Saturday, June 10, 2023

Award-winning TV producer and writer Mike Scully speaks with students on campus


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Featured Photo by Baylah Close

Story by Baylah Close

Mike Scully, a legend in the comedy field, spoke with Middle Tennessee State University students on Wednesday about his life and career, with a notable work being “The Simpsons.”

Long time friend of Dr. John Dougan, a professor of the music business and popular music studies in the department of the Recording Industry, Scully got the opporitunity through this connection and the assistance of the Tom T. Hall Committee. The audience learned about Scully’s experiences in the entertainment industry and his work as a writer in animation and live-action programs. Students were able to ask him questions as well.

Scully opened the discussion with his backstory. He dropped out of community college after two hours, using the deposit he got back to purchase concert tickets. Decisions like these, choosing to have fun over a clear life motive, led his father to call him “funboy,” which a nickname he finds pride in.

In 1986, he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue stand-up. He wrote jokes and worked for Yakov Smirnoff, a Russian comedian. This job led him to work on the show “What A Country!” for Smirnoff, and eventually work on “Out of This World,” a 1987 sitcom.

“I just wrote as many jokes as I possibly could over the weekend and gave them to [Smirnoff] the following week. He took them on the road with him and would call me up and tell me which jokes were working,” Scully said. “So it turned into a relationship where suddenly I was his primary joke-writer and then wound up getting his own sitcom called ‘What A Country!,’ and he trusted that I knew how to write his voice so he got me on the show as a writer and it wound up being my first sitcom job.”

After working on “Out of This World,” Scully began to write for “The Simpsons,” where he eventually became a showrunner in 1997. He continued with that role until 2001. He wrote for “Everyone Loves Raymond,” winning an Emmy for his work on the 8th season. He assisted producing “Parks and Recreation.” He also co-wrote and co-produced “The Simpsons Movie” in 2007, which he credits as the most influential and challenging part of his career.

“The most challenging [project] was definitely The Simpsons Movie because, like I said, the show had been on fifteen years and there were a lot of stories we couldn’t do because we had already done them and it was a long process to tell a story after fifteen years of telling stories in twenty-minute segments, suddenly we have ninety minutes,” Scully said.

Scully advised students on how to achieve similar careers. He said he frequently sees people hired through their social media presence. Scully emphasized the importance of networking and handling rejection as well.

“You get angry for a while, you say screw this business, and then you start thinking of new ideas, you know? Just last week, I had lunch with the network executive who made the call to cancel my show, the guy I swore I would never talk to the rest of my life,” Scully said. “There are only so many places in town to do business. It hurts, and all writers go through it.”

Mike Scully has won five Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on “The Simpsons.” His latest project is “Duncanville,” that ran from 2020-2022.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Destiny Mizell, email For more news, visit, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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