How to Write a Great Sitcom Pilot Script with a Case Study of HBO's BARRY pilot

Hosted by David Shecter


On Demand Webinar - Available for immediate viewing and unlimited access.

Rating   | Read reviews

Start Learning

Please make sure you use the same email address as the one you use to sign in to Stage 32, otherwise you won't have access to your webinar.
apply Your coupon will be applied after you agree to terms below.

- or -

Overlay Icon

Satisfaction Rate:


David Shecter

Webinar hosted by: David Shecter


David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Watch This Exclusive Stage 32 Webinar Now And Receive The Pilot Script for HBO's Emmy-Winning Sitcom BARRY

The television landscape is constantly changing, with new technology, new networks, new trends, and new players. Yet a constant throughout the years has been the popularity of the situational comedy. From I LOVE LUCY all the way to ABBOT ELEMENTARY, there has always been an appetite for new sitcoms, funny stories and beloved characters to come back to week after week (or binge all at once). And in the last 10 years, the single camera sitcom like HBO's BARRY has become wildly popular. As a result, if you have great idea for a sitcom and a great pilot script to go with it, networks, streamers and reps are always going to be interested. But first you have to write that pilot. But you can't build a house without a blueprint. That's why it's so important to understand the sitcom pilot script on a fundamental level.

A written TV pilot is not something physically tangible. You're selling the network an idea, an episode, and, really, an entire series without ever shooting a single frame. That alone is an overwhelmingly huge task. This is why people often struggle writing a pilot script. Putting too much into the script, or not enough. Properly setting up the world. Getting your audience attached to your characters. Including enough jokes and still having a prominent story. All of these elements make crafting your sitcom pilot difficult and the overall process intimidating. Yet shining a light on the pilot process can help reduce the fear and better equip you when writing.

David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot.

David breaks down how to write a great sitcom pilot that can build your world, show your style, and appeal to both executives and audiences. He’ll give you tips on how to find your sitcom’s tone and decide where it lies on the comedy spectrum between comedy and drama. He’ll discuss the differences between premise-based and character-based sitcoms and teach you how to find the balance between jokes and story. Next David will delve into the proper structure of a sitcom pilot, looking at length, episodic vs. serialized and if commercial breaks are still a thing. He’ll give you tips on how to start writing your sitcom pilot and break down the anatomy of a sitcom scene. He’ll share tips on how to build effective sitcom characters and will finally teach you how to best establish your world through the pilot and how to pack everything neatly into your script.

David will even offer a deep dive of the pilot script for HBO's Emmy-nominated sitcom BARRY, analyzing why this script works. Everyone who signs up will receive a free download of this script.

David is excited to show you the proper tools so you can start building the world of your sitcom from the ground up with complete confidence and create a product that can help you find the success you’re looking for.

What You'll Learn

  • Understanding The Elusive Pilot
    • What is a pilot?
    • The history of pilots.
    • Reason for a pilot.
  • What Is the Tone of Your Sitcom?
    • Where does your show lie on the comedy spectrum?
    • Keeping your tone consistent
    • The tightrope balance between comedy and drama
  • Premise Based Vs. Character Based Sitcoms
    • Examples of both.
    • Making your pilot “personal.”
    • Advantages to both
  • Jokes vs. Story
    • Is there such a thing as too many jokes?
    • When to be funny and when not to.
  • Structure Of A Sitcom Pilot
    • Does length matter?
    • Are commercial breaks still a thing?
    • Episodic vs. serialized.
  • Writing Your Sitcom Pilot
    • How best to open
    • Establishing your thesis
    • Using your POV/voice.
  • The Anatomy Of A Scene
    • Beginning, middle, end.
    • Zeroing in on your emotional throughline
    • How to raise your stakes
  • Effective Characters
    • Common pitfalls to avoid falling into when building your characters
    • How to make your characters feel and sound real
  • Establishing Your World
    • Setting up future episodes/the series.
    • What details or scenes can you save for future episodes?
    • How to pack everything neatly into your script.
  • Case Study: BARRY pilot
    • David will dive into the pilot script for HBO's BARRY and analyze why it works
    • All attendees will receive a free download of the BARRY pilot script
  • Q&A with David

About Your Instructor

David Shecter has has been working in the television industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. He has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS smash hit 2 Broke Girls, where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. Since 2 BROKE GIRLS, David has served on the FOX sitcom OUTMATCHED starring Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson and was named a WGA TV Writer Access Honoree for his script For Worse. David’s continued work in the sitcom TV world has lent him a keen understanding of what makes these shows successful and how to make the most of your sitcom pilot.


