Ten Questions For Chicago Comedy Writer Jeff Taylor
Q. When do you work on comedy?
JT: When the inspiration strikes. I take an idea, put parameters around it, then think of maybe 20 aspects of it that fit. I try to envision the whole piece and then fill in the middle to make the ends meet.
Q. What do you think is the richest source of humor?
JT: Everyday life. Comics who can find the humor in everyday life and show it to their audiences seem to be the most successful. It’s like holding up a mirror.
Q. Do you think there’s much humor in daily life in Chicago?
JT: There’s humor all over here in Chicago. You could probably write about half the people you see on the street if you watch them for about ten minutes. Weirdos and crazies are everywhere. They could write about me as well as I tend to act weird to amuse myself and my wife when we are out in public. I have no qualms about embarrassing myself.
Q. You have a full-time day job. Would you like to write comedy full time?
JT: It would be fun but stressful to crank out comedy full-time. If someone wanted to pay me to sit around by myself or with others and come up with fun things I would jump on it in an instant.
Q. You’ve done some acting. Have you ever been on television?
JT: Yes, but it was a painful experience. I won a competition here in Chicago to go to LA and appear on a game show called “Merv Griffin’s Crosswords”. I was ahead for most of the game, but then I lost. I could have used the $12,000 and the vacation. I learned it’s not what you know, it’s how you play the game! I got a nice watch, though.
Q. You’ve got a comedy piece coming up at Act One Studios in downtown Chicago.
JT: Yes, it’s called “Bowl of Trouble” It’s kind of a take on the War on Drugs, with Mother finding a bag of an illicit drug in her son’s pants pocket when she’s doing the laundry. The “drug” is cereal, and Mom and Dad together try to convince their son of how dangerous it is and what it can lead to. And of course there’s a surprise twist at the end. [Here’s an excerpt]
Q. Do you think a play is ever “finished”?
JT: For me when a piece feels finished and I am happy with how it reads, then yes. In performing it, of course, you always find changes to make, jokes to add, maybe a new new motive. So the show may be finished for one person but a work in progress for another.
Q. Have you ever done stand-up?
JT: I’ve thought about it, but I’ve never been able to put a set together that I thought would hold up with just meet in the spotlight. It seems terrifying. It takes a special talent to be able to do that, and I have a lot of respect for those who do.
Q. So you agree with Steve Martin that “Comedy is not pretty”?
JT: Yes, but laughter is beautiful.
Q. Have you ever written an “Artist’s Statement”?
JT: Yes, but each time I look at it I have to change it. Let’s say it’s evolving.
Jeff can be reached at at .