BPS 028: The Art and Craft of Writing a Comedy with Peter Desberg & Jeffrey Davis

If you ever wanted to know some of the secrets of how to write a comedy then today’s guest might be able to help. Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis are the authors of Now That’s Funny!: The Art and Craft of Writing Comedy, a new book that provides an intimate look into the minds of twenty-nine of Hollywood’s funniest comedy writers from movies and TV shows like:

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Frasier
  • The Simpsons
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • Monk
  • Modern Family
  • The Honeymooners
  • There’s Something About Mary
  • Dumb and Dumber
  • Cheers
  • Home Improvement

The writers were asked to develop a generic comedy premise created by the authors, giving readers a window into their writing process. There were no rules, no boundaries, and no limits. What emerges is an entertaining look—illuminating and hilarious—at the creative process behind hit comedy TV shows and movies.

Enjoy my conversation with Peter Desberg and Jeffrey Davis.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show Peter Doesburg. And Jeffrey Davis. Thank you guys for doing the show.

Peter Desberg 3:49
Thank you. Our pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 3:51
So let's get started. How did you guys first meet and well first, how did each of you get into the business? And then how did you meet?

Jeffrey Davis 3:59
How did we How did I get into the business either? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 4:02
both of you guys.

Jeffrey Davis 4:03
Well, Geoffrey got into the business. I love it. When I talked to myself. Third person. I was born into it. I'm three generations. My uncle was a composer. My dad started at MGM in 1947. A lot of the stuff of cm Turner's stuff he wrote, he went into TV in the early 50s, and ended up producing things like The Odd Couple of that girl and, and forward and my stepfather was a producer of television felt movies back in the 70s 80s and 90s when they were going through that golden age of TV movies. And I had a stepmother who was a MGM player and who was one woman named Marilyn Maxwell best movie is champion with Kirk Douglas, which is an independent film you've ever seen it? So I kind of grew up around it. And I've been around it my whole life did go back. I was bi coastal before Peter Allen invented the term so

Alex Ferrari 5:07
Okay, fantastic. How about you, Peter?

Peter Desberg 5:10
Well, for openers since since this is a podcast and you have the power to edit, I'm going to answer the first part of your question about how Jeffrey and I met, okay. Um, I'm sitting up here in my house one day, and Jeffrey is down in his car. Our kids are having a play date. They're eighth graders. And he's waiting for a son to come down, honking the horn, the kid is not coming down. And he's dreading walking in and having another Oh, hi, what do you do? My name is here's what I do. organization. So he comes in, we start talking. And one of the things he tells me he's writer, but now he's working as an academic. Jeffrey is too much to tell you is the current chair of the screenwriting department at Loyola Marymount University. Very cool. So he says, but now they're asking me to do academic writing. Do you do any Well, being that I was a college professor as well. I started laughing, saying that's all I've done forever. And as we continue talking, I told him about a project that I did years and decades ago, that I got started with where I was working with a I'm telling you the long version of the story. If you want, I can edit it. Now. It's fine. Go ahead. So I was working with a some woman calls me up one night and said, I heard you do research on the psychology of humor. I'm doing my master's degree in that area, would you be on my committee? So I said, Well, what are you doing? So I get on, I'm doing a chapter on the psychology of humor, sociology of humor, Anthropology of humor, and I'm interviewing a famous Hollywood comedy writer. I said, Who was it? And she gives me a name of the fellow whose name is on the cornerstone of the Writers Guild building. Its first president. Okay. This fellow wrote a couple of the biggest Bob Hope movies Lemon Drop, kid. I mean, lemondrop kid,

Jeffrey Davis 7:12
obviously, oh, he wrote for Abbott and Costello,

Peter Desberg 7:14
Costello. And so I said, How do you know this guy said he's my dad. So um, his name was Edmund Hartman, for people like to know. And, and so I said, Well, I'll tell you what, I'd be glad to work with you. Let's throw out your three chapters. Could your dad get us some of his friends to interview and say, Oh, no problem. And so we did. For hers, as we started asking these people instead of just, you know, we wanted to avoid interviews, like, well, you know, what got you into comedy? Well, when you're a fat Jewish kid, on the Lower East Side, you got to learn how to fight or be funny. We didn't want that kind of project. So we constructed a bunch of situations and had them solve problems that comedy writers have to solve. So I'm telling Geoffrey the story. And all of a sudden, he said, who were the writers you interviewed. And as I'm telling them, each name, his eyes are lighting up bigger and bigger. Everybody you mentioned, used to play poker around my crib with my dad every week. And he'd literally jumped off the couch and said, Let's do it. So within 20 minutes, I met

Jeffrey Davis 8:23
at Tom Cruise style.

Peter Desberg 8:27
Being a psychology professor, he yelled at me for that. And, and so from, from 20 minutes of just having met, we agreed to write a book together.

And we changed the face of it. Notice we're suddenly shifting into now that's funny, the the book together, where what we did was we wrote a generic comedy premise, gave it to each of the writers we're working with, and we said develop it. And surprisingly, they did. What we were worried about is when you ask somebody, tell us about your creative process, you have no idea if they're telling you anything that's remotely accurate. One of our one of our favorite phrases is the highest form of fiction as the autobiography.

Alex Ferrari 9:16
It's very true. So

Peter Desberg 9:19
we were really lucky. We got these quick. We had show creators show runners, I mean, amazing people. And they did it. We got to give them this premise. And right on the spot, they just started making stuff up in the room while we're sitting there.

Alex Ferrari 9:35
Thomas have an amazing,

Peter Desberg 9:37
unbelievable,

Alex Ferrari 9:38
so you guys wrote this book. So you got that wrote this book, show me the funny and you basically interviewed some of the top and legendary comedy writers in Hollywood. Sorry,

Peter Desberg 9:48
but it's called. Now that's funny. Oh, now

Alex Ferrari 9:50
that's funny. Okay. Oh, that's funny. Okay. And, and you interviewed these amazing creatives. So what was the what was the biggest revelation? you guys found from interviewing so many amazing and talented people. If there's one or two that you can

Jeffrey Davis 10:09
well, there is one common denominator and that is we asked them, was it a story or character that they started? That's a great way to watch them do it. See, that's the great thing about the interviews, is they're really in a way not interviews, because we mostly we asked some questions, but we mostly stepped aside. And they develop the same premise 24 ways. And they all neither, they didn't say character or story, they said conflict. That, for me, that was the biggest revelation. And then also the, the diversity of stories, the how different each story is, and how many lessons there are in that it's kind of, that's kind of cool. I think, you know,

Peter Desberg 10:54
there are so many books on how to write comedy, or just how to write scripts. And yeah, each one makes it sound like, well, here are the steps you have to do. This is the way you write. And it was so nice to see that exploded in real life, where each person is taking a really idiosyncratic view. And we were just fortunate to be in the same room.

Alex Ferrari 11:15
I must have been insane. So which, let me ask you, can you discuss a little bit of a few of the Comedy genres or sub sub genres? Like, you know, fish out of water? Or, you know, is there are there a few of those that you can even discuss for the listeners?

