I thought a post on the original Crackle series The Writers Room would be a nice complement to my last post on 30 Rock. The Writers Room, which debuted in 2008 is what you would get if you distilled 30 Rock down to just the scenes in the writer’s room and shot it with a handheld camera. And took out all the humor. No, I’m kidding. Sort of. But there is an episode of Louie, where a group of writers has been gathered to doctor a screenplay, which packs more humor into 2-3 minutes that this web show exhibits in its whole pilot. I’m sure that its writers would say that’s because I just don’t get it.
The scribes of the web series work for a sketch comedy show hosted by Kevin Pollack (as himself). You may not know the name Kevin Pollack, but you’ve seen him. See? An interesting twist of this is that all of the writers play themselves.
The pilot takes place as two new recruits have joined the room. As the group is muddling through various ideas for new sketches the network’s Vice President of Late Night, Frank (actor/writer/producer Frank Conniff) drops by.
Frank regales them with a piece of advice that seems to be the message-of-show, the bane of the writers’ existence: “You may think something is funny, I may think something is funny, they may think something is funny, everyone in the audience may think it’s funny… that doesn’t mean it’s right for this show.”
A lot of the show’s humor arises from the writers’ eagerness to please the star, who they speak to only on the phone, and, apparently, his lack of appreciation for humor that’s actually funny. So maybe The Writers Room is funny by not being funny.
The plot of the pilot is about the two new guys’ attempt to pitch a good sketch. I missed their names, even on repeat viewings, because Frank talks over them, which I guess is mildly amusing. One pitches an idea based on a real life embarrassing incident from the life of the other. They end up having to decide which is more important, their careers or their friendship. We aren’t given much chance to like the characters, though, or care about their friendship.
Being a web series, the show has to work within strict confines, including using just one set, so it really isn’t fair to compare it to 30 Rock. But 30 Rock draws its writer characters much more vividly, more quickly, in its pilot. On a side note, why is it that TV writer stories always revolve around sketch comedy shows? I would think writers of other genres would be just as funny.