Welcome to the first installment of our three-part interview with writer Megan Ganz. A former assistant editor at The Onion and writer for Important Things With Demetri Martin, Ganz is now a writer for NBC’s hilarious weekly sitcom Community, which boasts an impressive ensemble of comedic actors (including Cineboobs crushes Joel McHale and Donald Glover, both of whom #cangetit).
These questions were crowdsourced from the Cineboobs writers. Thanks to Megan for playing! Follow her on Twitter.
photo courtesy of Megan Ganz
What are your influences, comedic and otherwise?
I read a lot growing up. Roald Dahl was the first thing I remember thinking was really good. And when I found The Onion, I thought the sky had split apart. In between there was The Marx Bros., Peanuts, Mad Magazine, SNL, TGIF, Calvin and Hobbes, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby. I’ve watched a lot, a lot of comedy, and absorbed very little of it.
How did you jump from editorial to TV? And what lessons did you learn from working at The Onion that you’ve applied to writing for TV?
An agent at UTA heard me in a “This American Life” piece they did on The Onion. He told me how to get a packet together and write a spec. Took me a while to do either, because I wasn’t really looking to leave The Onion, but when I did I got offered a staff writing job on Demetri Martin’s show, and I moved to LA. And after that was done, I went out for TV staffing season for the first time, and got hired on Community.
The Onion taught me to have really high standards for jokes, and to be a joke machine. Two things that work against each other and make me insane. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the transfer, but it turns out a joke is a joke is a joke. And Final Draft is pretty easy to use.
Complete this sentence with a job, not an inanimate object. If you weren’t a writer, you’d be a: failure.
How do you write? Final Draft? Celtx? Yellow Legal Pad? Steaming up your bathroom mirror and writing with the tip of your finger, taking notes with your iPhone and transcribing later? No… that last one would be stupid.
I write ideas on my phone or in a notebook. When I’m breaking a story, I like writing in all caps on a dry erase board in lots of colors. I draw weird, repetitive patterns on legal pads when I’m trying to listen (at The Onion, I used to do sudokus constantly). And everything else I write on my laptop, alone, sitting in my bed. That’s the mechanics of the writing. As to the “how,” I can’t really say. There’s a reason I write alone: writing is a weird, antisocial, secret thing. At least it is for me.
The thing people don’t know about Megan Ganz but SHOULD know about Megan Ganz is: I’m not a very good interviewee? And now they know that. Problem solved. [Editor’s note: Blatantly untrue!]
Tell us about the one time in your life you most wished you didn’t have that allergy that you have.
Ha! You did your research. Or you talked to anyone who has ever talked to me, because I’ve probably told everyone I’ve met in the last couple years that I’m allergic to wheat. I try not to reminisce about it that much, because I do feel so much better now that I’m not eating it but… doughnuts. I miss doughnuts. I feel toward doughnuts the way I assume a mother must feel toward her dead child.
You hear a lot of stories about people in the business ending up in a career that they never expected they’d be in when they were starting out. Are you where you hoped to be career-wise?
I am. Well, actually I wanted to write for The Onion since I was 13, and that was my first job. I don’t think I’ve even processed that yet, and I’ve had two other jobs since then. I don’t have any expectations anymore because this is all gravy, really. I’m as bewildered as anybody about how that happened, but I try not to ask questions. Best not to rock the boat, I think.
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