punch-up: a process where we individually go through the writer’s first draft and offer up suggestions for jokes, story structure, and/or cuts. Then we get into one room and offer up all of our suggestions at the same time until the writer is convinced he or she should never write anything ever again while simultaneously just as sure that we are all a bunch of hacks who have no business telling him or her what’s funnier than what they wrote.
The process repeats with each subsequent draft. I find it easier to do punch-ups on later drafts. The first one I’m thinking of the writer, and how nervous he or she must be. So I’m always like, "Yay! It’s really funny!" and silently: "Oh, you didn’t use that joke I pitched a couple of weeks ago. You hate me." And, even more silently: "Yay! You used that joke I pitched a couple of weeks ago! You like me!"
First draft attachment. I have it. To be honest, I have lots of attachments. I am not the best at letting go. So when we move on and get to later drafts, I’m usually the one thinking, "I liked the joke we had six jokes ago."
Back to punching up. (But page 16: he used a joke I pitched a couple of weeks ago!)
Some mornings, when I’m holding my sign and walking in a circle, I realize this is the second time I’ve lost my job because of the Internet. And if you count the giant day of the dot com bust where my 401K was smashed to pennies, I find that while I only have so much control over my career and my destiny, the Internet seems to be what really drives almost all the major decisions in my life. It’s very strange.
Oh, that’s not a flattering picture of my face. But I wanted to talk about Andy.
This is Andy Gordon. He’s very funny. He’s one of the sweetest, funniest guys I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with. He’s a prankster and he’s kind. Everybody loves Andy. But because he has such respect for writers, he’s also not interested in coddling. Therefore, Andy Gordon is the person who taught me what a “clam” is. He taught me by pointing out that I’d written one in my first script that was to be produced for television. He pointed it out by shouting it to everyone in the room.
You see, a clam is not a good thing. Read more
For those of you who keep writing to me asking for more information on the ridiculous Rogan/Mencia debacle, please read Irwin’s latest, which says pretty much exactly what I would have told you.
I’d add one more thing. Mencia’s been dealing with Rogan’s freak-outs for a long time. So much so that my favorite fake pitch for Mind of Mencia is still my friend’s suggestion: “A Minute With Joe Rogan.” And every week we cut to Joe Rogan screaming, “Why are you still WATCHING this crap?! Why is it the second-highest rated show on Comedy Central, under South Park?! WHY!?!? What is WRONG with you people?” Just getting worse and worse every week until he pulls out all of his hair.
Ned didn’t start this round of bullshit, either. Rogan did. Because Ned’s fans? The ones who sell out ampitheatres and buy all that merchandise? They don’t give a shit about this stuff. They think Rogan’s the “Fear Factor” guy. They don’t care. They just want to laugh, and Ned makes them laugh. A lot. For hours and hours and hours.
And come on, that fence joke? If you didn’t come up with that punchline on your own after thinking for ten seconds, you’re in the wrong business.
Subject: your blog
You’re not funny. You are an intolerant, ignorant “ugly American,” and it’s people like you that give the rest of us a bad name. With loud-mouthed people like you, it’s no wonder so many foreigners can’t stand us.
Nice try with the observational humor, but you’re just plain not funny. Just long-winded and babbling. Please stop writing. For the love of God, please stop writing.[/readermail]
The first paragraph I can easily ignore, because that’s what Americans do when they feel uncomfortable.
But that second paragraph? I’ve been telling myself that one every day for years.