Interview: Comedian David A. Arnold on Working as a Television Writer

David A. Arnold


To say that comedian David A. Arnold has led a charmed life would not be an exaggeration. An enormously talented stand-up, Arnold was in the right place at the right time when he got a staff writing opportunity for Tyler Perry television productions such as "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns." From there, Arnold parlayed the experience into writing episodes of "Fuller House," the sadly short-lived Kelsey Grammer-Martin Lawrence’s sitcom, "Partners," as well as writing for Rickey Smiley and Kevin Hart. He did all this while maintaining a career in deliriously funny observation stand-up.

A.D. Amorosi: You have been a staff writer for Rickey Smiley, Tyler Perry, the "Partners" sitcom, and worked with Kevin Hart on his "Real Husbands of Hollywood" joint for BET. How did you get from the square one of stand up to forming scripts for these shows?
David A. Arnold: I was working on a TV show for Tony Rock doing punch up, and I met and befriended a guy named Anthony Hill who became the head writer for Tyler Perry Studios. He asked me to join him in Atlanta and we started writing on a TV show called "Meet The Browns." That started my writing career which led to show after show after show. And now on Netflix’s "Fuller House."

A.D.: Before those gigs, were you a writer?
David: Never.

A.D.: What is your signature as a writer, something that makes you stand out when you scribe for the screen?
David: I think the advantage I have is, as a writer – especially in comedy – is that I am a working stand-up comedian. So when I have ideas to write into a script, I can actually take that idea out onto the stage, in a workshop, and work out the kinks. That gives you a confidence when you put things on paper that other writers may not have. Because I know it works. I’ve seen it work. That gives me the advantage and makes me different.

A.D.: What is the life skill behind working with such a diverse crew of artists and egos? Certainly there is some juggling when working with all those names?
David: It’s definitely an acquired skill that you get better at the more you do it. The goal is to never forget where you came from and realize as success comes, it goes. Be kind, humble and remember it’s a blessing to work in this business. As long as my green room has all yellow M&Ms, I’m fine!

A.D.: Do you find that any one of those comics, actors, or producers offered you the greatest challenges?
David: I’ve had no personal challenges with any one actor. There have been moments, but none that a good back hand hasn’t handled.

A.D. What did you carry forward into your own work, your own productions and stand-up, from working within that script writing scenario?
David: I learned not to be an asshole so I don’t catch a beat down by this industry.

A.D.: Between doing the "Real Husbands" and him talking about producing a show for you on BET, Kevin Hart seems to be an important part of your life.
David: Kevin and I met in the comedy clubs. We had kids at the same time, so our families became friendly. He has a remained a good friend to me to this day.

A.D.: What was the first stand-up comedy album that rocked your world? Why did it impress and/or inspire you?
David: I heard Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby at the same time. Both comedians moved me, but I didn’t know how. Stand-up wasn’t anything that I thought about doing in my youth. Later, though, when I did pursue stand-up, I found that those were the two I studied and looked up to.

A.D.: I asked about your signature as a writer earlier. What about as a stand-up in 2019? What makes you unique in terms of how you are handing what’s funny – or not so funny – now?
David: I have a hard edge about relationships, marriage and life in general. My POV is unique in that I believe I have a realness and a truthfulness that can be biting, but hilarious.

A.D.: What is your most radical observation coming into 2019?
David: Probably about how sensitive we have become as a nation. Also how we are in the most politically incorrect time period ever. That means half of the population is offended, but they’re also full of shit. We’ll discuss that.

David A. Arnold performs January 3 through January 5 at Punch Line, 33 East Laurel Street, Philadelphia, PA. For more info, visit

Photo courtesy of Punch Line Philly 

Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2019