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Entries in Mike Sacks (4)

Wednesday
Jan262011

News of the World

--Anyone else notice that GQ Magazine has been publishing a lot more humor articles lately? I usually only read it when my wardrobe needs some fine tuning. (Double breasted cardigans: Still IN?) But I picked up the February issue and saw pieces by Todd Levin and Scott Brown and Anthony King. Is GQ the WWD for working comics?

--Fans of the revelations Marc Maron spins on WTF will be delighted to hear he has a book up his sleeve, a dark memoir titled Attempting Normal.

--MORE STUFF TO READ: Mike Sacks and Time Out's Jane Borden both have books on the horizon too, Your Wildest Dreams, Within Reason and I Totally Meant to Do That.

--Splitsider is hosting GIRL POWER WEEK right now. You don't have to have ladyparts to enjoy it, but they might enhance the experience.

--DON'T MISS: The immensely popular Found Footage Festival kicks off a national tour TOMORROW in Boston and they're doing four shows in New York at the Anthology Film Archives this weekend.

Send your news to theapiary@gmail.com.

Wednesday
Aug252010

9 Tips For Every Humor Writer

You'd think since Mike Sacks had the chance to pick the brains of the biggest forces in comedy with And Here's the Kicker, he might have learned a thing or two about how the world works. And he has! At the end of our Q&A the other day, he offered some guidance for the writers amongst us.

As far as specific pieces of advice, here is some of what I learned. This would be both for those writers wanting to improve their situation or for those young writers just starting out. In no particular order:

#1. Network often and surround yourself with as many talented people as possible. Don't look at it as being a competition. It's hard enough to make it alone, and it'll only help to go through the process with others. More opportunities will open for you.

#2. Write every day. Or try to.

#3. Be wary of classes. They're usually taught by either academics or by writers who haven't been too successful themselves. In the end, you're going to have to teach yourself anyway.

#4. Read as much as possible, both the good and the bad. Sometimes it's more important to know what NOT to write.

#5. Don't limit yourself to humor. Read a lot of non-fiction on all sorts of topics.

#6. Experience as much as possible.

#7. If you do receive advice from someone, and it's negative, don't be upset. Then again, it could be bad advice. Show your work to someone who's comedic sensibility you trust.

#8. Sometimes it's just as difficult to get published in smaller publications than the big ones. Approach the publication you're most interested in. Writing is not like major league baseball, where, if you're talented, you get "called up" to the majors after performing in the minors for a few years. Go straight for what you want. You may not get it, but you'll learn in the process.

#9. Check the masthead for magazines, and pick out someone in the middle, such as an Associate Editor. Then send some ideas and make sure they're tailored to the magazine. Make the pitch email short, no more than four paragraphs.

Monday
Aug232010

Inside With: Mike Sacks, Writer and Co-Author of "Our Bodies, Our Junk"

By: Nate Sloan

Perhaps a sex manual--even a hilarious one--isn't public reading material. I kept inadvertantly flashing neighboring straphangers with the graphic words (Masturbation!) and imagery (malformed penises!) contained within Our Bodies, Our Junk (Available in book stores August 24th!). I'm lucky someone didn't take a grainy cell phone photo of me and alert some editor of Newsday about a hapless subway perv on the loose.  Anyways, I sent some q's over to Mike Sacks, who you may know from the pages of Vanity Fair or last year's stellar interview collection, And Here's the Kicker. He's one of the book's five esteemed co-authors and is a top researcher for The Association For the Betterment of Sex.

Since you purport to be a sexpert in Our Bodies, Our Junk, I assume you'll be pretty open to answering some erotic gotcha questions to start us off: tell us Mike, what is your darkest sexual fantasy? What is the exact # of partners you've had? And who is the 'biggest' expert amongst the 5 of you (if you know what I mean)?

