Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's So Funny?

I just watched an episode of Inside Comedy, where David Steinberg sits down with various comedians.  There have been a number of shows with this sort of format, though it's a bit different in that we cut back and forth between the two interviews.

Steinberg created the show, and I suppose he's a good producer in that plenty of funny people probably know him and are willing to talk to him.  (And those younger probably see him as an inspirational figure.)  But as an interviewer he leaves something to be desired.  The show I saw featured to greats, Don Rickles and Jerry Seinfeld.  There are two strategies Steinberg might emply.  Being a stand-up himself, perhaps he could go the extra distance and ask questions, as the title implies, from the inside.  Get past the familiar anecdotes and penetrate a little more deeply into what makes something funny.  Or he could just sit back and be a good audience--most comedians are self-starters, so just ask a question and let them go.

Instead, Steinberg (at least in the show I saw) too often treats this as if he's sitting down with some friends, and not putting on a show.  He keeps interrupting with lines like "Yes" or "That's right" or "I agree."  I'm sure it's how he feels, but it only gets in the way.

Still, Rickles and Seinfeld get off enough good lines that it's worth seeing.  Other guests will include Mel Brooks, Larry David, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman and Martin Short.  I guess as long as he's not required to pull something out of his guests, I can put up with Steinberg's occasional outburts.

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