This is how you do it

Back in February, I gave an in-progress review of “meh” to Laugh Lines: Conversations with Comedians by Corey Andrew. Nothing in the remainder of the book improved my opinion of it any.

And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on their Craft by Mike Sacks is better. Much, much, much better. Sacks is a far better interviewer, showcasing the comedy talent to whom he’s speaking rather than showing off and injecting himself into subject matter.

Sacks’s interview subjects run the gamut from Marshall Brickman, Larry Gelbart and Dick Cavett to Bob Odenkirk, David Sedaris and Robert Smigel. He has a great interview with Dave Barry – which leaves me jealous, because the one time I got to interview Dave, for the late and lamented Wittenburg Door, I was starstruck, and too timid to push a couple of topics essential to the point of the interview. I embarrassed myself and produced a pretty pathetic interview, one of the great regrets of my writing career.

In between the formal interviews, Sacks puts in quotes, anecdotes or lists of writing tips.

Sacks’s book makes me want to start writing something – and I’m trying to figure out a good place to start.

Theatre of the mind

As you know, I just got through with a play performed in the style of an old-time radio show. The Internet has been kind to radio drama — or maybe I should just call it audio drama. Not only are there several sites that allow you to listen to numerous classic radio shows, but I keep finding a surprising number of original productions, released in the form of podcasts. These tend to be comic, simultaneously parodying and paying tribute to the classic medium. Some are better than others.

  • Illusionoid: This is a science fiction parody — apparently largely improvised, and you can tell. Colin Mochrie of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was a guest on a recent episode.
  • The Apple Sisters: Set in 1943, with an Andrews Sisters-like singing group.
  • Thrilling Adventure Hour: This comedy series features a variety of comic talent, including well-known comics or actors like Andy Richter or Josh Malina. The A.V. Club recently picked it as one of the year’s top podcasts.

If you prefer old-time radio, you can find it several places. Here are just a few: