys, how neat are these? And it was another writing group. Oh I know who it was. It was, Do you know Peter? Oh God. Shit. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. You would know him. But we all went outside to use this brand new technology. So I’m like Guys, check it out. Next thing we know I let it goes up and continues to go up. I couldn’t get it to go down and we lost it in the sun. We’re looking <laugh> and we never found it. It just got stuck in the treetop. It’s probably still there.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>.

David Litt:
It was like $120 drone. I used it once to make it go hundred feet in the air. I never saw it again. That was the fun we had

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. Oh my God. Oh yeah. I mean that’s the people don’t it really sitcom. Right. Really is a fun job if you’re with funny people. But it’s not so funny.

David Litt:
It’s a great job. I don’t know. People need to understand. I am a dinosaur. I mean the experiences I had you probably wouldn’t have anymore.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I think so.

David Litt:
Which is a real shame because it’s comedy and it should be fun.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Funny. Cause we, Jay Cogan did, Do you know Jay? Have you worked with Jay?

David Litt:
Yeah, of course. I’ve never, Okay. I worked with Jay on Den Stacy.

Michael Jamin:
Oh wow. He, because he did this podcast a couple a week or two ago and he kind of said the same thing. Rooms have tend to change that he would do a lot of room bits and you kind of really can’t really do so many of those room bids anymore. But for what it’s worth better or worse. But the world has changed. And I don’t remember, I even remember after out of practice, you really wanted to do, you just wanted to consult. You wanted to come in a couple days a week and consult, which was something you could do a couple years before you could. There was some demand for that. And now there’s just no room for that anymore.

David Litt:
Yeah. The real EM emeritus writers, the writers that were really looked up to, could get a job a day on doing punch up on one show a day on another <affirmative>. And those times right around then went away and there were no more jobs to be had of that Ill, Yeah, I mean that was my complete, my absolute dream was to be able to go to one show two days a week and maybe another show, another two days a week and have fun and have a great time. But the budgets at that time started shrinking. And the allowance for somebody to come in one day a week just wasn’t there.

Michael Jamin:
Part of, I think about that part of the benefit, what we had when we were coming up is that we almost came through in a school. You get on a sitcom, you learn from the people who had a ton of experience before you and everyone kind of came from the school and you learn the craft from people before you.

David Litt:
Mm-hmm

Michael Jamin:
<affirmative>, that doesn’t really exist anymore cuz those shows don’t exist. So you know, you’re winging it a little bit, but if you’re a young writer, you’re kind of winging it.

David Litt:
There’s also a bit of a scary environment now. I think there’s a lot of competition. <affirmative> and it, it’s putting somebody under your wing and being patient with them is you don’t see it as much because you could be costing yourself the job. You could be training somebody to take a job away from you.

Michael Jamin:
Well also, I don’t know mean maybe, I don’t know. My experience is that the orders are shorter. You’re not gonna be on Aer if you’re on a street show. You might be doing 10 weeks out of the year or whatever. You’re not doing, you’re working weeks or 40 weeks. You’re working <affirmative>. So know you’re what you got going on in there correctly. <laugh> gonna nothing. What do you having a pastrami sandwich. <laugh>. All right. So what do you do now? What? I know you were developing on the side, you’re constantly working on stuff. What’s going on there?

David Litt:
Write it down. I’m being a little lazy. I should be better at what I’m doing. But I’m working on a screenplay. I had a screenplay idea, <affirmative> and that was my next step was I wanted to become a script doctor. I really wanted to come in and do and fix screenplays, punch them up, et cetera.

Michael Jamin:
Right. I dunno how many there is for that either.

David Litt:
I don’t either. Mean, my feeling is like, do what you love and do the best you can at it. And don’t worry so much about the money. I have the luxury to be able to do that.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

David Litt:
But <affirmative>, I really love, my dream would be to get a call and come in and work a couple of days a week on punching this script up or making that script funny. But for now, I like working on an idea. I had an idea that kind of hit me. That’s something I wanna finish. So that’s what I’m doing right now. And it’s great cuz your time’s your own, you know, can work on it in the morning and do whatever you want later in the day. I’m also trying to do some dog rescue stuff.

Michael Jamin:
You’re a dog rescue, so you walk around with a net into alleys.

David Litt:
<laugh>. Yes. It’s like in the cartoons with the big cargo net. No, I found out this horrifying thing that there are these wet markets in China that eat dogs. Alive. Alive.

Michael Jamin:
Alive. That’s alive. That’s too fresh.

David Litt:
That’s too fresh. Yeah. <laugh>. So I’ve wanted to start volunteering for dogs for a while. So I’m thinking about, I’ve been taking care of a cat for the past four months. She has since disappeared as of last week. I can’t find her anymore.

Michael Jamin:
Taking care is not the right word then. <laugh>. Yeah.

David Litt:
No taking bad care. But the writing is something I will never stop doing. I mean, I love it. Some days, even a week, I might go and get lazy and drop off, but it keeps me sane. It’s a fun way to keep your imagination going and it’s really a different thing when you’re doing it for yourself as opposed to as a job or to make money or to pay your bills. That’s a different set of stress and responsibilities. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Do you have any other advice for new aspiring writers?

David Litt:
Any advice for what?

Michael Jamin:
New and a new and upcoming writers.

David Litt:
It is a great way to make a living. There is nothing more satisfying than making a living as a writer, but just stick with it. Don’t treat it like something you do when you feel like it. If you wanna write, give yourself hours. I don’t know how you guys write, but I make sure I’m in front of that computer. At least three, four hours a day. 11 till two, 11 till three. And if nothing comes at all fine. But I was there trying to write. Sometimes you’re gonna get something great and sometimes you’re not, but you gotta put the time in to do it.

Michael Jamin:
Absolutely right. David led, creator of co-creative, King of Queens, a friend for many years. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with this podcast here with everyone. I really appreciate.

David Litt:
Thank you for having me. I like,

Michael Jamin:
Right. That’s it everyone. So thank you for listening. If you, again, I’m gonna plug what else we got going on here. If you want to sign up for my free weekly newsletter, it’s michaeljamin.com/watchlist to find out what’s going on there. And yeah, that’s it. Oh, and I dunno when this is gonna drop, but of course I got for my touring schedule to see me see my one man show A Paper Orchestra. You can go to MichaelJamin.com/Live upcoming sign up there. Right. Everyone, thank you so much and thank you again, David Litt.

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it’s Michael. One more thing. Come see me perform. I’m going to be in Boston area, actually Amesbury, Massachusetts on November 12th and 13th at the Actor studio performing my show, a paper orchestra. And then I’m gonna be back in Los Angeles on December 10th and 11th again at the Moving Arts Theater Company. So tickets are on sale. Go get ’em at michael jamin.com/live. It’s a small, intimate venue. I’m gonna be performing for my collection of personal essays and each one’s gonna be followed by like a 20 minute q and a. We get to talk about the work. It’s a fun event. So I hope to see you there. Go get them tickets again are at michaeljamin.com/live and of course, sign up to my weekly newsletter. That’s called the Watch List at michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. If you’d like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today’s subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhillAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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