Letterman, Conan, Last Comic Standing and Comedy Central Half Hour vet Sean Donnelly combines self-effacing narrative with infectious, Everydude optimism. In addition to performing at top clubs across New York City and festivals across the world — including his upcoming debut appearance at the 2016 Moontower Comedy Festival — Donnelly just scored a Comedy Central script deal for a series based on his experiences as an Upper East Side underdog.
I do a podcast with Dan St. Germain called My Dumb Friends, which is on the All Things Comedy network. I also have a web series coming out for Comedy Central called The Sneaker Trip. I interview comics as they buy a pair of sneakers. We talk about our childhood and getting into adulthood through sneakers. The first one is with Roy Wood, Jr., and we’re editing it now. I’ve been on the road a bunch, I get up a lot at the Comedy Cellar, and things are going great!
A script deal is the earliest form of a TV deal. What happens is you go in, you pitch your idea, and they start you off with a script deal. They pay you – or in my case they pay me and another comic, Danny Solomon – to write a script for them that could potentially be turned into a pilot, and then a TV show.
Originally the idea for East 89th was for a web series. Comedy Central is now developing a lot of their shows from the web, like their Idiotsitter, which I think had three seasons as a web series before it became a TV show. So I figured I’d pitch it as a web series and maybe it would turn into a TV show down the road. They liked the idea a lot, and asked to see a script for a half-hour show. That was about five months ago. Danny lives in L.A. and I live in New York, so we’re bouncing it back and forth on email. From there they decide if they want to take it to a pilot, and then from there Comedy Central decides if they want to take it to a TV show.
East 89th is based on the building that I worked in as a doorman in Manhattan. It’s an ensemble show based on all the characters I knew from working at the building. It’s the ends and outs of the day: sort of a Taxi meets Workaholics thing. It’s like class warfare, almost, working for these rich assholes. These doormen are the underdogs. They’re all friends, and they stick together like family. You’re in their world, siding with them, dealing with their villains. Some of the characters in the script are straight out of when I was in the building, and some we came up with. I’m a Mets fan, so I have to love the idea of an underdog.
This is the first time I’m dealing with this on such a large scale. I really hope it works out, because it’s very personal to me. That was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and the reason why is the people I worked with. It was a great time in my life.
I can’t wait to go to Moontower. I was so excited when I found out I was going, because I’ve heard so many good things about the festival. Also Austin in probably my favorite city in the country. I’ve only been there once, but knowing I’ll be there again soon has me so psyched.