Chapter

The Scarce Comedy-ty: Writing for TV Sitcoms r. (

] After Twenty-five Consecutive Years of being a majority of the top t twenty TV programs, the sitcom format fell into disfavor in the early- to | mid-eighties. The finger pointing was contagious: "Humor is not designed to command the depths of people's attention," claimed Sheldon Leonard. | "The public's just sick of your product," wrote another critic. "Comedy has become too predictable. They want violence, mayhem, sex, and glamour."

Comedy writers who used to greet each other, "What a silly job being ' a sitcom writer—you're making how much?" were now asking, "I don't [ care if it is silly, where can I get a writing job?"

In 1985, without a six-gun or a screeching tire, the hero rode into town. His name, Bill Cosby. His family-oriented sitcom raised the con-' sciousness of comedy and, in one year, the program broke total viewing and advertising records for a regular program.

Success bred change. The networks did another flip-flop (which | might be better termed a successful flip) and twenty-nine sitcoms again dominated the next year's schedules. There were at least three every night of the week.

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