Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 17

MCKEE INTERVIEWS RUSSELL BRAND bolic language. So yes, certainly I recognize types. RM: Yes. So, somebody who is not stepping forward and taking power, such as an individual walking down the street with a certain eccentricity, wouldn’t necessarily draw your interest. RB: No. But I do torment the audience at the beginning of shows. I do get out, and then there are… RM: Individuals? RB: Absolutely. And then there are certain systemic things that occur regularly. I say, “Well, I know this type of person.” A certain type of young boy that’s ultimately innocent, a certain type of male, a certain type of older women, and actually always people in electric wheelchairs. I get in that electric wheelchair with them, and I sit on their lap and I drive it. People love it. People love the relief of like, “Oh, my God, he’s going to fucking crash the wheelchair.” People are so excited when sometimes it doesn’t crash. It’s not so good when it does crash. There have been lawsuits, but what are you going to do? You can’t be double in a wheelchair. You’re already in a wheelchair, so what are you worried about if we did crash? What have you got to lose? I’m the one that can walk—I should be worried, so shut up. RM: To get back to the actual interview, jokes are two parts— setup and punch. RB: Yes. RM: If I see people who have problems trying to write comedy, it’s that they focus on the punch first. It’s all about getting the wit; it’s about the language; it’s about the gesture. If it’s a piece of business or whatever, they ’re always in search of the punch. It’s the punch, the punch, the punch. Then they want to work backwards to the setup. I argue with them that no, no—if you’ve got a great setup, you’ll find 10 different ways to punch it. Pick the best one. RB: Yeah, you’re right. RM: That energy gives them the setup, and the anger or whatever the subject is. When you have a really powerful setup, you can punch it many times over without setting up again. RB: Yeah, yeah, it’s all in how you deliver it. RM: So it’s really all about the setup. RB: Completely. There is a disproportionately high number of comedians that are good at mathematics. I’m unfortunately not one Story Magazine // Issue 005 of them, and I think it’s because it’s all about arithmetic to comedy; it’s about formula and the establishment of it. I’m working on a script at the moment with Jemimah, as a matter of fact. The important thing is the establishment of this context and making sure that people are going to know it. If you’re doing a joke about a person that’s overly dependent on New Age nonsense and astrology and believes in that kind of hocus-pocus stuff, you have to make sure that you’ve properly established that. Otherwise, your jokes later on in the script, when that person gets into trouble as a result of that belief, will not pay off. For me, it’s like the context of the joke is very, very important to make sure that you establish that, “Oh no, not only is this happening, but it’s happening to this person.” Tina Fey does that lovely joke—a normal person will laugh at a man dressed up as an old