Friday, May 08, 2009

The funniest scene I ever directed

It's a show and tell answer to a bonus question.

Scott Siegel asked:

Recently I've been introducing my children to the great sitcoms of the past. And often I will just show them some classic scenes that work by themselves (such as Lucy at the Candy Shop, Rev. Jim getting his driver's license, Oscar and Felix on Password). Are there any scenes that you and David wrote that you are perfectly proud of in terms of its comedic timeliness?

This isn't a scene we wrote but it is a scene I directed and it makes me laugh every time I watch it. It's from a FRASIER episode called "Roz and the Schnoz", hilariously written by Jeff Richman. It was quite a director's challenge to maximize all the moments and reveals and I'm very proud of how it came out.

Roz is about to meet the parents of the father of her soon-to-be child. Enjoy.

What's your question???


Richman Fan said...

Jeffrey Richman. Unless it was written by Tina Fey's husband.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious Ken. We need some of this today!!

YEKIMI said...

I guess if you're going to show a clip about people with large noses you couldn't have "picked" a better one.

Tom Berg said...

I love that scene! Nice job!

I do have a question.

It's kinda come to a head over the last few weeks.

Is Hollywood getting short on actors?

I ask because in the last 2 weeks, I've noticed the same actor on CSI:Miami who played some kind of perv also played a distraught father on Law and Order.

Not only that but the actress who plays the President's daughter on 24 was just on CSI:Miami as a single mom/waitress??

There have been other instances as well, but these 2 I mention because they happened recently and were so glaring.

Paul Duca said...

Were the noses real or fake?

blogward said...

I remember that scene being a hoot when I first watched it. Now, though there are some great lines, it just seems kind of snotty.

mcp said...

I thought the dialog was on the nose.

There. I said it and I'm glad.

A. Buck Short said...

This is clearly the best take I’ve ever seen on that old bit about either one or both members of a handsome Jewish couple having had rhinoplasty, and then being surprised to give birth to a kid with a proboscis the size of a Subways foot-long. Were Jordan Baker and Kevin Kilner already a married couple by the time they were cast as the Garretts? Or did she just get a look at that honker and think to herself, “Well, you know what they say about a guy with big hands…."

Incidentally, I think I saw a version of this on Cinemax After Dark, where the mother-to-be gets a preview of the bris.

When Paula says, “I could use a breath of fresh air,” is there a chance that the first draft had Niles muttering, “Well, leave some for us?” Or could that only be a Martin Crane line, and he hadn’t arrived yet? Or did you need to hold back for “Smell Japan” later on?

I watched this over and over, and really have an appreciation for how the blocking contributed to the rhythm of this scene. As did the reactions without the need for dialogue. When the gang was all doubled over in the kitchen at roughly the same angle, I just kept thinking of the Marx Bros. And it just struck me funny that Martin is pretty much at that angle most of the time to begin with.

I can visualize a few other sitcoms that might have hit you over the head, flashing the words, “nice save!!!” each time one of the regulars caught him or herself about to step in it; but each variation on the theme built on the others just perfectly.

Were the words Roz and schoz ever actually paired in any part of the episode? Can you remember any nose references that got tossed out in fits of restraint?

I forgot to mention this once before, but did you know that neither Kevin Kilner nor his character Mike Ryan are listed in the cast of Almost Perfect on IMDB? At least on the free version we peasants use. There are a bunch of other Ryans listed, but not Mike.

Finally, only on television could so many different people coincidentally arrive at the same apartment from so many different places within a two minute period :)

John said...

My all-time favorite "comedy of manners" scene, and my favorite Tony Randall scene, period, was the "Smile and say 'midget'" gag from "The Odd Couple", when Felix takes his daughter on a family portrait photo job.

The key is to have a character like a Felix or the Crane brothers for whom appearances, manners and dignity are so much a part of the personality you can milk a scene like this forever by showing their efforts to avoid embarrassing everyone before the bomb finally drops.

Michael Green said...

When we first saw that scene, we were rolling on the floor. Every time we see it, we still do. And that shows the comedic power of the whole thing--the writing, acting and, yes, directing.

Cap'n Bob said...

Was there any backlash from the Nose Liberation Front or some other pro-probisis group? Could we even make jokes about physical attributes today in prime time?

rita said...

i. would. have. so. fallen. apart!

verification: "rented" -- is in 'add on'. no kiddin!

Ned said...

Funny... this episode was on last week, and I almost wrote in a comment on how well you directed it, with the framing of characters between the noses and whatnot.

As a semi-related aside, did anyone else notice that this week's online issue of the Economist features a photo of a politician with an extraordinarily large nose next to a headline that includes the phrase "pecking order"?

Well, I laughed, and I suppose that's all that matters.

Mary Stella said...

The Giant Schnauzer line kills me.

D. McEwan said...

"Paul Duca said...
Were the noses real or fake?"

You must never have seen any of Kevin Kilner's many other TV appearances. Those noses are as fake as Dick Cheney's insistences that torture works.

But the laughter in the kitchen was real.

flem snopes said...

Mary Stella said...

The Giant Schnauzer line kills me.
I kept waiting for Niles to say, "Well of course you do."

PALGOLAK said...

not funny.

Lairbo said...

If you've ever written about the Marshall Chronicles, I somehow missed it. Care to say anything about it?

Anonymous said...

Hilarious! OMG, I'm wiping tears from my eyes, between this and the Albania song clip. Truly two of the best written (and best directed!) shows ever to be shown on television.

The giant schnauzer line is what really set me off. Were the actors and actresses (DHP, Jane Leeves and John Mahoney in particular) really laughing at that point?

Richard Y said...

When a comedy show is filmed in front of a live studio audience (the producers hope they are alive) 'Laverne & Shirley', and many others for example. How do they set up the sight gags that one would see coming if sitting in the audience (and not laugh) but when viewing at home the audience laughter is appropriately placed as the sight gag is reveled?

Hope that makes sense

Brian Phillips said...

To Tom Berg:

EVERYONE has been on Law and Order at one time or another.

Check the reruns and you at find the episode you were in. I've probably been on it myself.

I don't they did it.

Dana Gabbard said...

To Tom Berg:

I suspect it is partly a function of casting folks talking to each other. If you do a good job word gets around and you start finding more doors open for you, your agenct is contacted to ask for you to audition for a part, etc.

This isn't a new thing--I was watching one of those 1966 Gunsmoke reruns channel 56 in L.A. now does on the weekend and saw the guy who was the bartender in the classic Trek Tribbles episode turn up as a rain maker. Guys like Charles Lane and William Schalert worked constantly in that era--because they delivered the goods. No different from what you describe.

Ken, as a former showrunner maybe you can talk a bit about casting as one of your Friday questions...

Howard Hoffman said...

If you're sitting in the audience waiting for a scene to start, and with two seconds to action, you hear the director shout "and...REVEAL," you know you're in for a party.

I don't know if it was one of your WINGS episodes, Ken, but that was the case as the audience got a full-on view of Tim Daly's buttocks a second before "action." Everyone practically fell on the floor en masse, and the women in the audience totally paid attention from that moment forward.

Was that the case here, or were the noses big enough for everyone to see?