Visiting and Adjunct
Neil Thompson teaches a series of television comedy classes in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media.
He grew up in Ames, Iowa, and attended Iowa State University, earning his B.S. degree in history, with distinction, in 1970. While at ISU, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, lettered in both cross country and track for the Cyclones, and was tapped for Cardinal Key, the highest award granted to undergraduate men for service to the university.
After college, Thompson moved to Minneapolis, Minn., where he began a performing career with the long running improvisational theater company Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop. In 1975, Thompson migrated to Los Angeles to pursue an acting and writing career that spanned more than 30 years. After appearing on several shows, including M*A*S*H, Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days, Kojak, McCloud and Private Benjamin, Thompson shifted his focus to writing comedy. He was a staff writer for 14 primetime network comedy series, contributing 65 credited scripts. He co-created and executive produced two series and co-executive produced six more. His credits include Police Squad!; Happy Days; Dreams; You Again?; Webster; Night Court; Stand By Your Man (co-creator and executive producer); The Boys Are Back; The Faculty (co-creator and executive producer); Men Behaving Badly; Union Square; Caroline in the City; God, the Devil, and Bob; and Malcolm in the Middle for which he was nominated three times by the Writers Guild of America for best comedy script of the year. He won the award in 2006.
Thompson received his M.A. degree in U.S. cultural history from California State University, Northridge in 2009. He has since taught five different history courses at CSUN, including one he created entitled "Hollywood and History," which uses popular film as a means of understanding the social, cultural, and political themes of 20th century America.