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

Bryan Behar is a writer/producer known for Wilfred, Glenn Martin D.D.S., and Last Man Standing. Join Michael Jamin and Bryan Behar in this deep conversation, perfect for emerging writers or aspiring TV Writers.

Show Notes

Bryan Behar on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0066864/

Bryan Behar on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bryanbehar

Bryan Behar on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bryan_behar/

Michael’s Online Screenwriting Course: https://michaeljamin.com/course

Free Screenwriting Lesson: https://michaeljamin.com/free

Join My Watchlist: https://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Autogenerated Transcript

Michael Jamin:
Someone said, well, you know, when are they gonna, are they gonna bring back multi-camera sick? They should bring ’em back.

Bryan Behar:
They exist Uhhuh. But they exist either for the very old or the very young. But there’s been an entire generation that has been raised without them.

Michael Jamin:
Right? And

Bryan Behar:
Which infuriates me because as a historian of the, of the genre, I look back as recently as a couple years ago, and in the previous, I think 60 years of sitcoms, the number one sitcom on the air, uh, in terms of total viewers had been a multicam in 59 of the six first 60 years.

Michael Jamin:
You’re listening to Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jam.
Hey everybody, welcome to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I’m Michael Jam. I got a special guest today. But you know, the way, um, the Letterman show always opens with, you know, my next guest needs no introduction. Well, my next guest needs an introduction, but he’s like, <laugh>. But, but you know what? All writers need introductions. No one’s ever heard of any of us. But I’m here with Brian Behar and he is, dude, this guy’s got a, he’s a sitcom writer with a list of a laundry list of shows that he’s worked on. I’m Brian. I’m gonna run through those cuz I’m sure you’ve forgotten half the credits. That’s how many credits you have. All

Bryan Behar:
Right. I, I could name three, so please.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, we started his, his career with the illustrious teen Angel, and then we slowly move up to working. I remember that show. I’d forgotten you were on work. You had some,

Bryan Behar:
I started with Ned and Stacy, but that may not have appeared on the, on your laundry list.

Michael Jamin:
Uh, my researchers who basically just download imdb did not tell me that. But we’re gonna go on the IMDB order. <laugh>, okay. That’s accurate. Uh, then dag, remember that show with Andy and Eileen Baby Bob, you remember that show Baby Bob?

Bryan Behar:
The biggest hit I’ve ever been on <laugh>,

Michael Jamin:
Then a usa

Bryan Behar:
And I still quit because I, as I told the Showrun my self-esteem can’t handle running into anyone I went to high school with telling them I’m on Baby Bob. Sorry, Saltzman.

Michael Jamin:
Sorry. The, then a usa and then Andy Richter controls the universe. Guys, hang on. This guy’s got so many credits then I’m with her. Although we’re not sure if it’s I’m with her or I’m with her.

Bryan Behar:
Brent Must Berger said I’m with her. So it was, I’m with her

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, I’m with her. I’m coughing. Then eight simple rules. How many of the rules did you ever get to before they canceled the show, by the way?

Bryan Behar:
Uh, we were on the fourth rule.

Michael Jamin:
Fourth rule. I was on, by the way, rules of engagement. So, oh.

Bryan Behar:
And I’ve done three shows with the working of the title

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. Then, then the New Adventures of Old Christine. The, the old conventions of new Christine would’ve been better, but apparently that’s okay. Then The Jake Effect.

Bryan Behar:
Yes.

Michael Jamin:
Weak shots. I don’t even know what that is, to be honest.

Bryan Behar:
Oh, that was an, that was a highly touted one hour.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, so you can talk about some drama experience.

Bryan Behar:
I can talk about anything.

Michael Jamin:
It doesn’t mean, doesn’t mean what you’re talking about, but you can talk about

Bryan Behar:
Any Yeah, no, you’re not gonna be able to stop me

Michael Jamin:
<laugh> then. Big. Okay. Big shots then. True. Jackson vp, which was on Nickelodeon

Bryan Behar:
One episode. I, I wrote a, I wrote a story. Let’s not get carried away.

Michael Jamin:
All right. Let’s not give you too much credit then. Wil, which we worked on together.

Bryan Behar:
Yes.

Michael Jamin:
Talking Dog Show.

Bryan Behar:
Oh, that’s where’s our other Talking dog show? That that should have been a, uh, oh,

Michael Jamin:
Getting there. Glen Martin dds. No one knows what that is, but that’s when we first worked together.

Bryan Behar:
But if you love, uh, Canadian cable Claymation shows you might like Glen

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. You might like it. Uh, last Man Standing

Bryan Behar:
Like animation with a laugh track that isn’t jaber. You’re gonna love Glen. You’re,

Michael Jamin:
That’s how they promoted it. Then, uh, last Man Standing, which you were not one of the last men standing on that show.

Bryan Behar:
No, I was the first to go. But

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. Well, Jack, no, Jack was the first to go.

Bryan Behar:
That’s true. Greater

Michael Jamin:
Was the first to go.

Bryan Behar:
Then he came back and then he went again, and then he came back. So, yes,

Michael Jamin:
I didn’t realize he came back. Sorry. Then saved me. I don’t know what that is. Do you know what that is?

Bryan Behar:
Give me a moment.

Michael Jamin:
Was that just a letter that you wrote to your agent

Bryan Behar:
<laugh>? Um, I did, I did write that letter from the writer’s room of Save Me <laugh>. Um, that was a show about Ann Hay, uh, think she Can Speak to God. And that was the least crazy part of the show.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I did not know that. We’ll talk about that.

Bryan Behar:
Yes, please.

Michael Jamin:
Uh, then we’ll talk about Kirsty, which we worked again on You guys brought, I mean, me and my partner in on to do a freelance of that. And I had the great Cogan on the show a couple weeks ago.

Bryan Behar:
Oh my goodness. Well, you, you’ve got to everyone before me. Oh,

Michael Jamin:
I I, yeah. This is the bottom of the barrel week. I

Bryan Behar:
Know, I saw on the list. I was like,

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. Really?

Bryan Behar:
So go ahead.

Michael Jamin:
Uh, I also have here Jennifer Falls

Bryan Behar:
And does not get back up. Yes. All yes, I’ve heard them all. Uh,

Michael Jamin:
Ratings falls then Ned and Stacy we have on here. I don’t know why it’s, it’s out of order here, but yes, that was 1997 N and Stacy there. And then finally, uh, you were the, you were the showrunner of Fuller House, the, the full House Free make.

Bryan Behar:
That is correct. I was,

Michael Jamin:
Now you,

Bryan Behar:
Is the first time you’re hearing

Michael Jamin:
This. I had no idea. <laugh>, you’ve, now you’re fond to say that I think you’ve, like, you’ve worked on 20, it’s 26 shows. Is that what it is?

Bryan Behar:
21 shows in 26 seasons,

Michael Jamin:
21 shows. And think about, so this is a career, guys. You

Bryan Behar:
Are, this is a hard way to do it.

Michael Jamin:
It is the hard way.

Bryan Behar:
Apply for a new job twice a year.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. And it’s act I mean, to be honest, it was, um, it was more doable then than it is now. I mean, now it’s really hard to do that.

Bryan Behar:
I have no idea what people do now. Yeah. Which is, which makes me a sort of, sort of a sham as a, a teacher of, of sitcoms as I’m trying to, um, encourage and promote people to take a, take the, the risk and, uh, and jump in. But, uh, I have no idea what a career trajectory, uh, looks like today. It was, it, it, it it was very, uh, understandable when we broke in. Yeah. Like, it, like there was a clearer path and you’re like, oh, I can go from show to show and there’s enough sitcoms and there’s, you know, I can just, if I lose one job, I’ll just walk to the next bungalow on CBS Bradford and knock on the door and hope somebody else lets us in. But

Michael Jamin:
That’s, that’s what I say. I say maybe I wonder if you agree. I say that, um, I think it’s easier to break in now, but it’s harder to make a sustain a career. What do you think?

Bryan Behar:
Um, well, I’m, I’m certainly not gonna disagree with you on your own show. I mean, you, you <laugh>,

Michael Jamin:
Please, if you do, I just edit it out.

Bryan Behar:
You have your burgeoning media empire here and I looking to be part of it. Um, God, how many does it? Okay. Um, I think you’re right. Um, and by that, i I, I don’t know if it’s harder to sustain a career. I see a lot more people not entirely willing to commit to putting a career together.

