Category: Comedy Writers
What is the Chappelle Theory? According to the site, It’s a film with Charlie Murphy, written by Neal Brennan (though I suspect that might just be wrong). Just got dropped this in my mail box - uncertain of source yet. Visit http://www.chappelletheory.com/next. The video links are not working (possibly because they don’t exist)
.(Picture of Chappelle Theory movie page removed because the site is complete bullshit)
More to come. Considering I’ve heard Neal Brennan was bothered by Chappelle believing the sketches for the third season were racist, perhaps this is a pointed satire of that.
It may instead
be the coming out party for anti-social.com (another weblinc domain), which has added this disclaimer to the site (though not in an easy place to find), asking peeps, particularly Cosby, not to sue. See my earlier speculation. It may just also mean that it’s not a film and the whole site, including this update, is a hilarious parody. (Yes, I did just swallow the red pill.)
UPDATE: Site has been changed to show the link to the disclaimer and the logo updated with the addition of word “Bullshit.” I’m impressed - they didn’t get me with the first thing, but they did with the reveal of the fake film. I’ll have to check out anti-social whenever it launches.
Filed Under Comedy Writers
On January 5 of Oh-6, Britain’s Channel 4 will be running an hour-long special featuring a conversation between two masters of uncomfortable comedy, Ricky Gervais and Larry David. There’s been no announcement if or when it will show in the US, but considering HBO has both Curb Your Enthusiasm and Extras, it seems like a perfect fit for them to pick up. But if not them, Comedy Central. Or BBC America. Somebody, please.
Until someone in programing wakes up on this side of the pond, we can read a partial transcript of their meeting thanks to the Daily Telegraph. Included in the text are observations about sitcoms and laughter:
Larry David: That’s the thing with sitcoms: everybody always has to say something funny. And everybody’s saying all these funny things, the audience is laughing, but nobody else in the scene is. (My thoughts on this from an earlier post.)
Another is the assertion by Gervais (41) and David (58) that people under 30 aren’t really that funny:
Ricky Gervais:I think you have to be a certain age to be funny. So few people under the age of 30 are funny.
Larry David: You have to discover when you’re inadequate to be funny and you don’t know you’re inadequate when you’re a kid.
Ricky Gervais: Exactly. Who wants to see unfeasibly good-looking, clever, popular people doing things brilliantly? Who cares?
An interesting argument against the age-ism Hollywood suffers from for not only actors and actresses, but also writers. I think people in their 20s are funny, but I don’t think it would be very easy for young comics to create something like the Office or Curb, which have the stench of failure inbedded in them. They’re funny, just not funny in the beaten-by-life way that Gervais and David have mastered so well. Of course, if you’re in comedy in your 20s you get plenty of rejection. So you’re ready to be really funny when you’re 30.
Again, some cable station (or PBS) should pick this up. If it shows up in bittorrent or one of the P2P networks, write me.
Didn’t like The Comeback much when I first saw it. Heavily influenced by the Office, the show seemed to have a mean streak that seemed to delight in the loss of dignity rather than simply record it like Gervais’ creation did. Plus, one Hollywood satire a night is enough already… so I stuck with Entourage.
That said, I still had to catch the recent episode where Lisa Kudrow’s character Valerie walks in on the show writers imitating her getting sodomized. Considering there’s a lawsuit in the courts relating to the sexual harrassment of a former Friends writers’ assistant, it’s an interesting plot choice. Though a quick check of the Smoking Gun shows none of the derogatory comments in the lawsuit mentioned Kudrow, it does make one wonder despite comments that none of the show draws upon her Friends experience.
The episode would definitely come down on the plantiff’s side, considering the parallels in sexual comments/behavior about a cast member. There’s a nice bend in the episode where the fame-obsessed Valerie ignores that fear of a lawsuit not karma is what finally gets her her own episode. I liked Comeback a bit more this time, the tone that seemed to pick on the pathetic is reduced. I may be so Hollywood-weary that I don’t continue to follow, but if they keep making focused material like this I might.
