It was really fun. I don’t think a single person on that show had been in that situation, where there was quite literally no format. It evened the playing field. So, guys like Reginald D Hunter, who had never done any television in America at all and had only recently been doing any in the UK, all of a sudden he was in the same place of comfort or discomfort as Drew Carey.
But, it really was sort of a jazz exercise. Even in jazz, people who are really out there, really avant-garde, eventually they come back to some theme they’ve done before. It’s not all a hundred percent improvised. Likewise, what I love about watching people like Robert Klein on this show, there were times where halfway into it, you’re like, “He fucking segued into a bit, and I didn’t even know it!”, which is a particular kind of genius.
How many of the questions you raise in Satiristas! come from your own career and life? Many of the interviews are surprisingly heartfelt.
I hope it feels heartfelt, because it is. It’s certainly not a journalistic exercise. I’ve grown to respect the art form and the art form has grown so much before my eyes that I’m looking for a new voice of my own within it. When I reached a certain age, it became very clear to me that I don’t have what it takes to really profoundly impact the art of comedy or to make a mark of any significance. I’m just not that gifted. But, I want to give back to comedy in some way, because it really did save my life.
So, I’ve devoted a lot of conscious energy to trying to communicate what it is about comedy that saved my life, why I devoted my life to it, why to me it’s as meaningful, as rich, and as complex an art form as anything that’s taught in any arts program in a university. Somewhere along the line, some fifteen-year-old kid is going to read this book and go, “Wow, this is a lot more interesting than just fun and jokes,” and, who knows, maybe that could be the next Richard Pryor, because I can’t be the next Richard Pryor.