About the Interviewees:
Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis provide readers with a unique glimpse into the intelligent and quirky inner workings of the comedic mind with their new video based on the book Show Me the Funny! At the Writers Table with Hollywood’s Top Comedy Writers now streaming on Vimeo. The book presents 28 top comedy screenwriters from the revered figures of television’s “Golden Age” to today’s favorite movie jokesters. Desberg is a writer, longtime university professor and a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the area of stage fright. Davis is a television writer, playwright and the Screenwriting Department Chair and associate professor of film and TV writing at Loyola Marymount University. Find out more information by visiting www.smtfo.com or ‘like’ them on Facebook.com/SMTFfans or follow on Twitter @showmefun2.
Show Me The Funny (Sterling Publishing), your book about comedy writing, is unusual. Tell us a little about it.
Peter: We took a different approach to the interview form. We gave 25 top comedy writers the same premise and asked them to develop it. No rules. They wouldn’t have followed them anyway. They’re comedy writers, not accountants. As a result the reader is there as 25 unique stories are developed.
What was the most surprising thing you learned from these interviews?
Jeffrey: We expected the writers to begin with either story or character. Everyone, from the late great Sherwood Schwartz (The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island) to Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond) started with conflict. Funny comes out of a collision between two people wanting different things.
How can stand-ups make use of the book and the video?
Peter: Many of the writers started as stand-up comedians. Today most successful stand-ups are storytellers. At the heart of every story, you’ve got to have characters you care about enough to want to see how things turn out for them. Characters need obstacles to overcome. As Charlie Peters (Three Men and a Baby) says: “The hero of every screenplay wants it to end on page 2.” Without conflict you have no story, and without a story you will have no laughs.
And now you’ve released your first video?
Jeffrey: You’ll see these great writers developing characters and conflict. Learn devices, techniques and tricks. In real-time. You can stream or download the video by going to: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/smtfchardev
This post is sponsored by Show Me the Funny.