Q: How do I watch my webinar live?
A: If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Go to Webinar, you will receive an email from Go to Webinar with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. You can also access your webinar link in your purchase history located under settings in the top right-hand corner of your Stage 32 profile.

If you received a confirmation that your webinar is on Zoom, you will receive a separate email from Zoom with further instructions for participating in the live webinar. Your login link will not be in your Stage 32 profile. If you did not receive your link via Zoom please email

Q: How do I watch my webinar on demand?
A: You will be able to watch your webinar on demand as many times as you’d like inside your Stage 32 profile. The recording is processed and posted between 24-48 hours after the webinar concludes. You can follow the instructions below.


  1. Log into your Stage 32 profile
  2. Click "Settings" in the top right-hand corner (gear icon)
  3. Click "Purchase History"
  4. Choose this webinar and click the link to view
If You Do Not Have a Stage 32 Profile:
  1. Go to
  2. Create a profile using the SAME email address you used to sign up for this webinar. The email addresses must match in order to watch the webinar.
  3. Once you have your profile set up, you can view the webinar by clicking "Settings" in the top right hand corner (gear icon)
  4. Click "Purchase History"
  5. Choose this webinar and click the link to view

Q: What is the format of a webinar?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Webinars are typically 90-minute educational broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32. Your webinar will be taught by a working industry professional with in-depth teaching on a topic. If you are able to attend live you will be able to ask your Stage 32 Educator questions during Q&A.

Q: What are the system requirements to watch my webinar live?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.

If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.9 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live webinar. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer.

Q: What if I cannot attend the live webinar?
A: If you cannot attend a live webinar or purchase an on demand webinar, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A.

Q: Will I have access to the webinar afterward to re-watch?
A: Yes! Like all Stage 32 education, after the purchase of a live or on demand webinar, you will have on-demand access to the recording.

Q: How do I get a copy of the handouts provided?
A: If the webinar you take included handouts you can find them as downloads underneath your on demand video. You must be logged into your Stage 32 profile to view the video and get the handouts by clicking settings in the top right hand corner, then clicking purchase history.

Q: What if I need accessibility and accommodations?
A: Email to request accommodations.

Thanks for your loyalty to Stage 32 Education. We value having you in the Stage 32 community.

If you have any further questions, we are always happy to help. Please contact Stage 32 support at


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

  • Really enjoyed this seminar. David Schecter does an excellent job of balancing his personal experiences with the realities of an ever-changing industry, and he presents a good balance between the creative process of developing a pilot and the technical aspects of generating a pilot that works for the industry.

Other education that may be of interest to you:

How to Write Female Driven Film & TV Comedies That Pop

It's an undeniable fact, we are living in a gold rush of comedy content featuring lead female characters. Just think about the major box office and streaming successes we've seen over the last few years. On the feature film side, you have movies such as Late Night, Girls Trip, What Men Want, Rough Night, Bad Moms, and Trainwreck to name a few. On the networks, premium cable channels, and streamers Fleabag, 2 Broke Girls, Mom, Glow, Russian Doll, Insecure, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt have drawn huge audiences and many have won major awards. Is it any wonder why development executives, managers, agents, producers and financiers are looking for writers who have the ability to write screenplays and teleplays featuring memorable and iconic female characters? There are many inroads to breaking and staying in the industry as a writer, but one of the most important factors is understanding what's hot in the marketplace. And right now, thanks to the massive buying power of the streaming platforms along with other major feature film and television production companies looking for comedies, it's never been a better time to understand how to write female driven comedies that pop. David Shecter has has been working in the industry in production, development, and as a writer for over a decade. David has written on many shows, including season 5 of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. His experience and success on that show landed David on the pilot of the CBS show. 2 Broke Girls where he worked his way up as a staff writer on the 6th and final season of the show. David is currently developing a female driven action comedy cop show, Lady Copped, with New Form and STX Entertainment. Most recently David was named one of the WGA TV Writer access honorees for his script For Worse. David will teach you everything he's learned about writing female driven comedies throughout his career. He will show you how to avoid the all to common cliches that seemingly find their way into every female driven script. He will show you why sex sells, but how to properly write sex and sexuality into your screenplay to make it unique. He will teach you the practice of gender flipping and role reversals. He will show you how you can bring a personal connection to your female characters no matter whether you're a male or female. He will show you how to examine your plot and your characters before you begin writing to make the process flow more smoothly. He will show you the difference between one dimensional vs multi-dimensional characters and how easy it is to fall into the former, but how important it is that you learn the latter. Finally, David will present a case study of his latest screenplay Lady Copped which is now in development with New Form and STX.   Whether you're a feature or TV writer, you will learn all the important factors in writing a female driven comedy that will get you reads and attention.  PRAISE FOR DAVID'S TEACHINGS: "Another incredible and insightful webinar presented by Stage 32. I have received notes on my screenplays in the past that my female characters fell into cliche. As a female, that pissed me off! But now I understand why and I'm already on the path to changing things for the better. Thank you, David, and bravo, Stage 32! -Melissa J. "Can men write female driven comedies? I often asked myself that question. I'm not any longer. Loved this presentation. - Kyle P.