Michael Jamin:
What does that

Bryan Behar:
Mean? Which, I mean, there’s been such, um, on social media and in the press, there’s such a sort of hype surrounding the concept of like the celebrity showrun that, and, and sort of with the advent of streaming services, that there’s this idea that anyone can get a show on the air at any time and immediately jump from like an unemployed, unemployable, aspiring writer to a show runner. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> without doing any of the work in between. Like, you know, I know I hate to sound old fashioned, but you and I, we definitely put in the time working up the rung, working up the ladder. So when we finally got that call to run a show, I, you know, we, we had the skill set presumably, you know, we had been learning, we’d been acquiring a certain set of skills. Um, and I don’t know that that is really like, promoted as much,

Michael Jamin:
But are you seeing people with not, with not a lot of experience becoming share owners?

Bryan Behar:
No. Um, but I’m seeing, but I’m hearing a lot of that’s the aspiration.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, oh, yes. That’s for sure. I hear that a lot.

Bryan Behar:
You know, like, you know, because I know you talk to a lot of people, you know, who were, you know, aspiring TV writers. And I, you know, I was doing a lot of talks on, on Clubhouse, and a lot of ask me anything kind of talks on, on Twitter and, and the, the question always sort of circles back to how do I sell a pilot to Netflix? How do I get a show on the streamer? How do I become a show runner? And it’s not like, oh, what samples do I need Yeah. To break in? What skills do I need to move up the ladder? You know, it’s just a different mindset. Like, it never would’ve occurred to me. I didn’t, I didn’t even sell a pilot or even attempt a pilot until I had been on 12 networks at college.

Michael Jamin:
It’s so fun, Brian. It’s like, maybe we’re just the old guys, but this is exactly what I say all the time. I mean, so I’m glad that I’m not the only one saying it, or thinking at

Bryan Behar:
Least. No, there are, there are two old guys in the Yeah, we have become the guys from the puppets, but

Michael Jamin:
The cranky old guys Yeah. In

Bryan Behar:
Waldorf and Staler.

Michael Jamin:
But, but you, so I wanna actually wanna mention this. I wanna jump around for a second. So yes, you are also teaching at Chapman University. You’re teaching, uh, is it television writing? What are you, what’s their course?

Bryan Behar:
Um, yeah. Um, I’m teaching, I, I just, I started last semester from, this was my first time. Um, and, and currently in this fall semester, I’m teaching two classes. One is a sitcom writing class, uh, for graduate students, uhhuh. And one is a pilot writing class for undergrads. And then I’m gonna do two, they’ve already asked me back, uh, for two sitcom classes, uh, in the spring semester.

Michael Jamin:
Wow, that’s

Bryan Behar:
Great. Yeah. It seems to be what I do. Uh,

Michael Jamin:
So you’re enjoying it then? I love

Bryan Behar:
It. I love it. And I, uh,

Michael Jamin:
You weren’t sure if you were gonna enjoy it?

Bryan Behar:
No, I, it, it actually took a little bit of Mm, a little coaxing internally in the family. You know, my wife had a bit of a come to Jesus moment with me. You know how, I don’t know if you’ve heard the old joke, but they say that in Hollywood, you’re retired for seven years before you realize it. Well, I had been retired for three years, and my wife was certainly well aware, and I was, I was starting to get it. Um, and she really was, you know, she really sat me down and said, like, you know, is this what you wanna do the rest of your life? Just keep banging your head against the same wall? Or is there, is there a wall you can go around and find something that gives you joy? And this has been great. What

Michael Jamin:
Exactly do you like about it?

Bryan Behar:
Well, I like not being on a TV show, which apparently Hollywood, Hollywood and myself have the same, like

Michael Jamin:
You do have the same goal for you.

Bryan Behar:
They both, my, my, uh, agent manager, Hollywood producers and teaching, I’ll see it the same way. <laugh>.

Michael Jamin:
Um,

Bryan Behar:
No, I, I, I love, I mean, it, it, it’s something so special to be around people who just are filled with nothing but hope and nothing but confidence. And, you know, it’s really, I mean, if I have to spend my days around people who are positive and, and still love, have a love for the art and a love for the craft, and would give anything to be in television or be, you know, be by myself or be around a lot of bitter people complaining about why they’re not in, you know, I’ll take the four hours of driving down to Orange County anytime. Uh, it, it’s, it’s been great. And I didn’t, I had no idea if I would like it.

Michael Jamin:
Well, first of all, it’s not really a four hour drive.

Bryan Behar:
It’s, it’s two hours each way.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Okay. Um,

Bryan Behar:
So yes, for clarity’s sake. Okay. It’s not a four hour drive each way, but it is.

Michael Jamin:
But, and I’m sure what surprises you, cause it does surprise me, is just, is how much you actually know about how to do this. Right.

Bryan Behar:
That’s the other fun part. I mean, that’s is, I mean, and I don’t mean it in like a smug, self satisfactory kind of way that like, wow, I’m, I’m smart, I’ve learned things, but when you’re, when you’re actually seeing it through the perspective of, of new writers and, you know, and new students and, and you’re imparting knowledge on them, and, and it’s, and like you said, it’s not even knowledge that you’re aware you have. Right. It’s, we’ve almost picked it up by osmosis. But I mean, you know, me and I think you’re a lot, you’re really kind of the same way where, you know, we were both students of, of television, students of the TV history, students of the craft, you know, more than a lot of people who we did it alongside. I mean, so I think it makes sense. The, the two of us have found virgins of, of offering guidance and coaching and Yeah. And, you know, and trying to impart expertise. But it, it is, it is really satisfying and gratifying to, to realize like, wow, I, I actually did learn something. I actually have a certain level of skill. And, you know, all those years were not for, not, yeah. I’m spelling not differently in those two cases, but

Michael Jamin:
K n

Bryan Behar:
O t not for nothing. Yes. <laugh>, I mean, I know you’re from the tri-state area. I should, I should have said it more colloquial,

Michael Jamin:
But, um, and so, yeah. Good. So, and you’re enjoying that and you, the class sizes are kind of small or what?

Bryan Behar:
Yeah, I had, uh, seven last semester. My grad student was, is nine, and then 15, uh, I got 15 in my, uh, pilot class, you know, but it’s, it’s way tougher than I expected. You know, like, I, like they turn in, you know, like pages of a script or an outline, uh, the day before we go into class. And I, and I’m so like, you know, of, of the neurotic sense of I need to give them their money’s worth, you know, they’re paying a lot for the, so I write up about three pages of notes per student, per class. Wow. So, pilot class, that’s, I’m writing up 45 pages of notes between the hours of two and eight on a Thursday night just to make sure I have something to give them

Michael Jamin:
A lot of work, dude,

Bryan Behar:
You know, you know, on Friday. And it’s like, wow, you know, I, I used to do half the amount of work for a lot more money, but it, you know, I don’t know that I would do that again. And

Michael Jamin:
Let me be clear.

Bryan Behar:
And that’s okay. I’ve made, I really have made my peace, which, which is threatening to people. You know, I had, I had lunch with a writer we both know the, uh, last week. And he is like, you, you want back in? I was like, no, I really don’t. He’s like, you can’t be at peace. I’m like, no, I’m at peace. He goes, what if I offered you

Michael Jamin:
Go?

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. And I was like, he goes, what if I offered you a job on a, on a, on a pilot? I was like, okay, well first you’d have to get it on the air and you’re not going to offer it. I said, but yeah, sure. Let’s say you offered me a job. I’m not gonna like turn it down out of hand. Um, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen. He goes, yeah, probably not. He goes, your old partner’s, uh, wife works at the network. She never let me hire you anyway. I’m like, then why are we having this discussion? You, you better pay for lunch.

Michael Jamin:
Could you wait, can you say who it was?

Bryan Behar:
This was Marco from, uh,

Michael Jamin:
Oh, Marco, really? Marco

Bryan Behar:
From, uh, yeah, from our Kirsty,

Michael Jamin:
Yes. Marco from Hello Marco from Kirsty.

Bryan Behar:
Hello Marco from Kirsty

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>.

Bryan Behar:
One of, one of my dear friends. But, you know, but I think, you know, for a lot of people that you know this, and I’m not singling him out, you know, that being a writer on television becomes one’s identity. And, and it was for me for a long, long time, you know, you know, 25, 26 years, uh, of doing it. But it, you know, at some point you just have to read the writing on the wall, if that’s, if that’s where your career is at. And, and that’s where I

Michael Jamin:
Are you still doing any other writing outside? Just for your, for personal reasons?

Bryan Behar:
Yeah, I’m doing all kinds of writing, but none of which is with the intent of

Michael Jamin:
Making a

Bryan Behar:
TV show, selling a pilot or, or getting back in, you know, on staff. Yeah. And, and that’s, you know, you know, we’ve talked about this off camera a lot over the last, you know, five, six years just finding our own voices and, and finding other avenues to, to write on, you know, on my own. And so I’m like, I’m still writing a, you know, you know, a lot of essays. Um, I, you know, I, I had written I think 40 essays for the Huffington Post, um, over the past five years, another 20, 25 for Medium. And, and then I’ve moved my stuff over, uh, to sub stack. Um, so I recently wrote a, an article about growing up in Encino that was shared 10,000 times. Um, and I performed it at a, um, wow. I performed it at a spoken word, and I,

Michael Jamin:
And that was all from Sub, it got shared 10,000 times.

