Pilot Inspektor

My old friend

Last week was Reading Week.  While many students take the week as an opportunity to spend their parents money on cheap vacations down south, I believe I have spent every Reading Week I’ve ever had working.  This year was no exception, except that I didn’t get paid for it.  Unless you consider experience payment.  And I do.  So I did.  I guess. Get paid. What? Gah.

What I’m trying to say is… I spent half of my reading week working/interning as a Production Assistant on a pilot for what will hopefully become a television show for the Comedy Network starring stand-up comedian Tim Steeves.

This guy.

The whole experience was really quite interesting as the only experience I’ve ever had with television, apart from watching copious amounts of it as a child and teen, was going to a taping of The Ron James Show earlier this year, and taking a tour of NBC Studios when I visited New York a few years back.  It was neat to get to see the inside of the CTV Masonic Temple, to see the place go from an empty stage and space, into the Tim Steeves project – an idea that’s gone as far as it possibly can before actually making it onto television.

They did teach us about the process of pitching television pilots at Humber, but there’s no doubt something more tangible about working on the real deal.

Over the week, my tasks included:

  • several coffee runs
  • discussing the huge importance of Twitter in our day-to-day lives
  • waiting
  • sitting
  • salivating over deli corned beef sandwiches (and pickles… oh HEAVENS, those pickles…)
  • standing-in for the host/panelists on the stage for the camera-operators (FUN!)
  • assembling IKEA chairs
  • coffee runs
  • sitting
  • waiting
  • drinking water
  • sitting
  • waiting
  • seat-filling during the taping
  • recycling stuff
  • hanging out with the Luke, Rachel & Eli.
  • escorting guests to the Green Room …

(Huzzah for Canadian talent!)


What an ultimately thrilling experience!  It’s funny how even sitting and waiting are made that much more exciting when you’re in a TV studio.

This little taste of DOING TV Comedy was delicious and I hunger for more.  Much much more.

Chomp chomp.

Know Everything About Everything

This is another post that’s several weeks in the making, but I wanted to make sure to put it out there before I go into more detail about those two days I spent working on a TV pilot for The Comedy Network because, in the end, it all goes back to one Mr. Jake Labow, Manager of Original Programming at CTV Globe Media/The Comedy Network and proprietor of shiny Nike sneakers.

Jake "my sneakers are shinier than yours" Labow

Labow’s an über-successful Humber Comedy alumni who came to speak to us at one of our “Prime Time” seminars.  I attended both last year and this year and the message I retain remained the same: work your ass off… and harass Rick Mercer, if necessary.

Factoid I found on the interwebs->  Labow made the decision to go into comedy while in the Amazon setting up medical clinics – he initially had wanted to become a doctor.   I like hearing about these stories because they help justify the decisions made by people like me who were originally on one path and decided to make the shift into lala-land.

I’ll spare you Labow’s entire biography and instead send you to this local story that pretty much sums everything up nicely: Doctor of Comedy.

Somewhere in there, people are saving lives!

What I will say is that Jake Labow is a do-er, there’s no doubt about that.  He was managing a comedy club while still studying at Humber, getting to know the ins and outs of the business hands even before graduating.  That work ethic, that drive seems to be what got him to where he is today.  On top!

Labow’s advice about the industry: know everything about everything.

His observations about the social atmosphere in the comedy subculture: Everyone gets down on themselves and shits on everyone else.  Why not work together?”   Partnerships are key. (And they are!)

His tips on how to make it in the biz:  Be funny.  (Makes sense.)  Keep working at it and make it your focus.  “You can’t have any distractions.”  (Now here’s where, in the past – people have been known to tell us not to get involved in romantic relationships (because God forbid any comedian should find happiness in any ‘normal’ social convention!   Labow’s clarification:  If you are involved, your partner will have to realize that this is what you WANT and still be cool with it – with the lifestyle it breeds.)

Here are some of Labow’s tips on how to get more work:

  • Don’t be lazy
  • Take more courses
  • Find good acting teachers
  • Always evolve

By April, he suggests we all:

  • Have a resume
  • Have a job – anything, to help keep us alive while trying to be comics
  • Look for an agent
  • Do LOTS of shows
  • WRITE (Like the Dickens!) Spec scripts, show bibles, you name it!
  • Check out literary agencies
  • Create your own opportunities
  • Be the creative force that drives others around you.

Why am I still blogging?  I should be out right now!  (No wait, it’s Saturday morning…  I can just keep writing.)

She's gonna be all sorts of sweaty by the time she gets to wherever she's going.

Some of us had the added treat of getting to meet with Labow for a one-on-one after the presentation – He’s ambitious as he is encouraging.  When discussing my future prospects, my goals for a career in comedy, he took what I said and kicked it up a notch:

“Why not try for the Daily Show?  You know the head writer for the Daily Show is Canadian, right?”

Touché Jake.  Goal = set.