Lesser jokes get in the way of really good ones

This Cheers Oral History is a fun read if you're a fan of the show.

In it, David Lee (writer-executive producer), talks about the trap of going for laughs per minute or jokes per page.

On some shows, [the producers] say, “Oh, you gotta have 10 jokes per page.” Glen and Les would go, “You know, it’s better to get rid of the ‘Fifty percenters,’—the jokes that are just chuckles—and be satisfied with the hundred percenters.” If you have enough lesser jokes in the way, you actually start diminishing the value of the really good ones.


Interesting idea that a light laugh actually detracts from the bigger ones.

John Ratzenberger (Cliff Clavin) also explains how he improvised his way into the role.

I'd spent ten years in London, writing and performing my own comedy shows. They gave me the Cheers [scenes], and I thought it was the springboard for chatting about the show, because in England, that's what you do. So I walk in, and I'm looking around, and Jimmy Burrows said, "What are you looking at? You're not here to have a conversation; you're here to audition." At that second, I felt all the blood rush out of my body. I did a horrible job. As I was leaving, the casting director says, "Thank you, John," and my eight-by-ten was already in a wastebasket. But the writer part of me turned around and said, "Do you have a bar know-it-all?" Because in the bars in my neighborhood where my father hung out, there was always a bar know-it-all. Glen said, "What are you talking about?" I just launched into an improvisation of what [became Cliff].




"How's life treating you, Norm?"
"Like it caught me sleeping with its wife."

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