The Future of Sitcoms: New Yorker Festival 6 October 2012

I had missed the Punch Brothers interview/music on Friday night. And it turned out that I was going to miss the Portlandia panel on Sunday because of still being sick. But I dragged myself out of bed and into the city to see Period Acting and The Future of Sitcoms panels at The New Yorker Festival.

rtb and I walked up from the first panel at 37th Street up to the Director’s Guild Theater on 57th Street. In the lobby downstairs were free wine and Turkish appetizers – tiny pitas with teeny falafel and teeny tiny dollop of sauce on top. The first panel had free ice cream outside.

Turns out that if I really wanted to learn about the future of sitcoms this was not the place. It was a fun and funny discussion, but it was about the present of sitcoms. Which I think I already know about. Or how to become a sitcom showrunner. Which I don’t really want to do.

As a prize I did get to see Regis and Joy in the audience.

Emily Nussbaum was the moderator and I enjoy her writing so I was looking forward to how she was going to handle this panel. Greg Garcia (Raising Hope and My Name is Earl), Nahnatchka Khan (Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23), Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Office, Saturday Night Live), and Mike White (Enlightened) were the interviewees.




They started out slowly with White being funny just by thinking of an answer. He’s the new generation’s Don Knotts with his big-eyed surprise and stuttering, although he lacks Knotts’ misplaced grand self-confidence and assurance.

One of the biggest laughs for me was when the panel was asked if they asked themselves where the women and the non-white people were in the writers’ room and Khan said she asks herself that when she enters any room. There’s a feeling I know all too well. An audience member (well-dressed UES older woman) said she was writing comedy before any of them were born and she said she did not understand why everyone thought Louis CK was funny. CK’s name was brought up several times. Schur said CK is sometimes mentioned as the future of sitcoms but that’s not true because there is only one Louis CK and no one else can do what he does. All of the panelists agreed on finding CK funny and agreeing that he was not for everyone.

This was an interesting panel but I didn’t come away from it feeling like I learned something new and fascinating.

By Carene Lydia Lopez