What better preparation for the 4th of July holiday weekend than Friday Questions?
Pete starts us off:
There's a Mindy Project episode where a character has been looking at porn on his girlfriend's computer. She mentions finding it on her browser history, to which he responds, "What's a browser history?"
It's a really funny scene. But as I laughed, I thought there's just no way a NYC doctor--even a semi-Luddite--could be so clueless. As a sitcom writer, if you have to pick one, what's more important: Telling a good joke or not straining credulity in the process?
My firm rule is to always play characters at the top of their intelligence. Sacrificing that for a joke, even a great joke, undermines your character and series. I won't do it. Period. But that’s just me.
Now… in this instance, a case could be made that the character wouldn’t know browser history. I can’t say. I don’t know the character well enough. There may have been spirited debate in the writing room. They may have believed that that blind spot was credible for that character. If that’s the case, then the bit was valid without sacrificing any integrity. But if they were just rationalizing in order to keep the joke, then we have different priorities.
David Kruh asks:
Back when you were writing for hit shows like mash and then in the 80s for cheers, television audiences had very few channels from which to choose. Now with hundreds of channels and a fractured audience does that change the way you would write for a sitcom today? In other words would you target your writing for a specific audience, or do you feel that funny is funny no matter how broad the demographic?
No. I write to the premise and theme of the show. I try to make it as funny as I can while being true to my vision of the show.
And we (David Isaacs and I) try to only write shows and subject matter we feel we can write with authority. Since our humor is character-based we hope that it resonates with multiple generations.
But we don’t do things like throw in a bunch of pop culture references because “that’s what the kids like these days.”
From GS in SF about my post where I chided musicians for introducing band members and yammering during the emotional songs people came to hear.
Here is a question for Ken... does he want the song to remain the same as it was on the record? Or is an acoustic version of a hit song appreciated? Or a different riff or a medley used on a standard song? Because while a talk over may take someone out of the moment of the song, I think all music is like improvisational jazz. I do not think the same can be said for all plays.
A different version or arrangement of a song can be interesting. But often what I hear are just singers being lazy, screwing with the songs because they’re bored with singing them. Especially when part of the attraction of a song might be the purity of the performance, I feel cheated when the singer sloughs it off in the name of “variety.”
I saw Bette Midler recently and was very impressed with how well and how enthusiastically she still sang her songs. She delivered their full impact. Meanwhile, she had plenty of time for patter and goofing around.
DwWashburn has the final question.
With the All Star game being played this year in Cincinnati, it has been rumored that Pete Rose will participate in the festivities. Interesting how MLB will call Pete when it benefits them (All Star Game, All Century Players, anniversary of Rose breaking Cobb's record).
What’s your opinion on the whole Rose / gambling mess in baseball?
Rose knew all of this but thought of himself as above the game. He’s not. No one is, no matter how many hits they've gotten.
And he continues to lie. He's always insisted he never bet as a player (only as a manager). Now proof is coming out that indeed he did bet as a player.
GREAT ballplayer. Complete knucklehead. For continuing to lie for almost thirty years I say he's got zero chance of getting in the Hall of Fame. Sorry Reds fans, but that's how I feel.
Have a safe and sane 4th of July.