On Friday, October 2, AMU students had the chance to hear from Chuck Sklar, Emmy Award-winning writer of television and comedy shows, including The Chris Rock Show, Monk, and Everybody Hates Chris. Sklar has also written for television celebrities such as Conan O’Brien, Bill Maher, and George Lopez.
The conversation was moderated by AMU Professor of Literature, Dr. Blanford Parker. Over thirty years ago, Mr. Sklar was a student in the first literature class that Dr. Parker ever taught. “Blanford was an amazing professor,” Sklar recalled, “and it was a great class.”
[Above: Comedy-writer Chuck Sklar (right) with his former teacher, Dr. Blanford Parker.]
Those gathered in the lecture hall for the event on Friday were able to hear Chuck Sklar speak about his initial experiences as a stand-up comedian, his journey into comedy writing, the thrill he felt when a joke he wrote got a laugh for the first time on the Bill Maher Show, his successful pitch for an episode of the show Monk, and more. He reflected on what it was like to work under comedy giants such as Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, and George Lopez.
One student asked whether, when writing a comedic story, one should write the jokes first and then the story, or the reverse. Sklar replied that “writing toward the joke [is] very reductive.” A comedic writer should aim for the story itself, and the peculiarities of character, “to dictate the dialogue.” He recommended storing up jokes in your “arsenal” in order to pull them out when the moment is right. But “if you write for the joke,” he said, “it’s going to stink.”
The event was sponsored by the Department of Literature, the Office of the VPAA, and the AMU Film Society.