Profiles of Hard-Working Comedians: Jerry Seinfeld and Martin Short

For some reason, I’ve been reading a lot about comedians lately. Below are two articles that I think are well worth your time, focusing on Jerry Seinfeld and Martin Short. Both interested me, given the focus on how comedians go about doing what they do – the mechanics of the process, the process from stage to screen. I’ve long been fascinated with what, specifically, makes something funny… and always love reading about how the professionals go about their trade.

Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up

I’m not a huge Seinfeld fan. I’ve seen a few episodes of the show, and I recognize that it’s good. But for whatever reason, I’ve just never gotten into it.

That said, from the other things I’ve read and seen about Jerry Seinfeld, he strikes me as an incredibly good comedian – not so much as in a “he’s a funny guy” kind of way. It’s more akin to saying an athlete is really good at what they do (due primarily to training and lots and lots of practice).

When describing how he refines a joke, it’s pretty incredible to see how careful he is about word choices, tone and timing. In a lot of ways, when Seinfeld talks about working over a joke… it reminds me a lot of how writers talk about refining words.

I was obsessed with figuring that [joke] out. The way I figure it out is I try different things, night after night, and I’ll stumble into it at some point, or not. If I love the joke, I’ll wait. If it takes me three years, I’ll wait.

Martin Short: The Cat’s Meow

Perhaps it’s Short’s theatrical background, but there’s an over-the-topness that I never got into. But in reading this profile of him, there’s a lot about his work and his history that I really admire. The man seems like a workhorse, and seemingly has been one his entire career.

Here’s Tom Hanks, close friends with Short, recalling the first time they met:

“I was standing in an anteroom, on the way in, and I caught sight of Marty standing on top of a chair, telling a story, shouting over laughter. I was like, Who’s the loud guy?” The answer, Hanks would soon realize, is The guy whose material kills even in the toughest of rooms: the ones offscreen, where nobody but pros are watching.

The article covers a lot of ground, looking into Short’s career as well as his personal life. I found myself getting a bit choked up, after learning that his wife of over 30 years, Nancy Dolman, passed away in 2010.

Short’s been at his craft for a long while now, and it’s impressive to me he’s still going strong. After reading this article, I’m looking forward to seeing him the next time he makes an appearance on Letterman.

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