Posts Tagged ‘Marc Maron’

Here’s an excerpt from the WTF with Marc Maron podcast, episode 1129.

Marc Maron:  I can clearly see watching [Don] Rickles–whether he’s just doing jokes or however good his timing is, or whatever—that there are moments there where I’m like this is a man filled with rage.

Jerry Seinfeld: I do think we could come up with a number of different words that are in and around rage, but an essential element to be sure in comedy. It is essential. Aggression. Confrontation. Resentment. Irritation. There are varietals, like wines. But you can’t not have it. If you don’t have it I don’t think you’re going to get laughs.

Here’s a classic irritation scene from Seinfeld:

Scott W. Smith 

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I needed a jolt after the July 4th weekend to get back in the saddle and I found it yesterday listening to Marc Maron’s interviews with Carl Reiner (2013) and Jerry Seinfeld (2020). It was like a mini-lesson in peak history in American comedy for the past 70 years.

Before Seinfeld became the most financially successful comedian in the history of the world he had to learn a key lesson when he was starting out:

I realized I have to have a way of growing that’s more than just hanging out bullshitting with other comics. I need a better system than that. And so I set about creating that for myself. And believe it or not, I got it from George Burns. Fred Raker gave me George Burns’s first book which was called Living it Up, or They Still Love Me In Altoona! And I read about him starting in Vaudeville and his struggles and and his love of the business. But I read that he sat and worked every day for at least two hours on jokes, which I had never heard of or done. Didn’t know anybody who did that. Nobody sat down and said, you know, I want to do something on dogs. Let’s really explore this on a piece of paper, and then explore it on stage. Let‘s do both. Everyone was [just exploring ideas] on stage. And I think to this day, most people do. They catch hold of an idea, they take it on stage—that works for a lot of people. It wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to dig deeper down the hole. And I wanted to take my time doing it. And then take it on stage. It was the back and forth, the stage and the pad. And then I found I was coming up with a lot of stuff. And then I started progressing and going past people. And I thought this is my way. I thought, if I’m going to get on The Tonight Show three times a year and crush every one of them, this has got to a bit of a serious endeavor.”
Jerry Seinfeld
WTF with Marc Maron, June 8, 2020

Related post:
What Changed Jerry Seinfeld’s Life 
Jerry Seinfeld on What Drives Comedy
Jerry Seinfeld (Part 1)
Jerry Seinfeld (Part 2)
Jerry Seinfeld (Part 3)
Jerry Seinfeld (Part 4)
Jerry Seinfeld (Part 5)

Scott W. Smith

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“The whole thing is a mystery to me. It’s like I go to work and I sit around taking a nap and read a couple of books and curse myself for being a lazy swine. And at some point a work of some description shows up and I say how did that get there?…What I’m trying to do—I’ve written a lot of books [on acting and writing]—is understand a mysterious process. Try to get closer to a mysterious process.”
David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, The Verdict)
WTP with Marc Maron podcast interview 

Trying to understand the mysterious process of writing pretty much describes what I’ve been trying to do on this blog for the past decade. It’s why I’ve quoted over 700 sources of writers, filmmakers, artists, and others talking about the creative process. And if you’ve been reading this blog for long you’ll have read that many quiet successful people have had contrary views on the topic.

And if I was limited to listing just a couple of things that set people apart I’d go with talent and hard work (get stuff written/produced). But there’s a lot of mystery involved in the process. And while I agree that it’s a little tricky to dissect the creative process, I do think there’s a lot of wisdom the following advice:

“Story is about principles, not rules. A rule says, ‘you must do it this way.’ A principle says, ‘This works…and has through all remembered time.’ The difference is crucial. Your work needn’t be modeled after the ‘well-made’ play; rather, it must be well made within the principles that shape our art.”
Robert McKee

Every once in a while you hear a writer say they’ve never read a book on writing, or taken a class on writing. But what they have done is read a lot of books/screenplays, watched a lot of movies, and/or gone to a lot of plays and in the process learned basic principles (conflict, character, plot devices, etc.) that are common in Greek plays, Shakespeare, Dickens, Flannery O’Connor, Arthur Miller, Lorraine Hansberry, Billy Wilder, Nora Ephron, Ang Lee, Sam Shepard, Aaron Sorkin, Jordan Peele, etc., etc.. etc.