Jeffrey Davis 11:31
I'm sure. In the book, you mean that when they ended up selecting? Yeah. Like that? One? I think that's the best one.

Peter Desberg 11:41
Um, yeah, what? One, what we told him at the beginning was, here's our premise, feel free to change it in any way. You know, our view was, Hey, your comedy writers, you're not going to, you're not going to follow rules anyway. It's not like they're accountants, they're going to do what they want. So we said, we'll just start out by stepping out of your way. And the premise that we we did was basically a 50 ish woman, husband passes. And they've always lived very well. So she assumes that they're going to continue living well. And she didn't know that they spent everything they made. Okay, so the sudden is an early 50s woman with no skills and no work experience. She's left out Nicole with nothing. So she has to move in with her, her young corporate daughter in New York. And one of the one of our favorites was this fellow threw out the daughter, and had the mother get into a work relationship with a man who ends up being a Bernie made off character. And so all of a sudden, she has to expose this horrible thing that he's doing. So I mean, they went all over the place. And, you know, in a number of cases, several male writers said, you know, I've actually never been a mother or a daughter. But I sure know a lot about fathers and sons. So that's what I'm going to do. We said, please go for it. And one of the things that we enjoyed the most, was that a lot of them thought out loud for us. And they actually narrated while they they work. The premise on one of our favorites was Walt Bennett. It's a little tough to use the C word now in any public forum, but he wrote for The Cosby Show, yes. And fair enough. And Walt was so incredible, he said, Okay. So let me see, typically, if somebody says they're coming to visit you, you know when they're coming, so I'm going to have the mother come unannounced, because that's going to create more conflict. So then he says, Okay, so if she's going to come announce, what's the worst time she could possibly select, to make her entrance? Well, it's late afternoon. The boyfriend's over at the apartment. They're in their little bedroom. There's a knock on the door. So it says how can I make this even worse? Well, she lived in a big house in the Midwest. And now she's coming to this little efficiency apartment in New York. And normally a person comes to visit with a couple of suitcases. She's got the moving band downstairs. And as she's walking up the stairs, the cousin is lugging up this huge sofa which will barely fit in the door, and certainly not in the apartment. So at each point, he's constantly saying it was Jeffrey was saying conflict using How can I create the conflict and how can I escalate it? How can I make it worse?

Alex Ferrari 14:46
That's a great that's a great tip for me cuz a lot of people will write comedy in that ad any conflict

Jeffrey Davis 14:52
you can have. I mean, that that's the problem with with comedy even more than drama, which I think We pretty much all know that comedy is harder to write because everybody has an opinion. I mean, there are more agreed upon standards of what makes a Drama Comedy is very much personal taste and what you'd like. I mean, like, I'm sure we would like same things.

Peter Desberg 15:16
Obviously, Jeffrey and I have proven that point. Many times.

Jeffrey Davis 15:19
The other one that I particularly like, is Lou Schneider, who was in the room on everybody writers room on Everybody Loves Raymond. There's grandparents in the premise, but they're kind of off to the side. And it really just says it, he took the grandpa and just says that they don't really understand. They relate more to their granddaughter than their daughter. And he made the whole story between the mother who's kind of a fish out of water with her parents there. And he had a whole wonderful bid, I think, like some of my students have said, I've taught them has taught them a lot about how you can construct character, where he has the 80 year old father teaching the 50 year old mother how to drive. You know what I mean? And how you, you

Peter Desberg 16:11
know, he took he took the standard joke of dad teaches his teenage daughter to drive and he switched it to 80 and 51.

Jeffrey Davis 16:19
One of the things that one of the things that I learned is that, and I've been, as I said, I've been around it, most of my life, but you know, you can help someone get better at comedy, you can give them a lot of techniques. But I think one of the things we learn from these people is comedy writers are different. They think differently. They think, as one of them said, I think Peter Casey said it's not in the book. But he said, he said to us before the interview, it's a matter of thinking to the left. And and drama writers don't have to do that. And I'm not putting down drama, right? It's just a gift. But to

Peter Desberg 17:02
give you an example, we interviewed Eliot Schulman who was the was the show runner for home improvement. And he told us a great story at the beginning. We said my, my father committed suicide. So I went back East. A few years later, got my sister, and we recreated the drive from his office to the bridge where he jumped on this cab and you can't imagine a heavier emotional moment. And I thought my father was a German Jew, and kind of cheap. I wonder how much he tipped the cab driver on the way to his own suicide.

Alex Ferrari 17:45
That is a that's a one. I mean, that's a wonderful line. That's such

Peter Desberg 17:49
and once again, it just shows you as Jeffrey was saying. They see things that a lot of people miss. Um, we had a comedy team, cinco Pauling, Ken Dario, they wrote My Dinner for Schmucks, there are a whole bunch of things. One of the movies they wrote was bubble boy. Oh, I remember bubble boy. So it told us a story that they went to producer with the script, said I really liked the script a lot. But do you think maybe by the first act, we can lose the bubble?

Alex Ferrari 18:20
The movie is called Bubble Boy.

Peter Desberg 18:22
So can turn to the whispered Yeah, we can call it boy.

Alex Ferrari 18:31
That's G. Know You Were talking to you, guys.

Peter Desberg 18:37
I'm just following along with what Jeff was saying about conflict. One of our favorite interviews, we interviewed Bob Meyer, who among other things, was the showrunner for Roseanne for a number of years. And tell him who he mentored. Oh, he

Jeffrey Davis 18:51
went to Chuck Lorre.

Alex Ferrari 18:55
Who's this? Who's this? Chuck? i You speak of? Yes, exactly. So anyway,

Peter Desberg 18:59
he he is such a consummate Pro, that it took him like, you know, some people sort of fumbled around to get started. He said to us, first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to take these characters, and I'm going to cast them so I can see the actors I'm writing for. Okay. And it took him maybe five or six minutes, and he wrote a perfect little sitcom, like a network sitcom version was unbelievable to see how quickly and fluidly he wrote. So Jeffrey looks at him and says, Could you darken it a little? And I'm, I wish that I could transmit the look, he got on his face that sort of impish grin. picture somebody with their hand on a dial saying, how dark Do you want it? Mm hmm. And so within a couple of minutes, he says, Okay, I'm going to kind of lose the mother. And I'm going to take this, this young corporate girl and I'm gonna change her occupation. She's Gonna be a private detective, because that constantly puts her in danger, which will keep a lot of conflict going. And she's very pretty an audience is like pretty people. But I got to give her a problem. So I'm going to give her a pretty serious drug habit, because that makes her an underdog and we like underdog or still, we're still comedy, right? Still comedy got it. And so she's got the big case that she's solving. And she finally has the opportunity to break the case, she's got a secret witness, who is going to reveal everything. So she's got this meeting set up, and she's on pins and needles waiting to go to this meeting. And to calm herself down, says I'm going to stop home and change, which means do some drugs. The minute she opens the door, there's everybody she knows, ready to do an intervention Jesus. And, and literally, and I mean, he was making this up in the room as we were talking to him. And as soon as he finished, he said, You know what, I'm going to pitch this story. You know,

Alex Ferrari 21:01
I was about to say, Why aren't these guys pitching these stories? These brilliant,

Peter Desberg 21:05
several people told us they pitch the ideas that they came up with. We told them everything they come up with is theirs. We just have the right to reprint it. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 21:15
That's awesome. Now you talk a lot about, you know, we're talking a little bit about structure and comedy. Is there. Is there such a thing as like, a comedic hero's journey, if we're gonna cause some sort of structure in regards to just writing either television, or feature films.

