Would This Make a Good Sitcom?

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Would This Make a Good Sitcom?

By Jeff McHugh

Successful radio shows use a precise filter to determine what goes on the air and what does not. If you think about it, successful producers of television series, motion pictures and plays are very selective about what gets green-lighted.

It is helpful for some to apply the “would this make a good sitcom” filter in their content preparation process. To use it, imagine that an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” or a non-sitcom show like “Empire” were based on one of these recent radio show topics.

Canned Food Drive (or any charity drive) Hmmm. This may be a good cause, but it is hard to imagine Ross and Rachel doing this on “Friends,” unless Marcel the monkey began stealing canned food, or if Rachel the chef turned away donations because of culinary standards.

What did you fight over in a divorce or breakup? Yes! It is easy to imagine that if Phil and Claire split up, their disagreements would quickly turn comically petty over enough small issues to easily fill a 60-minute episode.

A new gasoline tax makes the news in your city. By itself, this may be an interesting headline, but in order for it to make a good “Simpsons” episode, Homer would react and do something extreme, like designing his own outrageous strange car that runs on flatulence.

Blind Dates Gone Bad. What if Meredith on “Grey’s Anatomy” moved past her mourning over deceased husband, Derek, and got set up on a blind date? Think of the many ways could that go wrong and lead to laughs, emotions, embarrassments and drama.

Use our hashtag to get us ranked higher on Twitter. Could Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer make that idea funny? Probably not, but we heard a top-three US market morning show investing a lot of airtime on that idea this week. What is in that idea for the listener?

A list of In-And-Out Burger secret menu items. Visualize Cookie on “Empire” reading a list of different burger topping combinations out loud to Lucious and … yeah, no. Avoiding dry lists is one good rule of thumb, and focusing on “stories, not stuff” is another. (A list of food is “stuff.”)

A drunk guy has a nine year old drive him to the store for barbecue sauce. Yes, Peter Griffin of “Family Guy” could conceivably ask baby Stewie or even Brian the dog to be his DD after being over-served with Pawtucket Brewery beer. What could go wrong?

When you are planning your show, try using the “would it make a good sitcom” filter to consider whether the premise that you have in mind is worthy of a whole segment, multiple segments, only a headline mention, or not worthy of airtime at all.

Photo Credit: Flickr.com/Boudewijn Bollmann

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