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Ladies and Gentlemen this is Alan Grier presenting another comic artist close up. I personally set a creative goal of 25 jokes per day for myself and I would sit at the typewriter until I get there was €25 Nason. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts and essay and sound on the humor of our times featuring the comic the humorist the joke writer the clown the Dauntless individuals who work in the world of comedy. The author of a volume titled The joke tellers Handbook has to be a special sort of writer and he certainly is the name Orban He's known around the world as the source of a prodigious amount of topical humor which is the staple of modern comedy diets. Behind the name is a prolific writer who disciplines himself to a tough daily grind at the typewriter who has published more than 40
books of comedy material. Who writes for top television comedy stars whose jokes are widely quoted by columnists comics and public speakers. In this edition of the comic arts we meet a highly successful prototype of the modern comedy writer Robert Orban. Actually I started in this business and usual chancer way we all seem to get started in careers I was working in a magic shop in New York City. I had no idea of becoming a writer. I really wanted to become a magician but I quickly found out that I was terrified of being on a stage I used to shake so badly while doing some of the tricks that I just couldn't do that from a sheer. Mechanical viewpoint. And I decided that if I were to remain in show business it would have to be something that I could do better than performing and that might be
writing. And it was a question of what kind of writing to do. And at that time a serious magic was on its way out the great illusion shows of Thurston and Houdini and the other great full evening show magicians were on their way out and more sophisticated audiences were demanding a different type of magic and one was working in a show business and it was comedy magic and magicians years to come into the shop and ask if there was any comedy material that they could buy. And and at that time there wasn't. And I thought this is a way that I might be able to both participate in show business and also provide a needed service. And so I wrote the first book out of the Oregon series which is called the Encyclopedia patter. And this was quite an interesting reaction to this book it was an immediate
success mostly B because it involved that type of material that at that time was just not available in printed form. It's called The one line joke and by a by one line joke it isn't necessarily a joke of one sentence duration but it's a joke that sets up its own straight line and answers it via its own punchline. All contained in the same sequence of words. And this is the type of joke I have specialized in I've written perhaps 200000 of them in the last 22 years I would guess that some 75000 to 100000 of them have been printed and about 50 or 60 thousand are still available in the RVN series and organs here and comedy. Well in the last 22 years I've turned out altogether 41 of
these books were sought about a half million copies. And in many ways it has greatly influenced the course of Certainly American your armor and perhaps British earmark. About the hazards of comedy writing work this comment is in the style of his gang straight to the point. I find it one of the most difficult and Evers I could possibly think of. If you compare the comedy writer to the dramatist. The dramatist will write his play The critics will judge it but the audience and the audience will judge it perhaps at the end by the quality and the range of its applause. If you write a comedy they are judging it every time you come to a punchline and the results can be exhilarating. It can be also extremely embarrassing.
An interesting study was done in 1956 by a student at Ohio. State University I believe toward his master's That took a survey of. The leading comedy writers at that time to determine what made them tick. And it was quite interesting to find that the average comedy writer has a considerable amount of education ranging through college and in some cases it was graduate work as a as perhaps a greater social awareness than most people. And there's a much more stable individual than. The generally accepted picture of comedy writers. And so the idea that I don't need school I don't have to read I don't have to be anything other than. And the life of the party to make it in comedy
is and isn't the reality of the situation. Talk to ascribe a common personality to all comedy writers but most of the comedy writers that I know are now rather intense sensitive thoughtful and quiet people in television are writing for publication you are always fighting the battle of a deadline. It's got to be done Tuesday and it's got to be done funny. And you tend to draw it on yourself and so you know that you have produced it Tuesday and funny. A number of people who who are essentially a cross between comedians and comedy writers and the comedy writers do have this ability to be both. Who do we go in the direction of being a comedian. Woody Allen started as a comedy writer he's now a
comedian of course. Others in the field more handsome than him started as as a writer turned into a very good comedian. The reasons are obvious. As a as a comedy writer you always rather an anonymous person within the area show business and if you can go out and stand in front of that audience and get the acclaim and the considerably more money that accrues to the performers they are going to do it. My own feeling is that most comedy writers would love to be committed but would have every comedy writer there is this essentially would in every comedy writer there is a scared comedian. Personally if I were not of inhibited person I would try comedy. I know I can't do it I don't try. Next joke writer Bob Orban considers the question in a good comedy writer.
