“I’m trying to communicate with people the best way I can.”
According to a Wired Magazine article by Bran Raftery, writer Dan Harmon grew up in Wisconsin as a class clown and watching re-runs of Taxi. He got his start doing stand-up comedy in Milwaukee. When Oliver Stone optioned a screenplay Harmon wrote with Rob Schrab (Scud: The Disposable Assassin), Harmon moved to L.A.
After various degrees of success he started the video website Channel 101. After taking a Spanish class at a community college in L.A. he pitched the TV show Community and the sitcom premiered on NBC in 2009.
Here is Harmon’s story circle (with a hint of Joseph Campbell) that he says is “tattooed on my brian” and shapes every episode of Community. (Harmon actually writes the character arcs in a circle—like a clock— on a chalkboard in the writing room.)
1. A character is in a zone of comfort
2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it
5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. They return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed
In 2009, Harmon won an Emmy for being part of the writing team that wrote “Hugh Jackman’s Opening Number” for The 81st Annual Academy Awards.
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