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Is there a theory of comedy evolution? Can anyone learn how to be funny? Thoughts from director, actor and comedian, David Steinberg.
David Steinberg is a Canadian who has made an enormous impact on British television. The New York Times calls the TV director, "a comic institution." He is responsible for such comic treasures as Friends; Seinfeld; Mad About You; Newhart; Weeds;and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
What does he have to say about what makes great comedy?
"If you had a good childhood, a great marriage and a few dollars in the bank, you would make a lousy comedian."
So does Steinberg feel that suffering is an integral part of humour, and does a person with a tortured childhood behind them be better able to make people laugh.
He agrees this is true, but also points out that an important aspect of comedy is that the comedian should truly love what he or she does. Steinberg expresses deep admiration for the comedian Don Rickles, whose performance is known for its special brand of warmth.
Can Humour Be Learned or is it Innate?
Steinberg explains that you cannot learn to be a comedian, rather that you are born with the ability to make people laugh and that it is inherent in your DNA. Comedy and humour works best if the person has a very high level of intelligence. Other qualities Steinberg notes are that the successful ones go inside themselves to root out their own frustrations and are constantly making observations.
"Watch what's going on around you," he says.
Is Comedy a Real Job?
David Steinberg has fifty years of experience behind him. He explains how, when he first started out in comedy, to describe yourself as a comedian was really no big deal. If a comedian went to meet his girlfriend's mother, she would not be impressed because, at that time around half a century ago, being a comedian was not regarded as "a real job."
· David Steinberg and Steve Carell, Inside Comedy, @ Showtime 2012, Accessed April 29 2012.
· David Steinberg on What Makes Comedy Funny, CBS, This Morning, March 12 2012, 6.56am. Accessed: April 29 2012.
· Buzzbox.com, January 26 2012. Accessed April 29 2012.