My heroes have always been those special humans that can take a blank page, assemble it with the words (or musical notes) that create a masterwork which then can stimulate every part of your brain and electrify our visual or audio sensors.
We all start with the same alphabet, a fairly similar vocabulary, and the identical 12 tone scale, but these creative folks have been blessed with the ability to take those tools and generate works of art. Alan Zweibel is one of the guys who puts words and ideas on paper that are not only interesting to read, he also puts the dialogue in the mouths of actors and comics that define their characters as they entertain us. Zweibel does it starting with the toughest of assignments…. He has to be funny. Funny is the most difficult configuration of words to produce. I think most of us can come up with a few “sad” sentences, but try writing one that will make someone laugh.
Alan Zweibel has had an almost 50 year career of making audiences laugh by writing jokes, sketches, plays, screenplays and books. It began when as a teenager he watched the Dick Van Dyke TV Show and wanted to be that guy who was married to Mary Tyler Moore, lived in a house in New Rochelle and spent days at work lying on a couch creating funny jokes and sketches. Name a comic or TV personality and they have probably spoken words written by Alan. His book Laugh Lines- My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier is a fascinating, heartfelt, and of course monumentally funny memoir. One of his best friends, Billy Crystal (Alan co-wrote 700 Sundays with Billy) wrote the foreword to this book. Here are a few excerpts which say it best.
“Writing a foreword to a great friend’s memoir is not unlike trying to write a perfect eulogy. The difference, of course, is that Alan Zweibel is very much alive, and whoever will read this is not grieving and hoping that there is going to be good food at the reception at the house after.
I’ve always been amazed that in this world there is someone who is skilled at something that others can’t do. Plumbers plumb, sculptors sculpt, painters paint, weightlifters lift, bronco riders ride broncos, watchmakers make watches, surgeons surge, welders weld….Alan Zweibel writes. He writes all kinds of wonderful things. Starting his career with jokes for cummerbund comics, to sketches and character monologues for the funny people who changed the face of comedy altogether, to wonderfully witty and telling short stories and novels and hundreds, maybe thousands, of after-dinner talks, lectures, television appearances, benefits, tributes, small -claims-court pleas, Bar and Bat Mitzvah speeches, the ones he gave and the ones he wrote for his kids, children’s book and grandchildren’s birthday cars and humorous tweets—are all attacked with the same fervor and dedication to making it funny, and grammatically correct to boot. I love working with Alan and watching his focused mania/glee in putting words in the right order.”
Alan Zweibel’s memoir Laugh Lines is a life lived in perfectly funny order.