I’ve been writing seriously for almost nine years now, professionally for eight. While each week is entirely different from the last, there are similarities in the work regardless of whatever story I’m working on.
First it was screenplays, I dicked around with those for a number of years. In the middle of the screenplays, I wrote online ads for escorts. Pretty effectively. Ghostwriting is quite the income-generator if you can wedge yourself in that world. But that wasn’t very fun. Those things gave way to writing books and different types of comedy writing. So while I’m doing those two main things right now, there are moments that are priceless and I wouldn’t want to attain any other way.
These are moments of epiphany. The moments where you figure out why a character’s motivation is just a certain way, so that it services the rest of the story so very well. The moments where you realize that yes, that one idea you have is good enough to base an entire book around. A book that you’ll end up spending a fucking year to write. The moments where you have to pull off to the side of the road and scribble something down because it’s going to be that important to something you’re working on. I had one of these moments at 12:29am this past Thursday morning.
I was watching TALKING FUNNY, which was a one-hour comedy special that HBO did about three years ago. They’re good comedy partners with all four of Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Rock. So these four legends are sitting on a fake living room set talking about their stand-up and some of the logistics and science that allows us peons to understand better why and how they do what they do. It’s a terrific special.
So anyways, the focus comes to Chris Rock and how he uses the consistent reinforcement of a premise to really hammer home his point of view on what he’s trying to get across to the audience. My director, Dave Thurston, alluded to this method just last week, but it didn’t click with me. Probably because I’m an idiot and should go live in the mountains. I don’t know why it didn’t click, it seemed logical enough. We were in a room full of other up-and-coming stand-up comedians, so it could have been pressure, it could been weird brain shit, it could be likely the fact that I am at my creative best when I’m NOT collaborating with others. It’s just always been that way. Whatever the reason it didn’t click, it fucking clicked hard and penetrating on Thursday morning.
It was a good epiphany. And it’s made formulating stories and jokes for stand-up much more possible.