Character Creation Using Stand Up Comedy Principles

If you write comedy you know what it feels like to stare at a blank page worrying that your signature lead character may not be funny enough to drive your story and dialogue. Your lead character is central to the success of any comedy and if your lead character bombs in your story then your movie or TV show most likely will follow.  When you're trying to create your signature comedic lead for your scripted comedy, the principles of stand-up comedy will help you find what’s working. And if it's not working, the principals of stand up comedy can show you how to fix it. Stand-up is about finding a character’s voice, creating dialogue that stands out, and knowing how to get out of a scene quickly. You need to learn how to understand a scene’s “premise” and your character’s role in it and create multi-layered characters who are consistent while also getting the laugh. In this exclusive Stage 32 webinar, actor and stand-up comic John Mooney will show you the way. You’ve seen John perform on Comedy Central, recurring on 30 ROCK, and appearing in the video game GRAND THEFT AUTO V. John most recently co-wrote and is currently executive producing a feature film starring THE BLACKLIST’s Harry Lennix and directed by THE SOPRANOS’ Federico Castelluccio. Most importantly, you’re going to learn to let go of fears that hold back comedy writers and comedians, like “what will they think,” “Should I go to law school,” and “is this offensive?” By the end of this webinar, you’ll be prepared up to create a sustainable comedic lead character, letting go of the mental roadblocks, and confidently embracing your unique point of view and voice.

The Write Now Challenge Webcast: True Stories & Biopics

During the Write Now Challenge, we turned the spotlight - and the microphones - back over to you during the Write Now Challenge Webcast!  Using the "Breakdown Webcast: Writing True Stories" as a guide, your challenge was to find a true story or subject of a biopic that resonates with you! Write a short document that details the subject of the project - whether a historic event, historical figure, or a combination of both - including a "way into the story," principal character(s), basic synopsis, potential themes for exploration, and why it resonates with you as the writer. During the webcast, participants discussed true stories and historical figures that were either well-known or obscure, but all riveting! Participants described accounts from the US Civil War, Korean War, legal battles, pro-wrestling, and many more!   

