Emily Spivey is a screenwriter and producer who has written and produced for Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family. She also developed her own shows, Up All Night on NBC and Bless the Harts on Fox. She graduated from UNCG with a BA in film and television studies and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with an MFA in Screenwriting.
What were you like as a teen?
My goal was always to be funny. My first memories were of wanting to write comedy and memorizing Gilda and Jan Hooks sketches.
Did you have an un-sexy starter job?
I was a “runner” for a post-production facility in the late 1990s. We made every music star you’ve ever heard of from that era look like a million bucks. This was before you could do all these special effects on your phone. Basically, my job was making cappuccinos and fetching sandwiches from Bay Cities in Santa Monica.
What do you consider to be your biggest comedy achievement to date?
My years at SNL and running a table at SNL.
When you were coming up in comedy, what helped you stick with it?
My unbridled, freakish obsession with performing and writing comedy.
Have you ever dealt with trolls?
Are you kidding me? YES. The best revenge is getting your stuff on the air and hearing laughter.
On your deathbed, what transcendent advice would you croak at a young comedian?
Never let anyone tell you “you can’t do it.” Cause that’s total bulls*&%.
Best comedy advice you ever got?
WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!
Worst comedy advice you ever got?
Mmmmm… A male writer told me that SA jokes were funny once (in the early 2000s) after I objected to one he pitched. He’s dead now. JK, he’s still very much alive. But I wish.
How has being funny helped you in your life?
It became my armor when I was a chubby middle schooler.
What specific things do you think a comedy writer should do to shape their voice?
Look around you and take note of what tickles you in a journal or sketch notebook.
Don’t be afraid to make simple observations and tell simple stories with your work.
Honing your point of view is the most important thing in the world when it comes to comedy.
Don’t be afraid to make hay of your vulnerabilities. Being vulnerable is a brave thing. And so important for comedy.
Was there one person who inspired you to go into comedy?
Lorne Michaels. Gilda. Jan Hooks. Jan showed me that you could do Southern humor without it being mocking. Lorne gave them a platform and me a platform and I love him and he made all my dreams come true. Also, Maya, Poehler, Dratch, Paula Pell, James Anderson, Tina Fey and Harper Steele.
Do you have a writing routine?
I journal every day.
What is your go-to movie?
What single word always cracks you up?