Jeffrey Davis 21:35
I'm not aware of one. I'm sure there is I'm sure there are people who try to sell that hero's journey. I'm not a big fan. I'm sorry, I'm not a big fan of the hero's journey. I understand there's valuable things in it. My, my problem is what's happened. And I think we're kind of leaving this period, there was a period in the early 2000s, late 90s, where there were all the gurus, you know, mentioned any other names, we all were they are where it became almost SDN, you know, where you had to follow, you know, I went to one, I remember, a producer sent me to one, I was working on something, I'm not gonna mention the person's name, who I went to, and I think the producer wants to pay $1,000 for my then partner, and I go and, and he got to, he got to a point in it, where he said, Well, now he had it. He had like, a bunch of steps. And he said, you know, he said, When you go to the studio, don't mention my steps. Because I remember calling up my father, who I went to, you know, for advice, because he was a great comedy writer, and he said, call the producer right now and get your money back get his money. Yes, comedy? No, I mean, I think, pretty much, particularly with this generation. I think, you know, they have seen so many movies have read so much television. I think they're starting to read again, hopefully, you know, they have, they have an innate sense of structure. The problem I have is when teachers put structure ahead of character and conflict, character and conflict is where structured comes from, not the other way around. And so often it's easy to teach strut, well, you know, it is easy to teach structure.

Alex Ferrari 23:34
Yeah, it's ABCs. Right?

Jeffrey Davis 23:36
What difference does it make? What happens on page 15? If you don't know who the characters are?

Peter Desberg 23:41
Now, I don't want to be divisive here. But I think we have to divide your question into two parts. Okay. So I'm hoping you'll tell me what they are.

Alex Ferrari 23:52
Okay. The two parts of my question.

Peter Desberg 23:56
Sorry, sorry. I was just messing with you. When you talk about comedy writing comedy, you have to distinguish a bit between writing for TV and movies. And your question really pertained to writing film comedy, where you have a story with an arc. And with it's the opposite in writing, like sitcoms, because although you have arc blitz for every episode, the characters have to kind of remain the same, because you're counting on those characters being there next week, with their same characteristics. And so the arcs of the stories are very different. And they're much smaller because everything has to kind of remain the same.

Alex Ferrari 24:41
Makes perfect sense. Yeah, yeah. Obviously, striding for films and writing for TV is two completely different worlds. And because you have a course of a season to kind of do arcs, but even writing comedies I don't, it's not like Breaking Bad, you know, which I could argue is a comedy, but But but dark. It's a dark, it's dark. Yes. But

Jeffrey Davis 25:04
yeah, I could I agree with that. But I would also point out that comedy off network comedy is more and more serialized. So so, you know, a lot of feature writers are writing for television now. And I remember as a kid, hearing my parents talk about, oh, gosh, we'll never get so and so because they only do movies, they don't want to do television. And that is all flipped now. Oh, it's complete. Everybody wants to do television now?

Alex Ferrari 25:33
Nobody. So what do you guys think of this whole new streaming revolution that we have going on with with the Netflix and the Hulu's? And, and I think

Peter Desberg 25:41
it's wonderful. I

Jeffrey Davis 25:42
think it's great. And I'll tell you why. I think it's great. More work, less money. When you're starting. I have two students who graduated two years ago, and are on the reboot of very successful the reboot of one day at a time, which is a Hispanic, we're gonna Moreno is in it. A lot of you know, an actress who was on six feet under for the whole run is the star of it, Rita Moreno is in it. And these two young writers are the junior writers on the show. And yes, they're making a lot less money than they would make this as us or other network shows. But they're getting the break, which would have been much harder to get before. They're learning their craft from the two showrunners. One is a graduate of LMU, many years ago worked on How I Met Your Mother and a billion other shows. And she and her co creator. It was on everybody loves right. And normally or comes in every day at 93 years old. And he is yeah, he's amazing. He is amazing. And so yeah, it's a wonderful. It's a really good reboot. I mean, I could say some not so great things about some other reboots. I think it's I think it's great. Because I think we have more. It's basically now who's not making pro product. Right?

Alex Ferrari 27:09
There's so much product going on, but it's insane. Yeah, I think last count was like 500 shows, wow, on on scripted shows on television right now are on. You can't even say television anymore. But on your

Peter Desberg 27:23
Jeffrey's comedy history was bad two really, really tightly controlled sitcoms, and six jokes per page.

Jeffrey Davis 27:34
But six to be like six,

Peter Desberg 27:37
you told me was six. Oh, I lied. And I quote.

Jeffrey Davis 27:41
Well, they used to make you put jokes in the head, nothing to do with the story. It

Peter Desberg 27:45
was a joke. Joke per page count.

Alex Ferrari 27:47
Really so so that structure it's

Jeffrey Davis 27:49
really an old school thing. You know, shows like taxi and cheers. And Frasier broke that, you know, and also the Mary Tyler Moore Show broke that because those were what you know, write writers say those were really beaut those were beautifully written shows did go broke fat

Peter Desberg 28:07
when, when we interviewed Peter Casey and he talked about Frasier said, we'd be in the writers room, and somebody will come up with a brilliant joke. And then somebody else would say, You know what, only 10% of our audience is going to understand that. And Peter Casey said, that's why we're keeping it in. We're keeping our 10 percenters the things that made that show so brilliant,

Alex Ferrari 28:29
you right, because there are a lot of jokes like over, you know, people's heads in that show. I remember that show, even when I was younger watching it. I would laugh, but like some things I just wouldn't get. And then as I watch it as an adult, I'm like, Oh, I get that now.

Peter Desberg 28:42
Once it went to cable and beyond, it's everything is unshackled now and you can do pretty much what you want. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:50
I was gonna ask you, do you feel like because of these new opportunities for writers, they're really, there are the shackles are off. I mean, the creative freedom on some of these shows, these Netflix shows and Hulu shows, Amazon shows there. There's nothing that would ever go on network television.

Peter Desberg 29:05
I mean, if you go back to the days where, you know if the hero was going to kiss the arrow and one foot had to be on the floor,

Alex Ferrari 29:12
right?

Jeffrey Davis 29:14
Yeah, I'm surprised. The Netflix model is very different. They, they don't interfere in the same way that the network's do. And, you know, they'll give you notes but from what I understand from the people, I know who we're working with Netflix that they just love it. I don't know anything about Hulu. I don't know. I don't I know they, they did a wonderful. They took them out. This is not comedy, but they took the Margaret Atwood book. And they're doing that and she was happy with it. She's letting them do a second season, which was not the novel. So So Handmaid's Tale. Yeah, I think you know, is there always going to be crap? Yes, yes. Always good.

