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The Five Spot: Marissa Ronca

Bonus Five: Shows on Your DVR? ‘I don’t DVR. Too much work, too many other ways to access content.’ | All-time top TV show? ‘Oh geez, tough call but I’ll give it to Breaking Bad. (Runners up: Fargo season 2 & SNL … now & always!)’ | Favorite app? Lyft (a necessity) and Instagram (a diversion) | Best recent meal, and where? ‘The chef’s table at Woodley Proper in Encino. Bone marrow sushi. Trust me.’ | What books are on your nightstand? The Female Persuasion (Meg Wolitzer), Waiting for the Punch (Marc Maron), There There (Tommy Orange)

Marissa Ronca was promoted to her current post in January 2016, and has hustled to evolve truTV into a premium comedy destination. She’s spent more than a decade at the Turner network, dating back to when truTV was Court TV. Tru originals include Impractical Jokers, Adam Ruins Everything and Billy on the Street, the latter scoring the network’s first-ever Emmy nomination last summer.

It’s a lively summer for truTV. Premieres include game show Paid Off with Michael Torpey on July 10 and scripted anthology comedy Bobcat Goldthwait’s Misfits & Monsters on July 11. Ronca said of the Goldthwait project, “It’s one of those risky, ambitious big swings that we just got excited about.”

She spoke with B&C senior content producer – programming Michael Malone about what’s next for truTV.

How do you define the truTV brand today?
I simply define us as a comedy brand. We’re the only all-original comedy brand on cable. We own all of our content, and that allows us to be a bit more experimental. But in its simplest description, I’d just say we’re all original comedy.

What’s the next step in truTV’s evolution?
The secret of our success has been staying the course, staying true to the vision that we set when we rebranded this to a comedy network. Our goal is always to find point-of-view, creator-driven content. Those are extremely difficult to find. That’s why, when you find that right recipe, those are most often passion projects and it makes them uncopyable in a lot of ways. At Home with Amy Sedaris or Billy on the Street or Adam Ruins Everything — the creators are so woven into the shows, their names are in the titles.

Why was late night worth entering?
Primetime is extremely crowded. We have a younger demographic; our median age is around 34 years old. We have a lot of people still watching in the late-night space. Our approach to late night hasn’t been to do a traditional show. We see ourselves as more of an oasis of comedy that you can click on that time of night, sit back and relax. It’s been a place to be really experimental. Chris Gethard on live Tuesday nights — that’s always a show that can go right off the rails.

What is a show you wish you had on tru?
I would say [Pop’s] Schitt’s Creek. It’s really funny, first of all. It’s a nice combination of Eugene Levy-Catherine O’Hara comedy, but it brings in a younger audience through Daniel Levy. The type of comedy is right for us. Generally I don’t covet shows on other platforms, but watching that, I was like, ‘Oh, that would’ve probably been interesting.’ It comes with built-in fandom, and fandom is something that can always give any network a leg up. Talking about doing Chris Gethard, or something with Steve Lemme and Kevin Heffernan, who did Super Troopers [they’re doing Tacoma FD for truTV], we know that fans want to see them, will make an appointment to watch, and will find those shows no matter what platform they’re on. That’s something that Schitt’s Creek has going for it—a real affinity for those actors.

How does March Madness work out for truTV?
It’s great! It brings tons of eyeballs onto tru that aren’t usually here. We’re able to do a lot with marketing, to tell people about the content that we have. Lots of times that audience is not necessarily a comedy audience, but is staying to watch the shows. If we can convert a few of them every year, it’s just great visibility.