Team Lena


"This fall after Modern Family...it's IS-ish!"

How Larry David creates a Curb Your Enthusiasm scene

How does Larry David come up with Curb scenes? Watch him create a funny on-the-spot Curbish scenario based on "I donated money in your name" charity donations. It's at 40m10s in to 43min of this KPCS interview.


Aim to convince one out of ten

An excerpt from Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running." The gist: It's ok if 9 out of 10 people don't like you, as long as that other 1 REALLY likes you. Seems like you could apply that to standup too.

In other words, you can’t please everybody.

Even when I ran the club, I understood this. A lot of customers came to the club. If one out of ten enjoyed the place and decided to come again, that was enough. If one out of ten was a repeat customer, then the business would survive. To put it another way, it didn’t matter if nine out of ten people didn’t like the club. Realizing this lifted a weight off my shoulders. Still, I had to make sure that the one person who did like the place really liked it. In order to do that, I had to make my philosophy absolutely clear, and patiently maintain that philosophy no matter what. This is what I learned from running a business.

After “A Wild Sheep Chase,” I continued to write with the same attitude that I’d developed as a business owner. And with each work my readership—the one-in-ten repeaters—increased. Those readers, most of whom were young, would wait patiently for my next book to appear, then buy it and read it as soon as it hit the bookstores. This was for me the ideal, or at least a very comfortable, situation. I went on writing the kinds of things I wanted to write, exactly the way I wanted to write them, and, if that allowed me to make a living, then I couldn’t ask for more.

Reminds me a bit of Kevin Kelly's 1,000 True Fans. You don't need everyone, you just need a few true devotees.


Why we should let Ray Rice keep playing football


Joan Rivers: "I would never tell a lie onstage"

Joan Rivers on telling the truth [via AK]:

From the beginning, and to this day, I would never tell a lie onstage. So now I walk out, I go, “I’m so happy to see you,” and I really truly am so happy to see them. The one thing I brought to this business is speaking the absolute truth. Say only what you really feel about the subject. And that’s too bad if they don’t like it. That’s what comedy is. It’s you telling the truth as you see it.

I like this idea as the inverse to Steve Martin's old approach (i.e. everything he says onstage is a lie). Also, some of her advice to comics from that piece:

First of all, don’t worry about the money. Love the process. You don’t know when it’s gonna happen. Louis C.K. started hitting in his 40s; he’d been doing it for 20 years. And don’t settle. I don’t want to ever hear, “It’s good enough.” Then it’s not good enough. Don’t ever underestimate your audience. They can tell when it isn’t true. Also: Ignore your competition. A Mafia guy in Vegas gave me this advice: “Run your own race, put on your blinders.” Don’t worry about how others are doing. Something better will come.

And I love what Howard Stern said at her funeral.


The Racial Joke Test

In Ironic Racism, Victor Varnado offers up The Racial Joke Test:

The test is “DO THAT JOKE IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE MOSTLY COMPRISED OF THE GROUP YOU MIGHT BE IN DANGER OF OFFENDING”. If if doesn’t fly or you don’t feel comfortable then drop that joke.

The last line of the piece: "Please go to harlem and pull that puppet out and see how it goes."


How Nora Ephron gave Woody Allen a happy ending

Interesting piece on how Woody Allen influenced Nora Ephron.

The film opens with simple, white-on-black titles, backed by an elegant, evocative jazz standard. The story that follows, framed by documentary-style straight-to-camera interviews, concerns a witty, urbane Jewish neurotic and his relationship with a sunny, fashionable shiksa. They stroll in through an autumnal Central Park and discuss death, sexual hang-ups, and New York real estate; the borough of Manhattan is captured in loving beauty shots, often backed by the music of Louie Armstrong. From that description, it would be easy to assume I was describing any number of Woody Allen films (Annie Hall in particular). But no, I’m talking about director Rob Reiner and screenwriter Nora Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally.

So why did Harry/Sally do so much better at the box office than any of Woody's movies? Bring in the happy ending.

Yet the key to When Harry Met Sally’s initial financial success and subsequent cultural ubiquity most likely lies in its third act, when it takes some turns decidedly its own. To be clear, it’s not all an Allen carbon copy; the famous Katz’s Deli sequence, for example, is a funny scene, but it’s also a “funny scene,” an entirely unbelievable set piece with a (hilarious, mind you) sitcom punchline that one can’t imagine within Allen’s more grounded world. But most strikingly, once Harry and Sally take the plunge and their relationship becomes more serious, it becomes more of a conventional romance — and more of what we would come to define as an Ephron movie.

Most importantly, the picture culminates with an apologetic Harry coming to his senses, sprinting through New York City on New Year’s Eve, and delivering a big, heartfelt speech so he can win back Sally, who he really loves after all. This happy ending is When Harry Met Sally’s chief divergence from the Allen playbook. It’s not just that his best-known comic romances, Annie Hall and Manhattan, end with their focal couples apart rather than together; in Allen’s nearly 50 films as writer/director, only six (Zelig, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Oedipus Wrecks, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Melinda and Melinda) feature a couple that meets, falls in love, and lives happily ever after.

Allen’s jaded view of love — all broken relationships and heedless infidelity — may be the more realistic one, but realism don’t sell tickets, kids.

Happily ever after is where the money's at.


How Larry David gets laughs with silence

Love this Curb Your Enthusiasm scene. Interesting to me how different this kinda humor is than doing standup. He's milking the shy, quiet thing here – for a while – in a way that'd never work onstage in front of a big crowd. On a screen, you don't have to "command the room" in the same way. You've already got the audience's captive attention. The camera does the heavy lifting for you. That means you can get laughs from subtle looks or simple/quiet things that'd get lost in a live, "you need to reach the back row" setting.

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