And Here’s the Kicker

Eventually comedy fandom evolves from mere appreciation into the search for every behind the scenes detail, including what is inside the minds of the writers.

And Here’s the Kicker is a compilation of 21 interviews with comedy writers.  The interviews were conducted and edited by Mike Sacks.

Here is what I learned from my favorite interviewees:

Stephen Merchant: Ricky Gervais and he wrote the dialogue by improvising into a tape recording and then editing it down to be typed; M*A*S*H was shown without a laugh track in England; “…there’s always the danger that we as comedy fans are writing comedy for other comedy fans [as opposed to writing for an audience]; [on the differences between American and British humor] “American humor—they’re not ashamed to use slang and vernacular…Whereas in England, there’s a need to display one’s intelligence”

Larry Wilmore: decided to devote his life to comedy after his family’s roof caved in, “I already had nothing—it’s not like I could achieve that twice;” he does a “writer’s stand-up act” (meaning it isn’t personality-driven, jokes are somewhat disconnected); worked on a canceled pilot for Fox about a white writer who joins the writing staff of a black sitcom (it was canceled because the lead wasn’t attractive enough—the actor? Paul Giamatti); “There should be no racial loyalty so much as comedy loyalty”

Bob Odenkirk: reputation as a perfectionist; considers the Mr. Show sketches “Clumsy Waiter” and “Philouza” to be the worst; “honesty is everything;” was unhappy with SNL’s writing process (if something didn’t go over well at the pitch meeting it was permanently rejected)

Paul Feig: “I’m very much a purist about memories and the truth in stories…I can think of a lot of funnier endings for everything that’s ever happened to me in my life, but that’s not the point;” while working as a script reader he realized that 99.9% of script are terrible; “the cruel side of me likes creating situations where people get buried deeper and deeper [thus raising the stakes for humiliation]

Mitch Hurwitz: earned theology and English degrees from Georgetown; [on being reluctant to encourage people to go into entertainment] “It can make a lot of people very, very unhappy;” “In retrospect, perhaps a majority of people didn’t want to see such a detailed show [Arrested Dev] and didn’t want complexity with their humor;” writers need to have compassion for their characters/stories; there was a hug in almost every episode of Arrested Dev

David Sedaris: if you want to be a good writer, you need to read; rejects exaggerating in his earlier stories (he was ‘trying too hard’ and that embellishing made it hard for audiences to believe him); edits his pieces while reading to an audience; “My main concern is to not be too corny;” he gets out of bed at 10:26 am every morning

Each interview is 10-15 pages, and covers what the writers think of their previous work, how they write, what motivates them, and their advice for aspiring comedy writers.

There’s also advice about getting hired as a sitcom or late-night writer or acquiring a literary or screenplay agent and a list of recommended reading.

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The Mindy Project

YAY! Mindy Kaling’s new show (formerly “It’s Messy”) has received a “series order” from FOX.  I’m sad that she is leaving The Office, but I think she is getting off the Titanic and onto a 5 Star Cruiseliner. If you only know Mindy from The Office, you have to read her book! If you read her book, you will learn that her mother was an OBGYN. Inspiration for her character? I think so!

Also, Bill Hader! And Richard Schiff! And Ed Helms! I think they are only guesting for the pilot though. It was definitely a little weird to see Kelly and Andy on a date.

Premiering in the fall (set to air on Tuesdays at 9:30 PM ET/PT), the show features Kaling as an obsessed-with-but-still-unlucky-in-love doctor, with some apparently self-destructive habits and pervasive insecurities. While the trailer does fly high on the powers of femininity, it’s not something that men won’t find entertaining. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, there’s nothing unfunny about Mindy Kaling backpedaling after inviting Ed Helms to sleep with her on the first date.

                             – Hollywood.com

30Rock is going off the air, but I think The Mindy Project will be able to pick up slack in the laughs department (not the most attractive metaphor, oh well).

BJ Novak

BJ Novak is best known as Ryan (the temp) on The Office.  He is also a writer, director, and co-executive producer on/for the show. And he does stand-up.

For fans of Encyclopedia Brown, a new generation has arrived:

My favorite joke of his is in this video:

Battered women…sounds delicious, doesn’t make it right.

Battleground and Veep

Battleground is Hulu’s first original scripted web-series.  It is a mockumentary about a state senate campaign in Wisconsin.  Battleground is a comedy with a few poignant or serious moments here and there.  The show focuses on the campaign manager, a few staff members, and a young volunteer. New episodes on Tuesdays!

I love politics; I’m a huge West Wing nerd.  And I especially love political satire: In the Loop, The Thick of It, Dr. Strangelove, even some aspects of Parks and Rec hit the mark.

Another political show on the horizon is Veep. Coming to HBO in April, it stars Julia Louis Dreyfus as the Vice President (and Anna Chlumsky from My Girl and In the Loop and Tony Hale from Arrested Development). The show is sure to be hilarious, due to Armando Iannucci’s involvement (creator of The Thick of It). Here is the new trailer:

 

PS: Jack De Sena from Dorm Life plays Cole Graner in Battlefield! What a small world!

DORM LIFE!!!!

I hope that my title expresses how much I love the show Dorm Life.  Because I love Dorm Life.  I love it. LOVE it.

It is the most watched web-series on Hulu.

Dorm Life is a mockumentary about the students who live on floor 5 South.  It was created by former students of UCLA. The show is like The Office, with a little Jim-Pam romance, and some crazy characters (omg the RA!).  If you ever feel like you miss college, this will take you right back!

There are only two seasons and the episodes are five to ten minutes long.  Get started today!!!

 

Mindy Kaling is my Lady Hero

So, about a month ago there was a “sponsored” post on Jezebel advertising Mindy Kaling’s new book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and it had an excerpt (on friendship) read by Ms. Kaling herself.  I cannot find this post anymore 😦

But, I found a different passage (on exercise), to post. Thanks trusty Youtube!

Also, Mindy Kaling has been touring the press and offering up some insider Office info and some back story on how she ended up in showbiz.

From Mindy’s NPR interview:

If you want some insight into Kaling’s own hobbies, you may want to follow her voluminous and wildly entertaining Twitter feed, or visit her website, The Concerns of Mindy Kaling, where traces of the Kelly Kapoor persona are prominent.

Can’t wait to get my copy!!!!