Comedy is probably one of the genres that I enjoy the most. There is just something about how a joke gets crafted that interests me so deeply. I often enjoy listening to writers and comedians explain the mindset that they have when they thought of a specific part of their standup set or a scene in a movie or an episode on TV. The process is what I often look for more than the actual joke itself. There’s a bit of attention that’s given a line that elicits a reaction from the audience.
I’m not super picky when it comes to what form of comedy I enjoy. The easiest for me is an episode of a sitcom. You have to tell a complete story while also adding jokes into the dialogue. There are so many different sitcoms that I have seen that have jokes every few minutes. It’s hard to fit in your sensibilities into a character. You have to consider who the character is before you write a joke in their voice. Standup comedians know how to weave a story that’s rooted in real life but also finds the humor in it. But the execution of it is written in their voice.
While I do enjoy how certain standup comics write and perform their jokes, there’s something about writing for another person’s voice that interests me. It’s similar to writing for a sitcom. You are a part of a team and you take into the person that will be telling your jokes. Most of the time, a writer’s room for a sitcom or late night talk show are similar in structure. They tend to write pieces on their own. But every material gets read aloud by the head writers and the rest of the writing staff. Writers’ rooms are often very collaborative. While you may be the person who thought of the idea, your fellow writers are willing to help you punch up your material.
One person who has spent his time around writers’ rooms is Billy Kimball. He first started his career as part of the writing staff of the HBO sketch comedy series Not Necessarily the News. It’s basically a parody of a newscast that’s similar to The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. It’s closer to the form of SNL where there are different bits throughout the show but it’s in the context of a normal newscast. Billy then went on to host a comedic quiz show called Clash! The show aired for two seasons, one on Ha! and another on Comedy Central which replaced Ha!
After that he went on to write an episode of Seinfeld. He was also a staff writer for the sitcom LateLine starring former senator Al Franken. He then became then served as an executive producer and writer for the iteration of the CBS late night talk show The Late Late Show that was hosted by Craig Kilborn. He wrote for a lot of different award shows and specials from 1992 to 2012.
It’s amazing how much work Billy Kimball has done throughout his whole career. But it didn’t stop there. From 2007 to 2014, he had a few writing credits for the animated series The Simpsons. His last major credit as a television writer was for the HBO comedy series Veep. Billy served as a consulting producer for the show before being bumped up to supervising producer and co-executive producer. He has also written three episodes of the series.
He doesn’t seem to have any new credits from what I could tell. Or maybe his IMDb page hasn’t been updated yet? Still, he has a fairly decent resume when it comes to writing for different series. It’s hard to involve your sensibilities to a show that is already established. It’s a balancing act that many people can do. Billy Kimbal probably has amassed a net worth of about $1,600,000.
Considering that he has been involved with so many different projects, he seems to be somebody that knows exactly to adapt his writing and sensibilities for a certain voice. It’s insane that he has jumped from one format to another but he still manages to have consistent work up to a point.