I'd let people convince me that becoming a comedy writer was a far-fetched dream — but now I am one
From the moment I was old enough for people to start asking me what I wanted to do with my life, I got used to the way they’d try to politely knock me down. A combination of having an immediate, lifelong connection to writing, being obsessed with TV, and finding myself addicted to the ego boost that came from being told I was funny led to my dream of becoming a comedy writer for TV. It was an admission that was always met with some form of, “Oh wow, that’s a tough industry to get into! Do you have a backup plan?”
I got so used to the way people would try and react positively while also expressing their doubts, that eventually I built a concession into my answer about what I wanted to do.
It felt better to beat them to their reaction. And the truth was, I thought they were right. I had lived my entire life in rural Ohio. I was a soon-to-be first-generation college graduate attending a state school in Cleveland, and I certainly didn’t have any connections in the industry. On paper, it wasn’t exactly the makings of someone you’d place your bets on.
In college, I enrolled in a general film and television program with a curriculum that gave me a broad idea of the technical side of video production, but barely touched upon the writing that I so desperately wanted to master. After graduation, the video production rental house that I had been working at part-time took me on full-time. I was lucky to have a job in Cleveland using my degree in any capacity, but felt no closer to my career goals.
Still, a job was a job, and in the grand scheme of things, mine was good. I learned a ton, developed new skills, and was lucky enough to call my coworkers my friends. But no amount of perks could stop that nagging feeling in the back of my mind, telling me I needed to plan my next step. At the time, I had no idea what that next step was. But in June of last year, I got the first glimmer of it.
A new email sat in my office’s shared inbox, and it was from the production coordinator on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
He wanted to hire us to assist with an upcoming shoot that Full Frontal was planning in Cleveland. I told my coworkers in no uncertain terms that I had to be part of that crew.
Flash forward a few weeks.
That one shoot turned into getting asked to work with them again when the show came back to Cleveland for the RNC, which turned into coming with them to Philly to work with them during the DNC, which turned into going out to drinks with the staff one night and confessing my dreams of working in TV. Much to my surprise, nobody laughed at me, or told me it would never happen, or asked me what my backup plan was.
But an entire lifetime of being told that working in TV was too far-fetched had trained me to question the very notion. These people who worked on a dream show were encouraging me to throw myself in, wholeheartedly. They said to make my dream a reality.
They promised they’d throw work my way when possible, but there was no formal job offer, no promise of stability. I told myself there was no way I could possibly leave my steady, full-time job in Cleveland to go searching for something in NYC.
I called my boyfriend to talk about my night, recounting the conversation I’d had, and expecting him to agree that the idea was ludicrous. Instead, without hesitation, he said to me, “You have to do it.”
My boyfriend’s sentiments were echoed by my family and closest friends, who agreed that I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity — whatever it was. It was in that very moment when I realized that the people who knew me well had full faith in me. The people who had warned me that my dreams were risky and unattainable weren’t really looking for out for my best interests — at all.
About a month from that day, pushing through what had been some of the most challenging few weeks of my life, I moved to Brooklyn and started regularly freelancing and working part-time for Full Frontal.
Then, at the beginning of the year, I was made a full-time member of Full Frontal‘s digital team, where I get to help pitch and execute original video concepts for the web.
Eventually, with some persistence, I got to publish some of my writing on the show’s social media channels.
If you told me a year ago that I’d be where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I love my job. I’m so honored to work on a show that I’m truly a fan of, all while in the company of so many amazingly talented people. But I must admit, thanks to impostor syndrome, I still find myself overcome with feelings of inadequacy from time to time.
Why didn’t I move sooner? Why haven’t I achieved more by now? I especially felt this way when I first started. I should have felt like I was moving in the right direction, but instead I was frustrated for being “behind.”
As bothersome as those thoughts are, that nagging feeling is what keeps me driven. This nagging feeling is what brought me from Ohio to New York. It’s what led me to get over the fear of rejection and start publishing my writing online. This nagging feeling, I hope, is what will keep me moving and focused until I get a staff writing job on a show. And maybe, one day, I’ll be a showrunner.
This nagging feeling may follow me through the rest of my life, and I’m learning to embrace it.