Peter Desberg 30:00
But it's much clearer crap now. Yeah,

Jeffrey Davis 30:02
I think the one thing that, you know, everybody says, Oh, the network's will go away. I do not believe they first of all the networks on a big chunk of basic cable, so they want something. The big hit on the networks right now is the show called this as us which is created by a comedy writer. And it's sort of melodrama has comedy and drama in it out the definition of melodrama, but has that. And I know somebody who is running the Jennifer Lopez show, which is a detective show. And this is the network's what they do, as opposed to, to Netflix and Hulu is they gave this guy who's a very successful guy, they gave him the note, make it make the scenes more like this is us, which is a family show. And he's writing a cop show Jesus was so that still goes on at the network's I think networks did Spartan up a couple of years ago, they put they went back to summer replacement. They realized they had to when I was a kid, you know, I forget someone would go off on the Smothers Brothers would come on or you know, they would be summer shows. Now we're back to that on the network's they have to to keep the ratings up.

Peter Desberg 31:22
But it's interesting and almost every writer that that we interviewed, managed to say something bad about who they had to write for. A number of them said, You know what, I've made enough money as a writer now I'm becoming a playwright. Because nobody can touch a single word in my script unless I permitted, right. And they were just so sick of the idea that somebody is always taking this stuff and rewriting them or reinterpreting them.

Alex Ferrari 31:53
Yeah, do you? Have you guys seen that show Grace and Frankie, that Jane Fonda is great. It's amazing. It's amazing when I saw that show come up. And obviously, it's not aimed at my demographic. I'm a younger guy. But I've had I've had millennials. I know millennials, who are huge fans of that show. Well, they were very

Jeffrey Davis 32:13
smart. And the way they wrote it is that they had they had a younger demographic because of you know, they don't pay attention to demographics. Anyway. For who's watching Sharon, what are they watching? So I can see as a form of demographic, it's not the network. It's not

Alex Ferrari 32:34
the deals. No, no, it's changing the bunch are seeing

Jeffrey Davis 32:36
younger generation in the show. Hmm. All I can say is there are so many shows on television that owe a huge debt to Neil Simon and the odd couple. If Grace and Frankie is not the odd couple of God, you know who created that show? Is a Grayson. Frankie is Martin Kaufman, who created co created friends. sort of see it's a deep version of friends.

Alex Ferrari 33:05
Yeah. And but yeah, the point was greats and Frankie's like that show would never I don't think ever hit network television.

Jeffrey Davis 33:13
Oh, no. Well, it would have during the time of the Golden Girls, The Golden Girls and look at that. You know

Alex Ferrari 33:20
that? You heard how have you heard that there is a monster, like resurgence in the Golden Girls like the fan base is all these millennials. It doesn't surprise me at all. It's great. I was watching it when I was a teenager. Yeah, I was in love with that show. I was just such a wonderful show was so well written. The characters were so well developed.

Jeffrey Davis 33:39
Susan Harris isn't amazing, right?

Alex Ferrari 33:42
I mean, it was wonderful. And you and then you go back and you go Oh, my God. I was a teenager watching The Golden Girls like how is that? But it's amazing. But when

Jeffrey Davis 33:52
again they made sure that the stories were universal. Yep. And then that works didn't want to make a show about older women past 50 You don't want Estelle Getty was doing that. I don't know if you know this when Estelle Getty was playing be Arthur's mother. She was actually younger than Bea Arthur.

Alex Ferrari 34:10
Really? No idea why it was good makeup on her part that

Jeffrey Davis 34:16
you well, you know, the great thing is now that's funny has all of these stories in it to about show business and about the history of showbiz? Peter tell the

Peter Desberg 34:29
one of the interesting things is that everybody practically that we interviewed said, You know what we find that we're telling you stories that we don't normally tell in interviews, because of the difference in format that we've done. And all of these things came up in really interesting ways. One of my favorite stories. You mentioned before you were a fan of Frasier. We asked. We asked Peter Casey about about the chair Yeah. And he said, We treated that chair like a character. Frazier was a spinoff character from cheers. And he was getting a chance to build a new life. He was now gonna be a minor celebrity in a secondary market. He had a building and the the coolest part of Seattle, he hired one of the best decorators and every style and curve of furniture and color matched and was coordinated. And then all of a sudden, at the last minute his dad moves in. And that chair was the reminder that you're never going to have the life you planned. It actually showed you a concrete version of the conflict. He said, we brought in a set designer to find the ugliest fabric that he could find. Then he brought in a swatch book of the every color that you could have of that horrible pattern. It picked the most clashing color. And then they brought it in they they created the chair, and then they they took a utility knife and slashed it, and then put in duct tape all over it. Oh, cheese. And there it was in every show. You said, see.

Alex Ferrari 36:15
That's brilliant. Now, what are some of the common mistakes you find writers making when they're writing comedy?

Peter Desberg 36:24
Go ahead. You're wrong. Yeah. I think common mistakes. I can I mean, okay, I can give you. One usually is that you create a joke that's too esoteric. Because a joke is based on shattering an assumption. And people don't know enough to make that assumption. It's not going to be funny. If I make a joke about a postal delivery guy, well, we have a whole bunch of reactions we have to the post office. And that's going to work. If I give you a joke about a pastry chef, and how we use the wrong kind of shortening.

Alex Ferrari 37:12
No, not so much. Only the pastry chefs in the audience will get it

Peter Desberg 37:16
exactly. And so that's one thing you're always going to do. Another is there's a level of tension you have to get in order to get a laugh too little and you don't get it too much. And you gross out the audience. So it's it's another place where we're terrible things happen.

Alex Ferrari 37:35
Okay, so So movies like There's Something About Mary, which arguably is a classic.

Peter Desberg 37:42
Well, we have a director who wrote that no wrote it,

Alex Ferrari 37:45
right. And that movie at the time, I mean, for the audience, for members in the audience who weren't around or didn't understand that time when that movie hit. It was a gigantic hit.

Peter Desberg 37:56
And 11 years to get made. Did you know that

Alex Ferrari 38:00
that did not know that. But it doesn't surprise me at least because that movie is

Peter Desberg 38:04
it was a great story that Ed told us that he took it around, couldn't get it made, bumped into one of the Farrelly brothers, who said, how did that move your viewers to reset it never got made? He said, You're kidding. When I give talks to students, I used that script as an example. We got to make that

Alex Ferrari 38:21
movie. And they were hot, hotter than hot at that moment in time.

Jeffrey Davis 38:24
Exactly. And they got it made, I think within months.

Peter Desberg 38:30
Again, you could see, we just talked, for example about how much tension do you put in there? The fact that you're making jokes about a person who has an intellectual deficit is a touchy subject for a lot of dowel movie,

Alex Ferrari 38:45
it was a touchy subject.

Peter Desberg 38:46
That scene where all

Alex Ferrari 38:49
the hair the hair seen?

Peter Desberg 38:51
Yeah, you've got gonna borrow some of that moose, right.

Alex Ferrari 38:55
I mean, in normally they teach you not to kick the dog, but they do more than that.