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Wait, what? We’ll plug it.

Bryan Behar:
Apparently. I know a lot about the Valley,

Michael Jamin:
But, and you have a lot of thought. We’ll plug it again at the end, but I wanna make sure, might as well mention it now as well. What’s your sub name?

Bryan Behar:
Oh, find You. I assume it’s, it, it has to be Brian Behar. That’s with Brian with a Y. But I can, I can check. I’m sorry. This is, this is not gonna make great television watching an old Jew look, look up his SubT. But, uh, I just, um, I just got O brian behar.com, but I just got two Twitter notifications saying that even though this, uh, episode hasn’t aired, it’s already been referred to as two Julie

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, Elon Musk’s ahead of time.

Bryan Behar:
<laugh>. He’s,

Michael Jamin:
He’s, he’s, he’s making it better. Um,

Bryan Behar:
Yeah, I’ve lost 10,000 followers in the last week, and I don’t think I’ve gotten that much less funny. I, but uh, I mean, there’s, there’s just a Twitter at Trisha. Yeah. So, as you, but in, in reference to your other question, yeah. I’m still still posting a ton on Twitter and on, on Facebook. I, I wrote a novella, um, which is just a novel that I didn’t have enough words to legally call a novel. Uh, I’ve been writing my articles, doing spoken words, so really doing everything but the stuff that used to pay me. And, uh, but, and loving it

Michael Jamin:
And loving it

Bryan Behar:
And loving it.

Michael Jamin:
And that’s great. I wanna, so I wanna circle back to stuff that I wanna ask you, how you broke into the business. Although it’s odd because I’m not sure how helpful it is for people since so much has changed, but we might as well talk

Bryan Behar:
About it. Yeah. I mean, sitcoms used to be on Kiddo Scopes when we were breaking in <laugh>, you know, was it the Dumont network that gave me my

Michael Jamin:
First job? <laugh>, yes.

Bryan Behar:
I mean, my story is sort of, sort of interesting for people who like ancient history, <laugh>, um, you know, cuz in many ways I was an overnight success. I wrote one spec script and was on the staff of n and Stacy two months later. Um, but this was an overnight success that, that was seven years in the making, right? Um, between the time I graduated from college, brown University. Um,

Michael Jamin:
Oh, for applause. Nothing.

Bryan Behar:
Oh, for applause. Hold for salute. Thank you. Thank you. Everyone still holding, still holding. No one seems to, no one seems to care as much as, as I do, um, between graduation and, and, and even knowing at the time of graduation that I desperately wanted to be a sitcom writer, it was seven years between then and actually getting my first job Right. Um, for the first few years. It, it just felt as though it was not like a conceivable path in my mind. It’s, it felt like that was for like the funny people. That’s what other people did. Um, but I knew I wanted to write mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and that was something I discovered at Brown. Like, I, I went to Brown thinking I was gonna be a lawyer, like all dutiful Jewish boys trying to buy their mother’s affection through grades, <laugh>. Um, that didn’t work. So I decided I might as well do something I actually am good at and something that I like. Uh, and I started to realize that like, wow, people seem to be laughing when I’m writing stuff for the school paper. So I knew I wanted to write comedy, but, uh, a job in advertising actually felt more, uh, conceivable to me. And, and as such, I went on that path and I, and I worked as a copywriter for seven years. And

Michael Jamin:
That was in New York, or out here

Bryan Behar:
On the west coast. Started in San Diego, then Los Angeles, and finished up in San Francisco.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Bryan Behar:
Um, and I was pretty good at it, and I was starting to actually get like a, a decent amount of success and traction, but all the while I could not shake the feeling that I really wanna write tv. I really wanna be a comedy writer. And if I don’t try it soon, I’m gonna reach that point where I am too successful or too well paid at, at something I don’t wanna do to ever take the chance. So, um, my old partner, uh, was a college friend Steve, and he said, Hey, I’m writing a specs script. And I was like, wait, you don’t wanna be a TV writer? That’s my dream. He’s like, well, I’m doing it with another friend of ours. I said, well, tell her we’re not doing it. And he and I wrote it over a facsimile machine while he was in LA and I was living in San Francisco. We were never even in the same room. Wow. And

Michael Jamin:
And he was an executive at the time?

Bryan Behar:
He was an executive. He frequently wore suspenders by choice.

Michael Jamin:
I’m sorry. He was a TV executive, right? He was at, was he at a, where was he? Wonder Brother abc. Where

Bryan Behar:
Was he? He was at Universal. He was at Columbia. He was at spelling and he was at nbc. Yeah. So he was well into that career, but he also, he was, you know, he wa he’d been to enough tapings and be like, wow, these people aren’t that smart. Like, right. Like, I can write, I can write mediocre multi-campus, it comes as well as the next guy <laugh>. So

Michael Jamin:
You guys teamed up, you wrote a spec and then what?

Bryan Behar:
And then we, we were on staff two months later. How

Michael Jamin:
Did you get into, how did you get into someone’s hands? What,

Bryan Behar:
Uh, well, he was dating the woman who became our agent. That

Michael Jamin:
Helps.

Bryan Behar:
And so, so there is that

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>,

Bryan Behar:
I mean, he had dated her earlier. They had met in the, uh, UTA mail room. Hi. So

Michael Jamin:
That’s right. She, she was my, our agent at one point too.

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. Um, but like I will say to our credit, like, she was like, you have to send it to me. But we were, we thought that it was almost not kosher and it sent it to some other people who were gonna sign us Uhhuh. Um, so it was a good, but here’s the thing, it was a good spec. Um, and I see why we got hired, but we took a year to write it. Yeah.
Because like, you know, we had unlimited time. There was no constraints of being on a show. And then we get to our first job and they say, oh, well we need our, your first script in a week. Right? Well, we had no, we had no system in place. We had never even been in the same city. Right. So we totally panicked, wrote it as quickly as possible, turned it in, and we’re like, I think we did it. And we got called in by our boss, Michael Whitehorn is like, guys, you know, I have to say about this script. Like, it reads like a Marks Brothers movie. And I was like, well, thank you very much. I <laugh> I appreciate. He’s like, no, this is terrible. He goes, I love the March Brothers, but that’s not how you write tv. He goes, there’s no story, there’s no setups.

It’s just bouncing from joke to joke. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it literally read like it felt writing it like it was done out of panic. Yeah. And he, and he told us he was gonna have to fire us. And this was like, you know, I finally was living my dream after years and years. He did. You already. And, and within like a month it was, it was all gonna go away. And I had quit my career in San, in San Francisco in advertising. Moved down here. I had just gotten married, you know, I always like to say, other than death, divorce, and space travel, I took on all of life’s great stressors in one month. But did And did you get fired from it? We did not. What happened? Here’s some advice for you young folk. Yeah. Cause I know young folks like this podcast. Um, they might, they might to laugh <laugh>.
Um, he said, well, legally, I have to give you a second script. So you know how long ago it was when you had a two script guarantee? Yeah. He goes, so I might as well let you write it anyway cause I don’t have to pay you. Right. So at that point, we, we had nothing to lose because we’d already suffered like all the indignity of being fired and everyone in the room knew it. So we kind of just slowed down and like pieced it together a lot more carefully and a lot more artfully. You know, we still, you know, we still had a ton of jokes, but it wasn’t in this like, frantic style. And he, and he, to his credit, he said, this is so much better. I’m gonna, I’m taking it back. I’m gonna let you keep your job. And we ended up staying there for 24 episodes and we wrote four of them.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and we were, you know, sort of off to the races. But it, you know, so much attention is given to getting that first job. And so little attention is given to how do you keep it? Yep. How do you get the second one? How do you go from jobs two to jobs three and four? And that’s like, that’s the stuff that I’m trying to help people with both online and in my class, which is anyone can kind of break in with like, you know, and I’ve heard you talk on your, your ticks about one hit wonders. Like, that’s not what people should be aspiring to. They shouldn’t be aspiring to, well I, I, you know, I sold this one movie, or I sold this one pilot. But how do you get on a show? How do you, how do you keep, how do you stay in the boss’s good graces mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how do you make friends on a staff as a staff writer, um, without being the annoying staff writer who feels compelled to fill the air with your voice mm-hmm. <affirmative> because you think that everyone’s judging you and keeping score. And these are, you know, again, these are all super valuable, but, you know, lessons that are kind of lost arts in my mind. Um,

Michael Jamin:
I totally agree. It’s also, you know, when I, the first script that I wrote, this is even Withouts before I met my partner, it was a good script. It got me signed by Bro Cro and Webner. But I thought I would never write. It wasn’t my first script. It was the first script. I guess it was good, but I, I thought I would never do it. How could I do it again? I don’t, I I got lucky. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know what a story was. I just got lucky, you know?

