Wednesday, October 04, 2006

When they don't laugh

First off,

If you ever wondered what I sounded like as a disc jockey...

will run a one hour sample of my work from 1977 on KTNQ tonight at 7 p.m. West Coast time, 10 p.m. East Coast time. Relive all your favorite stiffs from the 70's and see why I got out of radio.

Now to the real post:


To be a TV comedy writer you have to have thick skin. Generally you’re in a room with other comedy writers, all neurotics, competing against each other to get your ideas or jokes in the script. Eight puppies and one sock.

Many times you’ll pitch a joke that doesn’t get a laugh or doesn’t get in. You’re out there with egg on your face. I find it’s best to develop a series of savers. As a public service, here are a few I use. (Note: if you find yourself using all of these in a five minute span consider other employment).


Hey guys, don’t all hoist me on your shoulders at once!

Okay, but you’re denying America pleasure.

Oh God, it’s my prom night all over again.

If Jon Stewart pitched that you’d put it right in.

I hear laughter but I don’t see the pencil moving.

Okay, don’t see your kids tonight. Stay all night. I’m doing this for you. Some thanks I get.

Sure, it’s not funny when I say it. But when (actor) says it…

You’re only mad because you didn’t think of it first.

Nurse! They’re being mean to me again!

The laugh machine will LOVE it.

I bet at JERICO they’d be hysterical.

Fine. I wasn’t meant to be appreciated in my time.

I don’t feel the love, you assholes.

You try being funny when you’re having a stroke.

See it typed. You’ll think differently.

Okay, what if they said it in a funny accent?

I’m sorry. Are there no more seats at the Algonquin Round Table?

So you’re saying perfection isn’t good enough?

Hey, you hired me!

(In Forghorn Leghorn voice) I say, I say, I keep pitchin’ ‘em, boy, and you keep missin’ ‘em.

Jesus, people, doesn’t ANYTHING make you laugh?

You all remember. I used to be funny, right?

And of course, the ultimate saver and perennial crowd pleaser – Go fuck yourself.


Anonymous said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I love your blog. As a TV fan since I was little and then moving out to California to work in the business, it's a real treat to read about your life and times. I'm so glad you decided to write a blog. I check it almost every day hoping for new posts. Thanks!

Diane said...

Many of these will work in the business world too . . .

ME said...

i could have used this entry yesterday! printed and posted on the wall of shame for posterity and easy access, thanks ken

Stephen Gallagher said...

I remember seeing a standup who, when a gag fell flat, looked at the audience for a beat and then began fingerspelling the joke in sign language for the deaf.

The Minstrel Boy said...

the musician's take, if you flub or blow a solo or a song falls flat is "oh well, too cool for the room again."

MaryAn Batchellor said...

the prom night line was for? Sounds like Kirsty line in Cheers.

BrianScully said...

My old standby was "Geez, it got a laugh last night when I saw it on "Newhart".

Anonymous said...

I love the "savers" you've listed here. Some of them would come in handy in the bedroom as well. "If Jon Stewart had tried that, you'd have put it right in!"

Anonymous said...

I love the "Hey, you hired me" line... They're all genius, but you just can't beat Ol' Foghorn for the bon mot.

My personal fave of his (Blanc's?) was "That boy's got more nerve than a bum tooth!"

(Here are 2 lame ones I used: "Okay, who doled out the thorazine this morning?"
{I Pick up the phone and say) "Hello Assassins R Us? I have some work for you!)

Hey, it killed in Fort Worth... sigh.

Doug Barber said...

Algonquin round

Anonymous said...

Sure, you're not laughing now but just wait until you see it in closed captioning!

Anonymous said...

I love the "funny accent" rescue. And it's kinda true, anything can get a laugh when you say it in a goofy accent... loved it on Larry Sanders when Hank did Prince Charles, or Lar made with his interpretation of the "British" accent.

Boltron said...

I love that Foghorn Leghorn cartoon!

The rest of your quote is: "Ya gotta keep your eye on the ball. EYE... BALL... eyeball! I almost had a gag, son. (Joke, that is.)"

Seems appropriate...

Anonymous said...

Hey, Pope Benedikt said it and GERMANS laughed!