Jeffrey Davis 39:02
But the trick was that, and John talked a little bit, John and John Strauss wrote that with a director, and they had the script out there forever. But what Ed talked about was the fact that you liked these people so much that you liked everybody in the movie, except maybe not even that Dylan was such a nerd.

Peter Desberg 39:32
No, but they use such a great device. When when we when we interviewed Charlie Peters. He told us that one of the things he loves to use as a device called a third object, he gave us an example of Beauty and the Beast. Were at one point they're having this this lavish dinner outside and they see a wolf and the beauties their heart is pounding and She's frightened and the Beast is salivating looking at dinner. And it showed you immediately, there's their separate reactions to the same object, and you immediately saw their character differentiation. And so, in, There's Something About Mary, the, the, the intellectual deficit boy acted as a third object, where one character was really empathic, and went out of his way to be nice to him. And the other character would kind of kick them and push them around when nobody was looking. So saw their personalities, by the same way they treated the third object in this case, that boy,

Alex Ferrari 40:35
was just as you were talking about that I just think Franken beans just came in Frank impedes fracking, such a great movie.

Jeffrey Davis 40:47
That's my favorite scene, of course, this because, and then the other thing that this is about the stories you learn is that is, is that one of the fair, I think Peter fairly said, we're gonna we're gonna do this, Ben, with you playing yourself at 17. And he said, no one will ever buy that. And of course, we look at the movie now. And we say, it wouldn't work without that. Say it's funny how these decisions get made in comedy. And there's a lot of stories like that in in in the book.

Alex Ferrari 41:21
Now, I've been around and been working with stand up comics, probably for a better part of a decade. And I've, I've been around the sad clowns. Alongside, some of them are my best, some are my best friends. And just from your point of view, because I'm sure a lot of the people you interviewed, or we've talked to do some sort of stand up comedy, in one way, shape, or form. Do comics, in your opinion, need therapy?

Jeffrey Davis 41:51
Like that, because I'm a I'm a, I'm a client, or a patient

Peter Desberg 41:58
as somebody who has done that very thing. Okay. First, going back one of the, we found two interesting things. One is that a number of the people that we wrote, had graduate degrees in math and science. And what's interesting is, in when you're in a writers room, they kind of break down into two groups. They're either story guys or joke guys, and all the ones with math and science backgrounds. We're story, guys. And, uh, I have probably a third to a half of the the writers we interviewed had standup experience. And obviously, they were the joke guys. And it's a very different approach that they took. And you, you may find this interesting that we, one of the questions we asked, after all this was done was, how do you know if your stuff is funny? And, you know, I remember back to a guy interview decades ago, who said, you know, that's a really tough thing for me as a writer, because I sit in my office by myself working on a movie, and I come up with what I think is a good joke. So I walk out to my secretary 14 years and say, Do you think this is funny? And she says, yeah, that's real funny. He says, with stand ups, it's a survival skill, you tell that you tell the bit, you've got a half second to find out if it worked or not. And you learn to survive by getting that instinct of is this gonna work? And interestingly, we had four or five teams of writers. And they said, we find out instantly if something's funny if we make our partner crack up.

Alex Ferrari 43:35
That makes Yeah, that makes perfect sense. They're, they're their own bouncing boards.

Peter Desberg 43:39
And they're always trying to make the other guy laugh, and in their

Alex Ferrari 43:43
heart, and they're probably harder to make laugh than anybody else, because they know each other's techniques.

Peter Desberg 43:47
That's right. It's it's interesting that I worked with a friend of mine named Greg Dean, I don't know if you've run across him, who is a stand up coach in Santa Monica. We wrote a piece of software teaching people how to write jokes. Okay. One of the things we talk about is that basically stand ups rant, that's what they do. They talk about stuff that frustrates them that gets them angry that and so again, you have to find material that other people are also going to find kind of annoying, and then find a take on what you do. And so again, we get this idea that that stand ups are either angry people or they're a lot of people like you know, Louie CK, one of our favorites. mm x about personally painful stories, but makes them funny. Yes, he does. These people are depressed. But I'm telling the Louis black story but

Jeffrey Davis 44:48
Oh, I love Lewis. I mean to. He was, you know, his, his, his persona is he's a very, very angry guy. And I hurt a couple years ago i Some idiot journalist was, you know, who obviously hadn't prepared was asking him a question. It was one of those events and they were, he was probably getting interviewed like 20 times in this one red carpet event and they said, so are you this angry offstage as you are on stage? And he said, I hope this has distorted pewters thinking, Yeah, I'll be in big trouble later. He said, No, obviously not. If I were I would have had a stroke by now. You know? He's gotta be angry that no, he said it's his persona. And he just talked about he actually talked in that same interview about Jack Benny, who I worship and who was actually in real life and incredibly generous person work to with Rubenstein I think to save Carnegie Hall was incredibly generous, he would be helped so many people, but that's not funny.

Alex Ferrari 46:01
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jeffrey Davis 46:12
Cheap is funny. Generous is not in a so that's what Louis Louis Black was saying. And also, I don't know if you know, Louis black started as a playwright.

Alex Ferrari 46:22
That makes sense. He's he's he so sharp. He went, he went to

Peter Desberg 46:25
Yale Drama.

He has a master's degree in drama.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Wow. Hey, what

Jeffrey Davis 46:30
the hell no know I lay right next to me school.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
After being around stand up comics for so long. You, you see their stage persona, and then the guys off stage are not generally that very rarely do I see one that's on all the time. And if they are on all the time, they're gonna burn out sooner rather than later. I was

Jeffrey Davis 46:51
thinking about one because he died the other day, Jerry Lewis, Yahoo. God, yeah. Who was on all the time and needed to be the center of attention. And I'm sure that it came from an enormous insecurity and his childhood or something. I mean, don't have to be a psychologist to figure that out. But yeah, I was much sadder about Don Rickles. Because Don, life was a great guy.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
I heard that from people that he was he's just a very sweet man was a great guy. He was a sweet man. He was not nearly as not what's the word I'm looking for?

Jeffrey Davis 47:31
Sona. But if you really look at my I took my son six months before he died, I took my son to see Rickles. And he was still in a wheelchair, but his mind was clear. And he was really funny. And, and the thing is, is that if you really look at it from our perspective of 2017, it wasn't a lot that mean, you know, and it wasn't right. You know, the one thing I wanted to just go back for a second, one of the things that we did in the book is we asked a lot about process. Okay. And one of the things that I've noticed is that what most people say, I don't know, this always got into it, because we did a lot of editing we, the book would have been the Bible, if we have you know, it is once you start writing, don't go back. Keep writing, you know, on the first draft, if there are places missing, keep going. A lot of people liked outliers, but just as many didn't know, in television, I don't know if you're aware of this, but this might be of interest is people don't outline first in comedy. You sit in a room and this is what I thought that the great thing about now that's funny is that is that you actually are going into a writers room. And the thing Peter talked about, that Bob Meyer did is exactly what goes on in writers room. You just keep pitching ideas and stories. And and then you come up with something and you'll be in there 1213 hours in in, in the real world. But one of the things they've all said is yes, you can outline. But in TV, you break a story in a room. I know they did that even on breaking that you sit with the other writers, and you break the story. Then someone goes out and writes the outline, and then I know should madman which had comedic elements. All of the scripts were written. The scripts were written in the room with all the writers together, which I've never heard of before, but it worked. And guess what? All the writers except one on Mad Men had been sitcom writers, including that leader or whiner at an actor announces it. Who was on Golden Girls. That was his big thing. Break. The guy that created madman was a sitcom writer. You know that Alan Ball started as the sitcom writer that I made that makes a lot of sense. Yeah, he was uncivil. Okay, the play right like Sorkin you know, and but the big advice I've gotten over the years and that's in the book is, once you start, Don't stop, keep going to get a crappy first draft. And, you know, because otherwise you'll be on it forever. I, I have a colleague who, who keeps talking to me about a screenplay he's been writing for 20 years. Well, maybe if you're writing a novel, you might take 10 years, a screenplay? No,