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. I hundred percent felt that and felt that for a long time. I mean, when I was writing like samples, and again, I, I, I sort of jumped ahead and didn’t mention that I was trying to write samples for all seven of those years.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
And I tried it with three or four different partners. I tried it on my own. Interesting. Um, and my real issue was I couldn’t finish. You know, like people always say like, what, you know, what’s the, what’s your biggest advice? I’m like, finish a script. Yeah. Because I would belly ache at coffee shop houses all over Le Brea. Like, why am I not on staff? Oh, do you have a sample? Well, I’ve never finished one

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>,

Bryan Behar:
You know, but like, how did people not know about me? I, I won’t stop talking about it, but like, I think I, I, deep down I felt that if I were to finish a script and I don’t get hired then like I no longer have a sustainable dream. Like as long as it was still out there, it was something that I could always like shoot for as a safety valve if I didn’t like what I was doing in advertising or in life. But once you finish something, then it becomes tangible and people would read it. But if you don’t do that, it it, there’s no way for them to advance you. So, uh,

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean it’s so interesting you say about keeping the job I did. I definitely talk about that as well. It’s like, how do you keep your job? And so I’ve seen, I’ve seen so many, and you must see more than me, but young staff, writers just flame out flame. They get, it’s a shame cuz you get this job, but you’re not ready for it. And then you’re done.

Bryan Behar:
You, I’ve seen so many people get the first job and never get the second job.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
If you get the second job, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re in

Michael Jamin:
Uhhuh.

Bryan Behar:
Um, now again, that was in the mid nineties when NBC alone had 18 sitcoms on its fall schedule. Yeah. I don’t mean 18 sitcoms on all the network, I mean, just on one of the networks. And it’s not like the others, you know, were only doing, you know, biopics you, you know, this was an, an era where there was a clear path forward where you could, you could rise through the ranks. You could go from show to show you could take, you know, good credits and get a better job on another show. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, I mean we used to always, always, before we knew you guys, we used to resent the hell out of you. We’re like, you know, cause we, you know, we’d been on like 10 shows while you guys were on Just Shoot Me in King of the Hill. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
And it’s like, wow, that is a, that is an entirely other way of doing it. Which is we, we would look at you and like, so you’re telling me you can get on a really good show, stay there, do a good job, stay there for a long time, then get on a better show. Yeah. And do that for a long time. And that was, you know, and

Michael Jamin:
A lot of that is luck. Like, you know, we got on a good show and it went four seasons and you got on a show that didn’t get, you know, four seasons and then you have to, and so yeah. A lot of that is, you know, that’s just luck really. You know,

Bryan Behar:
A lot of it is. Yes. I mean, and yet, you know, like now I’ve had some opportunities to sort of reflect back on my career and there are situations like old Christine for example, which ran for six years, but we just ran for the first 13 episodes. Right. Um, you know, if I knew better how to play the game, um, or you know, not to take defeat so much to heart. Um, you know, and a lot of that had to do with like, sort of grappling with depression and a lot of things mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but like I, you know, if I knew now, if I knew then what I know now, I think there might have been a few opportunities along the way where I could have kept a job for longer. But, um, nothing I can do about that now.

Michael Jamin:
Not that it, not that really makes a difference, but Do you, do you see any change between the way young staff writers are today? Like when you were doing one of your last few shows and the work when you were first starting off, do you see a change in their attitudes or their readiness or anything?

Bryan Behar:
No. Um, I’m, I’m trying to think. You know, because I, I was very fortunate on Fuller House that I was able to promote a ton of younger writers from within the system, uh, and, and was able to give them their first staff writing jobs. Right. Um, and like that was a little different than how I had done it, which was, you know, in my case. And I think maybe, maybe in your case, but I, I don’t wanna speak for you. Like, certainly in our case it was you write samples and you break in as a staff writer. And I see more and more that the only way in for a lot of people is to take other jobs on a show in the production working as a PA and then working up to a writing’s assistant or start as a writing assistant then becoming the, you know, the, you know, the writing supervisor or, or you know, like that that sort of path, uh, of promotion from within seems to be a lot more common. I know that didn’t answer your, that didn’t answer your question specifically about the writers themselves. No. They, they seem just like young writers mm-hmm. <affirmative> who were, you know, who were appreciative of the shot. It seems like they’ve all been maybe out in the cold a lot longer than we were Yeah. Uh, before they get their first break. And I think there’s less certainty about what comes after because there just aren’t as many sitcoms in general and multi cams in specific.

Michael Jamin:
I did a post about this just a couple days ago about, cuz someone said, well, you know, when are they gonna, are they gonna bring back multi-camera sick? They should bring them back. And I was like, you know, at some point, maybe in 10 or 15 years, it might almost be impossible <laugh> because who

Bryan Behar:
It might be Im now.

Michael Jamin:
Well, why do you think

Bryan Behar:
So they, they exist Uhhuh, but they exist either for the very old or the very young mm-hmm. <affirmative> and there’s been an entire, and I’m sorry I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but there’s been an entire generation that has been raised without them.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Bryan Behar:
And which infuriates me because as a historian of the, of the genre, I look back as recently as a couple years ago, and in the previous, I think 60 years of sitcoms, the number one sitcom on the air, uh, in terms of total viewers had been a multicam in 59 of the six first 60 years.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
Um, and this even includes like, you know, what you might call like the heyday of the single camera era. And yes, there have been a few hits that have become sizable monsters like Modern Family and The Office, but the Office even more so, you know, once it became syndicated or once it went to Netflix. Um, but even during that, those shows having their heydays, the top rated sitcoms were still two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory. You know, I mean, I am someone who strongly believes that, that the multi cam has always been more popular than the single cam. But, and maybe we’ve spoken about this before, but executives didn’t think it was as cool to talk about it at their, you know, west side cocktail parties. And nobody wanted to be the one who developed, you know, a big embarrassing show with a laugh track. So they would just keep plowing ahead.

Michael Jamin:
But they always say they’re looking for it because it costs less money.

Bryan Behar:
They always say it, but they never buy them. Yeah. And in fact, many times we would, Steve and I would sell a pilot to someone, um, as a single cam knowing that that’s the only thing that those networks were putting on that year. And they say, no, no, no, we’re really looking for multi cams. They would change our pilot to a Multicam and then pick it up and say, well, nobody’s, there’s nowhere, nowhere on the schedule where we can place us a multicam. Yeah. There’s, wait a second. You made me do it. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Um, why do you

Bryan Behar:
Think, I’m not gonna say it would’ve gotten on anyway, so, but

Michael Jamin:
Why do you think they couldn’t make it today? Do you think it’s just a scheduling thing? Cause I had a different feeling about it.

Bryan Behar:
I think it’s a scheduling thing on the one hand. Um, and I’ve read some articles recently about the difficulty in scheduling multi cams alongside single cams. There was an article just like this week in fact. But beyond that, I think it’s, it is almost just like, why isn’t there rock and roll on Top 40 radio because there hasn’t been in 15 years, so there’s nobody alive in that age demo who would listen to it.

Michael Jamin:
You think so? You think it’s a viewership thing? Cause I don’t, that’s not what I do. I think the problem is, is I think it, when we jumped on a set, you know, when we first were on sitcoms, like, especially in Multicam, there’s so much to learn about how to produce a multi-camera show that we weren’t, we weren’t even thinking of like running one in 10 15. Like, it was like, I don’t know how to do this. Even when I’m working on it, I’m like, I wouldn’t be, you couldn’t put me in charge of this. And then, but now, but you, but you come out of a school. So like we were on Just Shoot Me and that came out of was on Frazier. So we kind of grew outta the Frazier School, which grew outta the cheer school. So there’s like this column of like writers before you that you learn from.

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. It’s like coming out of like the Bill Belichick coaches tree. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Right. Very

Bryan Behar:
Similar. You if you’re, if you’re a, you know, a co-executive producer on, on one on Levian show, then you can be the executive producer on when you get a deal on your next show. Like, very common to put
Them,

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. 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 could unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not gonna spam you and it’s absolutely free. Just go to michael jamin.com/watchlist.
Now, like if you wanted to put a single, a multi-camera show on the air, where’s the talent pool other than a bunch of old guys or people who’ve never done it before?

