First Draft Episode #189: David Iserson
David Iserson, screenwriter of The Spy Who Dumped Me, writer on Saturday Night Live, United States of Tara, and New Girl, and author of YA novel Firecracker, talks about micro and macro humor, how unreliable narrators is one of the beautiful advantages of writing a book, co-writing as being in conversation with someone, and the merit of spite writing.
Links and Topics Mentioned In This Episode
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol was one of the only books marketed to boys that David read as a young boy
Judy Blume, author of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal were some of the books David read as a kid, because he wasn’t drawn to the “Boy who only throws strike-outs!” books
B. Dalton Bookstore, where David would go shopping for books at the mall -- David says, “As a New Jersey pre-teen and teen, most of my memories are mall-related.” RIP B. Dalton!
There’s a Bat in Bunk Five by Paula Danziger, a book set in an art summer camp that made David realize he could go to something other than sports camp during the summer Buck’s Rock camp in Connecticut
Miramax, Harvey Weinstein’s film production company, was where David got his first assistant job after moving to Los Angeles. David worked for a producer who played a part in creating The Cider House Rules, Pulp Fiction, and Bourne Identity
Parks and Recreation, a TV show that I believe shows all its characters being excellent at something, which makes us like them more
“Seinfeld, a show about a stand up comic written by some of the funniest people in the world, but there are very few ‘joke jokes,’” David says. “They are placed in a situation and you see what this situation means to them. To me, that’s the highest form of writing comedy.”
David wrote on New Girl, where he says he wrote a lot of joke-jokes
UCLA Extension, which offers a lot of continuing education classes for writers
David and Susanna’s episode of Scriptnotes, a screenwriting process hosted by John August, writer of Charlie’s Angels, Big Fish, Go, as well as the Arlo Finch middle grade series (listen to his First Draft episode here), and Craig Mazin, writer of upcoming series Chernobyl, as well as The Hangover Part II and Identity Thief.
“I write jokes for a living, I sit at my hotel at night, I think of something that's funny, then I go get a pen and I write it down. Or if the pen is too far away, I have to convince myself that what I thought of ain't funny.” ~ Mitch Hedberg’s joke about writing jokes
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