I can’t remember how I
met Phil Perrier, probably through my buddy Frank King, but Phil and I have been friends for a long time, and he really is one of the best joke writers in the business. I’ve referred people to him over the years to spruce up their material, and I just know that he’ll do a fantastic job. So I wanted to make sure I interviewed him for my blog so that you can learn a little from a real comedy pro who has written for just about everyone in this business!
Phil Perrier was recently employed as a staff writer on the Arsenio Hall Show. Before that, Phil spent many years writing freelance, for the likes of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and George Lopez. Phil is also a nationally known comedian and has a blog on the Huffington Post.
Where do you look for comedic inspiration?
Two places primarily, my life and the news. Humor can be found in the daily give and take with other people. Interactions at work, at home, in traffic, you name it. And if you want to write topical jokes, there is always stuff going on in the news that’s joke worthy. Can you say “Bruce Jenner?”
How do you know something is funny before you use it or sell it?
You really don’t know something is funny until an audience laughs at it. But, that said, I think something is funny if it makes me laugh. After that, I believe it will make an audience laugh, if properly presented. If I sell someone else a joke and they say it didn’t work for them, I usually blame them for doing it wrong.
What advice would you give a non-comedian who wants to use humor to spruce up an office memo or speech?
I would say go for it. Humor will definitely make your communication stand out and be more enjoyable. Just keep it light and fun and avoid hot button, controversial topics like politics, religion, race, sex and don’t even think about doing a joke about Islam.
Why do you like to write comedy?
Because I have absolutely no other marketable skills. But seriously, I like to write comedy because it is just how my brain works. Constantly churning up irony and absurdity. Which is not always a blessing, trust me. And like any skill, the more you do it, the better you get at it and the more little tools and tricks you have up your sleeve. Writing comedy, like any writing, is very self revealing. Every time you sit down to write, it’s a little adventure to see where it will take you. And it will take you to some interesting places.
What is your best writing tip?
Make yourself laugh. Why not. Jay Leno, even after all these years, still giggles like a school boy when he comes up with a funny idea. Love it.