The actor, comedian and writer on his debut book, “Better Call Saul” and the weird things that make him laugh VIDEO
“I honestly think that in particular sketch comedy is having a heyday, which of course is wonderful. But also will end. So, what I would say to anybody is: What is the next thing that happens after sketch comedy has its heyday? And I don’t really know what that is, but it could be dramatic pieces, or it could be a different kind of… you see John Mulaney is trying to revive the smart-guy humor in an audience multi-camera sitcom. He got savaged in his reviews, but I think maybe people [could] go in that direction.
I do think that after sketch comes story. After you’ve done sketch for a while, you start to look at story, or what stories people tell. So I’d say start looking at stories you can tell and thinking and learning about story-telling. I think the sketch comedy thing is really great, and I’m thrilled that it’s having a heyday, but I also think that will end, and when it ends, everybody moves on to the next thing.
I don’t know what that is, but this time where we’re at right now reminds me a lot of the late ’80s with stand-up comedy, when there was a stand-up comedy boom in a city like Chicago, where I was living, went from having two stand-up comedy clubs to having six. And there was literally a stand-up night in every town. So on a Tuesday night, in Cicero, there’d be a stand-up show. And then it all went to pieces because it’s all too much. It’s more than anyone needs. So I love that sketch comedy is having a heyday, if it wants to last for another 20 years, that’s fine with me, because that’s what I do. But I honestly would tell anyone young to start looking at stories and learning story, because I think that’s the next step after people go, “OK, I’ve had enough of that improvisation, I’ve had enough of those short comedy bits. Tell me a story, tell me a more complex story, something that lasts and maybe has a little more meaning to it.” Don’t ever look at what’s happening now; look at what’s coming next.
I’ve never heard advice like that for an aspiring writer.
I think we’ll see what it’s gonna be, but you can see on the Internet, I mean, 10 years ago, people were like, everything’s gotta be two minutes or under two minutes long, and now people go to the Internet and watch movies, and they don’t even blink at longer pieces, and they watch them, and the Internet is figuring out a way to monetize those pieces, with those commercials that come every 10 minutes or so. So I think people are going to go down that road, but it’s very hard to predict what is going to happen.
I mean, look at “Breaking Bad.” When it started, it was not a hit. And I don’t know how well it did. I heard that it almost got canceled after the first season and again after the second season. So then people got into streaming viewing, which didn’t exist when “Breaking Bad” started. No one talked about streaming viewing; it didn’t happen, it wasn’t a thing you could do physically if you wanted. And the show really payed off in streaming viewing, and it became massive. So the ways people get their entertainment can change, and then that can change what it is they’re watching.”