Writing An All-Out Comedy About How To Be Single

A comedy about learning how to be single—and have a hell of a time—in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love

How to Be Single is an all-out comedy that shows how they’re all out there making the most of the single lifestyle, in the most outrageous ways imaginable.


Led by an ensemble cast that includes some of today’s hottest comedic actresses, including Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann, and such rising comedy stars as Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas and Colin Jost, the film follows a host of singles at various stages of—and with varying opinions on—the single state.

The film’s director, Christian Ditter, states, “I wanted to make a really modern and fresh take on the comedy genre as it deals with partying, having fun, dating—a snapshot of what it really means to be single today.  A lot of movies that deal with men and women and dating are about finding the right one, but this is not that; it’s about embracing the most fun and free time of life while you’re also finding your place in the world, finding friends, finding out what you want to do with your life.”

Christian Ditter (Love, Rosie,The Crocodiles) directed the comedy from a screenplay by Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (The Vow, He’s Just Not That Into You) and Dana Fox (Couples Retreat, What Happens in Vegas), screen story by Kohn & Silverstein, based on the book by Liz Tucillo (TV’s “Sex & the City,” He’s Just Not That Into You).

Christian Ditter

Christian Ditter (Director) is a Munich-based writer and director who directed his first English language film, the romantic comedy “Love, Rosie,” starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin, based on a book by Cecelia Ahern and adapted by Juliette Towhidi. The film opened internationally in October 2014 and in the U.S. in February of this year. Ditter studied at the University of Television and Film in Munich. His short films won numerous awards at international film festivals and his debut feature, “French for Beginners,” hit the top ranks in the German box office charts in summer 2006. In 2008, he adapted one of Germany’s most beloved children’s books, The Crocodiles, for the big screen. The film won over 50 audience and jury awards at international film festivals and was followed up by two sequels, “The Crocodiles Strike Back” in 2009, which Ditter co-wrote and directed, and “The Crocodiles: All for One” in 2010, which he co-wrote and co-produced. After that, Ditter wrote and directed Germany’s first major adventure film shot entirely in 3D, “Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods,” which also reached the top box office slot in autumn 2011.

There’s a right way to be single, a wrong way to be single, and then…there’s Alice.  And Robin.  Lucy.  Meg.  Tom.  Ken.  David.  Josh.  George.

New York City is full of fun seekers seeking the right match, be it a love connection, a hook-up, or something in the middle.

And somewhere between the late night date nights, teasing texts and one-night stands, what these unmarrieds all have in common is the need to learn how to be single—and have a hell of a time—in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love.

Sleeping around in the city that never sleeps has never been so much fun.

Single in New York City?  Or London, L.A., Munich, Miami, or anywhere in between?

These days, in cities big and small, there’s a nightlife rife with girls’ nights out, singles’ bars, online dating and one-night stands arranged on apps—no romance required.

Today’s singles aren’t necessarily looking for Ms. or Mr. Right, or drowning their sorrows in their lonely bachelor/ette pads.

Led by an ensemble cast that includes some of today’s hottest comedic actresses, including Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann, and such rising comedy stars as Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas and Colin Jost, the film follows a host of singles at various stages of—and with varying opinions on—the single state.

Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (Screen Story/Screenplay) got their start at USC, where they both received MFAs in Film Production, and co-wrote and directed the award winning short Fairfax Fandango.Just months out of school, they sold a romantic comedy pitch entitled Never Been Kissed, and a few months later, their script was being produced. They’ve gone on to co-write the hit films He’s Just Not That Into You, Valentine’s Day and The Vow, and have also ventured into television, where they created, wrote and produced several television projects, including the Fox series Opposite Sex, and the pilots Close to Home and Splitsville, also for Fox.They recently adapted the romantic adventure novel On the Island for MGM, and are currently working with MGM once more on the adaptation of the New York Times Bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue.

How to Be Single takes us along with Alice as she ventures into a new job, a new city—New York—a newly unattached life, and all that goes along with it.  Dakota Johnson, who plays the fresh-faced Alice, says, “I loved how believable the story was—we’ve all been that person who is stumbling through, trying to figure things out.”

