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Ladies and Gentlemen this is al LLOYD Why are reconvening the case for comedy. Mr. Buchwald. Well you open the subject for us the one thing about humor writing is that you have to be accepted by the reader before you laugh at what you get to say you know this takes some time. 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. All to be a humor columnist. Plenty of newspaper writers tired of doing dreary straight copy has entertained that special yen to find some way to get an OK to wield his humorous pen. But hundreds of routine stories must pass across the editor's desk before you can when the columnist status and the byline of success an eminent
columnist of our time Art Buchwald explains some of the problems the aspiring humorist will encounter. Art you are one of perhaps a handful of newspaper writers now doing humorous columns on a regular basis. And yet it seems that in other years the humorous Pan was wielded by many more hands and in many more places. So our first question is why in your view are there so few humorists writing for publication in this day and age. Well I don't think the first statement is true. I think there is only always been a handful. And I think you'll find it's true of all countries as is not any different. We like to think that there was always more human in the early years but there never was and. I would put it to you. To name more in other areas than we've had today. I do think in the newspaper business which I'm concerned with that editors have a great fear of humanity and I think any young fellow that tries it
usually gets squelched before he has a chance. There are very few editors that will hold still for a human writer. And I think one of the sad parts of it is that they never give a guy a chance to develop. I think a lot of EU Merce writing have come out of the sports pages because that's where a writer can develop his own style. There are very few parts of a paper where you can develop your own style and it seems that sports was one of the areas. What other words this is not so much a case of journalists having lost their humor in print as. The editors heavy hand to being out as copy if he did try. I would think that a lot of that there I think that anybody needs a chance to develop I just don't think you can do it overnight. It took me several years to develop my style to get accepted by the audience you see one thing about human writing is that you have to be accepted by the
reader before you laugh at what you have to say. Now this takes some time and a new person coming in there. They say Who the heck is he. If you recall when that was the week that was I think one of the failures of that TV show that was a week it was was that everybody on the show didn't have any authority to speak with humor. You had an Englishman named David Frost who was trying to tell us what was wrong with ourselves. I think a lot of people resented that. You had other people on there that nobody knew and nobody said well who the heck is he. Now you can say the same things of Bob Hope or Jack Paar or Johnny Carson can say the same thing those kids were saying. And people would accept it because. They spoke with some authority they were accepted and I think that's your real problem with your memory is that first you have to get accepted by the reader. The second thing is that I think you have to. Have a chance to develop. And it takes time in a way that there
are very few layers seem to have the time you want to develop their own human rights they all scream for it but the guy you find I've seen this on too many papers the young talented guy who comes along is repeatedly frustrated in trying to break out into a humorous style because you're always a humorist of any newspaper is going to step on toes and it's going to hurt people. And he's going to hurt the friends of the editor you know and there has to have enough guts to stand behind the guy who writes this stuff. And you take a situation like the automobile. Safety thing now where I can write. Because I'm a national figure in the Detroit Free Press with printed in Lansing paper would print it. I just wonder if a local guy. If you want to be funny about automobiles in Michigan what kind of a reception he'd get. So I think I'm very fortunate. I don't want you to get me wrong I'm not complaining about the shortage of humor I think it's great I don't want any action.
As Mr. Buchwald sees it then it's a process of development for the humor writing man show biz writer Earl Wilson also likes the humorous touch and allocates daily column space to a few jokes and such. Earl you were on the Broadway beat and you cover the entertainment sphere regularly and thus you're in a position to observe a very close range the emerging comedy styles as the they change from year to year from decade to decade. You also write on this subject and I recall that I understand by some of the writers in the business the patron saint of gag writers or don't develop remember Burnley in encouraging. Tommy and I'm a good audience for it. And I find that it's extremely readable Besides from a standpoint of the consumption of the column. So I. Print half a dozen gags
quips of one kind or another every day and at least as a part of the form I look on and in addition to that I try to get as much. Humor and entertainment in the bucket than I can as I can get it and I found that. Over the years and I still I when I started doing this some of the comedians didn't want me to print their gags. Because they said they were too stealable. That I Want. They were in print. It was easy enough for a comedian and not a part of the underworld to use the same gag. But later. I found a change and I had to do it. They were glad to have me bring it especially if it would want their own jokes because it established. That it was theirs a jet they'd used it first and if they did that and even if it wasn't there something that store manager from somebody else like that. I glanced and I guess they did. We're glad to have me print it because that would then still look like it was her joke.