Filed Under Comedy Writers
Believer Magazine has an online exclusive conversation between the comedy writing twins Steve and Mark O’Donnell. It’s random but it does touch upon being funny as a profession for the “fairly” and Jimmy Kimmel being discovered as “quick and smart” once he gets out from under the pressures of network influence. A good quick read.
Filed Under Comedy Writers
One of the things I try and do with this blog is assist in creating a language about why something is funny and why it isn’t. Having some sort of common ground to explain why something works has to go beyond the broad terms of “funny/not funny.” There’s an actual art to making this crap, even though when it’s done well, it appears so effortless that it’s hard to imagine any labor involved at all.
Although the movies Airplane and The Naked Gun never looked laborless (when you’re throwing that many jokes up against a wall, you don’t exactly exude lazy), the terminology for how the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team talk about creating comedy is endlessly fascinating. I think quite a few of these are common to anyone trying to write something funny, but were unnamed. Check ‘em out and use them with (or on) your writing partner the next time you’re collaborating.
Though I was cautiously favoring the writers’ side when I first blogged the lawsuit, this article tipped me there completely when it noted that plaintiff had none of the sexual references directed at her. Even if the comments were lewd and immaterial to the matter at hand, they all could be part of the creative process. In fact, one anecdote about having oral sex with a prostitute who turned out to be a man inspired a joke actually used on the show. All grist for the mill. Even if you don’t like the humor used in the room, if it gets a usable result, it’s hard to argue it wasn’t necessary to get the job done. You can’t judge beforehand which smutty remark would finally break a joke, so as long as it doesn’t target anyone working on the show, it should be OK. Though it doesn’t excuse the comments on Courtney Cox, Jennifer Aniston or writer/creator Marta Kaufman... it’s clear that most of the “disgusting” language took place in regards to doing the work.
Lindsay Robertson finds fault with the assistant for considering a field like comedy writing if she didn’t have the stomach for the writers’ room talk. I don’t really think that’s entirely fair, after all… at the bottom of any field you are essentially trying out the job and seeing if it’s right for you. (Obviously it wasn’t for the assistant, she’s now in the Air Force… pretty much the exact opposite of comedy writing.) You wouldn’t necessarily imagine the writers from Friends would be talking about Joey being a rapist from watching an episode of the show. But you could be told that when you applied.
I think for every writer and assistant there will need to be a waver which states that the employee acknowledges they will work in an environment where uncomfortable subject matter will come up in order to create material, don’t sue. Sign it if you want to make the funny. People should still have the option of suing if they feel they have been directly sexual harassed… like the Bill O’Reilly case.
To write comedy, do you have to have an uncensored environment? That’s essentially the question that’s being put before the California Supreme Court in a harassment case involving some of the Friends writers. I absolutely fall into the idea that it’s a creative necessity to be able to say anything, because that’s how you find laughs. What makes funny stuff is usually inappropriate stuff that makes people feel uncomfortable. Saying them out loud, creates laughs. And a show like Friends, which is so focused on the sexual behavior of the characters, it seems impossible to work in an environment where talking about sex would be verboten.
But reading the description of what the plaintiff says went on (via The Smoking Gun), it sounds like a lot of it crossed over into the personal, and rather pedestrian, fantasies of the writers on staff (sex with cheerleaders, C’mon?). Although arguably, talking about turning Joey into a serial rapist is a creative process decision (and might explain the sudden move of the character to LA in Joey). This document, of course, only shows her side of the story. What really happened is probably someplace in-between.
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out. I imagine a plaintiff win could mean a lot of repression in writing rooms. For a rather amusing anecdote about an uncensored environment, one that doesn’t cross over into the personal and done purely to relieve creative tension, check out this Louis CK description of a late night writing session at Conan (4th Item down).