Comedian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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Highlights
George Carlin on advice he gives young comedians: write it down and classify everything
Steve Allen on putting together a comedy act and bombing on stage
Phyllis Diller on her advice to aspiring comics
Bob Newhart on performing and writing comedy routines
Keenen Ivory Wayans on the "comedian's code" during his time at The Improv in New York; about stealing jokes
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara on how they became a comedy team
Who talked about this profession

Steve Allen

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Steve Allen on putting together a comedy act and bombing on stage
Steve Allen on his first late-night show for radio - gradually talking more and playing less music and the show taking off as a comedy show; on the response he got to ad-libbing

Shelley Berman

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Shelley Berman on writing for Steve Allen's Tonight show; on his first appearance on the show and realizing he was a comedian
Shelley Berman on when he realized he had become a comedian through his work at the Compass Players (which later became Second City) 
Shelley Berman on becoming a recognized performer and how it affected his performance as a comedian
Shelley Berman on doing stand-up comedy at the various clubs in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago in the 1950s
Shelley Berman on coming up with new material for his 22 Ed Sullivan performances; on not worrying about censors
Shelley Berman on playing both comedic and dramatic characters on TV
Shelley Berman on his advice to an aspiring performer

Ken Berry

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Ken Berry on performing the physical comedy in F Troop

Sid Caesar

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Sid Caesar on advice he has for aspiring performers

George Carlin

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George Carlin on getting fired from the Copacabana and being relieved to finally leave mainstream comedy
George Carlin on the origin of his famous routine "Seven Dirty Words"
George Carlin on the evolution of his comedy
George Carlin on getting to write about the "freak show"
George Carlin on defining himself and his role as an entertainer and a comedian
George Carlin on his creative process
George Carlin on why he never gets tired of performing his routines
George Carlin on advice he gives young comedians: write it down and classify everything

Carlos Mencia with Emerson College

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Carlos Mencia on making a connection with his audience as a comedian, and the commonalities between people of different backgrounds
Carlos Mencia on the risks and rewards of doing edgy or racial humor
Carlos Mencia on aiming to inspire people, as well as make them laugh, though his comedy
Carlos Mencia on how comedy can heal divides, and solve problems in society
Carlos Mencia on his reaction to the notion of political correctness in comedy, and in life
Carlos Mencia on using "blue" material in his act, and how the choice of words can affect comedy
Carlos Mencia on comedians tailoring their acts to their environments
Carlos Mencia on being responsible to his community in his comedy
Carlos Mencia on having been accused of stealing jokes from other comedians
Carlos Mencia on advice to aspiring comedians

Shecky Greene with Emerson College

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Shecky Greene on why he started in comedy, and on his earliest gigs
Shecky Greene on the relationship between laughter and depression
Shecky Greene on developing his comedy act, characters in comedy, and his role in creating the Comedy Store
Shecky Greene on doing dialects in his act, and on working for the mob
Shecky Greene on what he has gotten out of his comedy career
Shecky Greene on his comedic persona, and on appearing on Today with Katie Couric
Shecky Greene on surviving in comedy
Shecky Greene on the then-current state of comedy, and on Jewish comedy and the joys of performing
Shecky Greene on summing up his career

Lewis Black with Emerson College

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Lewis Black on his early interest in drama, and on becoming a comedian
Lewis Black on doing open mic nights at Catch a Rising Star in New York City
Lewis Black on working out his stand-up routine in front of audiences
Lewis Black on developing his comic persona
Lewis Black on the source of the anger in his comedy, and learning how to use the anger
Lewis Black on audience reaction to the evolution of his angry character
Lewis Black on doing political humor
Lewis Black on judging how far he can go with audiences
Lewis Black on whether comedy can be taught
Lewis Black on dealing with the business end of show business as a comedian
Lewis Black on longevity in a comedian's career

Eddie Brill with Emerson College

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Eddie Brill on learning comedy
Eddie Brill on developing a comedic voice
Eddie Brill on comedians using blue material
Eddie Brill on learning from older comedians
Eddie Brill on comedians being born or made
Eddie Brill on dealing with the business end of show business
Eddie Brill on the comedian's relationship to their audience
Eddie Brill on auditioning, and on working with Aretha Franklin
Eddie Brill on writing jokes, and on the power of laughter
Eddie Brill on what he gets out of being a comedian

Paul Rodriguez with Emerson College

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Paul Rodriguez on developing his early stand-up routine, and on being Richard Pryor's runner
Paul Rodriguez on being inspired by Richard Pryor to use his Mexican heritage and identity in his act, and on the language he uses in his act
Paul Rodriguez on the importance of comedians taking chances, and on basing his comedy routines around his life
Paul Rodriguez on dealing with agents and managers in his career, and on longevity in his career