Bryan Behar:
Yeah. And, and, and like, you know, I sounded a little facetious earlier when I said it was the purview of the very old or the very young. But like, I mean that both in terms of the people who create it and the people who watch it, you know, it, it’s either like pretty old fashioned, the last remnants of like CBS multi cams mm-hmm. <affirmative> or it’s a Disney channel, Nickelodeon show. Right. Um, and what used to be like the mainstream of comedy doesn’t exist that that really vast middle Yeah. Isn’t there anymore in terms of, of multi cams, either in terms of like the space that’s given on the schedule or in, in the age of the people who consume it. Yeah. Um, so I just think that people now think of it as old fashioned and kind of, there’s a superficial, there’s a fakeness to it.
Yeah. An artificiality, not superficial, an artificiality to it. Cuz now that they’ve seen enough comedies that are written, you know, written and produced like little movies mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, I think it’s part of this, it’s part of the movie of TV that’s happening in the more general sense mm-hmm. <affirmative> that, you know, when you look at the streaming services and, and I, and I think me teaching a class on pilot writing and like of the, of the 15 kids that are writing pilots, 14 are writing one hours mm-hmm. <affirmative> one is writing a single camp, but of the one hours most are done in like, in genres of, you know, it’s superheroes, it’s science fiction, it’s it’s space and it’s zombies. Yeah. You know, like all of which wouldn’t have been on television when we were breaking in. Yeah. It was multi cam comedies and procedural dramas and that was it. It was, and it was like you could wrap your hands around it. It doesn’t mean that it was like a glorious time in terms of, you know, this great diversity of product, but like from the perspective of people trying to, you know, like rise up through the hierarchy, it was a lot more tangible and easier to comprehend. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
I was even thinking of shows, like even the shows were like, gimme a break or, or small Wonder. Like, those shows were also very comfortable, you know, or Punky Brewster, like they were comfortable shows they don’t exist anymore.

Bryan Behar:
It feels like you’re setting me up. But I am, I have long been of as much as I try to write edgy stuff and like you and I were on Will, I mean, you know. Yeah. Like we both have, you know, the bonafides of, you know, to write cool single camera stuff. But I’ve also been of the belief that the calm and sitcom often stands just as much for comfort as it does for comedy. Yeah. And all those shows you described, um, there was a comforting, soothing value. Now some of it has to do with, we were young at the time, some of it has to do with our own nostalgia for an easier time. But I mean, that’s why I got into sitcoms in the first place because, you know, my family life was pretty rough. I didn’t have a ton of friends, but I loved the Brady Bunch. Yeah. Um, and I found that even like, at a very, very young age, like I found that world incredibly soothing.

Michael Jamin:
But that’s not a good example. Cause that was a single camera show.

Bryan Behar:
I know. But it, it doesn’t feel like a single camera show. Um, and you’re right. But, uh, I mean, but whether, but it was still, it was still a family sitcom. Yeah. Um, and like for instance, like when I, like when we were first offered the chance to write on Fuller House, not to run it, but just, you know, to be a co-executive producer in the first season, I had no interest mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I was like, I never saw Full House. Um, but two, but two things sort of changed my mind. One was my daughter, who was like maybe like 13, 14 at the time, and she’s like, you’re gonna take this meeting and you’re not gonna fuck it up. She’s like, this is gonna be huge. Because she, you know, she knew the power of the original Full house as a kid who sort of grew up on the reruns and like whatever, she was homesick from school, we would tape her five episodes of the Brady Bunch and five episodes of, um, full House.

It seemed easier than actually parenting or offering her medicine. Um, but that’s neither hit nor the other. But the other thing was realizing like, okay, I don’t know Full House, but I sure know the Brady Bunch. And that full house served the exact same function for kids who were 10 years younger than me as the Brady Bunch did in my life. And I’m like, oh, I know what that felt like to Yeah. I know what it felt like to be that age and, and want to be soothed by a TV show and wanna feel like you’re part of a, you know, a surrogate family on the air. And, and that that really helped, helped me as a way in

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
So realize is that kind of show

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. It’s an interesting, it really is an interesting time for writers. What are you, what are you, how are you advising your students to break in then? What are you telling them?

Bryan Behar:
Well, I try not to spend as much time on the how to break in mm-hmm. <affirmative> as to give them the tools that might open the door and might help them. And, and, and I, you know what, what I do, again, I’m, I’m, I’m sort of evading the question by design. Um, like for instance, I, I run my classes as if they were a writer’s room. I push all the tables together. We sit around one big table with me at the front, like a big mock, just like the old days. Yeah. At one 20th. At one 20th. The salary. Right. Of, of, but like, I want them to get used to what it, you know, what it feels like to, you know, pitch amongst their peers what it feels like to, you know, offer an idea or a joke to somebody at the head of the table.

So like, as far as teaching them the craft, I think I’m doing a pretty good job. I don’t know that I have as much wisdom when it comes to how does one break in these days. Right. Um, I alluded to in a teeny bit earlier, which is one of the things I will say is do not turn down any job on a television show mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because that has become more and more the only way in is to rise through the ranks. It, it is entirely a function of who, you know, so many of the jobs come from the people doing, you know, the non-writing jobs that, you know, that lead into it.

Michael Jamin:
But you also have to be ready. It’s not, it’s not enough to know somebody. Your script has to, you have to know how to write

Bryan Behar:
Well. Yeah. I don’t know that you’re gonna get those writing assistant jobs or those pa jobs even without a script. So, I mean, you have to have a great script now just to get those jobs.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, okay. I wasn’t aware of

Bryan Behar:
That. I think you do. I’ve

Michael Jamin:
Never, I’ve never read any, I’ve never asked a pa or write assistant to read their, I’d rather not read their script.

Bryan Behar:
Yeah, no, I, I, I mean, I’m of the, I’m of the, I’m the same way. I just would rather assume that they, that they’re funny. Right. Uh, you know, after the interview, but like you, I, again, since I wasn’t running the show, um, when we started out, I don’t know if they had spec scripts originally. Right. I inherited so many of them, you know, so, but you know, but what I tell them is like, you know, you’re sitting there behind the keyboards. Like, nobody wants you to be the one pitching jokes all day long, but like, pick your battles. Like, you know, I’ve seen, I’ve seen writing assistants like win a job from pitching a, you know, lobbying a giant joke out of the corner of the room when no one’s expecting it. Right. You know, and in some ways, like the pressure’s off. No one is expecting you to save the day.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I always say like, if you really need to be funny, be funny at lunch, you know, like when you’re just like, cuz then you were, if you’re sitting around one table at lunch, you’re all just people. There’s not that same hierarchy. Right. People. And then a year from now when we say, oh, we need a staff writer, we were far more likely to say like, oh, so and so made me laugh, you know, you know, while I was eating my gato grill. Then, uh, you know, then have to read a stack of scripts. You know, you know, so like I say, like you can break it as a staff writer, the traditional way you can get hired, um, at, in another type of job. Like we’ve just been talking about within the production. And then there’s all these writing programs that mm-hmm. <affirmative>
Things still exist, even though Warner Brothers a few weeks ago said they were canceling the Warner program. They brought it back. They brought it back. Okay. Yeah. That’s like, that is like the third way. And that, that’s still a valid and beyond that, I don’t really know how, I know people all wanna be discovered. Everyone, everyone wants to like write a pilot that gets bought by a streamer mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they wanna be a celebrity showrun. Right. And I don’t know, I don’t know that that exists, but it probably exists just enough that everyone thinks they can do it. Yeah. Like for instance, like I’m teaching at Chapman, which is a fabulous program. It like barely existed 20 years ago, and now it’s like the fourth film school in the country according to the, you know, the most recent rankings. And like, their big claim to fame is the two brothers who created Stranger Things like in their twenties. Right. Like out of nowhere, I think they had one credit. And the next thing you know, they have a show that’s the biggest show on all television in all mediums. Right. Streamer, cable pay, cable, anything. And I forgot broadcast that used to be a thing that we cared about. Um, but like, everyone’s like, well, the Duffer Brothers did it. Why can’t I create some, some genre of sci-fi? And it’s like, you can possibly, but that’s again, that’s the exception. Yeah. What’s gonna happen if you don’t,

Michael Jamin:
I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s, that’s the exception. It’s, and it’s such a remarkable exception that the media picks up on it and talks about it because it’s what an unusual story. And then therefore people think, oh, that’s how you do it. You know,

Bryan Behar:
And I guess that’s, I mean, if we really were being fair, there’s always been that media story of the V kid, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> 20 years ago it was Josh Schwartz, he’s, he’s 11 years old and he created the oc Yeah. You know, there’s always, you know, there’s always someone who got, you know, I think James L. Brooks was one of them, you know? Right. Like, there’s always somebody who in their twenties gets a show on the air and ruin it for everybody else. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, but, but I mean, by ruin it by everybody else is it creates this illusion that all you need to do is sell a pilot, not learn how to write tv.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I, you know, I remember when we were first signed, or when I, yeah, I guess it was with Sheer signed and, um, our agent said, oh, oh, no, no. She said it to me before, before I was with Sheer. She said, you know, I signed one new baby writer a year. You’re the baby writer. In three years you’re gonna be running your own show. And, and I, and I, I, I smiled very play. Oh, that’s great. And then after I hung up, I was seriously panicked. I was like, run my own show. I, I, I don’t even know if I can write another script. Like that’s the last thing I wanna do is run our own show.

