Sitting Down with Bill Lawrence, Creator of “Scrubs” and “Cougar Town”

Bill Lawrence InterviewQ. When did you realize you wanted to work in television?

A. I always wanted to be a comedian or a writer, even in high school. I think having a passion—ANY passion—at a young age is the ultimate gift.

Q. What advice do you have for college students who are looking to pursue the television industry?

A. There are two simple pieces of advice. First, if you want to be in the television industry, you must move to Los Angeles. There is no way around it. Secondly, you must make connections with people who are currently working in the industry. Don’t ask for a job, just ask to hear how they broke in. We all like to talk about ourselves. Bonus advice: if you’re a writer, write a lot. If you actually finish a script, you’re immediately ahead of 50 percent of the people who call themselves writers.

Q. What is something you wish someone told you about working in television?

A. I wish someone had told me to be more grateful along the way. When I was a kid, I complained about the hours, and didn’t realize at first how lucky I was to get paid to write comedy. I’m now grateful every day.

Q. What was your first job working in television? What did you learn from it?

A. My very first job was the staff writer on a short lived show called Billy. I learned immediately how temporary every job was.

Q. What is your writing process like?

A. My writing process is to wait until the very last second then finish the script. With pilots, I let them marinate in my head for a long time. I keep notes and joke ideas in little notebooks to help.

Q. How was your experience working on Scrubs and Cougar Town? What was your creative process like when you came up with the original concepts for both of those shows?

A. Scrubs was a great experience because it was the first show I did by myself, soup to nuts. I’m still friends with most of the people I worked with; it’s a cliché, but it felt like a family. Cougar Town was a blast, too, especially because I worked with my wife every day.

Q. How has it been working on Undateable? The live aspect this season has been so great; what challenges have you dealt with now that it’s live every week?

A. A half hour live comedy is only 24 pages long, and it still needs to have a coherent story and moments for all cast members. With all the improv, we use an elaborate computer system to let us know how we are doing on time, then shorten the show as we go.

Q. What shows made you fall in love with television? What shows are you currently loving?

A. I watch TV constantly. Everything. Veep, Narcos, Jessica Jones, whatever. MASH, Wonder Years, and Cheers are old favorites.

IMAGE TAKEN from hollywoodreporter.com