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Leigh Anne Jasheway p4

Leigh Anne Jasheway gives some good advice on choosing the right comedic premise for a story...

READERSVOICE.COM: In stand-up routines and talks, how do you link gags and still get to where you want to go?

LEIGH ANNE JASHEWAY: I have a weird brain. I am both extremely organized (someone today who was a guest on The Giggle Spot said I was the Barbara Walters of the show, always making sure points are made and guests get time to talk while making jokes) and extremely creative. I always say I can’t think inside the box because I’ve never seen it. In stand-up, there is really no requirement to link bits (jokes on a topic), so transitions aren’t as important, although memory is more so. In humorous speeches, I rely much more heavily on funny stories that make my point while being funny.

RV: How do you make a novel longer if you’ve ended up with a novella or a long short story?

LAJ: I’ve only written one novel, but have written screenplays and stage plays, so I do have advice… if what you end up with is too short, revisit your concept (or, in comedy, set-up). Too many comedy writers focus on the funny idea and they get a great punchline or column. If you focus instead on a concept with lots of comedic potential (Martha Stewart catering the Last Supper, for example), you’ll get much more out of it. I teach something I call a journalistic association list, which if done right, can double or triple your material. There’s also a rule in comedy that it takes a good comedians 10 attempts to come up with the best joke. I use that rule for my longer writing. Try it 10 times.

RV: What are some of your plans?

LAJ: Ha! Okay… well, I have several books that are either with my agent who is shopping for homes for them or on my desk waiting for revision. One is a children’s book. I have another stage play in my head based on a column I wrote for Dash. I have a musical called Boobz, which I wrote with Stephanie Long and Barbara Case, that needs to hit the stage one day soon. I’d like to write some more dog-fiction. In the meantime, I’ll teach, speak, organize special events comedy shows such as the 8th Annual NW Women’s Comedy Festival (to showcase women in comedy in the NW) and the annual Eugene Laff Off (to build new talent and raise funds for Greenhill Humane Society), and do stand-up.

-See Leigh Anne Jasheway’s site accidentalcomic.com.
-copyright Simon Sandall.