P.S. David Mamet’s newest book, Chicago, is set in the 1920s.

Scott W. Smith




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Screenwriter/playwright David Mamet began working in show business at seven or eight years old portraying Jewish children on a 6:30am radio/television programs, then as a kid in community theater in Chicago. At 16, he began working as a busboy in the early days of Second City watching actors like Peter Boyle, Fred Willard, Judy Graubart, and David Steinberg work their improv magic.

“So I was exposed to the whole idea of a seven-minute scene with a payoff. Which was extraordinarily influential in me because that’s what every scene’s got to be. If you look at what passes as improv comedy now some of it’s pretty funny but it doesn’t have a punchline. Like sketch comedy like Saturday Night Live they just dial it out. But what Second City said was they had to have an out. You gotta get off stage. So that really taught me a lot about drama because if the scene doesn’t have an ending there’s no reason to go on to the next scene. The reason to go on to the next scene in the play is because the first scene didn’t work. Somebody found out something that made them go on to the next scene.”
David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, The Verdict)
WTP with Marc Maron podcast interview 

Related posts:
Every Scene Must Be Dramatic—David Mamet
Mission: Rip Off David Mamet
What Happens Next?—Mamet

Scott W. Smith

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Halloween special you can file under scared to life:

“The biggest lesson of my life‑Jimi [Hendrix] died at 27, Jim Morrison died at 27, and I looked at it and asked what is in common here. And what it was was trying to live that image off stage. …It took me until I got sober to realize that I had to play Alice Cooper and be myself the rest of the time.”
Alice Cooper
Interview on WTF with Marc Maron

I think he means you can’t really live like a rock star 24/7 and expect to be rock star long—or to even live past 27. There may be exceptions, but Cooper’s been sober for 38 years. Mick Jagger who is still touring at age 74 does physical training six days a week to build stamina needed for the estimated 12 miles he covers while performing on stage.

Others in the 27 Club:
Janis Joplin
Kurt Cobain
Amy Winehouse

P.S. I saw an Alice Cooper full theatrical concert in Tampa in the early 80s and actually met him in San Diego in the 90s.  But not until the Maron interview did I realize that his career has not only lasted for five decades, but that he’s had an incredible eclectic group of entertainers cross his path over the years. Not only Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Jimmy Page in his early days in L.A., but other entertainers like Groucho Marx, Jonathan Winters, and Frank Sinatra.

Scott W, Smith

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Actor Harry Dean Stanton grew up on a farm in Kentucky, served in the Navy and was stationed in the Pacific during WWII, studied at the Pasadena Playhouse, once recorded a song with Bob Dylan, was a roommate of Jack Nicholson before they both became name actors, and acted along side Paul Newman and Marlon Brando.

Stanton started in theater and his first IMDB credit is for Inner Sanctum in 1954. He’d go on to become one of the great character actors working on Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather II, Escape from New York, Repo Man, Paris, Texas and when he died ten days ago at age 91 his film Lucky was playing in theaters.

He had a film and TV career that spanned  over 60 year and over that time worked with the a who’s who of great directors including Francis Ford Coppola, Sam PeckinpahJohn Milius, Wim Wenders, Arthur Penn, Norman Jewison, and David Lynch.

On a podcast interview with Marc Maron Stanton was a man of few words, but I did think there were a few nuggest in there including this brief exchange:

Marc Maron: What makes a guy a good director?
Harry Dean Stanton: Leave the actors alone. 

P.S. Two films I’d recommend of Stanton’s if you haven’t seen them are Paris, Texas written by Sam Shepard and The Straight Story (which mostly takes place in Iowa). I haven’t seen Sophia Huber’s documentary Harry Dean Stanton: Partly, but it’s on my short list.

Related posts:
Sam Shepard (1943-2017)
David Lynch in Iowa

Scott W. Smith



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