Comedian Phil Palisoul on what makes him laugh: "I mostly laugh at things I find funny. These include David Letterman, Steve Martin, Coen Brother movies and people being scared witless on Japanese game shows."
Name: Phil Palisoul
Age: 45 (and a half)
Years in Comedy: 18
What makes you laugh?
I mostly laugh at things I find funny. These include David Letterman, Steve Martin, Coen Brother movies and people being scared witless on Japanese game shows.
You and your wife wrote sitcoms for a while. Was that a deliberate career path, or did you just fall into it?
We so fell into it. My advice for anyone who wants to get into television: Have your wife's best friend from college get her own TV show. That's honestly what happened.
My wife's friend, Lisa Ann Walter, was shooting a pilot for Fox when we moved to L.A. Lisa Ann was distraught with how it was turning out and asked my wife and I to "help make it funny." That led to six years in network TV.
It was a lot of fun, but it's a tough business. TV has a 75-percent fail rate and we never got lucky enough to get on a hit show.
Do you think you'll ever get back into it?
I didn't know I was going to get into it. And I sure didn't know I was going to get out of it when we did. So, sure - I could see myself making TV again.
Is it a different sensibility writing sitcoms, or does your brand of humor come through no matter the vehicle?
When you write TV, you're writing somebody else's show and always for different characters, which is different than writing for yourself. And you're using funny to drive a story. But I always got a lot of jokes in the shows I was writing for, so I think I'm pretty good at hitting the funny target when it's put in front of me.
Did that experience change your stand-up writing?
I think writing TV helped me to craft my act more cohesively - like a tight script - but my style of stand-up has evolved more than changed outright. And, since I never quit completely, I was happy that I could pick it back up as easily as I did. For a while I did miss getting paid with wheelbarrows full of TV money. But I've never missed bad actors screwing up good jokes.
You've done a lot of self-effacing jokes. Do you find yourself to be an easy target?
Are you kidding me? Have you seen my picture?