[T]he most compelling reason why Saunders doesn’t need to bother with a novel comes not from literature, but from standup comedy. Call it the Mitch Hedberg argument: “I’m a standup comedian. I got into comedy to do comedy, which is weird, I know. But when you’re in Hollywood and you’re a comedian, everybody wants you to do other things besides comedy. They say, ‘All right, you’re a standup comedian. Can you act? Can you write? Write us a script.’ They want me to do things that’s related to comedy, but not comedy. That’s not fair. It’s as though if I was a cook and I worked my ass off to become a good cook, and they said, ‘All right, you’re a cook—can you farm?”
There’s a touching nod to this in the acknowledgements when Saunders thanks his agent:
Esther Newberg, for her tireless guidance and friendship these last sixteen years, during which she has given me the great gift of making me feel that all I had to do was write as well as I could, and she would take care of the rest, which she has, with incredible discernment and energy.
Always make sure that you write down thoughts that are funny. You want to make sure you hang on to all the funny things you think of. It’s as simple as that: write down anything funny that comes into your head. Don’t be lazy.
Great video with comedian Lynn Shawcroft, Hedberg’s widow. She goes through his notebooks and talks a lot about his process — including his obsession with notebooks, Sharpies, and daydreaming. Really sweet and informative. Watch it.