Writers from Chelsea Lately, The Daily Show, The Late Late Night Show and, yes, Portlandia dished on what goes on behind the scenes of their TV shows for this year's Bridgetown Comedy Festival.
In a very different show from the usual stand-up showcases that fill Bridgetown's lineup, the panel discussion hosted 11 TV writers, including familiar faces in Portland like Eliza Skinner and Ian Karmel, at Bossanova Ballroom
Eliza Skinner (The Late Late Night Show, Totally Biased) on "you" jokes versus "show" jokes.
"We have a lot of stand-ups working on our show and on one hand, it's great. You know how to write a joke, construct a joke. But, as a stand-up, you also learn how to sell a joke and sell it in your voice. And sometimes, we'll get someone who is like, 'wait, if I said this, it'd be funny.' And then you have to go, 'Yeah maybe that's a you joke, not a show joke.'"
Ian Karmel (The Late Late Night Show) on keeping stand-up jokes separate from shows you are working on.
"At the Riot Comedy Festival in L.A., our host came out to support us. He came out to the show and I did this joke about Pimp My Ride—about finding the old Pimp My Rides and fixing them up to just make them normal again. Then the next Monday at work, he was like, 'oh, we're going to do that. We're going to find those cars.' And I was like, 'oh, yeah. Yeah. Let's absolutely do that. Fuck.' Luckily we never actually did it."
Alice Mathias (Portlandia) on the writer's room at Portlandia.
"It's a very small group of people. It's really just us telling stories about our lives, our dating lives, events and families. And then, every once in a while, someone will be like, 'we got to save a card for this' [meaning it is slotted to go in the show]….From there, sometimes the whole thing takes shape into a whole narrative story, or it's just a little one-off weird thing."
Rick Overton (The Office, Seinfeld) on the importance of improv.
"Study improv. Because what we did was improvise when we were writing. Whether it was out of our mouth or on paper. It's a shortcut, trust me."