Bryan Behar:
Of course. Now here’s something I’m gonna admit to you that you’re, you’re gonna laugh at me. And, and, and That’s okay. It would not be the first time. Like Steve, and, and, and I can’t talk too much about it because it’s part of ongoing litigation, some of the specifics of this. But Steve and I were offered the opportunity to run Fuller House, uh, beginning season four.

Michael Jamin:
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.

Bryan Behar:
Um, so we had been doing this for I think 22 years. I was like 53 years old, 52 years old. And I said no, because of the thought of running a show, even with 22 years experience, even at 52 years old, seemed inconceivable to me. Yeah. Now, you know, I have a history of severe panic disorder and a lot of other things that, that contribute to that. And then they came back and offered it to us again. They’re like, no, no, we, we thought about someone else, it’s you. And we said no again, um, because no, now we’re, we’re in a kind of an extreme case, but part of it was a function of that ship had sailed in my mind mm-hmm. <affirmative> as far as like being a possibility. Like when you, when you’re hitting your, your, you know, your your early to mid fifties and you’ve not run a show, I think in it’s a, it’s a, it is a fair assumption to say that the business doesn’t see you that way.

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, like you’re, you know, Steve and I were very competent number twos and very competent number threes mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, but the thought of actually like taking on the big chair still seemed like something that like engendered panic. Yeah. And, and then, you know what? We did it and I loved it and I, I loved doing it. I was eager to do it again. Um, you know, we did 30, 31 episodes, uh, under our helm and like started to take on responsibilities and facets that I’d never, ever even thought about. Right. It was great. So, and I, so even though I never got to do it another time or another time yet, I’m thrilled that I was able to get past that fear because it really was like the sort of the last fear that was out there for me.

Michael Jamin:
But the thing is, when people say that, when people say, I wanna run my own show, and I said, do you, you don’t even know what a Showrun does. Like why would you, like, why, why are you signing up for a job? You don’t even know what the job entails.

Bryan Behar:
Well, because they’ve seen Matt Wener give an interview at the end of Madman or Vince Gilligan, the end of Breaking Bad. And they know that like, you know, they know what their salaries are and they know their celebrities. Yeah. You know, and they get good, you know, they get good tables at Mr. Chap. I mean, I don’t know, but like, I didn’t know what his, there was no such thing as a celebrity Showrun when we were breaking in. Like there were, yes, there were successful people. You know, like I was very aware who created Seinfeld and friends and who created Cheers and what the back ends were. Right. But that thing where, and it really is kind of a function of premium tv, like sort of the Post Sopranos one hour world, you know, the Mad Men, Sopranos, breaking beds, the Shield, the Wire Deadwood, like those have really kind of deified the one hour show runner as like pop culture celebrities.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
And they’ve, they’ve sort of become the new film directors. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Bryan Behar:
So everybody wants that.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Bryan Behar:
And again, like if you see the Duffer Brothers do it, you know, at, at 28 years old or however, however young they were, um, people are, people rightly do ask Why not us? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But again, like I had been doing TV for 22 or 23 years before I took over that show and still had no conception of what running a show entailed. Yeah. In terms of just the sheer enormity of the pressure of the responsibility. And that was with two of us, and that was with two of us dividing the task. I had no idea how someone does that on their own. Yeah. Cause even with two people that felt like, like, like a, her her lay super human effort. Yep. You know, and I’m sure you found the same thing, like, um, there’s so many different, you’re making a decision all day long, every day at a furious pace. Yep. And yet there’s nothing like it. Like it was such, it was, you know, and I don’t mean like just from like a, the standpoint of like, I felt powerful, but like, there were like, having such a sense of purpose every day was fantastic. Uhhuh,

You know, overcoming fears and like developing like a skill like that I didn’t even know I needed to possess. Like, that was interesting. Yeah. You know, so I feel, I mean, it certainly helps me as a teacher because if I had never run a show, I’d feel like a little bit like a fraud offering notes and like fixing scripts and mm-hmm. <affirmative> having now having done it, like at, I’m not gonna say the highest levels, but a high level. Right. Um, you know, I feel like far more qualified to be the one teaching people. Cause I feel like I’ve done at least the equivalent of that in, in tv.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. It, it’s, it’s interesting because even as I, before I started doing, like talking on social media, I was like, well, you know who, I’m not Vince Gilligan, I’m not Chuck Lori, I’m not Steve Levitan. I’m not, I’m not the highest there is, you know, um, what,

Bryan Behar:
Well, two things come to mind. Number one, don’t sell yourself short because you’re still super high within, you’re still super high within the, you know, the pecking order. Like, once you take out those, those few brand names, right. You’ve done it. You’ve, you’ve run multiple shows. You’ve run multiple good shows and people liked working for you. And, uh, you know, like the, the job we did together on, on Glen Martin was a pleasure. And, uh, you know, that’s probably the closest I ever felt to like really writing in my own voice Yeah. And kind of just letting go and not being self-conscious and just writing whatever felt silly or funny. Right. So that’s one thing you’ve done. But the other thing where I think you have a leg up in fact, is what was the last time Chuck Laurie or Steve Leviton had to really think about what they were gonna do next and plot accordingly. You know, like both of them just go to CS and say, get me a get me, you know, get me a show on Hulu. And they do. Like, but that’s not like how people in real, in real life behave.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I, that’s one I talked about with my wife. She goes, well, yeah, but that, those are the superstars you can talk to. You can speak to what does it mean to be a working writer who’s not a superstar? Who’s

Bryan Behar:
That’s, that’s a hundred percent right. It’s a little insulting that our wives know about people who are superstars and they, they tend to usually be taller, um, Who had a here, but like, um, I don’t, I don’t know that Steve Levitator or Chuck Laurie or you know, or Larry David is gonna speak as, you know, as succinctly or as I impactfully as you do about, you know, the like day to day mechanics of breaking in, building a career, keeping a job. And those are, you know, those are the things that I talk about day to day. And, and now I’ve moved on to the third, you know, the third thing, which is how do I build like a sort of a purposeful life outside of the writer’s room, right. And, and try to use the skills that I developed or the knowledge that I accrued and either help others or, you know, game satisfaction for myself. And I’m, you know, trying really hard to still do both without, you know, the, you know, the old crutches that I used to have, which is, you know, getting laughs from a, from a gaggle of Jews,

Michael Jamin:
It’s so,

Bryan Behar:
And JB

Michael Jamin:
N JB, we, um, you know, I, when people, they’ll comment on social media, sometimes I’ll, I’ll make a post and then I guess people are, I dunno if they’re being argumentative or just trying to impress me or whatever, but they’ll say, yeah, but Quentin Tarantino says, and I’m like, Quentin Tarantino is anybody just, is anyone mistaking you for Quentin Tarantino <laugh>? Yeah. No, I mean, have his career,

Bryan Behar:
But I mean, but they’re, they’re, I mean, it’s beyond annoying, but that’s always been the case. I remember like my, one of my first or second jobs running into like, the wife of someone I went to college with, and she’s like, why aren’t you on Seinfeld or South Park? That’s what we watch. Yeah. You don’t watch the shows you’re on. It’s like, okay, first of all, like, you’re a viewer. You didn’t create either of those shows unless you’re, unless you change your name to Matt Stone. Like you’re not those people. So like, pipe down a little. I said, secondly, you have to think about this. Like, it’s the nba, like, hey, like I’m coming out of college, I wanna be on the Lakers. Who gives a fuck what you want? You were drafted by the Pelicans. Like, like, we don’t get to choose where we write.

Yeah. Like, oh, Tarantino said like, okay, you’re not Tarantino. Like, trust me, I’m doing better than you are. So like <laugh>, you know, I mean, yes. But that, I mean, that’s gone on forever and ever. I’ll tell you a story. My grandmother re she rested me. She just, she passed away a year ago and she ended up being, she lived in 99 years and eight months and ended up dying as a very kind person for like the first 95 years. She wasn’t Right. And like, she would admit that, and like, we had no relationship and like on, I, I had been on four jobs at the time. Um, and on all four she told me how much she didn’t like the show. I was on <laugh>. So she invited Beth and I out for dinner. I hope it wasn’t Glen Martin <laugh>. No, no, no, no, no. That would’ve been later that she didn’t like, okay, what’s, she’s like, who watches Claymation <laugh>?

