Park Scholar Alum Profile: Jesse Porter
By Meg Malone '11
Sure everyone has a good joke or two up their sleeve, but Park Scholar alum Jesse Porter (’05) is working to make millions of people laugh every single week. Porter is a staff writer for the new CBS sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says,” a position he got this summer not long after completing the 2009-2010 Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop.
A television-radio major with a scriptwriting concentration, Porter was particularly active with ICTV, even producing two shows during his senior year. He also took the opportunity to study off-campus twice, interning at the BBC sketch comedy “The Catherine Tate Show” while in London, and with Imagine Television in Los Angeles. After graduation, Porter moved out to Los Angeles where he returned to Imagine to work in their features department and then worked as a personal assistant to Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett — a married screenwriting/directing team.
Last year, Porter was accepted to the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop — a highly competitive program, only selecting up to ten recipients each year out of approximately 1,000 applicants. Because the number of comedy and drama writers accepted is proportional to how many shows of each genre Warner Bros. has in production, Porter had the extra honor of being of one of only two comedy writers accepted for that year.
The workshop, which began for Porter in October 2009, is composed of a lecture series with people from all different areas of the television industry, as well as a simulated writers room for participants to further their craft.
“The program definitely did an excellent job of introducing some really important concepts and preparing us all to the degree that it could for being in a real writers room,” Porter said.
After the workshop wrapped up in March, Porter said that he and the other writers spent about a month and a half working on their scripts. While after the program, Warner Bros. tries to staff all of the workshop participants onto one of their current shows, there’s no guarantee for placement.
“The process is really beneficial regardless of whether or not you wind up on a show because you learn so much and it’s incredibly informative and you make some good contacts as well, but getting staffed is just such an important prize,” Porter said. “Everyone who did get staffed was both thrilled and grateful of course.”
Porter said he found out his placement with “$#*! My Dad Says” on June 1, a few days after meeting with the showrunners. Based on the popular Twitter feed, “S#*! My Dad Says” revolves around a writer who has to move back in with his acerbic father, played by William Shatner. The series premiere drew in 12.48 million viewers according to The Nielsen Company.
Now that the show is in production, Porter stays busy between writing and editing scripts, table reads, meetings with studio and network executives, run-throughs, and tapings before a live studio audience each week. Porter said it’s an “incredible feeling” to be fulfilling his longtime dream of writing for a television show.
“It’s such a sense of elation because so many talented young writers move out to this city every year and working with nine other ones in the workshop, you just realize that people come from such diverse backgrounds and walks of life and have such different experiences,” Porter said. “A couple of these guys have been working for years and years and years to get to this position. It really reminds you how lucky you are to be in that position.”