Five years ago I published a compilation of interviews with comedy writers called And Here’s the Kicker
. Today, my sequel to that 2009 book is being released by Penguin Press. The book is called Poking a Dead Frog: Interviews with Today’s Top Comedy Writers
, and it contains more than 45 all-new conversations with (and advice from) humor writers, including Mel Brooks, Amy Poehler, Roz Chast, Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, George Saunders and many more.
One of the themes in this book is how closely comedy is connected with anxiety, as well as depression, obsessiveness and angst. In many ways, comedy is only a few degrees off from horror: both genres hinge on surprise and genres can go very, very bad, very, very quickly. Just ask any comedian who's bombed onstage. Horrifying.
While writing this book, the image of Jack Torrance, the main character in Stephen King's The Shining
, kept coming to mind. A writer, working alone, struggling to produce. Day in and day out. It's a lonely existence, especially if your goal is to make people laugh. In the end, Jack Torrance went mad. Luckily, none of the writers in this new book have gone completely crazy (as of yet), but I liked the idea of creating a book trailer that could have easily been made for a horror movie.
The clip was created by the British illustrator and director Richard Littler
. It's short, but it packs a punch. I hope that it scares the crap out of you. And that you buy my book. Keep on grinnin'.