Show Me The Funny!: At the Writer's Table with Hollywood's Preeminent Humorists Paperback – 6 Nov 2015
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About the Author
Peter Desberg is the author of 16 books. A licensed clinical psychologist who specialises in treating stage fright, he has worked with many top stand-up comedians. He is frequently quoted in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, Psychology Today and Cosmopolitan. Jeffrey Davis began his career writing jokes for Thicke of the Night. Among his situation comedy credits are Love Boat, Give Me a Break, Different Strokes and Night Court. He has also written for such shows as America's Funniest People, America's Funniest Home Videos and Bugs Bunny's 50th Birthday.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The innovative, yet simple premise behind the book is to present professional television writers and executives with a sitcom idea having each of them flesh it out in their own way. Seeing the creative process of the minds behind Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, and so many other successful television shows and movies is profoundly beneficial for anyone aspiring to find success as a writer of motion picture or television scripts.
Educational in themselves, the breakdowns of the generic premise aren't the highlight of the book. It's the insider revelations and insights that provide the most value from Show Me the Funny. What better way to learn how the television industry works than directly from the horses' mouths?
And that's the best part. The authors of this book, Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis, do a wonderful job of starting discussions, but they step aside and let Peter Casey (Wings), Ed Decter (There's Something About Mary), Bob Myer (Roseanne), Leonard Stern (Get Smart) and 23 other successful Hollywood writers handle the teaching.
But the authors bring credibility, too, with Davis having writing credits on shows including The Love Boat and Night Court and Desberg being a licensed clinical psychologist.
Show Me the Funny is a thick, dense, lengthy read. But the beauty is that it can be picked up and put down and then picked up again months later without losing its familiarity. Each of the 22 interviews can be read independently of one another in any order. There's no need to go cover-to-cover, though it's hard to stop once you start.
Orchestrating a simple, general story line and conflict, Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis, challenge the writers attributed in this book to develop the same story concept as though they were developing an original sitcom to be produced for a pilot TV episode. In each chapter, a seasoned writer or writing duo, use their honed, and unique writing skills to develop the story idea they are posed. Manifested through diligent thought or quick paced spit-ball pitches, each chapter offers similar and different takes on the story premise and the nature of screenwriting. The variety of perspectives offered among the writers interviewed in this book provides the audience a lens into the creative process, and is unrestrained in describing story influencing life experiences, as well as describing the business of screenwriting and the entertainment industry.
This book does not only provide rare testimonial accounts, otherwise typical of a guess lecture class, but it also offers the opportunity to learn through physical practice, developing one's own story with each chapter and new insight. Illuminating the archaic craft of formulating a story, this book may serve as a blueprint for developing writers, and particularly comedy writers. The story line posed throughout the book and described within the introduction, provides the audience with an opportunity to participate and fully interact with the content. Able to develop their own story ideas, based on that the authors pose, readers may write their own pilot sitcom and compare their creative attempts and methods with the professionals interviewed in Show Me the Funny! Hilarious and diverse in perspective, Show Me the Funny! offers many professional insights into the world of comedy, while also promoting its' readers to find their own comedic voice.
There's Something About Ed: An Interview with Ed Decter
Show Me the Funny! offers many insightful interviews from Hollywood's most funny and successful, and of the interviews I found important for any developing writer to read was the interview of Ed Decter, a successful screen and television writer. Having notably written the comedic film classic, There's Something about Marry, and over ten television pilots and four series, Ed Decter provides an intimate portrays of both sides of the industry. Discussing the given show premise as a sitcom, Decter address a range of story logic questions, shooting sensibilities (one-camera or a three-camera show), and audience demographics; comprising a concept checklist important for any thoughtful writer. Decter concise and practical knowledge is presented humorously and smartly, not bogging the reading in academic terminology or ego-soothing blabber.
The interview of Ed Decter provides well-rounded information that any aspiring writer would desire to know. Sparing the reader from some first-hand toil and misunderstanding, Decter differentiates the realms of television and feature writing, focusing on the important story elements that must be present for both. He issues the role of a show runner, describing the day-to-day duties of a show runner, and their interactions between the studios and networks. Most importantly, he describes his creative process as it relates to his life experiences. Describing the wildly funny happenings of his life and how he banks from experiences for creative inspiration is both entertaining as it is a valuably insightful. Identifying with Decter's straightforward logic and thoughtful story analysis, it is easy to absorb his lessons while enjoying the process. Decter's portrayal of the business aspects of writing for film and television are equally perceptive, addressing the attitudes of network and studio executives. Decter's experience in the industry and ability to craft story provides a meaningful reference for any aspiring writer.
Driving Miss Molly: An Interview with Lew Schneider
Accomplished comedy writer, Lew Schneider, writer of such shows as Everybody Loves Raymond, Men of a Certain Age, and The New Adventures of Old Christine, provides a fascinating interview, chronicling his rise to screenwriting success while demonstrating his strong story development skills. Lew's first-hand experience in writing rooms and ability to develop characters and story offers an intimate lens into the realm of sitcom writing while revealing important writing aesthetics. The interview with Lew Schneider also offers many relatable insights particularly valuable to a college student aspiring to write for film and television. Describing his path to becoming a writer, demonstrating his creative process, and identifying aspects of the writers' room, Lew Schneider stands out as a strong contributor of this book.
Lew Schneider's life experience is relatable and important to any developing writer. Detailing his life in college, Lew describes his membership to the school's comedy club, which he wrote scenes for during the last two years of his education, practicing, and providing the foundation for his future as a screenwriter. Describing his life as a stand-up comedian and the transition to becoming a writer, there is much that may be learned by understanding his path to success. Lew's statement about his life may serve any screenwriting college student formulating their career path, as his interview addresses opportunities and career choices that shaped his ability to write comedy. Even more insightful is Lew's ability to work with story and character; as the loose interview allowed for him to develop ideas as he would regularly. First issuing the role of character, Lew creates characters and character traits that lend themselves to the story that he creates in conjunction with the characters he creates and identifies with. Having created the characters and basic premise, Lew pitches ideas for episodes, and entwines the storyline to conform to the characters and basic premise. Lew's creative process is logical, and through dissecting his ideas and presentation, a reader may find their own model that entwines important story elements to create a pilot or show season.
Lew's professional experience offers a clear perspective of the interworking of a writer's room as well as particular aspects of the industry. Based on his own experience, Lew describes the typical writers' room, addressing edict, the creative process, and the balance between work and fun. Further addressing the dynamics of a career in television writing, Lew describes the popularity of certain styles of pilot writing, stating which styles networks prefer and dislike. Without hindsight or direction from someone in the entertainment industry, writers emerging in the industry may lack some of the key knowledge that Lew describes in his interview. Without having ever stepped into a television production office or writing room, readers of this book are given valid insights about writing and professionalism that may otherwise be unavailable to them.
These are some of the greatest living comedy minds and I got to see them all start with the same story and explode it in all directions. It's so great to be able to watch genius revealing itself. I recommend this book to anyone who writes or is interested in comedy or creative process. It's truly inspiring.
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