30 Under 30: Sam West, Comedy Writer/Director

sam west

Today marks the release of our sister publication, The L Magazine‘s “30 Under 30″ feature and we thought we’d highlight a few of the people featured by running Q&As with them. One of these people is comedy writer and director Sam West. If you’ve ever found yourself watching a not-quite-infomercial in the wee hours of the morning on Adult Swim, than you’re probably familiar with the work of comedy writer and director Sam West, who worked on bits like the hilarious “For-Profit Online University” and the toilet technology start-up “Smart Pipe.” West, the former head writer of The Onion‘s YouTube channel, also helped create the reality show spoof “Sex House” and the TED talk-aping “The Onion Talks.” (Like TED Talks, only “instead of a good idea, it will be a ludicrous one,” West explained to the New Yorker.) Currently, he’s on the writing staff of the new Cartoon Network show starring Jack McBrayer and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ; he also appears semi-regularly at UCB and at the monthly Hearth Gods series at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village (though if you ask West what he’s up to he’ll say, not exactly accurately, “pathetically clutching the coattails of far more talented writers”).

Tell me a little bit about how you got into comedy writing.
All writing is comedy writing if it is bad enough, and in that sense I have always been a comedy writer.  I did the same things as everyone else in my industry who is not a piece-of-shit dilettante or late-blooming genius I am jealous of: made movies with friends as a youthman, wrote sketch shows and comedy publications in college, made politically shrewd blood pacts in my secret society. I started freelancing for the Onion News Network when I was still in school and was hired full-time when I graduated.


Did you always know what you wanted to do?
Unfortunately yes, and so my life is devoid of all surprises or spontaneity. I decided to attempt a life of clown-bullshit when I was far too stupid to make responsible choices about my future. I enjoyed laughing and I did not understand careers. Since then I’ve learned to appreciate seething, brooding and lamenting. But my life’s path is littered with booby traps that I planted specifically to prevent myself from changing course, such as letting nonprofessional relationships wither, refusing psychiatric help, turning my back on my community, and not taking my education seriously. So I will not be ‘pivoting’ into the booming lamentations industry, which I believe is a bubble.
What’s the thing that you’ve done that you’re most proud of?
Lake Dredge Appraisal.

Has it ever been challenging to be taken seriously because of your age?
Not really. My more accomplished elders are generally willing to give me the benefit of the doubt because of the way older generations are shouted down and told to take their cues from energetic young people with no experience and bad ideas. When I make a mistake they don’t correct me, they just assume that the world has changed and quietly acquiesce.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Futuristic Mirror lol I’m talkin flying mirrors smdh


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