I've been teaching sitcom writing at a well known film school for the last six years. During the first five, I used a book, which I won't name, as a way to give structure to the class. Nobody liked it, especially me. It was outdated, dull, and self-congratulatory. So last year I chose not to use a book at all. Things went okay, but there just isn't enough time in the semester to talk about everything in a way that sinks in. As the Chinese say, "Repetition is the mother of learning." There was nothing but their notes to remind students of what I had gone over in class.
No more. Sheldon Bull's book, "Elephant Bucks," is just what I was looking for and didn't know it. Sheldon, a real sitcom pro, clearly outlines what you need to do to prepare to write a sitcom episode, then guides you step by step (and his seven step approach closely mirrors my seven step approach to feature writing) as you write and rewrite your spec script. His examples are helpful and really quite amusing, and his style is lean and to the point. He knows what he's doing.
But there's more to sitcom writing than writing. Sheldon takes you into right into the writers room with practical advice that I wish I'd had before I got my first staff job. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Sheldon makes it easy to fit in from the first day.
I'm adopting this book for both my undergraduate and graduate classes. I highly recommend you read this book before you write your first spec sitcom, and, if you've already written one, read this before you submit it anywhere. You'll be glad you did.