Category Archives: Comedy

Ten Minute Interview with David Misch

Author of Funny: The Book, David Misch, was interviewed on Ten Minute Interviews, a unique platform for authors, musicians and other creative individuals to speak about themselves, their lives and their work. David has lent his voice to sitcoms including Mork & Mindy, Police Squad! and Duckman, he has also released a new book titled A Beginners Guide to Corruption. Learn more about David in the interview below!


00314925What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?

I was born in a humble log cabin in 1946, then again in a split-level thatched roof cottage in 1950. Growing a remarkable twelve inches a day (though, unfortunately, entirely in my shins), I was recruited by both the Chicago Bulls and AAA Ceiling Repair before my fourth birthday, but opted instead for a career as a professional snitch.

After ratting out literally dozen of ne’er-do-wells to the FIB, I realized I should have been dealing with the FBI, not Fellas In Basements, a special-interest group devoted to the study of La-Z-Boy armchairs. I then retired to an underwater colony of scuba gear scavengers who, unable to find scuba gear, drowned. I will be missed.

Growing up, who were your biggest comedic and creative influences?

But seriously…

When, as a kid, I discovered James Thurber, I then quickly went through the renowned wits of my day (and earlier days) – S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley, P.G. Wodehouse – while on TV I saw great comics like Jackie Gleason and Dick Van Dyke, and film comedies from the ’20s through the ’50s.

But my seminal experience came from the Marx Brothers on the big screen. In my 20s, I lived in Cambridge, Mass. It was the ’70s and someone had the idea of playing old movies in theaters (what we now call “art houses”). The Marxes were pretty much forgotten, but one night a theater had a double-bill of Duck Soup and A Night At The Opera and the sold-out audience laughed so loudly you could barely hear the dialogue. I was hooked, with the lifelong goal to make audiences emit that loud barking noise at regular intervals.

How did the opportunity to work on Mork & Mindy come about?

I moved from Boston to New York City, where I became a stand-up and was spotted by Woody Allen’s manager, who signed me as a writer (which says volumes about my skill as a stand-up). Soon I was on a plane to L.A. to write for what I thought would be a lame sitcom about a Martian. But my manager also handled Robin Williams who, he said, “is actually pretty good.”

Despite airing only six episodes, Police Squad! is one of the most revered TV series of all time. What was it like to work on that show, and did you realize at the time that you were creating something special?

In every interview with someone who worked on something great, they say “I had no idea.” I can now confirm that’s true. With the caveat that we all knew it was damn funny.

Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker (“ZAZ”) had just made the hit movie Airplane!, which I loved. When their next movie idea – a parody of cop shows – didn’t sell, they decided to do it as a TV series.

Although I’d had a great time on Mork, most of the writers were older; ZAZ and the rest of the Police Squad! staff were my age and more my sensibility, so it was tremendous fun.

One thing I learned was sticking up for what you believe. The former dramatic leading man Leslie Nielsen was a supporting player in Airplane!, one of the first times he’d done comedy. The guys wanted him for Police Squad! but the network called to say no, he was too old.

The guys said “Okay, we understand,” hung up the phone, left the office, got in their cars, and drove off the studio lot. “We’re millionaires,” they said. “We don’t care.” A few hours later, Leslie Nielsen was our lead.

Another favorite memory from that show was landing at LAX in jacket and business shoes, getting picked up by a limo and driven to the beach in Santa Monica, where I was told I’d be judging a bikini contest with ZAZ. I remember walking across the hot sand, shedding my ludicrous outfit, thinking, “This is gonna be fun.” It was.

What was your role on The Muppets Take Manhattan?

The movie had been written and was going into production in a few weeks when they decided they needed someone to write for the constantly-changing list of celebrities who were going to do cameos in the movie. As I started doing that, director Frank Oz started making other changes too and before I knew it, I was rewriting the movie.

I was on set during shooting; one day in Central Park, I watched as Frank as Miss Piggy and Jim Henson as Kermit acted and improvised (with lots of obscenities) while a crowd gathered and stared not at the two six-foot-plus men, but at the two pieces of felt at the end of their arms.


Click here to read to the entire interview.

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Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group Launches Backwing

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MONTCLAIR, N.J. – Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, long the reader’s first choice for books on music, film, theater, television, and popular culture, is proud to announce the launch of backwing, a new digital community for creatives and fans.

Backwing will provide visitors with a vast array of information curated by and for aspiring and established actors, artists, authors, gurus, musicians, songwriters, producers, luminaries, entertainers, and, most broadly, fans. Every article on the site also serves as an open forum for those interested in a sustained discussion of any given topic.

