- Neil Gaiman‘s novel Anansi Boys is being made into a BBC miniseries. Although Neil wrote a screenplay for a movie version that fell through a few years ago, no writer has been set yet for the TV version. (Me! Me! See my hand up in the air? See it? Look closer, dammit! Look!)
- Dan O’Shannon (MODERN FAMILY) is leaving his Exec Prod gig on that series to start slaving away in a 3 year overall deal with CBS TV Studios. munchman and TVWriter™ will be looking forward to everything that this very funny guy comes up with during his CBS stint. (And you should be calling your representative to see about replacing him on MF cuz you know in your heart you’re just as funny, right? Or almost, anyway.)
- Daniel Brocklehurst (UK version of SHAMELESS) is developing Hannah Fidell‘s feature, A TEACHER, into a drama series at HBO. (And munchie’s absolutely positive he’s gonna live this one cuz “The series centers on a high school teacher in her late 20?s in the midst of a torrid affair with one of her students.” Tastelessness and political incorrectness rule!)
Ken Levine says this is the best comedy writing book evah…and who are we to disagree?
If anybody ever had great credentials for a book about comedy – what it is, what it ain’t – Dan O’Shannon, Emmy winning showrunner of MODERN FAMILY, former showrunner of FRASIER, former executive producer of CHEERS is the guy. His approach – analyzing the “comedic event” as opposed to examining joke structure, makes you wonder why anybody ever even thought of looking at what’s funny another way. To O’Shannon, context is everything…and he’s convinced me of it too.
With that in mind:
THE GOOD: This book is filled with insight into what makes people laugh and how to use those elements accordingly…and they aren’t the elements you’re thinking of. (At least, they weren’t what I was thinking of before I read it.)
THE BAD: I can’t be that funny.
THE CONCLUSION: This book about the funny is in itself riotously funny. So even if you don’t get it, or can’t duplicate it, you’ve had yourself a hell of a time just sitting and reading and chortling and giggling and…
munchman recommends this, especially for the aspiring pro comedy writer.
We’re hoping that it’s at least, you know, funny.
Everything you ever needed to know about comedy
by Ken Levine
Dan O’Shannon is one of the executive producers of MODERN FAMILY. He was a showrunner of FRASIER and an executive producer of CHEERS. The man knows funny. Recently he wrote a terrific book called WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT? A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO THE COMEDIC EVENT. Somehow he managed to explain comedy, which to me is harder than trying to describe the color red over the radio. As insane as it is to plug someone else’s book when I’m still shamelessly hawking mine (available here — go buy it), I really recommend Dan’s book (which you can order here). Recently, I had the chance to talk to him about it.
What possessed you to write this book?
Like many who actually create comedy, I occasionally see books and articles that academics write about humor. And like many who create it, I find most of it tone deaf. It’s like reading about bicycle riding from someone who’s never been on a bike. One day I asked myself how I would define and analyze comedy, if I was so smart?
It seems like such an enormous undertaking. Explaining the world might’ve been easier. How did you go about organizing this bad boy?
A lot of people start right in analyzing joke structures. I chose to analyze the comedic event, which includes the study of context, as well as structure, content, and transmission. And I relentlessly asked myself questions: What changes in social context or delivery might enhance or inhibit the laugh? How does being part of an audience make you laugh differently than when you’re alone? How does being in the presence of the source of the comedy enhance or inhibit response? How can a joke be funnier through repetition and then stop being funny and then start being funny? Why do things cease to be funny? Four years of stand-up followed by twenty-seven years in sitcoms provided me with thousands and thousands of hours of experimentation.
OMFG, what if this book, regardless of whether or not it’s funny, is actually helpful? How cool would that be? Someone read this baby and write us a review.