Story – Robert McKee's Creative Storytelling Magazine Issue 005 – Drew Carey - Page 18

MCKEE INTERVIEWS RUSSELL BRAND the way that you’re going to get there. You create the correct characters, you create the correct circumstances. When that has a strong base, you can return to that so many times; you can keep coming back to it. RM: Yeah we have a name for it—we call it callbacks. RB: Yeah, callback, stitchback, you know. RM: Stitchback, I like that. Is that English? RB: Yeah, we use stitchback, back reference, and then callback because there’s so much cross-cultural pollination. RM: All three mean the same thing? RB: Yeah, pretty much. RM: That’s a fascinating phenomenon—the callback. Don’t you think? You can’t call back to something that didn’t get a laugh the first time. RB: No, you can’t. RM: Right? So, you set up and you get a joke, and you leave it in the ground for 20 minutes, a half an hour, and then you punch it again, and for some reason, they laugh without having the setup again. That’s just a mystery to me. RB: It’s like hypnosis, I think. You’ve planted. You’ve told them that it is funny. Sometimes I use neurolinguistic programming, or like physical gestures with comedy. So when I’m setting up stuff that I know needs applause, I use this hand that you will be applauding when I’m doing this gesture. Then whenever I go back to that stuff, they automatically applaud because I’ve tied it in with that gesture. So you have to sort of plant these symbols throughout your work. We watched a film the other day in preparation, like the film East is East. Do you know that movie? It’s sort of a cross-cultural movie about Asian families living in the UK. It’s a slice of life type film including rites of passage for a couple of sons. What’s really interesting… RM: Got by me, sorry. RB: Well, I’m using your language, so you should know roughly what I mean from the shorthand. It uses symbols brilliantly. The father wants his sons to go through with these arranged marriages, so he has this chest in which he keeps their arranged marriage paraphernalia. But that chest is that man’s heart. The youngest son won’t ever take off his hood, he stays within there. Story Magazine // Issue 005 Throughout the film, we see people looking at each other through windows, between doorways. The makers of the film understand that there’s stuff that they can’t do with language that they can do with symbols, but these symbols can be created linguistically through non-visual medium or through an erratic medium like stand-up company or through a written screenplay. You just have to know this symbol—that’s just how the phallus works, because we have a presumed knowledge of the phallus. We have an innate understanding of its inconsistent nature, and the possibility of castration all tied up into that symbol that applies as well in Africa as it does in Northern Europe or wherever you use it. RM: In order to get to that performance, let’s talk about your stand-up work to begin with before we go to fiction. Let’s talk about the process. Do you sit down and write? RB: No, I don’t. I collate experiences that I know have been humorous and impactful. With Messiah Complex, I knew that I could talk about whatever I wanted to talk about. It was like, what do you find most fascinating? I thought it was genuine heroes– Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Jesus Christ, Gandhi. I thought I would have to take