Usually give a name credit in any case so they have some of a city that you know all we always use a credit. We know we've got some time to be a gang it'll be debatable or just the right to be disputed. But I use a credit to the guy who used it who I've heard use it. So what gang can make it with a Broadway safe and a good joke may have its day and. Things are not quite so fortunate for the writer of humorous verse faces a scarcity of outlets. According to David McCord. Well if you ask me about the climate for my first let's say almost any time you are going to stick to that my answer would be that of course there's an age of anxiety this is not a time it's propitious for producing life for some of my friends who have written this
field and seem to have dried up and are doing other things. Pieces funny things in the newspapers other other amusing you know incidents that trip on Often we write what I call hanging indentures making that quote from the paper and then writing a very shy under it. And I see these are from day to day as everyone does but what I am I so don't take them up as I used to when I was writing for The New Yorker. Write frequently and I think some of my fellow writers feel the same way I only they don't either. I don't think that anything is wrong perhaps except maybe the speed the pace at which we live life first takes a little contemplation and. You know retiring to oneself and do we live in such a fearful place today that is the old days in New York
and I began to write when people I gave him and third were coming on and I know there's those of us who wrote very serious or otherwise. We're always happy to contribute to have a Adams Franklin pay Adams column and I'm great. Oh paper The New York World a column called the conning tower and if you got to the top of the conning tower that fellow Frank didn't pay a nickel for anything that was passed on I think most of us thought we did reach him and that's gone you see there are no columns either him or his column certainly I don't write books. But but there are no columns really to have national significance and voted to. Running you know risks for The New Yorker doesn't print very very little print very little you raise rates today and other magazines in proportion. So essentially from the writer's viewpoint this is a contracting market. That is an end and a contracting market when you're faced with that you are a bold
person if you make a new market you know and you haven't yet on the other hand other magazines that are given to fairly serious things well and then surprisingly you know buy something that's fairly long and you know write very you know a daily column comes and goes and in a literary sense is highly perishable as every columnist knows so thinking of longevity you consider hardcover tallness and ponder. Russell Baker's observation funnyman just don't seem to write books anymore. Veteran humorist Alan Smith comments. I think Russell Baker has a good point. Let's remember that he's had a couple of books of humor published in the last few years and they've been collections of his columns but they were still
humor. And there are still a few funny man writing books. And there's at least one old blind humorist named Pete Rouse who keeps turning them out he had a book. Published not too long ago a novel. Peter DeVries comes along periodically with comic novels. I don't know watch happened to Mike Schulman lately but I expect he setting up in Connecticut. Working. One out. And I know that I continue to turn the books out at a depressing rate of one a year. Frank Sullivan is up in Saratoga and he doesn't do anything as far as I know except ride one year at Christmas time for The New Yorker. Corey Ford does an occasional piece for the Reader's Digest.
Otherwise he sets up a Dartmouth campus and smokes his pipe and Six's doggone undergraduates. Art Buchwald seems to have beyond his column some kind of a yen to do theatrical things. And his books such as he's had published have been collections obvious cop. I think Russell Baker are a real high class humorous so come along and generous thing to note that they come out of the newspaper business. So you pound away at your typewriter and hope for the fateful day when the columns you write in secret will fall into friendly hands. The day you get the go ahead the editors reluctant Iceni to write that comic column with your own
precious mind. Many thanks to our humor writing guests Art Buchwald Earl Wilson David McCord and AJ Allen Smith portions were prerecorded. This is Alan Grier concluding part one of the comic art series the comic scene next part to the comic artist's close up. The comic art series with Alan 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 charter. For. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts
Episode Number
Episode 13 of 13
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 3293. This prog.: Art Buchwald, Earl Wilson, David McCord, H. Allen Smith.
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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: 68-12-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:47
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Chicago: “The comic arts; Episode 13 of 13,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts; Episode 13 of 13.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts; Episode 13 of 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from