Why is there a laugh track? Scooby <laugh>. But she, so she invites Beth and I have to dinner with her and her, her boyfriend. Um, and she’s like, oh, that show that Then Stacy, I hated that show. And I’m like, oh, well I’m on a different show now. Oh, I don’t like that show either. Okay. And I literally said, grandma, like I, I’m happy to tell you that before I, right before I came to dinner today, I came, I’m coming directly from a meeting. I had just had a meeting on Frazier. Uhhuh. Now Frazier at the time had just won the me for Best comedy five years in a row. Right. Anything’s gonna oppress her. And she goes, Ugh. She goes, I hate that show. That’s a dumb show, <laugh>. So I say to myself, okay, and I turn to Beth, like, she can see that I’m soothing, and Beth and I are Huling and I’m like, the woman doesn’t know anything about television.

She’s an older, she’s an older Jewish woman from a different era. She’s not gonna like anything you do. She, she knows nothing about television. I was like, you’re right. That’s why would I get myself upset? She knows nothing. And then she says, why don’t you write something like David Kelly mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then the boyfriend says, it’s David E. Kelly. And then I realized, no, she knew a tremendous amount about television shouldn’t <laugh>. Like she knew chapter in verse, everything that he had written from Allie McBeal to picket fences. She just didn’t like what I was doing. Right. <laugh>, I don’t remember, I don’t remember how we got to this, but Oh, annoying people telling us our credits aren’t good enough. Right. It’s like, yeah. Like, I remember, I remember when people were on Raymond for the, you know, all nine years, and I’d be like, these lucky SAPs, like had, they haven’t had to go through anything that we’ve gone through.

They got one job. They had a, they had to go to a few movie nights on a Sunday with Phil Rosenthal never eat dinner there. Yeah. And to get nine years of fat paychecks. And that’s just not, that wasn’t our experience, but our experience certainly prepared us for more kinds of experiences. And I, and it certainly behooved me, I believe when it, when it was time to run a show, you know, I definitely had far more of an awareness of what I wanted a room to feel like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, what I wanted it not to feel like specifically. Yeah. Uh, you know, based on having had so many different kinds of experiences. And that’s, that’s like 0.2 that I always tell the kids, which is crying not to extrapolate from any one experience because it’s just one experience. Right. Like when I was on Ned and Stacy and he didn’t like our script and all the writers were bullies in the room, you know, and like Charlie Kaufman was over in the corner, like rocking back and forth cause they were so mean to him, and he’d already being John Malcolm.

And I’m like, so they’re really not gonna be nice to us. He had already written John Malcolm at that point already written John Malcolm. So he was like leaving the room to get called. Like, Michael Stip is on the line for you. You know, like, wow, you know, spike Jones is on the line. Um, and they’re still being mean to him because he was shy and he was reserved. And it was, you know, it was the late nineties multi camera room where if you’re not like a total misogynistic chauvinistic prick, you don’t get to move up or be heard. Right. Or that’s how it felt on that show. But then I was like, okay, but then my next job wasn’t like that. Um, so I, I always try to impress upon people, like, the key is to have enough experiences such that no one experience becomes definitive in your mind because every show is different.

Right. You know, like Glen Martin being the perfect example. I mean, but that was fun. You had fun, man. And, and you know, I don’t tell you enough, but I should, you guys saved my life. You know, I don’t wanna make this a depressing podcast, but, um, your, your listeners should know that Michael and, and his partner Seavert hired me less than two weeks after my father took his own life. I thought, I thought it was during, but okay. You remember it better than I, it was literally right before. Okay. Like, I would stay in bed and cry all day, and they’re like, you have a meeting on a, on a, on a Claymation show, and then the tears are really flowing. And then it was like, oh my God, you thought the suicide was bad, Noah. But like, I mean, but, but for me to have a place to go mm-hmm.

<affirmative>

And a place to laugh all day and a sense of purpose. And the second we would finish, I would go back into my office or into my car and cry because I literally was like so bereft and like searching for like answers. But like, the fact that eight hours a day you guys gave me a place to laugh and to like, you know, feel good about myself was like, it’s a gift. I can never repay you. I mean, I feel like I’m repay you a little doing your podcast, but I dunno that I could, I dunno, that I could ever fully repay you. But it was, you know, like it was such a meaningful thing that you offered me.

Michael Jamin:
But it was, it was actually very mutual because you, you know, you, we hired you and then you guys turned in your, your script. It’s like, I’m like, oh God, thank God they can write <laugh>. That’s a big deal. You don’t assume,

Bryan Behar:
How would you know? At the time you were just like, well, they said yes to a Claymation show.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I have my doubts. They said yes to this job right now. I have my doubts about them

Bryan Behar:
<laugh>. And we were like, we were like, well, we have to take, I mean, these guys are, you know, these were the guys from King of the Hill. And they’re like, why are, then we get there. You’re like, why are you here, <laugh>, we know why we’re taking it. We wanted to run a show.

Michael Jamin:
But that was, uh, boy, oh boy. Yeah. That was a fun show.

Bryan Behar:
But man, that was, that was fun. I would’ve done that for, I would’ve done that for years and years. But

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, that was the, that was the plan. But no one else <laugh> Nick had,

Bryan Behar:
Once again, it was not up to us.

Michael Jamin:
It was the par, it was the, that Christian Parents Association canceled us. They like, you know, and see, used to describe it, it was, this is the babysitting channel and, but at at eight o’clock, the baby channel turns the dick at night. But no one tells, no one told the parents watching.

Bryan Behar:
No, no. Because why would you, why would you think that the show puppets, you know, at a talking dog and you know, like all the, all all the hallmarks of what you’re getting during the day, <laugh>, you know, plus a laugh track, you

Michael Jamin:
Know, <laugh>, they were shocked.

Bryan Behar:
You know, they were shocked to see Michael Eiser making television. I

Michael Jamin:
Think <laugh>,

Bryan Behar:
Isn’t that the guy who created the Bazooka Joe movie?

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. Oh, we had some laughs though. But what we came on some really crazy stories on that show. Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
I mean, I mean, it should have been far more famous. If it wa if it was just, if it, I always thought, and again, you guys disagreed, I think, but it didn’t matter because we all inherited the show Yeah. From, from other people. But like, I was strongly of the belief that a Claymation show would never work. Um, and if it had been a regular animated, animated show, I thought it would’ve worked really well. And it might have run for a long

Michael Jamin:
Time. I think only would’ve worked on a different network

Bryan Behar:
Though. And on a different network. Yeah. And maybe with some different actors and, and different writers. Why

Michael Jamin:
You bothered, I always like the claim, my problem with it. And then we go, well, we’ll wrap up, we’re going over here. But my problem with it wasn’t, I liked the Claymation, I just didn’t like the, the mouths being animated. The mouths were done by on computer. And to me, whenever we got slick on that show, whenever we did computer special effects, I didn’t like that. I thought everything should be practical.

Bryan Behar:
I understand that. I used to, I, I forgot how I articulated it at the time, but it was very, it was very succinct, but it was like, it was a show for nobody.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>, it was a show for TV writers is what it was.

Bryan Behar:
Well, but by which I mean like, if you were over 12, you were never going to watch a Claymation show. But

Michael Jamin:
Why would you watch that as opposed to animation? It’s the same thing.

Bryan Behar:
It’s not the same thing. I swear to you, Uhhuh, it is not the same thing. There’s a reason that Bob’s, that Bob’s Burgers that started the exact same time is, is only in its halfway point now. Yes. I know. We’ve, and we’ve been done for a decade.

Michael Jamin:
Um,

Bryan Behar:
I where do you the, something about puppets means that nobody over 12 is gonna watch and nobody under 12 was allowed to watch because it was so filthy. Yeah. So we, it was like the, it was the world’s worst Venn diagram. <laugh> like, like our sweet spot where like couldn’t find each other.

