Graham Linehan

Graham LinehanGraham Linehan is an Irish comedy writer currently based in London. He co-created Father Ted and has written for several other comedy series, including Brass Eye, Jam, and Black Books. Linehan is currently writing the fourth season of The IT Crowd, his sitcom about three awkward computer technicians.

TMN: If you could take over writing any show on TV, which one would you choose, and what would you do with it?

Graham Linehan: That’s an interesting question. I don’t know. All the best shows are doing fine without me and the worst ones I have no interest in. Maybe this is a different way of answering your question: I love how Larry David approached show-running on Seinfeld. No hugging, no learning was a great rule, and his storylines had perfect “gnarliness”—they felt like stories, but they had a wild, believable craziness that came from real life. Actually, I can answer the question. I would take over The IT Crowd, and I would try harder to apply Larry David’s principles to it.

My storylines sometimes start crazy and get crazier. My aim is an accumulation of realistic events that somehow leads to a crazy outcome, which I think is a excellent model.

TMN: What’s your pick for the funniest novel of all time?

GL: Throw a dart at the collected Wodehouse and you’ll hit it. In fact, throw a few and you’ll hit a few!.

TMN: How has TV comedy changed since you started writing it?

GL: Boy, it’s been such a gradual change, I’m not sure I can chart it. Taste is one thing, obviously. Here’s something that hasn’t changed. People used to say that telly was rubbish, and they’re still saying it. But now they can go and edit Wikipedia or do something creative with Photoshop instead of moaning. Short term, terrible news for the industry, but very good short-term and long-term news for humanity, and I can’t help thinking that in the end it will result in better quality programs. If we’re competing against things that are huge fun, then everybody has to up their game.

Graham LinehanTMN: What is your favorite object in your office?

GL: This dog my daughter painted. I can never lose it because every time she’s up here she asks about it.

TMN: What are some things we should not expect from the fourth season of The IT Crowd?

GL: I keep getting asked for more geek jokes. But I really loathe most geek humor—web comics about comics and computer games are the absolute worst to me, mainly because every single one of these specific, geeky jokes exclude the vast majority of people who don’t care about joining Reference Club. The first rule of Reference Club is not to make jokes about Reference Club.

Having said that, the “Elders of the Internet” thing worked very well, so there’s definitely room for more comedy about Jen’s lack of knowledge of such matters.

TMN: What was the most terrifying moment of your childhood?

GL: There was one horrible moment that started when I was 10 and ended when I was 19.

TMN: Have you done or considered doing stand-up?

GL: I have. Didn’t go well. Twitter is a much better stage for me. I think through my fingers.

TMN: What’s something you’re not good at but wish you were?

GL: Writing.
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