What if the showrunner wants to put tired, old jokes to his or her show? Are you supposed to do what’s best for the show or do what the showrunner wants for their vision? Okay. First of all, you never shoot down a joke under any writer pitches, unless you have like two or three better ones to pitch on top of that. That’s just really poor form. You don’t crap on something without having a better suggestion. Now, how do you know your joke is better? Well, if you pitch it in the room and it gets a big laugh, it’s probably better. Not always though. Sometimes your joke might not be right for the character. It might be against the story. But it’s just a good way of judging. If then you picture three jokes and the showrunner still wants to do their terrible, tired, old joke in the script. Well, guess what? It’s their show. They got it on the air. They get to do whatever they want.

It’s their vision. Your job as a writer on a show, no matter how high up you are, whether you’re co-executive producer, or staff writer way at the bottom, your job isn’t to make the best show. Your job is to make the best version of the show that the showrunner wants to make. And that’s subjective, of course, but if you do anything short of that, you’re going to get fired and justifiably so, because your job is not to argue with the showrunner, your job is to support the showrunner.

Good question. Thank you for sending it in. For more on what it’s like to be a working television writer and how to break into the business, please follow me. Like, comment, share. If you’re doing all that YouTube stuff that they tell you to do, please do all that here. That helps me out. Thank you. @MichaelJaminWriter.

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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