Dick Gregory with Emerson College

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Dick Gregory on what comedy can do and cannot do for society
Dick Gregory on what he wanted to accomplish with this stand-up comedy, and on his early experiences with nightclubs
Dick Gregory on coming up with material for his act
Dick Gregory on defining what a comedian is
Dick Gregory on using his life experiences as fodder for his act
Dick Gregory on advice to aspiring comedians, and on profanity in comedy
Dick Gregory on comedians developing a technique
Dick Gregory on the role of the comic in society

Shelley Berman with Emerson College

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Shelley Berman on the type of performer he is, and on developing his early nightclub act
Shelley Berman on stand-up comedians using a stool, and various other props of the trade, and on the challenges faced by a stand-up comedian
Shelley Berman on the comedian Jim MacGeorge, and on his own poetry
Shelley Berman on the source of comedy in a script or situation, and on "teaching" comedy
Shelley Berman on the construct of comedy, and the difficulty in pinpointing what is funny or why people laugh
Shelley Berman on the importance in comedy of the audience relating to the comedian, and on the evolution of comedy in terms of explicit language
Shelley Berman on the importance of comedy in his life, and American life in general
Shelley Berman on his reputation for being difficult, and on the ups and downs of his life and career, including the loss of his son

Bill Dana with Emerson College

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Bill Dana on the importance of having a good agent
Bill Dana on the difficulties comedians face
Bill Dana on comedy being a difficult job, and on the most important quality of a comic
Bill Dana on comedians using situations and constraints to their advantage, and on the impatience of audiences
Bill Dana on learning to use humor as a weapon to disarm
Bill Dana on when he first learned he could make people laugh, and on attending Emerson College
Bill Dana on his early comedic influences
Bill Dana on what he's learned about the business side of the entertainment/comedy industry
Bill Dana on comedians stealing each other's material
Bill Dana on the source of his comedy, and his characters, and on Jonathan Harris as "Mr. Phillips" on The Bill Dana Show
Bill Dana on his answer to the question "What is funny?"
Bill Dana on the need for a performer to pay their dues
Bill Dana on his answer to the question "Was it worth it?"
Bill Dana on ethnic humor, and on the importance of good representation

Charles Grodin with Emerson College

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Charles Grodin on his brand of comedy, and on figuring out he was funny

Bill Dana

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Bill Dana on advice to aspiring writers and comedians
Bill Dana on founding the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College and on the challenges of being a comedian

Richard Dawson

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Richard Dawson on crafting his first act as a comedian and getting into acting

Phyllis Diller

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Phyllis Diller on her trademark laugh
Phyllis Diller on her advice to aspiring comics

Dick Van Dyke

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Dick Van Dyke on learning from Phil Silvers and discovering his love of comedy and his "funny bone"

Ed Begley, Jr. with Emerson College

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Ed Begley, Jr. on the "rules" of comedy, and on then-favorite comedians, and managers of comedians

Brad Garrett

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Brad Garrett on his start in stand-up

Geri Jewell

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Geri Jewell on the first time she did stand-up comedy, and how she talked about cerebral palsy in her routine

Jerry Lewis

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Jerry Lewis on his father's influence on his performances

Rose Marie

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Rose Marie on comedy

Anne Meara

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Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara on how they became a comedy team

Bob Newhart

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Bob Newhart on his comedic style and how it has and hasn't work on TV over the years
Bob Newhart on performing and writing comedy routines
Bob Newhart on advice to aspiring performers

Garry Shandling

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Garry Shandling on being fascinated by comedians
Garry Shandling on writing George Carlin-style monologues and meeting Carlin

Jerry Stiller

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Jerry Stiller on considering himself a comedian
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara on how they became a comedy team

Jimmie Walker

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Jimmie Walker on dealing with disappointment and rejection in his career
Jimmie Walker on what he loves about stand-up comedy

Keenen Ivory Wayans

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Keenen Ivory Wayans on finding out about the Improv in New York and changing his life to move back to the city and become a standup; how it changed his approach to comedy
Keenen Ivory Wayans on the advice his mentor Chris Albrecht gave him about comedy; make it specific
Keenen Ivory Wayans on the "comedian's code" during his time at The Improv in New York; about stealing jokes
Keenen Ivory Wayans on his stand-up act then and now

Larry Wilmore

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Larry Wilmore on doing his early stand-up comedy routines and on doing improv
Larry Wilmore on his comedic influences
Larry Wilmore on his stand-up act
Larry Wilmore on transitioning from writing jokes for himself to writing them for other people, and on finding his voice as a comic
Larry Wilmore on considering himself to be primarily a producer, and on his kinship with standup comedy

Jonathan Winters

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Jonathan Winters on advice for creating characters
Jonathan Winters on advice to those starting out in comedy