“For nearly seven decades, Hal Leonard has provided consumers with the highest quality information available,” said Group Publisher John Cerullo. “We know who our readers are and what knowledge they crave. Backwing offers us a dynamic new means of reaching them, responding to their feedback, and cultivating conversations around our content in real time.”

Backwing is comprised of three main components. The first two—exclusive content pertaining to or drawn from HLPAPG products and a resource database populated with all manner of performing arts-related materials—will feature, in tandem with a vivacious comment section, multimedia created by and for HLPAPG authors and the publisher’s myriad industry associates.

“Since we reside at an intersection frequented by all manner of clientele, from nonprofits, educational organizations, and professional coalitions to gear, equipment, software, and instrument manufacturers, our contacts quite literally run the gamut of the performing arts world,” Cerullo explained. “We now aim to bring these brands together at backwing for the exclusive benefit of visitors to the site.

The third component, a direct-to-consumer sales portal featuring daily deals, giveaways, contests, and a slew of weekly/monthly special offers (many of which are also available to third-party vendors), can be found at backwingstore.com—an entirely separate domain.

Why two distinct websites? For the sake of every visitor’s experience, according to Cerullo: “Since backwing was designed with the end user foremost in mind, we’ve decided against tangling content and commerce. As such, multimedia content and resources are hosted at the deliberately noncommercial domain backwing.com while consumer products and services are restricted to the backwing Store.”

Thus, while backwing.com visitors may elect to peruse the site unencumbered by crass commercialism, backwingstore.com is always available to those who wish to explore HLPAPG’s catalog of more than 2,000 titles, take advantage of promotions featuring new releases and backlist titles, and enter contests to win fantastic prizes.

To get backwing off to a rousing start, HLPAPG is giving away great prizes for devotees of the performing arts, including an Epiphone guitar for music fans; a Rodgers + Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music package along with gift certificates to digitaltheatre.com for theater lovers; subscriptions to online streaming services for film and television buffs; and Met Opera on Demand Gift Subscriptions for classical music and opera enthusiasts.

HLPAPG encourages all performing arts enthusiasts, regardless of their skill level, industry status, or background, to join the creative conversation at its new digital hub. Welcome to backwing!

David Pollock featured on The Kathleen Dunn Show!

David Pollock, one of the authors of Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons, spoke with Kathleen Dunn of The Kathleen Dunn Show! The Kathleen Dunn Show is featured on Wisconsin Public Radio, and in this episode she pays tribute to the late Bob Elliott, one half of the comedic duo, Bob and Ray. David Pollock also speaks about his book and the work that Bob Elliott accomplished. Hear more in the link below!

>>Listen<<

Bob_00314926.jpgBy the established comedy conventions of their era, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were true game changers. Never playing to the balcony, Bob and Ray instead entertained each other. Because they believed in their nuanced characters and absurd premises, their audience did, too. Their parodies – broadcasting about broadcasting – existed in their own special universe. A complete absence of show-biz slickness set them apart from the very institution they were mocking, yet were still a part of. They resisted being called comedians and never considered themselves “an act.”

Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons traces the origins and development of the pair’s unique sensibility that defined their dozens of local and network radio and TV series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall performances, and hit Broadway show Bob and Ray – The Two and Only.

Together for 43 years (longer than Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis), the twosome deflected all intrusions into the personalities behind their many masks and the dynamics of their relationship, and rarely elaborated on their career trajectory or methodology. Now, with the full cooperation of Bob Elliott and of Ray Goulding’s widow, Liz, together with insights from numerous colleagues, their craft and the culture that made them so relevant is explored in depth.

Bob Elliott 1923-2016

We are saddened to hear that comedian Bob Elliott passed away on February 2nd. His most notable work, as one half of the comedic duo “Bob and Ray”, will always be remembered and we offer our condolences to his family and friends. In memory of Bob Elliott, below is an interview from 2013 where he and David Pollack, author of  Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons spoke with radio legend Joe Franklin.


 

By the established comedy conventions of their era, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were true game changers. Never playing to the balcony, Bob and Ray instead entertained each other. Because they believed in their nuanced characters and absurd premises, their audience did, too. Their parodies – broadcasting about broadcasting – existed in their own special universe. A complete absence of show-biz slickness set them apart from the very institution they were mocking, yet were still a part of. They resisted being called comedians and never considered themselves “an act.”

Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons traces the origins and development of the pair’s unique sensibility that defined their dozens of local and network radio and TV series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall performances, and hit Broadway show Bob and Ray – The Two and Only.

