Spring Showcase Writer #6: Melanie Kirschbaum

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When we first heard from Melanie Kirschbaum, we immediately thought, “Goonies never say die.” We have no idea why, but we did. Maybe it’s because Melanie seems like a make-it-work kind of woman. Either way, she presented to us a short called “Smart,” co-written with Alexandra Decas. It was our favorite kind of genre, a timeless pairing of two seemingly opposite women who somehow puzzle-piece into one another and drive each other insane. Kirschbaum works in TV, got her start with Jeff and Jackie Filgo, and now works for Vali Chandrasekaran, for which we are thankful, because we can easily see how her style has developed from some of our favorite comedies. Here are some words of wisdom and some appropriately awesome background infos from Melanie herself.

1. What are 3 top movies/plays/shows that have inspired you?

My top three shows are Will & Grace, Golden Girls, and Broad City. I fall asleep to Golden Girls every night; Blanche Devereaux haunts my dreams. I love comedies with heart that showcase the bonds of friendship, because there’s nothing better (or funnier) than watching characters who love each other give each other shit and have adventures. Speaking of friendship, I can’t even think of broaching the topic of inspiration without mentioning my favorite movie of all time, Beaches. It’s about two best gal pals (one is Bette Midler, a national treasure) and it is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I like to infuse a little Beaches into everything I do. Spoiler alert: no one in SMART succumbs to a heart condition.

2. Did you go to film/theater school? What led to you being a writer or director?

I did not go to film/theater school. Where I did go was the University of Pittsburgh, the result of the most serendipitous rejection of my life thus far (there have been many). The University of Maryland said no, Pitt said yes, and off I went to Western PA. I was an English major because I liked to write short stories, though I had no idea how that would translate to adult life. Then one day during my junior year, an LA based manager/producer visited Pitt to give a talk about the industry, he was from Pittsburgh, and little idiot Melanie sitting in the audience raised her hand and asked, “What’s an internship?” It was not a proud moment. But it did lead to him saying, “Come work for me for the summer and find out,” and so I did. One year later, my mom and I embarked on a road tip to deposit me in LA (at one point during our journey I caught her speaking into the lens cap of the video camera thinking it was a microphone), and then several years after that, I got a job working for 2 TV writers, which put me on my way.

All that being said, what ultimately made me a writer is my family. They are hilarious, supportive, and I’m so, so lucky to be in the presence of such strength, wit, and comedic material. Especially my mother, who has the best sense of humor out of everyone.

3. Why do you personally want to collaborate with other women through One Axe?

Since meeting Alexandra Decas and seeing what we’ve created just the two of us, the thought of collaborating with a whole gang of ladies is just so exciting. The relationships women have with one another are just so much better, so much richer and more powerful than the ones men have. Which is a real shame for them, but whatever, they have enough.

4. “Where are you going, where have you been?”

I have been on the bottom. I’d like to be on the top. At the very least on television.

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