This week, for some reason, I have been hearkening all the way back to a two week summer camp I went to when I was probably fifteen or so. There were a number of different topics one could study for the two weeks, and I’m not sure what mine even was…some kind of media, I think. But some of the kids were taking Comedy, and apparently, it was rather hard work. In a common’s room we a huge piece of butcher’s paper for graffiti. One morning I came in and saw, in words scrawled bigger and bolder than all the other signatures and cute quotes: WHEN DID COMEDY STOP BEING FUNNY?
For me, the answer to that question is, “sometime last week.” As we head into our mock production of a pilot, my TV sitcom writing class has morphed into an experience that is much less fun that watching old Jack Benny shows and reading scripts. Though I have always felt I had some potential for humor, my confidence in my abilities is fast waning. I comfort myself that perhaps my humor is quirky, while sitcom humor is broad. Certainly I have long known that I am more a watcher and reporter of the slightly absurd than a fast and furious jokes-man. Whatever the reason, I worry I have little to contribute, that I don’t “get” the show in the way our leader seems to “get it.” Each night, as assigned, I work up little stories for our characters, only to arrive at the “comedy room” and be told that the characters aren’t like that at all. Not that this should be a surprise, in a room of ten people; it seems unlikely that there would be a united vision. We are blind men feeling an elephant.