There are some people you meet in your life
who make a huge impact on the direction you take; you can’t imagine what would’ve happened if your paths had not crossed. For me that person is my comedian buddy Frank King. We met through mutual friends and connected immediately, which has led to collaborating on projects and helping each other out in our careers. This week I’ve invited Frank to give his take on comedy writing. . .here you go!
Frank King was a writer for The Tonight Show and Jay Leno for over two decades. He also wrote, off and on, for Joan Rivers and Dennis Miller. He was featured on CNN’s Business Unusual, Showtime’s Comedy on the Road, and An Evening at the Improv. He’s an award winning, syndicated humor columnist and radio talk show personality, who was also a Quarter-Finalist on the Original Star Search with Ed McMahon…he lost to a puppet…yes, a puppet. And he just did his first TED Talk. Frank can be reached at www.FrankKingSpeaking.com or 858.405.5653.
Jan: Where do you look for comedic inspiration?
Frank: My comic inspiration comes from everyday life. My sister says that I see the world, “a bubble off plumb.” It’s just the way my mind works. I can’t turn it off. I’m on a Delta flight, we’re taxiing out to the runway, for takeoff, and the flight attendant (referring to iPads, and iPhones, but didn’t mention either), says, “Due to new FAA regulations governing taxi and takeoff, if you have small equipment, you can continue playing with it,” at which point I’m bent over double laughing, with my seatmates staring at me like I’ve lost my mind, and before I can say, “Let’s review,” she continues, “If you have large equipment, you have to shove that under the seat in front of you.” At which point I drop to my knees on the floor…
Jan: How do you know something is funny before you sell it or use it?
Frank: I find out if something is funny before I do it in a show, or sell it, by running it by unsuspecting civilians in everyday interactions. Occasionally, if I’m confident enough in the bit, I’ll do it in my show, without a road test. I’ve got a bit on the Waffle House that I wrote on the drive from the airport to the comedy club, and opened my show with it, and it killed, and I’m still doing it, to this day. It’s one of my most popular with Southern audiences. Just this morning, on the way to a networking meeting, I wrote a joke to tell with my introduction. I ran it by a couple of people (unsuspecting) on the way into the meeting, and they laughed. It was, “Hey, sorry I missed a couple of meetings. I was in Syria, embedded with Seal Team 6, and Brian Williams, and Bill O’Reilly.” It killed.
Jan: What advice would you give to a non-comedian who wants to spruce up their speech or office memo with a bit of humor?
Frank: If you’re looking to spruce up a speech or interoffice memo, I’d hire a pro. I can’t tell you how many executives I’ve saved from themselves, by vetoing a joke they thought was funny and appropriate. Telling the right joke will not make a hero, but telling the wrong one can be…career limiting, at best.
Jan: What is your best comedy writing tip?
Frank: My best comedy writing tip is always shoot up, never joke down. Comedians speak truth to power on behalf of the powerless. It’s been that way since the middle ages, and the time of the court jester.
Jan: Why do you like writing comedy?
Frank: I like writing comedy because it is a expression of what I am, a comedian. I can’t help but write it. Often it just pops into my head, unbidden. I was driving down the street the other day, and there was a homeless guy coming toward me, and he was carrying an huge electronic keyboard. My first thought, without trying to write a joke about the situation, was, “You’re homeless, with no vehicle, if you want to play an instrument, why that big old electronic keyboard? Why not the flute.”
Thanks for reading!
www.TheWorkLady.com — Jan’s main website with video clips and info on Jan
www.ComedyEmcee.com – Jan’s emcee website – have her emcee your next event so that it rocks!