Writing for a TV show is one of the greatest jobs in the world. You get to sit around all day trying to make your friends laugh. You get to tell attractive people what to say and do. And, look at that, you make a ton of money in the process. Not bad, right?
Well, it’s also an incredibly stressful job where you’re only as good as your last idea and you’re constantly trying to prove yourself to everyone around you. That’s why lunch in the writers’ room is so vital. It’s the first break in the day and a chance to recharge your batteries before you go back into the joke trenches and mine for comedy gold.
Since it’s Comedy Week here at Food Republic, we reached out to comedy writers on shows across the dial to find out about their lunchtime experiences.
J.J. Philbin is consulting producer on Fox’s The New Girl. Here’s what she had to say about lunch:
It starts at 10 a.m. when the menu gets passed around. The talk is usually angry then. Whatever restaurant we’re going to, we talk about how much we hate it, how sick we got the last time we ate there, how miserable we are at the thought of eating there. Once our order goes in, we start the discussion of when it will arrive. We are so hungry. So desperately hungry. We could go into the kitchen and get a snack, but then we’d ruin what is surely going to be the best meal of our lives.
Around 12:30 p.m., when at least one of us is threatening to faint, we hear “Rustle” — the sound of food delivery bags rustling as they come down the hallway. One of us peeks outside to see if it really is Rustle. It’s a false alarm — it’s lunch for the editing team down the hall. This news is devastating. We try to distract ourselves by working on story or punching jokes, but really we’re wondering if we’re going to make it until Rustle without one of us dying.
Finally, around 1 p.m., the real deal — the real Rustle — comes down the hall. Finally, we are eating, but still, we are not happy. The air is thick with regret. The people who ordered salads are wishing they had ordered sandwiches. They had no idea how hungry they would be back at 10 a.m. when they ordered; now there’s no way a salad will be satisfying. The people who ordered sandwiches are groaning because they are too full. They could wrap up half the sandwich and save it for later, but they will not do that. They will eat the whole sandwich and then, later, when they make a bad pitch, they will blame the sandwich for making them so ill they cannot do their jobs.
Finally, around 1:30 p.m., the ordeal is over. We shove 17 empty containers into our one trashcan, which is the smallest trashcan in the history of trashcans. Inevitably a tower of waste will rise up out of the tiny trashcan, and for the rest of the day, we will walk by the tower, and be reminded of lunch, and what a failure it was for all of us, and we will vow that tomorrow we will order differently and earlier and we will not get a pizza for the table, because really it was the pizza that put us over the edge.
And once that discussion is over, once we’ve really put the lunch thing to bed, it will be time to start talking about dinner.