The Center for Inquiry and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have teamed up to create a unique competition for current and aspiring television writers and directors, the No God But Funny Contest. The contest will award $15,000 to those crafting the winning sitcom script and $25,000 to producers of the winning webisode that takes the “ass” out of atheists.
James Underdown, executive director of the Center for Inquiry Los Angeles notes “of the few atheist characters on TV, virtually all are unlikeable. You know TV would be in big trouble if any other group were so unfavorably portrayed. We happen to know lots of godless folks who are great fun to be around. So we are challenging writers to develop funny, fun and well-adjusted atheist characters.”
The contest, that is taking entries until May 15, accepts 20-25 page teleplays with outlines for the remaining 11 episodes of the season, or an original and never broadcast anywhere digital episode for broadcast on the web of between 3-15 minutes in length, also with outlines for the remaining 11 episodes of the season.
The contest judges are a group of experienced Hollywood writers and comedians who have worked extensively in television including veteran stand-up comedian and actor Paul Provenza, who was the host of Showtime’s The Green Room; game show super producer Jonathan Goodson; noted magician Max Maven; Comedy Central/Adult Swim/Funny or Die regular Rich Fulcher; thinking man’s comic Steve Hill; and longtime comedy agent, television development executive and live comedy event producer Barbara Romen.
Dan Barker, a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation notes that entries must “reflect a positive view of atheism, and we expect that at least one story line per episode/webisode out of the typical 3 story lines will be about the atheist character’s life. All sitcoms deal with friends, family and work. Submissions can touch on topics like what to say when someone sneezes, atheist writers who hate the idea of submitting something called a ‘bible’ for the TV show, how to respond when someone wishes you a ‘blessed’ day, how to handle ‘the holidays’ – the malls, the inescapable holiday music, fake trees, the workplace, gifts, parties, family traditions, greeting cards, the ‘war,’ new traditions like ‘festivus’ with its airing of grievances and feats of strength, etc. Also, what happens when you get sworn in for jury duty or in court as a witness, ‘prayers’ in legal complaints, AA or other 12 step programs referring to a ‘higher power,’ events like weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc., filling out applications that ask about religion, etc.”
Writers and producers do not have to be atheists to enter. All the characters in the script or webisode do not need to be atheist. For further info about the contest, including contest rules, and to enter please visit http://www.nogodbutfunny.com/.