How I Met “How I Met…”

When I arrived in good ol’ Hollywood, CA the second time (land of imported palm trees, background artists and dreams that can be purchased at a mark-up!  Cue Al Jolson!) I was trying to break into situation comedy writing, or as we in the know call it, half-hour.  (Hyphen mandatory.)  I took an invaluable class at Improv Olympic West, taught by Michael McCarthy.  (One member of our class went on to write for NBC’s 30 Rock.  Um, it wasn’t me.  She’s w-a-y funnier.  And w-a-y better looking.)  Anyway, Michael was a fascinating and funny teacher, I wrote specs of Will & Grace and Scrubs, visited the Hollywood Farmer’s Market before classes on Sunday mornings, and made good friends.


Swim, Ted, swim! Don't let the shark get you!

One of those good friends is my friend Jason, and we went to a Paley Center (then still the Museum of Television & Radio) festival event for a little-known CBS show with ungainly title of How I Met Your Mother.  Jason watched the show regularly, and spec-ed it in class, and I was so thrilled to go to an event in the DGA Building I would’ve gone to a festival event celebrating Emily’s Reasons Why Not.  We listened to the young and humble funny cast and creators, and after the legen-(wait for it!)-dary “Pineapple Incident” episode, I was hooked.  (You can watch that terrific half-hour here:


What about the damn pineapple?!

Since then, I’ve felt oddly proprietary about HIMYM.  The co-creators were rookie show-runners, they had left the East Coast for La-La Land around the same time I did (them from Letterman, me from a law firm), and we kept having encounters with them:  Saw Carter Bays hiking at Runyon.  Jason went to a party that Colbie Smulders was at.  Josh Radynor used to frequent a coffee shop I frequented.  It all seemed so attainable!

We reveled in the good episodes (please bring back Ashley Williams; there’s really no one cuter on TV) and winced at the truly horrid moments (Wayne Brady as Barney’s never-before-seen black half-brother?!  The only thing I can think of is Wayne Brady had compromising photos of Julie Chen).  But they were young, they were writers…  it was the little show that could.  We rooted for the show.

I even spec-ed the show myself, after my time at IO West.  In my episode the B-story was Barney provoking two strippers into a cat-fight, and thanks to a very good friend, I got it into the hands of a Disney TV executive.  She promptly explained this was “way too mean” for Barney and CBS.  I still don’t agree with her, but I rewrote the episode.  She left Disney for a cabin in the woods and a jar of Xanax, I left Hollywood for a temporary sabbatical in a windowless office in Jersey.  I’m still debating who got the better deal.  (She got mouse ears.)

Last night I watched the show with my sister Francesca (a fan) and my parents (they prefer The Big Bang Theory).  And, thankfully, it was one of the best episodes in a long time.  I’ve always maintained the show doesn’t work when it veers away from its central story (it’s a half-hour with the spine of a real episodic drama), and that’s usually true, but this one was funny.  Even if Barney steals the show these days, it’s nice to still root for this group of folks who came to L.A. when I did.

If you want to read my spec (titled ‘Eight Million People’), you may do so here, at my new web site:



2 Responses to “How I Met “How I Met…””

  1. Tommy Says:

    I was hoping the climax of this story would involve you selling the script and finally getting somewhere or you ending up in a hot tub with Neil Patrick Harris….please tell me one of these actually happened.

  2. thiswaytotheegress Says:

    My stories don’t climax. Wait, what?

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