I can't sit down and write jokes. I just flows in from some maddeningly elusive place. Believe me if i had an alaska in my brain i would drill baby drill and I'd cum right on Sarah's back while I was there.
Writing a script is different because you have to write from different perspectives other than your own. I had to write lines for my fictional wife, Leif, Artie [characters in his HBO show Crashing]... you have to imagine more than just your own opinions. A very good excercise just in general!
If you ask yourself, `Is there anything I can do to get a laugh?’ you can find a lot of things.
And usually they’re things that other people have found. But if you take something that’s never going to work and you go, `Wow, I wonder if there’s any way I can get somebody to laugh at this?’ it’s a great challenge.
Q: Norm you've talked about the perfect joke being where the setup and punchline are identical. Have you ever come up with one?
A: Yes, the joke is "Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts were divorced today. The reason: he's Lyle Lovett and she's Julia Roberts." That's the closest one.
George Carlin said that comedy comes from looking around and saying, “There’s something wrong here.” It’s that and the twinkle feeling when an idea hits you. Something hits you then you write it out and tweak it on stage. Sometimes it works, but usually it doesn’t. And you repeat that over and over again.
Definitely. I have a joke where I say ‘you ever forget your headphones at home and have to walk around without them? Boy, thoughts are no good. Turns out I love music, I hate my brain,’ and in other places, people don’t get it. That’s because they don’t walk, they drive everywhere. So I had to change it to ‘you ever had your stereo stolen?’ and it’s like ‘eh, it’s not the same. I’ve got to adjust according to where I am. It’s tough because if the joke works in NY, I want to keep it.