Stage 32 2-Part Lab: Elevate Your Acting Reel

Learn how to make your acting reel stand out so you book more jobs from Kym Jackson, an actress who has worked on THIS IS US, CRIMINAL MINDS, NCIS: LOS ANGELES, S.W.A.T., SNITCH starring Dwayne Johnson, FATAL AFFAIR on Netflix, and more! There are only 3 spots left to work one-on-one with Kym in this rare opportunity that guarantees you focused attention. ***Flexible Learning: if you cannot attend any of the sessions live don't worry - you will be sent the links to the recordings of each session within 48 hours of the live session and you will have direct access to Kym on email to ask her any questions so you can keep up at your own pace and schedule.*** Payment plans available - contact for details As an actor, your acting reel is one of the most important tools in your professional arsenal. Your reel is a short video that encapsulates your craft and career highlights and shows casting directors, directors, and producers who you are, what you can do and what you have done. While creating a well constructed acting reel might seem like a no brainer, there are several imperative elements to consider when making your acting reel. The length, order of scenes, music, and editing of your reel are crucial in helping you put your best foot forward to industry professionals so you can book the job. Oftentimes, casting directors and producers will turn your reel off after just a few seconds if they don’t like what they see, making it essential that you make a strong impression within the first few seconds of your acting reel. Simply put, your acting reel must look and feel professional if you want to be a working actor. In this exclusive Stage 32 2-part lab, you will not only learn how to build a professional acting reel that will get you noticed, but you will also receive personal guidance and feedback on your current acting reel from an acclaimed acting industry expert. If you don’t have an acting reel yet, that’s fine! You will receive the same personal guidance on how you can and should create your reel that highlights your specific and unique abilities as an actor. Taking you through the step-by-step process of building your professional acting reel is Kym Jackson, working actress and author of the book The Hollywood Survival Guide For Actors. Kym is best known for her on-camera work on the hit CBS series CRIMINAL MINDS and NCIS: LOS ANGELES, the ABC series S.W.A.T. and the movies SNITCH starring Dwayne Johnson, FATAL AFFAIR on Netflix and countless other projects. Kym is also the founder of the Secret Actor Society. Over two interactive sessions, you will learn the fundamental tools to creating an outstanding acting reel and receive personal feedback on your own acting reel. Kym will review your acting reel (or body of work if you don’t yet have a reel) and will take you through a scene-by-scene analysis of how you can improve or build your reel. You’ll walk away from the two interactive sessions completely familiar with professional acting reel structure and the difference between an average reel and a strong, memorable reel that has an impact on the viewer. You’ll be able to see what is missing from those average reels and what to alter to improve yours. To guarantee all students receive ample one-on-one time with Kym, this course has limited enrollment and there are ONLY 3 SPOTS LEFT. This is a rare opportunity to work with Kym on your reel and once spots are filled, they are gone for good! Kym has experienced firsthand the power and impact of an effectively crafted acting reel and she will be working with you to supercharge this most important marketing material that you have as an actor to make sure you and your work get noticed. PLUS! You will receive exclusive handouts to help fine tune your acting reel. Downloads include: Link to strong examples of both working actor and new actor reels List of US acting reel editors List of US acting reel taping companies Fundamentals of an Acting Reel Whether you’re a working actor with an existing acting reel that you are looking to level up or just starting your acting journey and need to build your first reel, this lab is the perfect opportunity to work directly with an industry pro to elevate one of your most valuable resources as an actor!   "Stage 32 is the leader in entertainment industry education and I am honored they invited me to join their team of expert instructors. The next Meryl Streep or Robin Williams is out there just beginning their career and I love the idea that I might have the privilege of helping them along their journey!" - Kym Jackson

Feature Writers: How to Transition to Writing Television

It makes sense why more creatives than ever before want to make the jump from film to television, ESPECIALLY writers. As a TV writer you can dive into longer form storytelling and explore characters more fully. And with the massive popularity of streamers like Netflix and Hulu, your work can likely reach more people in the TV space. And that’s not to mention the fact that TV writing usually provides a much more stable and long-running form of income. All this to say: the pilgrimage from movie writing to TV writing is no longer uncommon and can be an exciting or lucrative development for any working writer. This a switch that is more than possible to undertake, but you need to know how best to accomplish it first. The path from film writing to TV writing is absolutely doable, but that doesn’t mean the door is wide open. No matter who you are, breaking into television is no easy feat and your background in film can serve as an advantage OR disadvantage, depending on how you approach it. Instead of waiting for HBO or Netflix to roll out the red carpet for you, it’s important you tackle this transition with realistic expectations and an understanding of how best you can fit in. Tripper Clancy is a working writer that has found success in both film and, more recently, television. Earlier in his career, Tripper wrote the screenplay for the Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista action comedy STUBER before deciding to make the switch to television. Since then, Tripper served as staff writer for the Netflix hit I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS and VARSITY BLUES, a modern day reimagining of the original movie. Tripper also created and wrote the action-comedy series DIE HART, starring Kevin Hart and John Travolta. Tripper has found longevity and deeper success for his writing career by making the jump from film to television and will share exclusively with Stage 32 what goes into this transition. Tripper will teach you how you can expand your writing career by making the switch from film to television. He’ll go over his own journey from film to TV and then break down what writing for both features and TV actually looks like, including the advantages and disadvantages of each. He’ll discuss using your reps to make the jump and whether you can do so without a manager or agent and will give you advice on how you can sell your film experience to stand out when pursuing TV opportunities. Tripper will give you a sense of what expectations are realistic when making this shift and where you can expect to start out. He’ll discuss how you can find currency from your film background and what sort of unique challenges film writers might face in television. Expect to leave with a hopeful but realistic idea of what you need to do to find your next opportunity on a TV show.   Praise for Tripper's Stage 32 Webinar: "Tripper Clancy was an awesome presenter who cut to the chase in a clear, understandable webinar." -Mark D. "Tripper's webinar was terrific - he's a great conversationalist and his open, candid, honest, accessible and very knowledgeable presentation & Q&A were very empowering." -Fran B. "Tripper was really engaging. The conversational tone was enjoyable. Sometimes a seminar can feel like a stranger reading me their powerpoint, just slower than I would read it myself. That wasn't the case here." -Nicholas G. "Tripper was phenomenal. Within 1 hour he gave us a whole course in something I knew nothing about before. Another Stage 32 phenomenal webinar." -Ricki L.  

