Before landing his current job, David Ruby worked at HBO Max, Fox and 3 Arts Entertainment, where he honed his skills and furthered his interest in comedy development. Now a creative executive at Netflix and responsible for buying, developing and overseeing original adult animated comedy series, he credits his Chapman education for preparing him for the working world. He recently sat down for a quick chat about his influential Dodge classes, what a typical workday looks like and his love of NBC’s “Must See TV.”
How have your past experiences helped you climb the corporate ladder?
Having a front-row seat to the last decade of corporate merging, un-merging, and the streaming wars has been exhausting but wildly educational. Being a collaborative, motivated, kind, hard-worker will get you almost everywhere — but CEOs are gonna do what they’re gonna do! I think those ups and downs have helped me remember that I’m very lucky to make TV for a living with funny, talented people, so no matter what comes, I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had.
What was your most influential course, professor, or club at Chapman University?
James Dutcher was my favorite professor! He was so encouraging and immediately understood the kind of stories I loved and wanted to emulate. Every day in my development job I think about the way he taught writing and helped us diagnose what could take a script from good to great. Shout outs to Dan Pavelin and Mel Cooper as well who taught me how to act on a film set and not look like an idiot.
Did you always have an interest in comedy? How did you get involved in comedy development?
Life is sad enough! The entertainment that has always meant the most to me helps me laugh at life’s absurd inequities and remember not to take everything so seriously. The NBC Thursday night comedy block of the 2000s is what made me want to work in the business in the first place, so I made it my mission to chase the companies and artists who were responsible for that content. That’s how I ended up at 3 Arts — that, and the good word of a Chapman alum who worked there and helped me get the job!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
What I love about my job is that it’s filled with lots of variety. On any given day I’m hearing pitches for new series, reading and evaluating material, and working with creators to sharpen and develop their ideas. [I’m also] working with our production teams to keep all our shows on track and creatively aligned, and even being the point of contact for our marketing, publicity, and product teams as we prepare to bring our shows to the world.
How did your time in Chapman’s film production program prepare you for a career in development?
In my relatively short career, I’ve already gotten to try a lot of different things — live action, animation, kids’ content, comedy, and more. In my time at Dodge, we were all encouraged to try every different job, every different medium we could get our hands on. All that experimenting helped give me the confidence to not get pigeonholed, and to always be ready to learn about new ways to bring great stories to life.
You worked on Made for Love and Hacks. Do you have any favorite memories from those experiences?
The single best part of my job is having a front-row seat to watch people do what they do best. The first seasons of both of those shows were produced mid-pandemic and as hard and chaotic as that was, we knew we were making fantastic shows that people would love. My favorite memory is probably getting to see Chapman alum (and two-time Emmy nominee) Hannah Einbinder shine as Ava in Hacks. Fun fact: I was her freshman RA in Glass Hall!
If you could live in any fictional TV show world, which one would it be and why?
I’m gonna say Tuca & Bertie. I would love for the world to be filled with light, sound, color, and kindness like that show is! That or Our Flag Means Death because I think I would make a great pirate.