Synopses & Reviews
Amy Poehler, Mel Brooks, Adam McKay, George Saunders, Bill Hader, Patton Oswalt, and many more take us deep inside the mysterious world of comedy in this fascinating, laugh-out-loud-funny book. Packed with behind-the-scenes storiesfrom a day in the writers room at The Onion
to why a sketch does or doesnt make it onto Saturday Night Live
to how the BBC nearly erased the entire first season of Monty Pythons Flying CircusPoking a Dead Frog
is a must-read for comedy buffs, writers and pop culture junkies alike.
No one generates more interesting, revealing, or entertaining interviews than Mike Sacks. Poking a Dead Frog is a classic.”
This book is what I really look forward to in a book about humor: rich with words and humor, and funny stories with words. Thank you for your time.”
These interviews go to dark depths and offer useful, applicable insight into how excellent comedy is written. If you read it, you're going to be better at writing comedy and may even wind up in a position where you can take jobs away from the younger interviewees. I specify the younger interview subjects because some of the older ones will die soon.”
I wish I'd had a book like this when I was trying to break in. Also, a book on personal hygiene.”
"In this excellent book, Sacks follows up on his Conversations with 21 Humor Writers and once again displays his ability to get fascinating and honest interviews from comic luminaries such as long-time Saturday Night Live writer James Downey ('Most of the people who have been in the cast of SNL did their best work on SNL'); 'Anchorman' director Adam McKay ('The biggest mistake is that people go into comedy solely for the money. It's just a dead end always'); and the legendary Mel Brooks ('Everything I've ever done, I've started with characters. I learn what they want, what they need'). But interspersed with 15 full-length interviews are insights from 30 more comedy writers in two shorter categories: 'Pure, Hard-Core Advice' (Patton Oswalt: 'When you're writing something, and it makes you laugh, don't judge that') and 'Ultraspecific Comedic Knowledge' (Conan writer Todd Levin on 'Writing a Submission Packet for Late Night TV'). While Sacks writes that he is no 'humor expert,' his book more than proves his contention that 'we are now living in a comedic Golden Age.' (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A fascinating, laugh-out-loud funny look at the mysterious art of comedy, as told by legendary humorists from Amy Poehler to Mel Brooks
What makes people laugh? How do you know if a joke will click” with the audience? And how do you get a job as a comedy writer, anyway? In Poking a Dead Frog, top humor writers like Adam McKay (Step Brothers, Talladega Nights), Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation), and Glen Charles (Cheers, Taxi)many of whom have never before been interviewed at this length, or at alloffer insight into their influences and creative processes, their self-doubt and breakthroughs, and how they managed to succeed in the mysterious, unpredictable business of comedy. Packed with behind-the-scenes stories, from a typical day in the writers room at the Onion to why a sketch does or doesnt make it onto Saturday Night Live, Poking a Dead Frog is a must-read for comedy buffs, writers, and pop culture junkies.
A dramatic account of the politics and personalities behind NBC's calamitous attempt to reinvent late-night television.
When NBC decided to move Jay Leno into prime time to make room for Conan O'Brien to host the Tonight show-a job he had been promised five years earlier-skeptics anticipated a train wreck for the ages. It took, in fact, only a few months for the dire predictions to come true. Leno's show, panned by critics, dragged down the ratings-and the profits-of NBC's affiliates, while ratings for Conan's new Tonight show plummeted to the lowest levels in history. Conan's collapse, meanwhile, opened an unexpected door of opportunity for rival David Letterman. What followed was a boisterous, angry, frequently hilarious public battle that had millions of astonished viewers glued to their sets. In The War for Late Night, New York Times reporter Bill Carter offers a detailed behind-the-scenes account of the events of the unforgettable 2009/2010 late-night season as all of its players- performers, producers, agents, and network executives-maneuvered to find footing amid the shifting tectonic plates of television culture.
The New York Times bestselling author of The Late Shift delivers andquot;a boisterous, two-timing, high-stakes drama about the business of comedyandquot; (The Associated Press).
No one is more uniquely suited to document television's latest late- night travesty than veteran media reporter and bestselling author, Bill Carter. NBC's CEO, Jeff Zucker, had it all worked out when he moved Jay Leno from behind the desk at The Tonight Show, and handed the reins over to Conan O'Brien. But as everyone knows, his decision was a spectacular failure. Ratings plummeted, affiliates were enraged-and when Zucker tried to put everything back the way it was, that plan backfired as well.
In candid detail, Carter charts the vortex that sucked in-not just Leno and O'Brien-but also Letterman, Stewart, Fallon, Kimmel, and Ferguson as frantic agents and network executives tried to manage a tectonic shift in television's most beloved institution.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY NPR
Amy Poehler, Mel Brooks, Adam McKay, George Saunders, Bill Hader, Patton Oswalt, and many more take us deep inside the mysterious world of comedy in this fascinating, laugh-out-loud-funny book. Packed with behind-the-scenes storiesfrom a day in the writers room at The Onion to why a sketch does or doesnt make it onto Saturday Night Live to how the BBC nearly erased the entire first season of Monty Pythons Flying CircusPoking a Dead Frog is a must-read for comedy buffs, writers and pop culture junkies alike.
About the Author
Bill Carter joined The New York Times as a national media reporter in 1989. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Late Shift, two other books on the television industry, Monday Night Mayhem and Desperate Networks, and has written numerous articles for The New York Times Magazine and other publications. He has been a guest on Nightline, Today, CNN, Charlie Rose, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and many other shows. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he lives in New Jersey with his wife. They have two children.