Michael Jamin:
But, but TV we liked writing it cuz we just did whatever it was like it

Bryan Behar:
Was Oh my God, the process of writing It was genius. Yeah. I’ve never laughed harder. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. And,

Bryan Behar:
And, and, and then I would see it and it was still funny, but I also knew that it had kind of a limited Yeah. Limited appeal certainly on Nick at night, where you don’t go for original material like that doesn’t exist. Yeah. Um, but like, I’ve had experiences where I’ve been on shows and I’m not gonna give names where we would laugh all day long, boy. And we have fun in those rooms that you’d watch the show, you’re like, oh, were we laughing about,
You know, it was okay. Those were rooms that were so fun and so funny. And then I’ve been on shows some with you Uhhuh, um, with it involved like an Australian dog, Uhhuh were so tv and I love Zuckerman and I love the show and it’s a miracle that it turned out because the day to day was so pedantic it was a grind. Yeah. It, it was like being on like the world’s hardest higher level philosophy class. Like, you know, like, you know, con to the early years. Yeah. And you’re like, I don’t know how this ends up. I don’t know how this discussion ends up as a com as like a beloved comedy, but it did, um, same with Andy Richter. Andy Richter was just silence and watching Victor Fresco type. Oh. And you know, and then you’re, and then you watch the show and you’re like, wow. Somehow this went from like, you know, a torturous beginning to a hilarious show. And then a lot of multi cams have been the opposite. Yeah. Super funny rooms. Kind of funny shows.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
So you never like, so those people like, you know, what’s your favorite show? Like no, there’s something great about all of them.

Michael Jamin:
People don’t understand that as well. Sometimes like, you know, they think all this crappy, like, it’s hard to make even bad television. It’s really, we’re all trying hard.

Bryan Behar:
It’s harder.

Michael Jamin:
Uh,

Bryan Behar:
I mean, I, yes. I’m not gonna name that. I’m not gonna name names, but like, I’ve been on so many multi cams that are like impossible. Yeah. Um, and especially multi cams. Like, I feel like in single Cam you can always fake it with, you know, with some funny music and clever editing, but there’s no faking a bad multi cam. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
It’s true.

Bryan Behar:
If there’s no laughter in front of the audience, there’s no laughter. Yeah. Yeah. Now I’ve worked with one show runner who didn’t care whether it was actually funny because the show was so popular and loved anyway, that it didn’t matter whether the jokes actually were funny because he knew they were gonna get laughs anyway. Right. So that’s a, that’s a different thing, but like most shows don’t have that kind of good will going into them. But a multicam that’s, that’s not, not firing and that you’re having to like, throw out every night after run through and essentially start again.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Bryan Behar:
I don’t think I can do that again. I’m, uh,

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, you have to be young for that.

Bryan Behar:
I’m taking, I’m gonna take my zero savings and move on

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>. I’m taking my chips off my chip off the table,

Bryan Behar:
My chip off the table. I still have a, still living off of a couple Israeli war bombs

Michael Jamin:
<laugh>

Bryan Behar:
With my bar mitzvah and I’ll be Right. But like, I mean, that’s a hard life. That is a young person’s life. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. People don’t realize the hours on a multi camera can be really hard. Really hard.

Bryan Behar:
And I also didn’t really realize that a lot of the, I alluded to it earlier, the, the kind of chauvinism and bro frat culture mm-hmm. <affirmative>. That, that was really more, I mean, I know it also, you know, you got it on Scrubs and you got it on a bunch of other shows. I’m not gonna name like Scrubs, uh, but like, you know, but, but that really was kind of a function of Multicam culture. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> of, we haven’t talked about Eric Weinberg the celebrity rapist yet, but

Michael Jamin:
We haven’t, we have not talked about it. That’s <laugh> that be another, another episode. I said that’s

Bryan Behar:
A whole nother, that’s, that’s where you and I saw the mystery, but like, no, but like, you know, there was an article about that, a really definitive article last week in the Hollywood Reporter. And what I found most interesting was not, I mean, the rapes were so abhorrent and the sexual abuse he inflicted on people, even in writer’s rooms was so unbelievably despicable. But what was really fascinating was the stuff that like he just got away with and they went show to show and talked about the things he did to women on each show in the writer’s room. That, and what he got away with because it was, Hey, it’s the early two thousands and this is how a room has gotta be. And that I don’t miss.

Michael Jamin:
But we, well we were, you and I worked with him honestly for I think two weeks. It was not a long time on Wilford and I, I didn’t see any of that. I really didn’t say any of that. It was, no, it was only two weeks, I think. And

Bryan Behar:
I don’t think I was even there. I think I came, I joined the staff. I only saw him one day when he came and turned in a a turned in a script. He

Michael Jamin:
Might have done a, yeah, he may have done a free, he probably wasn’t safe. He probably just did a freelance. So it was literally two weeks when he was there.

Bryan Behar:
But I had always heard stories not about rape obviously, and not about abuse, but just like jerky room behavior. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and like frat guy, bro. Kind of Bullying and like that kind and like, again, it was not limited to him, but he was sort of indicative of what passed for like room life then. Right, right. And I do think, and like, you know, as much as people our age frequently will complain about like new, the new, whoa, Hollywood and rooms are so this and, you know, sensitive now, like no, they’re so much better than they used to be. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> because it’s not based on this like, abusive behavior. There’s far greater representation within the rooms, within the stories you’re telling and like, and like what you’re seeing on screen. Um, I think, I think that’s only better, you know, I think it’s better. Like, you know, that all of our kids go to schools where, you know, they talk about sensitivity and, and like being a good person versus what we grew up with, which is like, don’t be so sensitive. Stop crying, Brian.

Michael Jamin:
Well, Brian, I, I can’t thank you. This is a fun chat, man.

Bryan Behar:
Thank you so much for having me. I mean, it’s always a pleasure to talk to. It’s

Michael Jamin:
Always fun, but I wanna find, make sure, make sure people can follow. What’s your Twitter handbook? Cause I know you got a big Twitter following it. It is for

Bryan Behar:
Now, at least for now. I’m, I’m, I’m still over 200,000, which is not bad for just like a But

Michael Jamin:
You were over 300,000 at one point.

Bryan Behar:
Um, no, that was you at TikTok. Um, but, uh, <laugh>, but Mazel Tom. No, but I, I’m, uh, I think I’m at 206,000, which, you know, for a guy who’s just like, you know, nobody follows me because I’m a celebrity. They just like, I literally have taken kind of a lunch, a lunch pale approach, and I just tweet every day. So you can reach, see me at, uh, @BrianBehar. You haven’t even made fun of me for being Turkish. No, I have not. Old Sephardic. I don’t know, maybe that’s the new you.

Michael Jamin:
Well, we’re gonna, we’ll translate this

Bryan Behar:
<laugh>. I thought we were gonna translate this into ancient Turkish in No, I thought you were gonna start out with, you know, here, we’re live from downtown Anca <laugh>. This was great. You crack me up, you make me feel funnier. Um, and I’ve, I’ve been recommending your, uh, your TikTok uh, tutorials to all my students. A lot of them who I mentioned this to today had in fact seen them and, and have benefited from them. So that’s nice. Uh, yeah. Keep doing what you’re doing. I, I, I mean, you, you just took off and you really found a, a nice, a nice niche.

Michael Jamin:
It’s surprising.

Bryan Behar:
It’s surprising. Yeah. I hope it, I hope it sells your book because that’s, uh, mean, but I mean, you’re doing great stuff. I, I’m sorry I didn’t see your, your, your your performance, but I will the next time.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I should, I’ll give it a plug, but I wanna make sure I, I get your plugs also your sub stack. What’s, what’s the URL for that? Again,

Bryan Behar:
I think that’s just my name as well. Uh, it’s beder dott stack.com. And

Michael Jamin:
You have, you have so many.

Bryan Behar:
You also find by any of my back articles on, uh, huffington post.com or medium.com by typing in my, the, uh, the name I just gave you.

Michael Jamin:
Go follow Brian, everyone.

Bryan Behar:
He’s a real hoo. He’s

Michael Jamin:
A oh, he’s a hoo. Um, and, and that’s it. Remember to sign up. Let me, I plug, this is where I plug everything. I do sign up for my free newsletter@michaeljam.com slash watchlist where I give away tips every take

Bryan Behar:
You over the world

Michael Jamin:
Got every Friday I take over the world. And then, of course, if you wanna see me tour on with my show, if you’re whatever city you’re in, go to michael jam.com/upcoming or touring. Brian, we just got back from Boston.

Bryan Behar:
You’re like a Speedwagon. This is Fanta <laugh>. Why don’t I get hired? I have all the current reference

Michael Jamin:
<laugh> have, all my references are fresh. Uh, yeah. Michael jam.com/upcoming. And, uh, and that’s it. You can go, you check up, uh, you follow me on, on Instagram and, and TikTok at Michael Jamin, writer and Facebook, if you know what Facebook is, if anyone knows what that is. All right, everyone. Brian, thank you again so much for joining me. And, and don’t go anywhere. I’m

Bryan Behar:
Thanks.

Phil Hudson:
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. 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 @PhilAHudson. 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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