And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft

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"Did you hear the one about..."

Every great joke has a punch line, and every great humor writer has an arsenal of experiences, anecdotes, and obsessions that were the inspiration for that humor. In fact, those who make a career out of entertaining strangers with words are a notoriously intelligent and quirky lot. And boy, do they have some stories.

In this entertaining and inspirational book, you'll hear from 21 top humor writers as they discuss the comedy-writing process, ...

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Overview


"Did you hear the one about..."

Every great joke has a punch line, and every great humor writer has an arsenal of experiences, anecdotes, and obsessions that were the inspiration for that humor. In fact, those who make a career out of entertaining strangers with words are a notoriously intelligent and quirky lot. And boy, do they have some stories.

In this entertaining and inspirational book, you'll hear from 21 top humor writers as they discuss the comedy-writing process, their influences, their likes and dislikes, and their experiences in the industry. You'll also learn some less useful but equally amusing things, such as:

  • How screenwriter Buck Henry came up with the famous "plastics" line for "The Graduate."
  • How many times the cops were called on co-writers Sacha Baron Cohen and Dan Mazer during the shooting of "Borat."
  • What David Sedaris thinks of his critics.
  • What creator Paul Feig thinks would have happened to the "Freaks and Geeks" crew if the show had had another season.
  • What Jack Handey considers his favorite "Deep Thoughts."
  • How Todd Hanson and the staff of The Onion managed to face the aftermath of 9/11 with the perfect dose of humor.
  • How Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais created the original version of "The Office."
  • What it's really like in the writers' room at SNL.
Funny and informative, And Here's the Kicker is a must-have resource—whether you're an aspiring humor writer, a fan of the genre, or someone who just likes to laugh.
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Editorial Reviews

Jeff Nussbaum
Sacks…scored some great interviews, finding writers who could comment on—and in many cases created—virtually every comedic touchstone we reference today, including the Marx Brothers, "The Colbert Report," Woody Allen's movies, Mad magazine, "The Simpsons," "Saturday Night Live" and late-night talk shows. The real fun in this book comes less when the writers talk about their craft and more when they talk about their careers, experiences, disappointments and favorite jokes. That's when you feel like you've been ushered into an exclusive fraternity (and it really is a fraternity—only two women are interviewed) and exposed to the admiration and competition inherent in any club.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Veteran journalist Sacks conducted dozens of interviews with the top humor writers of the last century, and the result is a whiz-bang collection of Q&As that will school readers just as often as it provokes laughter. The assortment boasts elder statesmen including Dick Cavett, 93-year-old Irving Brecher (who wrote shtick for the Marx Brothers and Milton Berle) and Mad magazine's Al Jaffee, who reminisces about reading American comic strips during his 1930s boyhood in Lithuania. High notes include David Sedaris, with the bestselling humorist confessing to cringing when he reads earlier writing, including breakthrough Me Talk Pretty One Day: "I used to exaggerate a lot more than I needed to. So when I needed readers to believe me, they didn't." Other contemporary writers offer up equally revelatory tidbits, especially Marshall Brickman (Annie Hall) and Allison Silverman (The Daily Show), but would-be humorists will appreciate most the nuts-and-bolts knowhow regarding the industry. Though it's decidedly testosterone-heavy, Sack has compiled a lively compendium sure to captivate anyone who loves a good comedy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582975054
  • Publisher: F+W Media
  • Publication date: 7/8/2009
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Mike Sacks has written for such publications as The Believer, Esquire, GQ, Maxim, McSweeney's, The New Yorker, Premiere, Radar, Salon, Time, Time Out New York, Vanity Fair, Vice and Women's Health. He has worked at The Washington Post, and is currently on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Adam McKay viii

Introduction 1

Get Smart, The Graduate, Catch-22, To Die For Buck Henry 4

The Office, Extras Stephen Merchant 18

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part One: Getting Hired as a Sitcom Writer 34

National Lampoon's Animal House, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day Harold Ramis 36

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part Two: Getting Humor Published in Magazines 52

Da All G Show, Borat, Bruno Dan Mazer 54

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part Three: Finding a Literary Agent for Your Humor Book Idea 71

Late Night with David Letterman Merrill Markoe 72

Freaks and Geeks, Kick Me, Superstud Paul Feig 88

The Wizard of Oz, At the Circus, Go West, Meet Me in St. Louis Irving Brecher 104

The Ben Stiller Show, Mr. Show with Bob and David Bob Odenkirk 118

The Onion Todd Hanson 134

The Tonight Show, Annie Hall, Manhattan, The Muppet Show Marshall Brickman 148

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part Four: Getting Your Humor Piece Published in The New Yorker 164

Arrested Development Mitch Hurwitz 166

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part Five: Acquiring an Agent or Manager for Your Script 180

Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris 182

Army Man, The Simpsons George Meyer 198

Mad's Fold-In, "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" Al Jaffee 214

The Daily Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Colbert Report Allison Silverman 230

Quick and Painless Advice for the Aspiring Humor Writer, Part Six: Getting a Job as a Writer for Late-Night Television 244

Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, "TVFunhouse" Robert Smigel 246

Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex Dave Barry 262

The Tonight Show, The Dick Cavett Show Dick Cavett 276

In Living Color, The Bernie Mac Show, The Daily Show, The Office Larry Wilmore 292

Saturday Night Live, The New Yorker Jack Handey 308

Caesar's Hour, M*A*S*H, Tootsie Larry Gelbart 320

Recommended Reading 336

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