Fox, who worked with Johnson previously, was happy to see the actress go back to a comedic role after several more dramatic parts.  “Dakota is just naturally talented, especially when it comes to comedy, both physical and verbal,” she states.  “As a writer, it’s such a pleasure for me to work with her again, because nothing comes out feeling ‘written.’”

Producer John Rickard notes, “It’s a universal experience, being young, right out of college and discovering a whole big world.  Or a few years later, hitting another one of those crossroads: what do I care about, what do I want to spend my life doing, does another person even figure into the picture?  We often think it’s a partner we have to find, but it’s really ourselves, and that can be scary.”

Happily, what’s scary in real life can make us laugh the hardest when it’s played out on film.

Dana Fox

One of Hollywood’s most sought-after screenwriters, Dana Fox (Screenplay/Producer) is a writer and producer known for such comedies as Couples Retreat, What Happens in Vegas and The Wedding Date. Fox was also the creator, writer and executive producer of the critical darling Ben and Kate on Fox, starring Dakota Johnson. Fox is a graduate of Stanford University, and the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where she received her MFA from the Peter Stark Producing Program.

Screenwriter/producer Dana Fox, a comedy veteran, offers, “Romantic comedies are always centered on the romance, but this is a comedy about the time in between the relationships, when you’re out there to have a good time in this crazy age of staring at your cell phone, having entire conversations in 140 characters or less and ‘swiping right’ to meet people.  There are so many advantages to a film with so many funny stories to tell.

“In any movie,” she continues, “you want audiences to feel like they’re along on the journey.  We have Dakota Johnson’s character, Alice, to provide the heart and soul of the story, and we have all these other great women and men to follow along and laugh with.”

Or laugh at.  Returning to her comedy roots, Johnson deftly handles Alice’s fumbling attempts to meet men upon finding herself newly single, especially when paired with Rebel Wilson’s extreme party girl, Robin, the perfect tour guide through the world of free drinks, hook-ups and text message protocol.  Alison Brie’s Lucy is a girl on an online dating mission, and Leslie Mann’s Meg has been on the career track and sort of forgotten to have a personal life.  Along with the guys they all meet along the way, they exemplify the wide range of what it’s like out there.

Ditter says, “I loved the script, I thought it was hilariously funny but also true to life, and it continued to evolve once we got on set with Dana and all these amazing comedic talents and their incredible improv skills.  So what we ended up with in the film are characters and stories I see a lot of my own experiences in, and friends’ experiences, too.  I think that anyone who’s been single—and that’s, well, everybody—will have a lot of fun and find a lot to laugh about when they relate it to their own life.”

Liz Tuccillo (Author) was a writer for the last two seasons of the HBO series Sex and the City, for which she wrote the episode The Post-it Always Sticks Twice. She went on to co-write the bestselling book He’s Just Not That Into You. Her second book, a novel titled How to Be Single, was published in the summer of 2008, and a webisode series of the same title was also released at that time. She most recently wrote, directed and produced the comedy drama Take Care, which was nominated for a Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival in 2014. A native New Yorker, she is a graduate of La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts and NYU.

Another guy to take one of the gals by surprise is George, played by Jason Mantzoukas, and his casting turned out to be something of a surprise to both the actor and the filmmakers as well.  Ditter explains, “We were having a writers’ roundtable, talking about the script and pitching jokes, adding something here and something there.  Jason was invited to join because he’s also a writer, and every joke he pitched was so funny.  He also didn’t just say the jokes, he acted them out.  After the roundtable session, we all looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, this guy just played the part, let’s hire him.’”  The filmmakers contacted Mantzoukas and asked him to join the cast and do everything he’d just done, only this time on camera.  The actor quickly agreed.

Once on set, Mantzoukas recalls, “There was a great script, with lots of jokes, so we did takes that were straight from that.  Then we’d come up with other beats or alternative jokes, and do takes that were totally improvised.  We also did takes with alternative jokes that Dana Fox had written for the scenes, so we could try going off in different directions.  It was such a terrific creative experience for all of us.”

“We were very lucky that all the actors we had were very good on their feet and could riff off each other,” says Ditter, “which allowed for a lot of experimentation.  I think that by having our very talented ensemble contribute creatively, we got the fresh, contemporary feel we were going for.”