Alex Ferrari 50:45
no, I've talked to numerous screenwriters on this show. And, yeah, the professional they're all obviously professional screenwriters. So when when I tell them stories of you know, I've had this guy who's been on a screenplay for three years, they're like, that's, they're not professionals. They're, they're professionals. Don't do that. No, one's there's no, there's no honor. In the struggling writer who took five years to write the movie that there's this, there's that's ridiculous.

Jeffrey Davis 51:13
I think you're writing a novel that is unique. That's

Alex Ferrari 51:18
really different for that's a different form. But as far as screenwriting, or sitcom writing or anything like that, it'll take that long to do IT professionals knock it out. And the best advice?

Jeffrey Davis 51:30
Yeah, and I think the thing you're saying is, and I completely agree with it, is they have to learn to manage the, the feeling that it sucks. They have to deal with that and that professional does,

Peter Desberg 51:45
to give to give a little empirical support to what Jeffrey saying, what's

Jeffrey Davis 51:49
the word empirical mean? I don't think

Alex Ferrari 51:50
that is it. That's a 52 cent word,

Peter Desberg 51:53
sir. Well, I'd like to say I'm bucking the trend, but you'll say that's 100 cent word.

Alex Ferrari 52:01
It's a phrase, sir. That's a phrase. He said you were saying?

Peter Desberg 52:04
Yes. Before I was what? There was a huge study on creativity at Berkeley. And they found two traits that cut across every field. In terms of creativity, the creative people, a have the ability to tolerate ambiguity, and be the important one. They've learned not to judge. They avoid judging, they suspended. And what Jeffrey's always telling me is students will write a draft or two and they say, Oh, this is no good. And they don't want to go on because they haven't created a masterpiece in their first draft. We, we like, we like Hemingway's phrase of right drunk, edit sober.

Alex Ferrari 52:50
That's a that's a great way. It's a great, great saying. And it's so true, is it I know Mamet said it but I think he took it from Hemingway. What writing is easy. All you have to do is sit in front of the typewriter and bleed.

Peter Desberg 53:04
Yeah, watch the blood spots appear on your forehead.

Alex Ferrari 53:07
I'm not sure who said it. But I don't Mamet said it. But I think he took it from me.

Peter Desberg 53:10
Right? It was Hemingway. It was it was anyway. Yeah. No, the

Alex Ferrari 53:14
best advice I ever got for screenwriting, or writing in general, was from and I say this story all the time on the show, but I'm gonna say it again. Jim Uhls, the writer fightclub Sure. He said, If you're going to begin writing, sit down, write a screenplay. Do not stop. Go all the way through, do not edit, just write it out. When you're done, put it in a drawer. Sit down, start writing the second screenplay, and then do the same thing. And then start writing a third screenplay. When you're done with the third screenplay, pick up the first screenplay and then start rewriting that because by now you're a better writer than you were when you first started. That's great advice. Isn't that amazing?

Jeffrey Davis 53:51
It's amazing. We had Pedro Almodovar to the University last year, and I love his process. He's amazing. He will write three things at once. And he'll have different desks which I think Freud was the one who started that he only has two. So he'll he'll have different desks. So if he gets blocked on one project, he'll go to the other he doesn't stop and and I think that's kind of what you're what you're saying is is if if you get frozen on something, rather than suffering over it, go to another project and problem will probably be solved when you come back. I always recommend even though it's not a screenwriting book, I always think the Anne Lamott book Bird by Bird, any writer should read

Peter Desberg 54:42
that before free go past this point. An old comedy writer that I interviewed, and this was before the days of computers we was writing on a typewriter said whenever I find myself blocked, what I do is I go back and I take the last two pages I wrote and I tear them up Oh God, I don't care how clever it was it got me into this corner.

Alex Ferrari 55:05
Yeah, that's so you purposely delete what you just wrote in order to get you to start writing again.

Peter Desberg 55:12
And you may not realize that you box yourself in but you did.

Alex Ferrari 55:16
No, of course. Of course. That's Oh, that's, that's brutal, but yet very effective.

Jeffrey Davis 55:21
Yeah. That's a good Yep. Peter, I don't think you've ever shared that with me.

Peter Desberg 55:25
But I have, but you don't pay attention when we talk.

Alex Ferrari 55:28
I'm glad. I'm glad I could bring you two together a little way. And

Peter Desberg 55:32
it'll be gone for lunch.

Alex Ferrari 55:35
All right, so I have a few more questions to ask you. What advice would you give a writer wanting to break into writing for television and today's world?

Jeffrey Davis 55:44
Well, my advice is going to be coming from my now 14 years at Loyola. And nine years. Oh, good. God is coming up on nine years as chair of screenwriting. I'm not talking about the grad students. Now I'm talking about undergrads are very well come out at you know, anywhere between 22 and 24. You take any job you can get some of them come out, and they say, Well, I want to be a writer's assistant in the writers room, because I want to write well, you got to earn that. That doesn't, it would vary what the story I told you about my two students who are on who were on one day at a time now they had one of them was Jeff Carlin's assistant for a year and a half, almost two years, and then worked on the TV show he's on now. And the other one made independent films and shorts and did temp jobs. And then this producer, a Creator, who had been their teacher at school, brought them together as a team and brought them on the show. But you take any job you can get as long as it's in the business. All of my seniors from last year are working.

Alex Ferrari 57:04
Let me see.

Peter Desberg 57:05
Let me just add something to what Jeffrey said, by using the N word networking. The number of jobs you know the number of people that get into a room because a friend of ours, you know, friend of his said, Hey, there's a vacancy in the room, come on in numbers, the people that get in because they're so wonderful. And so you know, meet as many people as you can work with as many people as you can. And be pleasant while you're doing it.

Jeffrey Davis 57:32
Yeah, I think the days when you could be a spoiled entitle person, or over, I'll tell you, JJ Abrams, who some of you know this, but JJ is like we're best buddies. JJ Abrams, dad was a big producer. AJ is not first generation, his dad was a TV movie producer. And so he was raised inside the business. And he, he says that the minute someone who comes to work for he and his wife looks entitled, they're out. They don't give them a second chance. Because there's too many people who want that chance. I couldn't be spoiled and entitled and difficult. I'm very proud of the students at LMU. Because they don't come out with that entitle level, they are willing to start at the bottom and pay their dues. The odds of I mean, aside from what happened to the two students I mentioned, that's mostly going to happen to grad students. And even then it's going to take a couple of years, you have to be prepared. If you want to be a writer in television, I can't speak to movies, because movies are entirely different business now. And and the majors don't make that many movies, right. But television, you have to be prepared to give it a minimum of five years. So you're where you think you want to be.

