This is fantastic news! Glad to hear that several of you want to participate in the Late Night Writing & Submission Workshop.
The date is Confirmed as Wednesday, July 31st, 2013.
The information is below to sign up for the workshop. I will help you get your material organized so that you can submit to shows and submit to the NBCUniversal contest for the weekend Late Night Workshop in New York!
What is this about?
Get more information below! And get on this. These opportunities don’t come often!
Late Night Joke Writing & Submission Workshop
Want to get prepared to submit to the Late Night Shows as a writer but don’t know what to do, what they’re looking for or how to format it?
Well then you don’t want to miss this!
Late Night Joke Writing & Submission Workshop to prepare you for this opportunity. I will cover:
How to write jokes quickly for Late Night
How to write jokes in the style of Late Night.
What they look for in Late Night Joke Submissions
How to separate yourself from the pack
How to properly format a sketch package
What the earning potential is for a staff writer
How to write volumes of jokes on one topic
3 Easy steps to create compelling sketch concepts
…and much more
This will be a 4-hour workshop WEDNESDAY July 31st, 11am-3pm for ONLY $99.
I will also be recording this workshop and I will make it available for purchase for anyone out of town. You will have access to all the handouts and sample sheets used at the workshop.
If you have questions or need more info reach me via my contact me page.
One of my students sent me an email that asked if I could do an analysis on this video of Bill Maher getting “Boo’d” on Letterman.
I love walking through these things. It gives us a chance to understand the fickle behavior of an audience.
Bill Maher is no stranger to controversial material. Remember he got canned by ABC in 2002 when he was doing ‘Politically Incorrect.’
I’m a huge fan of Bill Maher. I love his take on most things and even when I might disagree with him on some things, I still give props for the not only the courage to say what he says, but also the way he organizes his thoughts and researches what he talks about.
Comedy Central has Bill Maher ranked 38 among the best stand up comics of all time.
So when I heard that Bill was boo’d on Letterman. I was quick to review the video.
Let’s look at it together and try to figure out why they “boo’d”
After reviewing the clip, I don’t think they “boo’d” him as much as they “ooo’ed” him.
We have to consider the nature of the audience dynamic in today’s political environment. The immediate perception from most audiences is that every joke is an attack.
“Not as bad as being a minority in Florida…”
This particular line is layered.
The audience has an immediate reaction to the surface of it: ‘not as bad as being a minority in Florida.’ I believe that they perceived the comment initially as a general negative attack on minorities. This happens in the first second after the comment, which results in the “Ooh.”
Remember the comment was a play on the previous sentence when he uses the term ‘minority owner.’
When Maher said ‘minority owner.’ His comic brain saw an opportunity to do a double-entendre play on the word ‘minority.’
Given a few seconds to ponder and process, the audience then sorts it out in their heads as to what Maher meant exactly by that comment:
‘Is he just making fun of minorities or is he doing a play on the word ‘minority?’
I believe his intention was that Trayvon being a young, black man, got a bad deal in Florida. Also, since Zimmerman is also a minority and living in Florida, he could be saying that both of them have been or will be treated poorly.
Problem was, his intention of the joke was misunderstood, because it had a vagueness to it. It lacked specificity. So the audience did what all overtly politically correct audiences do, they reacted that the joke was an attack on minorities, so they “ooo’ed.”
You’ll notice that once some people had a moment to process the underlying meaning of the joke or what the intended target was (Florida, the jury, unfairness of the process, etc.), there was a smattering of applause indicating that they ‘got’ it.
So what do we learn from this? Sometimes, being specific is crucial for the audience to understand the immediate meaning of the joke so that we get the audience to respond the way we intended them to.
Immediacy is not necessary for all styles of jokes, but jokes that have a perceived meaning that could be taken as racist, sexist, or an attack on anomalic sensitivity (person with a wheelchair in the room, dwarf or little person), while on T.V. with limited time to explain, specificity is crucial.
What if Bill clarified the joke by saying, “Better than being a minority in a Florida court these days.” Or “With the raw deal Trayvon got, it’s better than being a minority in Florida these days.”
With that simple clarification, he could’ve turned the “ooh” into an applause.
But with a live audience, you never know.
NOTE: How sensitive can an audience be?
I remember a friend of mine was appearing on The Tonight Show. Previous to his appearance, the band had a musical featured on the piano who was a ‘midget,’ (or little person–just to stay P.C.). While my friend was in the greenroom prepping for his set, the midget was playing the piano. The audience loved the midget. Then my friend comes on for his set, unaware that the pianist tearing it up on the piano was a midget. The comedian opened with two midget jokes…
He couldn’t recover from there and wasn’t invited back to Tonight.
Have you ever had any situations where you stepped in it? Let us know!
It generated a lot of comments; some agreeing, some disagreeing with my post, some attacked, some complimented. Some people sent private emails to avoid getting into it in the comment thread.
The piece was written in a heightened way to draw attention to a dilemma we always face as writers and comedians; intellectual property theft.
Whether it’s a joke or a movie script or a television pilot idea, I’ve experienced it personally at several levels. And I expect to experience it more.
But the questions remain:
What do you do about it when it happens to you?
How do you keep from doing it yourself?
Who cares if I use someone else’s material?
I think the best advice I got on joke-stealing is from Jay Leno. He said, “Just write faster than everyone else and your reputation will precede you.”
He also says to people that accuse him of stealing a joke, “You keep it. I’ll write more.” Great advice. I highly recommend not only following it, but making it your code.
My Irish temper sometimes impedes my ability to make sound and reasonable decisions in a lot of situations. It can especially get in the way when someone steals a joke.
Temper can manifest itself in many ways. It once manifested in the Comedy Store parking lot with another comedian’s bloody head bouncing off the hood of a Trans Am.
Some of you might be saying, “Oh my God, Jerry! I can’t believe you would do such a thing to a Trans Am!”
Why not? It was the nineties and Trans Ams were so previous decade!
Despite the fact that I’m no longer the guy who reacts like that, I still like to defer to people who are smarter when it comes to trying to sort out an answer to a popular problem…
Patton Oswalt is smart, funny involved and completely dedicated to the business of comedy. I follow his tweets (when I can) and read his “Spew.”
I think it’s always a good idea to follow people who are smarter than you, funnier than you and ultimately more successful than you so that you can continue your journey to be the best you can be.
One of the suggestions he gives in his “Closed Letter To Myself about Thievery, Heckling and Rape Jokes,” is to let the joke thief steal. Eventually he’ll reach that point of no return, where the thief will—with the help of other comedians’ material—reach the level of network T.V. as a performer or a writer, then crash and burn because they didn’t get to that level by developing their own creativity.
Because at that level when it’s all on them to ‘create,’ their creative well is a dust bowl. They become the reason for their own demise.
So take some time (it’s a long piece so grab some coffee), and give Patton’s article a read. I think he’s got a better solution to understanding the thievery dilemma than I.