046 – John Vorhaus (Comic Toolbox, Married… with Children)

John Vorhaus is best known as the author of The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not. This seminal book on writing comedy for television and film is now available in four languages, and continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for writers from Santa Monica to Scandinavia.

An international consultant in television and film script development, Vorhaus has worked for television networks, film schools, and production companies in 30 countries on four continents.

Vorhaus’ own screenwriting credits include Married… with Children, Head of the Class, The Sentinel, The Flash and many overseas television shows and films, including the sitcoms House Arrest and Pretty, Sick and Twisted, and the movie Save Angel Hope.

John is also the author of the six-volume Killer Poker series, plus miscellaneous other books on the subject, including the novel Under the Gun, a “how-to whodunit” set in the world of high stakes tournament poker. His other novels include The California Roll and its upcoming sequel, The Albuquerque Turkey.

Vorhaus is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University and a member of the Writers Guild of America. He has taught writing at Northwestern University and the American Film Institute, and lectured for such disparate groups as Mensa and the New Jersey Romance Writers Association.

Discover more about John at his website: http://johnvorhaus.com

Follow John on Twitter: @TrueFactBarFact

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

038 – Kristin Newman (Chuck, That 70’s Show)

Comedy writer Kristin Newman spent almost 10 years writing on very well-known comedies, and had her own pilot shot and picked up to series (though not aired). She now brings her talents to a one-hour drama, on NBC’s Chuck.

Kristin Newman got an early break, with a production staff job on Everybody Loves Raymond. She graduated to writer’s assistant on Nikita, Mad About You, and That 70s Show.

She ended up stuck in the 70s (in a good way!) for the next seven years, rising up from staff writer to supervising producer. Moving on to How I Met Your Mother as co-executive producer, she also landed an overall deal at Fox … which was unfortunately cut short when the 2007 writers strike happened.

Because of an injury, Kristin was not able to walk the picket lines. What could she do? She wrote the pilot Single With Parents, which was shot with Alyssa Milano and Beau Bridges, and picked up to series … though it unfortunately never aired.

Then came NBC’s Chuck. She entered the staff as co-executive producer in its fourth season, and is currently breaking the series finale. Make sure to watch the final season, when Chuck returns on Friday, October 28th!

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

025 – Karey Dornetto (Portlandia, Community)

Comedy writer & stand-up comic Karey Dornetto has worked on all kinds of comedy shows, from sketch to traditional sitcom, and many in between.


The daughter of a military professor and an ex-nun, Karey was headed for a life of financial trading before taking the plunge to join the sketch comedy group The Perch, in Charlotte, NC. Still working in finance, she moved to New York and began to perform stand-up comedy.

In New York, she wrote a story called “Fat Basketball Diaries” for the online magazine, Girlcomic.net. This story would prove to be a major turning point for her, as the response to the story convinced her she could become a writer. It also helped her land management in L.A., and her first TV writing gig, on South Park.

Moving to Los Angeles, Karey landed gig after gig on a wide variety of comedy shows, such as The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Dog Bites Man, Arrested Development, Community, and her current show, Portlandia. She has a lot of great stories about her path through the industry, as well as her experiences with the different comedy and writing styles.

For more information and writing samples, visit her website at kareydornetto.com.

Follow Karey on Twitter: @KareyDornetto

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

024 – Courtney Lilly (The Cleveland Show, My Boys)

Comedy writer Courtney Lilly has only been in Hollywood 11 years, and yet has had tremendous success on a number of well-known sitcoms, including Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, My Boys, and The Cleveland Show. You’re going to love his story!


Working as a journalist on the east coast, Courtney Lilly decided pretty quickly that journalism was not for him. He knew nothing about TV writing, but read everything he could about it, and got accepted to the Nickelodeon Fellowship’s first year, in 2000.

After staffing on the animated show Invader ZIM, Courtney tells how he ended up as an assistant to a lawyer in Encino. Though it seemed like he was far from his goal, he shares how “prepared luck” landed him an influential manager, who helped him land a staff gig on Arrested Development.

From there, Courtney goes into great detail about time on Arrested Development, Everybody Hates Chris, My Boys, and his current show, the Family Guy animated spinoff, The Cleveland Show.

He gives a lot of great tips on breaking in, including the wisdom: “Everyone takes bets … you might as well bet on yourself!”

Follow Courtney on Twitter: @CourtneyLilly

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Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.

005 – Emmy Winning Comedy Writer Rob Kutner

He’s won 5 Prime Time Emmys, a Grammy, a Peabody, and a Television Critics’ Association Award, and was even named a “SuperJew” by Time Out New York. No, he doesn’t have superpowers, but that hasn’t stopped comedy writer Rob Kutner from writing over 1000 episodes of great comedy shows The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Dennis Miller Live.

Oh, and did we mention that he’s a best-selling author too? His recent satirical end-of-times bestseller Apocalypse How: Turn the End Times into the Best of Times! is one of the top 100 parodies at Amazon.com. Click image to play video; more details are below.


You’ll love hearing how he got his comedy start as the only Jewish kid in a Christian kindergarten class… How studies at Princeton led to him being deported from Uzbekistan… How Dennis Miller gave him his first break… and all his tips for getting in to comedy writing.

Rob recommends several books in the podcast — you can find them all, including his book “Apocalypse How,” in the TV Writer Podcast mini-Amazon store. Please CLICK HERE to support the podcast by buying books through the mini-store, or CLICK HERE to browse Amazon.com’s whole catalog.

Rob also takes the time to answer many fan questions that came in over Twitter… You can follow him at @ApocalypseHow.

Buy Gray’s book for only $4.99! Look for it on Amazon – How To Break In To TV Writing: Insider Interviews.

Didn’t get your questions asked? Make sure you follow Gray on Twitter (@GrayJones) so you can get the scoop on who is being interviewed and how to get your questions in. Also check out our TV Writer Twitter Database to find Twitter addresses for over 1,000 TV writers. Find our previous episodes and other resources at www.tvwriterpodcast.com or on Gray’s YouTube channel.