Peter Desberg 58:58
I moonlight as a clinical psychologist, and I only work with people who have stage fright. And I remember one actor coming in to see me. And his first words are, I'm an actor. I don't do commercials and I don't do soaps for suck now. That lie and I said oh, when you forgot and I don't work.

Jeffrey Davis 59:20
Absolutely say that or, you know,

Alex Ferrari 59:22
I did it well. Yeah, no, no, it's that that that kind of mentality is the I don't want to do this or I don't want to do that is that the worry the business will beat them out of that. Eventually, you know, because you're someone who never

Jeffrey Davis 59:37
says that. That's why everybody loves her except Donald Trump.

Alex Ferrari 59:42
Mm hmm.

Jeffrey Davis 59:43
Meryl Streep does not even today. Have that attitude. And she certainly could if she wanted to. Her attitude is she doesn't want to do something is she's very gentle. And she's very loving and she sometimes will even wear commend someone she thinks is more right for something. But that's why she's Meryl Streep is not just because she's a brilliant actress. You know, there is never a reason to be unkind to other people that you were. And you will be remembered for that. Other than Peter being unkind to me on a daily basis, which I've gotten used to,

Peter Desberg 1:00:22
if you have three or four hours, I can give you a couple of really good stories.

Jeffrey Davis 1:00:27
But he's unkind to me. Exactly. Yeah.

Peter Desberg 1:00:31
We've barely scratched the surface, I

Jeffrey Davis 1:00:33
think I think it's a really important thing for young writers to remember is you got to earn it, you've got to earn it. And even when you get into the room, if you get the room to sit, oh, I'll give you an example. I'm trying to think how can I not make myself the hero of the story? No. I had a student listen, because this is the first the best undergraduate joke writer, um, character that I've ever had in the 14 years of being there. She was 21. I mean, this is how good she was, she could look at somebody else. Because I run my I run my classes, like a writers room, particularly the upper division class. And because that's how I was taught, and, and she could look at somebody else's script and come up with like, eight jokes that fit the characters. She had studied their script, so much knew their scripts so well. And that's what you want in a writers room. And she said to me, I'm going to go out, and I'm going to get in a writers room right after I graduate. And I said, Diona, I don't think that's going to happen. And if it did, I think it would be a really bad thing for you. 22, you'll be looked at as the baby writer and baby renters are usually between 25 and 30. And you'll be you will be out of the business by the time you're 25. What about grad school. And so she on her own, looked up some grad programs. And they had just started the Harold Ramis Second City master program. That's where she is now she's finishing out I told you, it didn't work. I'm still the hero of the story.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:25
But giving her that that given her that extra time

Jeffrey Davis 1:02:27
with her in April when she was in town, because it's in Chicago, the program. And they you know, they were trying to honor her ramus and by naming it after, and she's a different person. She's calm. She's loving school. She loved being an undergrad.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
Well look at the instructor, she I mean seriously. And of course, she

Peter Desberg 1:02:49
is an instructor. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
by giving that little extra time for nurturing, and just time to kind of develop a little bit even as talented as she might have been. It's kind of like it's kind of like throwing Michael Jordan or LeBron James into playing basketball when they're 15. They're really talented, but just give it a couple years. You know,

Peter Desberg 1:03:09
I told you the story before about wall Bennett. He told us a story that when he was a new guy in a room, he you pitched a joke. And it was like the wind was blowing. Nobody heard anything. 20 minutes later, one of the more seasoned writers told the same joke just pitched the same joke and everybody cracked up. And Walt said, Wait a minute. I just pitched that joke. They looked at him said Come on. Don't be like that. Oh, wow. And you know, it's interesting that Jeffrey talked about Lou Schneider before who told a great story that they're in the room. And the writer next to him, grabs them and pulls them down below the table and says pitch this joke for me it yourself because you did stand up your pitcher better

Alex Ferrari 1:04:00
Wow.

Peter Desberg 1:04:00
The nice thing about Lowe is he gave her credit.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:03
That's nice ever that's that's rare in this this

Jeffrey Davis 1:04:07
aliens are not

Peter Desberg 1:04:08
and it only took him four months to get around to it.

Jeffrey Davis 1:04:10
We interviewed someone that we have not yet found the book for but a stand up named Carrie snow is an old friend of mine. And when they she was she got a one afternoon she got a letter with a check for $500 in it from Robin Williams and he said I was doing stand up. This is maybe like 1020 years ago, and I inadvertently use one of your jokes so I felt I had to pay for it.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
Wow. Yeah,

Peter Desberg 1:04:43
such a sweet guy. Uh, he

Alex Ferrari 1:04:44
was I had I had the pleasure of meeting him once and he's, I did the thing with Robin when I met him is that have never met another human being whose energy you could literally feel the vibration off of him. And he wasn't on. He was calm. He was with his wife. You know, as his comments gonna be, he was not cracking jokes. He was just a normal human being. But you can sense that energy off of him. And I've never met another human being like that.

Jeffrey Davis 1:05:14
You know, his mentor was like that, because I grew up around Jonathan Winters. I knew him pretty well.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:20
I heard about that with Jonathan. He

Jeffrey Davis 1:05:22
was close friends with his close friends with my stepfather and I, I and I hope you weren't planning to use that piece of paper. You should never put blank paper in front of me. I'm going to write, you're gonna have to do some editing here, my friend.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
It's fine. We just let it go.

Peter Desberg 1:05:43
So did you have some I guess

Alex Ferrari 1:05:45
I have to have two more questions. I wanted to ask you guys. What is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Peter Desberg 1:05:55
Oh, that's an easy one. You can give yours first and then I'll steal it.

I give me an answer. And Jeffrey will say me too. As far as life lessons are concerned,

he hasn't learned and he

says I'm still a student, huh? That's, that's a really tough one. Um, well, I I'm good at answering narrower questions. Uh huh. But, you know, the other day I did a podcast and somebody said, this was a screenwriter and she said, What's your favorite sitcom, your favorite comedy movie of all time? And I looked at her and I said, tell me your favorite movie? And she laughed and said, I can't answer that one either.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:41
That was gonna be my next question. So is there any lessons life lessons that you can think of that kind of really, that took you really long time to figure out do you like, Oh, my God,

Jeffrey Davis 1:06:54
so learning, Peter will back me up in this, but if he has any class, he won't say anything?

Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
Well, apparently no class,

Peter Desberg 1:07:03
easy. It's easy to keep learning when you have so much to learn.

Yeah, exactly. You ruined it. Okay.

