Leave your questions in the comment section. I’ll get to as many as I can. Thanks.
Any thoughts on the challenges of transitioning from stand-up comedy to writing for television? Any specific insights you've gained from working with such people over the years? Their strengths/weaknesses, etc.
When a stand up wants to leave the glamour and glory of working comedy clubs in Omaha on Thursday nights for eight drunks, I generally wonder if (a) he’s really funny, and (b) whether he can adapt his comedy to other characters? And the short answers are yes and no depending.
I don’t go to comedy clubs anymore because on any bill there are invariably three or four deluded souls who are so painfully unfunny it makes my teeth hurt. Who EVER told these idiots they were funny? If anything is going to cause the downfall of modern civilization it’s not drugs, it’s “open mics”.
So there are any number of failed comics trying to transfer their magic to the written page.
On the other hand, there are also some hilarious stand ups who just get tired of the road and seeing that Dane Cook is a success and decide to give writing a try. To them I say, “Welcome!”
And it’s not like you can’t do both. Patton Oswalt is equally brilliant on the stage and page.
But caution: It’s been my experience that most comedians have this insatiable need for love and attention. That usually doesn’t sit well in a room with others. Imagine being trapped in a small office twelve hours a day with Ant. And some comics find it hard to adjust to being behind the scenes.
Good stand ups all have developed very well defined comic personas. The angry guy. The put upon guy. The Asian/Swedish/mother/lesbian/figher pilot/model. Many times they’ll write spec scripts and suddenly all the characters from OLD CHRISTINE sound like them. The good news is you have a strong voice. The bad news is you’re not Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Stand ups tend to be stronger on the jokes than on story (big revelation). It’s a different skill set but one that can be learned. You can’t teach funny (although a lot of community colleges misguidedly try).
At the end of the day talent trumps all. Comedy writing is a big adjustment if you’re a brick layer too. But if you’re good, and funny, and your name isn’t Gallagher you’ve probably got a good shot.
Thank you, ladies and germs. You’ve been a wonderful audience.