Thursday, July 05, 2007

comedy brittle.


There’s been quite a large amount of water under the bridge since I last wrote on this blog. That’s at LEAST a gallon. Which, in L.A. runs about $16.

The reason I’ve been away for so long is that I’ve begun freelancing for an agency in town. And I think it’s the beginning of the magical and breathtaking world advertising — a land where candy canes and lollipops grow wild along the hallways and art directors quiver in their offices in the fetal position, muttering “I'm really a painter… I'm really a painter... “

The agency I’m doing work for isn’t Chiat Day, who, for those of you don’t know, has the Apple account. But they’re paying me. [Oh yes. I’m in it for the art. I’m like Warhol but without the hip, beautiful, destructive crowd of hangers on… Actually? Never mind. I’m exactly like Warhol.] But, as usual, I digress. The agency — a few of the people are quite nice and it’s good to know some of those kinds of people in Los Angeles [where gold-plated three-picture deals line the streets and the waiters move from table to table, muttering, “I’m really an actor… I’m really an actor…”]
But my time at this agency has brought into sharp focus, once again, an observation I’ve brought up time and time again. And that observation is that comedy is brittle. And when somebody fucks up your idea, I feel, it goes from brittle to brutal. This isn’t by any stretch a new notion. In fact, the brilliant John Cleese applied the word “brittle” to comedy about 10 years ago.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been experiencing this brittle/brutal thing firsthand lately. See, I labor under the revolutionary notion that the writer understands his humor better than anyone else. Except, maybe, your average Hollywood suit. Those guys are known for bringin’ the funny. They’re right up there with Hermann Goering and Carrot Top. I believe that the writer should be the director. And if he or she can’t be the director, they should be in the director’s ear, making suggestions. Things like, “could you get that guy to say my words less crappily?” [And I think Cleese would find this a fair question.]

The other day I came up with what I thought was a pretty funny ad for McDonald’s. This, in and of itself was a victory. But the end result is one that I’d turn off within 15 seconds.

I’m hoping that my pilot [which I wrote with the alarmingly talented mike exner] or my screenplay [which I wrote with the alarmingly talented mike exner] fares better.

Time will tell.