Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers


And that’s all you can hope for: to lose track of time and to get into a zone to produce writing you’re happy with. So I’d recommend that to all young writers. Just write. Lose yourself. And when you look up, maybe you’ll be somewhere you always wanted to be. – James L. Brooks

I don’t find myself particularly funny and I’m not sure if I would ever have the chops to write comedy but any tips on writing is a benefit when you’re an “aspiring” writer. What initially drew me to Poking a Dead Frog was Amy Poehler’s name. I think she’s hilarious and although I was slightly disappointed  she wasn’t a main feature in the book, I enjoyed reading it. I learned a lot about television shows I had never heard of before, writers I hadn’t known were behind some of the shows that I watch, and the behind the scenes experience of writing for television, radio and film.

Something I didn’t realize before this book was how many writers have an ivy league background. I’d heard of and even watched Lampoon films but I didn’t know anything about its history at all. At times, a lot of the writers featured in this book made it feel like in order to be a successful writer you need to be a part of an exclusive club, that the average writer without the pedigree would not be able to join. I think it was Henry Beard who said rebellion was going to Harvard instead of Yale. Very rebellious! But I digress, there are writers in the book who didn’t come from an ivy league education and they seem to be doing quite well, so there’s hope!

Poking a Dead Frog is filled with interviews with numerous writers from all spectrums of the writing world. Through antidotes and tips the consensus seems to be that there is no format to success. Some  of the writers love and sing the praises of the Lampoon and some detest it. Some say move out to LA, some say get an agent, some say an agent will find you. Through it all hard work and loving what you do is a big theme. It seems like a no brainer but it’s true. Writing can be lucrative for some, but isn’t for many, and if you aren’t it because you’re passionate about it, what’s the point? I’ve been an editor at a magazine and website for about six months but my goal is to write books and write for television. This has definitely given me a look into the hard work that is done and sacrifices that are made to be successful in these fields. It’s a lot of work. A lot of writing. And as a master procrastinator, I have a lot of work to do to get there. Definitely pick this book up if you have writing aspirations—it’s not a “how-to,” more of a “how I did it” type book.

Random thought while reading a specific part of the book. Dan Gutman said he wasn’t sure if kids watch shows like Colbert. They are. Get on Tumblr. Kids are way more aware than those in different generations may give them credit for.

Happy reading!





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