The intro to the book, The Sitcom Career Book is written by Henry Winkler and in it, he describes how he got the job of the Fonz:
“If you’re going to an audition, you can’t be right, you can’t be wrong. The producers might know exactly what they want, but most of the time they don’t. If you go with your instinct… just go with your muse… you can change their minds. I say that because I did. The Fonz was based on someone that Garry Marshall grew up with in the Bronx. As written on the page, the Fonz was much larger, much more imposing, much more Italian than I was. I never researched this character but I lived in New York City and knew these people. I just improvised. The person that read with me was standing. I made a decision that I was going to use the six lines that I had to make him sit down. That was my objective. He did. Now I was the only one standing in the room. Then I stayed in character, turned around, threw the script in the air and walked out of the room with my muse.”
That paragraph alone is worth the price of the book.
Mary Lou Belli and Phil Ramuno, two veteran sitcom directors, have written a book for anyone who wants try have a career in the half-hour world. They detail what happens on the set of a sitcom day-to-day – from the time you audition to the time you film the part.
From the script supervisor, costume coordinator and the writer & director anyone who plays an integral part in the creation of a show gets their due.
They also include information on salaries (although this is outdated now), unions, classes, sitcom terminology, contact information and exercises at the end of each chapter.
The highlight of the book? The anecdotes. Throughout, they have filtered little gems of the business from stars, casting directors, writers and directors of the sitcom world; Henry Winkler, Richard Lewis and Marc Hirshfeld to name a few.
I’ve been on the set of several sitcoms and this book would have been a great primer for my first time on a set.
If you’re a newer actor or writer and you’re looking to get into the sitcom world, The Sitcom Career Book would be a great place to start.