Last night, in front of a full auditorium at Sadler Center, Bill Lawrence spoke to students about his career, his TV show, and his return visit to his alma mater.
Lawrence, the creator of the TV show “Scrubs,” is a 1990 William and Mary graduate with a degree in English. He came back to the college to personally screen student films and talk about what students need to do to make it after college.
“Sometimes you do what you have to do, to do what you want to do,” Lawrence said. “You can do anything, no matter what your major. Your parents might get mad, but there’s no rush.”
Lawrence, a former Kappa Alpha, came back to his old campus at the request of Alma Mater Productions, the student activities board, and The Virginia Informer, a William and Mary student newspaper. Students entered films into a contest specifically designed for his visit.
Suzanne Seurattan, a college spokesman, said the students entered about 30 films in all, with about five students working on each film. Aside from screening and judging films Seurattan said Lawrence was very generous with his time while here.
“He went to two classes today, a career event, toured the library, and looked through the archives for scripts he sent us,” she said.
Lawrence was a bit groggy from a late night of festivities with his fraternity, but he was ready to answer all questions and explain his career in animated detail. “When I was here we didn’t have a film program; you can do anything if you’re stupid enough,” he said.
The winning film was announced at the talk. “Magic Dream House” is a brief story about roommates who dream together, and have control over their dreams. They use this talent so one of the characters can tell a girl he likes her while she’s asleep. Hilarity ensues when the friends have to put the girl to sleep so he can tell her how he feels.
“I chose this one because it’s a quirky script with great visual comedy,” said Lawrence.
After showing eight seasons of bloopers from “Scrubs,” Lawrence held a question-and-answer period that let students in on his career and his love for TV writing.
“I always used writing as an outlet. I did some stand-up after college – but I enjoy writing my daydreams,” he said.
“Scrubs” is based on his best friend and former classmate at William and Mary. The “Real J.D.,” as he’s known on the set, is the medical advisor for the show and a popular cardiologist in Los Angeles.
At the end of the evening Lawrence gave out autographed “Scrubs” DVD’s, scripts, posters, actual scrubs, and “Scrubs” brand Chapstick to those who could answer his tough show-related trivia.
“It’s not really Chapstick; I made it at home,” he joked before diving into trivia.
“Who can name J.D.’s ex-girlfriends he mentioned in an episode from season one?”
He chose from random raised hands in the crowd for his answers. “Mole butt,” said one student, which was correct. “Gift shop girl,” shouted another. Also correct.
The questions continued.
“What’s the bearded doctor’s name?”
Another random student yelled “Colonel Doctor!”
“That’s right!” he replied, handing out a DVD.
As the trivia became more difficult Lawrence handed out the swag to student ushers so they could give it to people in the crowd.
He ended his talk with a heart-felt thank you to the students, the campus and his fans.
He will be in town today speaking to one more class on campus. Then he’s headed back to Los Angeles to his wife and three children.