He never takes notes when I talked to him, which is

Jeffrey Davis 1:07:13
really, it's really hard to study for a test when you don't know what the answers are gonna be. My entire college and grad school career. I got a new people got me the answers. But no, I think it is the same lesson. I think that the lesson in writing that you never stopped learning is the same lesson in life is you have to constantly teach yourself to listen, it's hard. It doesn't come naturally. Man, anybody most people love to talk. And listening is hard. And if you're going to be a writer, you have to listen and observe and that's true of any kind of writing any kind of acting any kind of stand up

Peter Desberg 1:07:49
is a great phrase. The opposite of talking isn't listening. It's waiting.

I tell you what, I'm

telling you. I'll leave you with my answer to that one before those experiences a lousy teacher it gives the exams before the lessons.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
Yeah, that's great.

Peter Desberg 1:08:06
Is it regular walking Bartlett's home quotation is

Alex Ferrari 1:08:12
alright, so name if you can't. Both you guys, one of your favorite sitcoms and one of your favorite comedy movies, or movies in general.

Peter Desberg 1:08:22
Well, I can't give you my favorite sitcom, but I can give you my favorite current sitcom. Fair enough. I'm a sound like I echo alien when I say I'm a big Big Bang Theory fan. But there have been so many great sitcoms, you know again, cheers Frasier, taxi Seinfeld. They just they're too many. And they go all the way back to I Love Lucy and just it'd be easier to tell you the ones I haven't liked. With there been so many great movie comedies yours. Where do you start?

Alex Ferrari 1:08:58
One that comes into your mind? Or do you start

Peter Desberg 1:09:00
I can tell you Jeffrey's favorite comedy was Porky's. Yeah, right?

I actually never saw Porky's, believe it or that? He's lived it?

Alex Ferrari 1:09:12
How about you, Jeffrey, Eddie answers?

Jeffrey Davis 1:09:14
Well, I guess my favorite classic comedy would have been married John Moore Show. I just love that show. I can watch it over and over and over again. I think one of the more recent it's off the air now three years, but I just thought it was much better than friends. And I'm sure it owes something to friends and is doing very well in syndication and on Netflix now ran nine seasons, and was written by two theatre guys and then they went on to work for David Letterman before they created How I Met Your Mother. I just think it's a brilliant show. I think it's so beautifully written and imaginative and risky for a network show just the way they did it going in and out of satire, double points of view and then I guess Chuck Lori's show. The only one that I watch. I'm not saying because Peter loves the Big Bang, and I like it too, is it's just not my kind of humor, but I like it. I appreciate it. But I love mom, which and I level Grace and Frankie. I think Grace and Frankie is amazing. And there's also there's, they're going backward to the shows that I unfortunately wrote in the early 90s. There's a show called the ranch on Netflix. Yeah, a new one with Kathy Bates. Yes. And, and I don't find either them remotely funny. They're like, it's the old three jokes a page thing. They're going back to her premises a woman who owns opens up what? Six years? Six jokes three jokes. But I don't I don't remember that rule. I only remember 340

Peter Desberg 1:10:56
years of old talks when you said that.

Jeffrey Davis 1:10:58
I lied.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:00
You guys could discuss it afterward.

Peter Desberg 1:11:03
Oh, no. during,

Jeffrey Davis 1:11:04
during Of course. We're a lot more entertaining when we're arguing. I think I get

Alex Ferrari 1:11:09
but yeah, I've heard both those shows are not doing very well. And that's probably good reason why.

Jeffrey Davis 1:11:15
And yet one day at a time is doing really well. Because the ghosts are all from character.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:24
Where are the where's that show playing?

Jeffrey Davis 1:11:26
Netflix?

Alex Ferrari 1:11:27
Is that Netflix? Second season? Yeah. Okay, I gotta look that up. I haven't even I didn't even hear about it.

Jeffrey Davis 1:11:32
Hey, Gemma here, Rita Moreno isn't anything I'm there. She's

Alex Ferrari 1:11:36
wonderful. She's wonderful. Now where can where can people find you guys online?

Peter Desberg 1:11:41
If you go to let's see now. That's funny dot lol. You can find us.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:50
Okay, fantastic. And then the name of your books. Now that's funny, though, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the fine. All

Peter Desberg 1:11:58
this bad or bad taste. I will plug my most recent joke book, go for it, which is the bad sex manual. I wrote my friend Tom, who wrote and directed Friday the 13th part six as big as you want. It's like, okay, but before we finish, can I just quickly say you have made this so easy for us? Yeah. Right. You asked great questions you wrote up with a lot. You're really good listeners. Well,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:28
thank you so much. I appreciate that.

Peter Desberg 1:12:30
So you've made this enormously fun and easy for so we appreciate that. Oh,

thank you. Oh, so when you when you turn off,

he wants to tell you what he really thinks once you turn.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:42
So once I turn once I stopped the recording, then you can tell me what you really think. Well, I appreciate it. Guys, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me in the in the in the indie film hustle tribe, I truly appreciate it. Thank you,

Jeffrey Davis 1:12:55
thank you, you made this really fun.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:58
Peter and Jeffrey, were an absolute riot. And I hope you guys have a better understanding of what it takes to make people laugh. And what it's like to actually write a comedy. I know when I was working on this as mag, which is a drama, drama, comedy. There are a lot of comedic elements in this as mag. And, you know, I just sat back and watch some of these amazing actors that were in the cast. Just come up with this humor and sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't we figured it out in the editing room. But it was just such a wonderful thing to be on a set where you're laughing almost all the time. It was just an a very enjoyable process. And I hope you guys can bring some comedy into your into your work whether even if it's the if a drama, you know some sometimes a little joke here or there brings the audience in and just and keeps them going in your story and in your journey. So I hope this was a benefit in value to you guys. And if you want to link to Peter and Jeffrey's book now that's funny the art and craft of writing comedy. Just head over to the show notes at Indie film hustle.com forward slash BPS zero 28. And guys, we will be launching indie film hustle TV next week. And I'm so so so excited to share everything I've got in store for you. We've got interviews with some of the biggest screenwriters in Hollywood talking about billion dollar screenwriters. We have the dialogue which is a series that does in depth interviews with Jim Uhls are at our fight club, David Goyer, the CO writer of the dark night and just you know, Paul Haggis Academy Award winning Paul Haggis, there's so many just like literally so many screenwriters and that that show alone, let alone a list screenwriting lectures, as well as Writers Guild sponsored lectures that are only available through ifH TV or at another places are extremely expensive if you want to rent or buy But here, they're part of the service. And I've got so many more things coming up courses by Linda shear is going to be on there the legendary script doctor, her courses on here, as well as documentaries like dream on spec, which is a documentary, specifically about screenwriters trying to get their screen screenplays produced, while being a while interviewing some of the top screenwriters in Hollywood. I mean, there's just so much stuff, guys, I can't even go into it. We've got hundreds of hours of content for screenwriters, filmmakers, and content creators. So if you want to sign up early again, head over to ifH tv.com to get early access. I'm going to be releasing and send you guys a private email with a private link to get in early if you want to jump in and explore before anyone else. So that's ifH tv.com. And that does it for another episode of The Bulletproof screenplay podcast. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the bulletproof screenplay podcast at bulletproof screenplay.com That's B u ll e t e r o f s CR e n PLA y.com


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