The damage to all media or will he usually specialize in one form if you count the writers who do function in many different media. But as in most other things in this world that comedy writers tend to specialize they work in television primarily but they may do some movies they may write stage plays but for the most part television is where the money comes from and it employs most of the comedy writers today. There are different techniques for each and this is another reason for specialization. There is a tendency to think of a comedy writer. As a person who writes humor per se and can function in virtually any any field of view over this it isn't necessarily a sell. For instance in television itself you will find comedy writers who are
essentially joke writers I am a joke writer. I turn out a quite a large amount of jokes that can be added to sketches that can be done as part of monologues. That can be interwoven in this or situation comedies. I don't write plays I don't write. You are a stories I write nothing but the kernel. Of the euro situation the joke. But other people in television who find it very difficult to write a joke but they aren't normal are enormously facile in plotting and so they were right. A situation comedy is where the action the situations that the characters find themselves and contribute to the lapse rather than the specifics of what they are saying usually. Such a person will team up with a joke writer and become one of the comedy writing team
is that I've already mentioned and go on to working as part of the staff of a variety show or a situation comedy. I've good well-balanced comedy presented station while I have both a sound plot and good jokes the boy it up. But even within the realm of joke writers there are specialists. I once worked on a show with a not a comedy writer. Also a joke writer essentially who envied me and I envied him. He envied me because I wrote a very perceptive socially aware type of joke a satirical joke. I envied him because he wrote nonsense jokes that really got tremendous yells on the part of the audience but they have no social point of view. They were fun for fun sake. I had beat him and he envied me. We were both specialists and for the developing comedy writer
Bob Orban has this observation. Sound always interesting to me too to give talks to some of the groups in this country and there are a number of them that either teach comedy or. Have comedy workshops and which are common and comedians and new comedy writers try out their material. And I think when we asked the question How long do you spend in front of a typewriter when somebody is complaining to me of the question of their difficulties of making in the field of comedy. And the answers vary it's usually a few hours a day or if the creative muse doesn't tap them on the shoulder they don't sit at the typewriter at all. And it's been my observation that the successful comedy writer is one who sit there and be feeling happy or sad well or ill he said to that typewriter until
something funny does come and he puts it on paper. I personally set a creative goal of 25 jokes per day for myself and I would sit at the typewriter. Until I get those 25 jokes now sometimes I would take a couple of hours that if the juices are flowing Sometimes it would take 10 hours. And on average I spend between 50 and 60 hours per week sitting in front of a typewriter. And so I take with small patients the criticism. That comedy that requires your knowing people before you could make it a comedy is a bit of Maij blood sweat and tears. And if you persevered at it long enough and have that Mr. Gold quality that you need to wear right comedy you will may get 25
jokes a day rain or shine inspired or not. Few writers have achieved the vast circulation that I've been so material has enjoyed a few comedy craftsman can match his volume of awkward unique individual originals a master of deliberate disciplined and highly successful humor production. Robert are people or this is Alan Grier speaking for the comic arts portions of this program were prerecorded. The comic art series with Alice wire is produced by Michigan State University Radio in cooperation with the humor societies of America program consultant George Q. Lewis the music by Jerry Tillman. Your announcer can be chartered. For. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts II
Bob Orban
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3529. This prog.: Bob Orban (or Orben): Twenty-five Jokes a Day
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Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-29-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:43
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Chicago: “The comic arts II; Bob Orban,” 1968-10-22, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts II; Bob Orban.” 1968-10-22. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts II; Bob Orban. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from