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Now's the Right Time for Comic Relief!

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 12, 2020 10:01

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In his new book 'Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier,' comedy writer Alan Zweibel talks about writing for Saturday Night Live and more.

It's absolutely indisputable that we all need a good laugh: it's therapeutic – especially now. It's hard to get away from coronavirus crisis headlines. I admit I feel a compulsion to scour the news platforms because I want to 'stay informed.' But how much information is too much for a mind to take in and productively assimilate? So, in the midst of this, I'm seeking out comedy programming. It's a healthier and lighter choice at this moment in time.

I've always had great admiration for people who are naturally funny. When I saw Rosie O'Donnell and Eddie Murphy do stand-up years ago in NY, their talent and gift to improv were undeniable. And the material was so darned funny!

One 'overnight success' who I think is brilliant is Tiffany Haddish. She's always a hoot to watch – irreverent and self-effacing. Haddish, along with fellow comedian Aida Rodriguez, had a comedy special on Instagram a couple of weeks back that gave me good belly laughs. The Night School star quipped about social isolating and male parts. The 40-year old multiple award winner received acclaim for playing Nekeisha Williams on NBC's sitcom "The Carmichael Show" but really rose to prominence in 2017 in the comedy Girls Trip.

As for comedy, the genre that makes the fourth-highest box office take after adventure, action and drama movies, two that come to mind that I absolutely love are Tootsie, starring Dustin Hoffman and When Harry Met Sally, with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan – older movies from the 80s that stand the test of time. 

Apparently, critics agree with my Tootsie selection because the Broadway show will tour in the fall of 2020. 

Television shows like "The Golden Girls," "All in the Family" and "Frasier" are comedy writing at its best. 

Perhaps an overlooked and underrated component of a successful comedy presentation is the comedy writer. Sure, we all know the names Billy Crystal, Lucille Ball, Robin Williams, Tyler Perry ... the list goes on and on. Many of these talented artists write for themselves. But if they are not writing or need more material they look to a guy like Alan Zweibel.

The comedy writer, featured in a NY Times article, talks about 40 years of comedy collaborations with stars like Crystal in his recent memoir 'Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier.'

Zweibel and Crystal have maintained a four-decade friendship. Crystal observed that although his friend didn't hit his mark as a stand-up comedian his jokes were top-notch: "They were smart, good, neurotic, Alan-based material," said Crystal.

Lorne Michaels saw that potential and the rest was history. He hired the young comedy writer in the early 70s a staffer for Saturday Night Live. Zweibel went on to co-create "It's Garry Shandling's Show," among other successful projects.

I wonder if anyone has thought about making a film on Zweibel's life. There's plenty of material to pull from – and I'm constantly seeking out funny stuff to watch.

Marion Charatan

Posted on April 12, 2020 10:01

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Source: CNN

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