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Reblogged:Innovation in Comedy

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Cal Newport, author of Deep Work, passes along productivity advice he gleaned from Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. From the comments comes a link to a Smithsonian piece by Martin that Newport agrees would -- in about twenty minutes' of reading time -- provide "more nuance on Martin's story" than his own already worthwhile post.

It's also enjoyable reading, as the below early passage shows:

Image by Davidwbaker, via Wikipedia, license.
These notions stayed with me until they formed an idea that revolutionized my comic direction: What if there were no punch lines? What if there were no indicators? What if I created tension and never released it? What if I headed for a climax, but all I delivered was an anticlimax? What would the audience do with all that tension? Theoretically, it would have to come out sometime. But if I kept denying them the formality of a punch line, the audience would eventually pick their own place to laugh, essentially out of desperation. This type of laugh seemed stronger to me, as they would be laughing at something they chose, rather than being told exactly when to laugh.
Martin continues, noting, "And for the next eight years, I rolled it up a hill like Sisyphus."

I recall hearing that Martin's basic advice is to "Be so good they can't ignore you." Newport provides a summary for the purpose of applying the advice to areas other than comedy. That is helpful, but I think hearing Martin's own account could also also useful. I am glad there is a preview of the book out there in the form of that essay.

-- CAV

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