How to Direct for Animated Television

Think about the classic images of a director—sitting in a canvas chair, making a frame with your fingers and thumbs, yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. None of those things could even come up when you’re directing for animation, though. Honesty, the job of an animation television director doesn’t even exist within the public lexicon. If you’re not already directly within the television animation industry, you might not even have a basic sense of what goes into this line of work. Yet the role of an animation director is very real and getting to this level on an animated television show can be rewarding and lucrative. Top animated shows like THE SIMPSONS, BOB’S BURGERS, BOJACK HORSEMAN, PEPPA PIG and RICK AND MORTY succeed because of the top directing talent at the helm. If you’re a writer, an artist, an illustrator, a storyboard artist, a director or just passionate about animated television, there is a path forward to get into this landscape and work towards directing episodes of your dream animated show. But it might help to have a blueprint to get there, understand how the world of animated TV works, how people become directors within this world, and what directors actually do. Veteran director Mike Disa is here to offer you this very opportunity. Mike Disa is the director of the hit Netflix series PARADISE PD and has been in the animation industry for over twenty-five years. Mike found success working with studios such as Dreamworks, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and many others. Over a fascinating career, Mike has worked with some of the greatest and most infamous people in Hollywood including Steven Spielberg, Eric Goldberg, Ralph Bakshi, Glenn Close, Steve Oedekerk, David Tennant, Amy Poehler, Adam Sandler, Jeffery Katzenberg and Roy Disney. Mike Disa has extensive knowledge of countless facets of animated TV and film. Mike will give you the nuts and bolts on the overall landscape and the details of what it takes to direct for animated TV. Mike will begin by discussing what it actually is that a TV animation director does and how it differs from other types of directing. He’ll go over the relationship between storyboarding and directing and one can, but doesn’t necessarily, lead to the other. He’ll discuss the how to be successful, valuable, and noticed while working on animated TV and how that will differ at an indie company compared to a larger studio. Mike will then walk you through the different types of animated TV, including children’s scripted, prime time scripted, anime, and premise-driven unscripted, and how the role and expectations of the director differ from one category to another. Next, Mike will delve into the general TV animation pipeline, the 9 steps you should expect from script to finished product. Mike will discuss the dangers of getting typecast within the animation world and how to navigate this tricky area. He will then walk you through 13 necessary skills you will need to learn and display in order to become a director and what skills might not be as important as you think. Mike will prepare you for the biggest challenges of this line of work and go through 5 common mistakes directors make. He’ll then discuss what sort of pathway there is to creating your own animated show and the way to make a lot of money in this line of work. He’ll finally give some practical advice on how to better succeed within the world of animation, including the benefits of getting an agent and the possibility of switching to live action down the line. Praise for Mike's Webinar: "Mike is clear, insightful and conveys ideas and concepts very well. It was an excellent webinar!" -Jon P. "Mike Disa was amazingly generous with his time and information. And he was real. It doesn't get better than that. I'll be able to apply his insights and the information he shared immediately. I'm so glad I decided to participate." - Elizabeth A. "The webinar was excellent and very well paced. I truly appreciated the honesty and straightforwardness of the presenter. I learned a lot and look forward to the next one." - Jerry M. "Great information, Mike did an awesome job and I will look forward to his next webinar." - Diane M.

register for stage 32 Register / Log In