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Ever since I wrote recently about humor, it has been on my mind... even moreso lately because I've rekindled my passion for one of the numerous television projects that fill my files. I feel like I want to study the craft of comedic writing, learn the subtleties of the art that are so often and so easily blown out of proportion to cater to the more sophomoric crowd.
First, though, I need to dissect a few iconic shows to really identify my subjects of study. Thinking about Seinfeld as a show. Just as Jerry Seinfeld has admitted, it really was a show about nothing. I wasn't a huge fan because, while I like Jerry and Elaine well enough, Kramer and George drove me absolutely nuts. Their neuroses were a bridge too far. Perhaps I would enjoy Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Skipping ahead to 30 Rock... I've only recently begun watching, but I really dig it. Somehow, despite the caricatured characters, the jokes work for me and no one annoys me so much that I find it hard to watch. The writing is just so good. One of my favorite lines was when Jack was doped up in the hospital for his heart troubles and he said, “My mouth tastes like purple.” The mind that can create a line like that is a mind I want to mimic. Oh, Tina Fey.
Along the same lines, I was a late comer to Arrested Development only diving in last year. The characters were certainly overblown and took some getting used to, but the sum total of the show won me over. I enjoyed Portia de Rossi so much in AD that I even gave her most recent endeavor, Better Off Ted, a shot. Though it tried to be similar in tone to AD, it was just too... something. That something that is so off-putting to me is what I wish I could pinpoint.
Weeds, I love, even though it's not a sitcom in the traditional sense. Perhaps akin to Weeds is Nurse Jackie. I tried to like it but found the lead character's arrogance to be an obstacle. I know I want to go back and rummage through The Larry Sanders Show and maybe even Soap. I remember enjoying Taxi and Sanford & Son and The Jeffersons and Good Times, but not so much things like Newhart or Home Improvement. I guess I like a splash of subversion in my comic cocktail.
After seeing this little skit, I need to check out Modern Family.
Though I think I'm fairly witty, I'm not at all certain I would ever have the chops to create the sort of snappy, slightly snarky repartee that I enjoy, but I should at least be able to point to it, to define its parameters. Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend.