D.B. Gilles, a produced and published playwright, screenwriter, and television writer who teaches in the Undergraduate Film & Television division of the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has the next best thing to being in his comedy writing class… his newest book You’re Funny! Turn Your Sense of Humor into a Lucrative New Career (Michael Wiese Productions, 2011), which is available May 1.
You’re Funny! covers the different ways to earn a living as a comedy writer, including writing sitcoms, jokes for late night talk shows, parody, stand up, and screenwriting. Gilles’ straightforward approach in his new book will help the reader determine if they can actually make a living writing jokes and making people laugh.
Excerpted from You’re Funny!
Something You Should Know About Stand Up
That’s Not Big Enough to Deserve Its Own Chapter
I’m in awe of stand up comedians. They are the comedy equivalent of the long distance runner. Alone with a microphone facing the unknown every time they walk on a stage. When a comic is just starting out, the stages are usually in grungy clubs.
The beauty of being a comic is the immediacy it provides for your creativity. You write a joke in the morning and you can perform it in front of an audience that night. It works or it doesn’t. If it kills you keep it and put it in your arsenal. If it bombs you either put it down or keep working on it and you can try it again the next night. Still doesn’t work? Play with it some more and try it again the next night. It finally works you keep it or you decide to let it go.
The only comedy-writing job where one gets some semblance of immediacy is if you’re writing for a late night show when a joke or bit you’ve created that day might make it to the air that night.
As for sketches, it may never get on or you have to wait a few days (which is still good), but if you wrote a spec for a sitcom or a screenplay you might wait years before it gets produced, if it all.
So relish the satisfaction of having the opportunity to have an instant reaction to your material. Other than when you’re with your friends, you won’t find it anywhere else.
2011 also marks the publication of Gilles’ The Screenwriter Within: New Strategies to Finish Your Screenplay & Get a Deal. (The 2nd edition of The Screenwriter Within was published in 2000 by Random House). And his The Portable Film School, published in 2005, continues to be a popular book with young filmmakers unable to go to film school. He is also co-author of the George W. Bush parody W. The First 100 Days: A White House Journal (Andrews McMeel 2001).
Four of his plays are published by Dramatists Play Service: Men's Singles, The Girl Who Loved The Beatles, The Legendary Stardust Boys, and Cash Flow. His most recent play, Sparkling Object, had its world premier in November 2010 at The Canal Park Playhouse in New York.
Gilles is a member of The Writers Guild of America and The Dramatists Guild.