Reviewing and Editing

I think this is my third post on comedy as I understand it.  The more I know the more fucked up I am.  Being funny in night clubs consistently for long periods of time is not as easy as you would think.  Well I guess no one really thinks it's easy.

Ask any comedy veteran what it takes to be a comedian and the answer usually comes down to: write and perform.  Ok I get it.  Let's start with the writing.  A lot of comedians don't sit down and write.  They do something called "writing on stage".  This is where they come up with an idea and then just get up on stage and riff with said idea.  They do this over and over again, hopefully keeping the parts that got laughs and discarding the parts that didn't.  I heard a quote from Jerry Seinfeld that basically went, "I don't know what's going to be funny.  I get up on stage and the audience tells me what's funny and what's not funny.  Basically the audience is writing my act."  Ok so people write on stage and they let the audience tell them what's good and what's not.

What I want to focus on is writing.  Not jotting down thoughts of inspiration to riff on later but actually sitting down to write.  Sitting down to write comedy can be a scary thing.  I like to keep this thought in the back of my head that says, "If I sat down and wrote everyday I'm sure I could come up with great comedy material."  But then that's all it is, is a thought.  It's like this thought that keeps my ego filled with this false self image that I contain greatness in me if only I were to apply myself.  This allows me to think I'm great while at the same time not really doing anything.  The scary part comes when you apply yourself and there is no greatness there.  What does your ego do then?  When it's met with a lie.  When the application of self discipline doesn't supply us with the genius that we've been telling ourselves we have.  This is the fear.  This is the tragedy.  This is what  really separates the men from the boys.

I hear all these great writers say that the goal is always to write.  If nothing else just write.  I'm here to say that I've done that fro over 270 days in a row and the results are very underwhelming.  They're frustrating.  I remember one time a friend of mine, who's a writer told me he had written a few novels.  I was impressed and asked him to give me a chapter.  He gave me a chapter and I couldn't make heads from tails about what was going on in this story.  This guy had written a book over a thousand pages but it didn't make sense to me.  Now I knew my friend and he's a smart, articulate and most importantly very funny guy.  Why the fuck did his book make no sense and suck so bad?

He never edited!!!!!!!  He never reviewed.  He used to speak about the band The Talking Heads and would tell me how the genus of this band was the producer.  The band would record hours of material and this genus producer would edit it into incredibly brilliant 3 minute songs.  He was waiting for his editor.  The problem was, his editor never came!

I can't waste this guys pain.  All these great writers love to talk about writing but I have discovered that writing isn't good enough.  We have to review.  We have to edit.

The lesson I'm learning is that yes writing is the most important thing for any writer.  Writing is like air for a writer.  With no air we die.  With no writing the writer dies!  But the thing no one talks about is reviewing and editing.  Reviewing and editing is like food and water for the writer and if we don't have food and water we also die, no matter how much air we breath.  As a comedy writer I need to review my material and I need to edit.  I heard George Carlin say that he learned early on to write things down and then file them.  He said that it's no good to write something down if you can't find it when you need it.

Here's to reviewing and editing!

PS I totally didn't review or edit this blog entry. WTF!