Together for 43 years (longer than Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis), the twosome deflected all intrusions into the personalities behind their many masks and the dynamics of their relationship, and rarely elaborated on their career trajectory or methodology. Now, with the full cooperation of Bob Elliott and of Ray Goulding’s widow, Liz, together with insights from numerous colleagues, their craft and the culture that made them so relevant is explored in depth.

Alisha Gaddis is a guest on “I Want Her Job” podcast

Alisha Gaddis, author of the comedic monologues series, was on the “I Want Her Job” podcast! She spoke about her new book Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues, her music, family, and more! Click on the link below to hear what she had to say!

>>LISTEN<<

00130749As humorist and writer Alisha Gaddis explains it, this is how the process goes. “You have an audition. One where you are supposed to be funny. Really funny. They want you to actually make them laugh…in an audition. And you want to be funny, so funny you book the job, land the part, steal the show!”

But, you can’t do that without a comedic monologue, and that’s where this series of books steps in. Never before have monologue books been written completely by people who are actually funny for a living.

The fourth volume in Gaddis’s groundbreaking series, Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny (December 2015, Applause Books, $14.99) features an incredibly hysterical, cutting-edge collection of monologues will give an actor the extra bang she needs to land the perfect comedic role. Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues features more than 75 monologues by writers and comics who have written for or performed on Comedy Central, Backstage Magazine, Huffington Post, The Onion, Second City, E! and many more.

This book is the answer to the comedic monologue needs of teen girl actors everywhere!

Audiofanzine Interview with Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick

Dave Pensado and Herb Trawick, two of the authors of The Pensado Papers, had a great discussion about both the book and the YouTube show “Pensado Place” with Mike Levine of Audiofanzine. Read the rest of the interview here!

Dave, what percentage of your work life is now taken up by the show?

Pensado: Well, I don’t look at it that way. It’s all so interwoven. When I’m in the studio, everything I do contributes to the show. When I’m doing the show, everything about the show contributes to my studio life…I would say probably 80% of the time, I’m physically in the studio, and 20% of the time I’m devoting towards the show…Herb does all the major work. Herb puts more time in for the show than I do for mixing. He’s the person that makes it look good, the person that makes it popular. All his ideas come from a point of giving the viewer value and education is very important to both of us…Herb has a team of people that execute. Herb is always trying to figure out a way to keep the show free. That’s important to us, and it’s getting more and more difficult.

Trawick: That’s for sure.

How many views do you get on a typical episode of Pensado’s Place?

Trawick: It changes, but our specific audience monthly is between 500,000 and 600,000 people. If we add in our affiliated sponsors and their audience reach — it starts to approach about a million.

The book chronicles many things including how the show has developed into the force it is now. What was your motivation for writing it?

Pensado: We did the book to kind of solidify and quantify and organize our own thoughts: “What the heck just happened?”…The book is not necessarily about the show, it’s about two different lives from two different places in the world and how our experiences and our past triumphs and our past failures led us to the point where we were able to create something that people seemed interested in.

Trawick: The book has tips and tricks that are technical, from our guests and from Dave. It’s a story of redemption. It’s career advice. It’s a comeback story, it’s a story about partnership. It’s a story about digital new media and how to take it on and go from two guys who don’t do this at all to two guys who have built something. We start our fifth year in January and the extent of things that have happened because we decided to take this on and be forward facing and forward leaning, is stunning, in terms of its scale and size.

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Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jenny Yang

And here it is, folks. The last in our monologue series for Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Watch Jenny Yang perform her original monologue, “Asian Goggles.”

Be sure to check out more from Jenny at her website  and don’t forget to follow her @jennyyangtv

Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jessica Glassberg

It’s a whole new week, which means we have a brand new video for Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Here is Jessica Glassberg reminiscing about the traumatic days of adolescence in her monologue “Always Awkward.”

 

 

To see more from Jessica, check out her website.

And don’t forget to follow her on twitter!

 

Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Jamie Brunton

Another video in celebration of the release of Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! Here is Jamie Brunton performing her monologue “Jury Duty”.

 

 

Excitingly, Jamie has also just joined the writing team for Ellen! Congratulations, Jamie.

For more funny bits from, follow her on twitter @jamierbrunton.

Women’s Comedic Monologues – Introducing Carla Cackowski

Another video of another funny lady! Here is Carla Cackowski, whose monologue “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” can be found in Women’s Comedic Monologues (available now!).

Carla also answered some questions about the book, and why she thinks it will be such an important resource for actresses and comedians:

Q:What makes something funny? 

A: Patterns, particulars, and pratfalls.  And alliteration.

Q: Write a bit about why you think actors NEED this book.

A: Every actor needs this because “funny” monologue books featuring the likes of O’Neill, Strindberg, and Shaw does not a balanced bookshelf make.

See more from Carla on her website.