As a child, Josh Margolin saw two paths for himself: NBA player or performer. Both seemed unlikely, especially when he stopped growing. But acting and writing evolved from a child’s dream job to the 27-year-old’s very real, current job.
A Middle School Sketch Writer
He began creating video sketches as early as middle school. Then he studied improv at Harvard-Westlake High School with his writing partner Quinn Beswick. The Los Angeles native continued “saying yes” at Wesleyan University, where he majored in Theater, and even made several trips to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with one of his improv teams. His credits his improv training and experience for shaping his tenacious attitude:
Committing to Failure is Empowering
“Every time you’re up there you’re failing,” Margolin said. “And you’re succeeding, too. It’s a mix. There’s something empowering about committing to failure, when you know something’s not working, not bailing on it. And that’s hard. It’s a lot easier to bail. Applying that to all walks of life, all walks of creative work, is something I’m trying to do.”
Not bailing is especially hard when you’re constantly auditioning and being told no. This is the case for most of the TV and film auditions that Margolin goes on. He has nabbed guest spots on New Girl and Hot in Cleveland, but those are the exception to the rule. Margolin has found that creating his own content is the best way for him to persist despite constant rejection.
Taking Control is Comforting
“Going in [for an audition,] doing your thing and having something else to work on—that balance helps me stay motivated, stay active,” Margolin said. “There’s something to me that’s comforting and fulfilling in being able to take some of that control into your own hands.”
Margolin took control by creating several web series of varying genres:
First up after college: “Boychicks.” Alongside Beswick, Ethan Dawes and Julian Silver, Margolin created and starred in the series about a group of roommates and an array of eccentric outside characters, all portrayed by Beswick.
Margolin Had His Apartment Show Too
“Everybody does their apartment show,” Margolin said. “You’re not raising any money. You’re not trying to do anything too grand. [You say] ‘I’m gonna do my show about me living in my apartment and write within those limitations and try to make something funny.”
Margolin followed up that apartment show with a workplace comedy web series called “Pop Click Gossip.” The series, co-starring its co-creators Beswick and Samantha Martin, follows the antics of employees at a gossip website. The characters debate the intelligence of various celebrities and the ethics of releasing a dead celebrity’s sex tape.
Fresh Spin on the Tried and True
In his work, he attempts to inject a fresh spin on the tried and true:
“I hope at the very least we’re trying to do comedy or trying to tell stories that are in some way original or have some original twist in them or some element of surprise to them,” Margolin said.
His most recent project, “New Partner,” does just that:
When examining the tropes of films like “The Departed” and “The Town,” Margolin and Beswick noted the recurring setup of a cop character being assigned a new partner.
Taking the New Cop Partner Theme to the Extreme
They decided to take that trope to a comic extreme. What if there was a cop who couldn’t stop getting his partners killed? This idea propelled their three-part web series “New Partner.”
They launched an Indiegogo campaign that raised $10,000, called in some favors and shot three episodes in 2014. Each episode features Margolin as our doomed hero cop Ron Robinson and an even more doomed new partner, played by Josh Fadem, Wayne Knight and Sasha Spielberg. We know each new partner’s fate, but the journey getting there is hilarious:
New Spin Pays Off in Big Win
Margolin and his team, led by director James Gallagher, submitted those three episodes together as a single pilot to the New York Television Festival where it won Best Comedy Pilot.
That win led Margolin and Beswick to sign with new agents as a writing team. They have since reworked the pilot script as a true half hour TV show and their agents are at work shopping it to industry decision makers.
Currently, Margolin is hard at work on a feature script that, like ‘New Partner,” takes a genre and flips it on its head. Called “Deep Murder,” it’s a murder mystery set in the world of soft-core porn.
Taking Another Genre to its Extreme
His web series “My Boyfriend Is A Robot,” co-created and co-starring Chloe Searcy, remixes the romantic comedy genre, has also been picked up by Freeform’s digital arm. The series takes a basic stereotype—men aren’t in touch with their feelings—and takes it to a comic extreme by creating a boyfriend character who is an actual robot.
By creating his own content, Margolin has carved out success while remaining positive and steadfast in his choices:
“This is it. There’s no backup plan.”