Monday, April 19, 2010

Bishop on comedy

A genuine comic is a guy who's told by the audience he's funny, the other kind is the guy who tells the audience he's funny.
-- Joey Bishop, from a syndicated column
published in the Jul. 17, 1960 Tuscaloosa News

What's great about that line is that he managed the contrast while ending each part of the sentence with the same words -- "the audience he's funny." The repetition is part of the comic timing. It wouldn't be nearly so cogent if he had said something like: "There are two kinds of comedians, one tells the audience how funny he is, the other waits for the audience to tell him he's funny." Or rearrange it any way you want it to, it's never as good. Also, it starts with the point of the maxim: "A genuine comic is..." I don't know if Joey Bishop himself actually wrote the column, but it's a well-written line.

Read my novel Make Nice, which is about a fictionalized Joey Bishop and his relationship with Sinatra, Hollywood, and the entertainment industry of 1960.

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