Read Monologue by Jon Macks Free Online
Book Title: Monologue|
The author of the book: Jon Macks
Edition: Blue Rider Press
Date of issue: April 21st 2015
ISBN 13: 9780399171666
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 459 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.2
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Comedy writer Jon Macks’ 226-page monologue should serve as a good reminder whenever we hear a late night TV comic do his or her shtick. To paraphrase an American president, “He or she didn’t build that.” The comedian probably didn’t write those jokes. He or she had help. Lots of help. That’s where people like Macks come in. The people behind the curtain. The faceless names who actually write those funny and sometimes not-so-funny one liners that end up on cue cards and teleprompters.
Macks claims here that “the main reason” America watches late-night TV “is to watch the monologue and comedy bits.” Assuming that’s true, Macks’ purpose here is to present “the larger meaning of how late-night comedy monologues and sketches can influence and impact us.”
To put it all into perspective, Macks begins with a history of late-night TV, from Steve Allen in 1954 to Jimmy Fallon in 2015. As part of that retrospective, Macks analyzes the gifts of each host, including Johnny Carson, “the gold standard” by which all other TV talk show hosts are measured. Macks also catalogs the talents of Jay Leno, Dave Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, even Arsenio Hall.
Chapter two is a highlight for this reviewer. Here Macks explains the “five elements that go into making a great late-night host.” He immediately follows that up in the next chapter with a list of “topics Americans like to laugh at.” Bottom line, Jay Leno perhaps put it best. We find the funny in all those topics when we ask ourselves, “What’s stupid about this?”
In chapter four, Jon Macks gets very personal. He reveals here the process he himself uses when writing comedy.
From this point on, Macks seems to abandon his original premise and instead, takes us on a tour of backstage. For the rest of this short volume, Macks dissects the comedy writing industry. We read about the peak value and career value of persons who are targets of the monologue writer. We learn about when a joke goes too far. The perfect joke storm. The joke runs. The hidden-truth joke. The three attributes of a comedy writer.
For this reviewer, the scariest thing Macks shares is found on page 93. Macks claims, “The late-night monologues gave us our take on the news and now we consider them a source where we actually get the news. Which means that each joke and each late-night show shapes the way we look at events, at celebrities, and, perhaps even more important, at our political leaders.” What should be equally frightening to those who still value newspapers and the major news networks as sources, is what’s found a few pages later. Macks writes, “Jokes and shows are creating opinions about people and events, not just reflecting what is out there already. The jokes are conveying information to the public whether it is accurate or not. The lines and the sketches are telling people, ‘This is who this person is, this is what happened, this is what we should collectively think.’ “
Macks then turns political. While writing comedy twenty-two years for Jay Leno, Macks learned the theory held by Johnny Carson’s successor: “The emperor, regardless of (political) party, (always) has no clothes. Leno understood the late-night rule of making fun of the president no matter the party.” As Macks points out, “We live with the stupidity of our leaders; laughing at them is our chance to punish them. The jokes may also play another role; they may actually in a strange way help a politician in trouble.”
So, “why do politicians appear on the same late-night shows that use them for comic fodder?” Macks covers that in Chapter Six. Hint: it has a lot to do with Macks’ premise that “for the most part, (late-night show viewers) are likely undecided (politically) and/or open-minded. They are watching for entertainment, not to be consciously informed.” In Macks view, politicians sit on late night TV couches to help “dispel the persona jokes (at their expense) have (previously) reinforced . . . as an opportunity to come across as regular guys . . . a chance to show they are likable human beings.”
Self-confessed Democrat Macks gets very provocative in Chapter Seven, a description of “when news really does happen on late night.” Macks claims, “For some reason Republicans are much better at self-deprecation. Maybe because they believe they have God on their side.” Then here it comes. (Wait for it. The below-the belt rim shot.) “Which is the same thing ISIS says.” Equating the Grand Old Party with Islamic terrorists? Nice touch, Macks. So mature.
Politicians don’t stand alone in Macks’ bull’s eye. In the next chapter, which lists the “greatest (TV) guests of all time,” the author claims, “as a general rule, comics are better than actors.” Again, “as a general rule, (comics) are better guests, regardless of whose show they are on.” What makes a guest great? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Why are they there? Ninety-five percent of the time? Four percent of the time? One percent of the time? Read Macks’ book. Do you want to know why Al Gore bungled his 2000 presidential campaign? You guessed it. Read the book.
Macks covers all the bases. The importance of late night in politics. The futility of attempting to “disassociate yourself from the descriptive word that follows the comma after your name.” Macks gets into the current state of late night where “the PC police have taken over.” He acknowledges the changing landscape for late night. Therefore, talk show comedy writers have to know their audience. And always look for “what’s stupid about this?”
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