Experience: Creator, executive producer, and writer, Up All Night (NBC); writer, Saturday Night Live (NBC); writer, Parks and Recreation (NBC); writer, King of the Hill (FOX); writer, MADtv (FOX)
Advice: "Cultivate your unique voice and POV. The more you can incorporate the 'unique you' in your writing, the better.
"When I first started in basic classes at The Groundlings comedy theater in L.A., I was young and green, and wrote generic, mediocre comedy concepts. My first director, Cathy Shambley, drilled me constantly: Write what you know! Be specific! The more 'you' you infuse into your piece, the better. I slowly learned to do that, and began to hear laughter.
"Cultivating my creative POV helped me land my first job at MADtv and with my southern background, I became invaluable on King of the Hill. When I got to Saturday Night Live, I wrote one of my favorite pieces ever. It starred Billy Bob Thornton and Will Ferrell; Billy Bob played a troubled Southern man who'd carved out a tiny four-foot-by-four-foot area in his tiny back yard but was completely stumped on what to do with it. His friends and family worried about him because his obsession with this little area was ruining his life.
"On Up All Night, I wrote an episode where Reagan and Chris drink too much and accidentally buy a 1970s fantasy van from eBay. This ep was directly culled from my life. When my husband and I were living in a tiny apartment in New York City (about the size of Billy Bob's small fenced in area from my SNL sketch) we drank too much one Friday night and almost won a 1973 Gremlin with Levi denim interior off eBay. Thank God we didn't meet the reserve price.
"My Parks and Recreation episode was about the snotty citizens of Pawnee's neighboring town of Eagleton. Parker Posey's character, Eagleton's Lindsay Carlisle Shay was based on the girls I went to high school with that stayed in my home town, lots of money, never left. Forever judgemental."