That would be me. Among the group I'm known as "Doc." Not for my intelligence, but because I legally had my name changed to "Doc." My darkest sexual fantasy would involve duct tape, a used Futon and AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" blasting in the background. You have to admit, that's very sexy. As for my number of partners, I don't remember. But I did use to live in New Orleans and I've been to about ten Mardi Gras. So maybe the answer could be "a lot of middle-aged women from Houston, Texas."

How did you come to team up with the other writers?  Are you all friends from somewhere?


We've written together for a few magazines, such as Esquire, Radar and Vanity Fair. But we wanted to work on a larger project like a book, and sex seemed like a, burp, juicy enough topic to cover. Collectively we call ourselves The Pleasure Syndicate. Individually, Todd Levin writes for Conan O'Brien. Scott Jacobson's a four-time Emmy winner for The Daily Show. He's now working out in LA, writing for a very funny new FOX show called Bob's Burgers. It'll debut in September. Jason Roeder is a contributing writer for The Onion, and the author of a hilarious book called Oh, the Humanity. Ted Travelstead is on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair. And then there's me, "Doc."

We've just started work on our next project, another book, which should hopefully be out in 2011. It's going to be about the workplace. Sort of Dilbert meets GG Allin.

Since the writing style seems to have one unified voice, I'm curious--how was the writing split up? Was there a meeting where one of you would go, "Me me me! I want to write about masturbation! I'll take that section."

We came up with a pretty detailed outline for each chapter. Anyone could really write on any subject they wanted. We sort of just fell into this voice pretty easily. I think we've all written in this dry manner before, either for advertising, or for academic journals, or for associations. For the book, we wrote in a very authoritative style, but needless to say, we don't know what the hell we're talking about. For instance, we're absolutely convinced that the clitoris looks like a plum left overnight in the rain. Also, we're 100% convinced that there are exactly five acts of sexual intercourse that take place on a daily basis across the globe. This sounds about right.

Is there a release party or a tour happening in support of the book?


Yes! There will be a few readings, but the main reading will be at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn on September 23rd. Also, there will be a reading in Los Angeles on September 15th at Book Soup. Andy Richter and Sarah Thyre (the husband and wife team who wrote the book's forewords) will also be appearing with us. All of the information is listed on our site: http://hq.ourbodiesourjunk.com/press_events/

Have you had a chance to compare and contrast your work with Kristen Schaal's Sexy Book of Sexy Sex? According to Amazon, the two are frequently bought together. You know, you could have combined your efforts and created one mega-textbook. Any Spy vs. Spy antics around that?

I haven't heard of that other book; I'm not familiar with it. With that said, if you buy our book before October 1st, you will receive a free beaver shot of all five of us authors, posing in a parking lot of a northern Virginia Wal-Mart.

Your last book, And Here's the Kicker--a treasure trove of deep dive interviews with the most influential comedic artists and writers of our lifetimes--is a must-read.  Thanks for writing it. Did you have any takeaways or lessons to share from that experience?

Thanks. Yes, I learned quite a few things. First of all, I was just happy to talk with a lot of authors I've always respected. A few have since passed away, and I feel lucky to have been able to speak with them. I mean, talking to Irv Brecher about the Marx Brothers was like talking to someone about Babe Ruth. It was a real bridge to another time and place, long since disappeared. Also, Larry Gelbart was a real class act, as well as a brilliant comedy writer. He's really missed. He was the gold standard.

Monday
Mar292010

News of the World

--Rob Lathan announced he's having a baby and he's considering relaxing his nutface in favor of more FAMILY FRIENDLY MATERIAL.  Similarly, Tina Fey recently didn't pose nude for Esquire saying, "I'm a mom. And my kid's going to find this someday and blah blah blah." What's up with children impacting our choices?!

--In what may or may not be an April Fool's stunt, UCBcomedy.com said it's relaunching its site on April 1st.  The site will introduce a new rating system that will allow viewers to add or take away from each video’s "Bucket of Truth." The website overhaul has been one of the first major projects for Todd Bieber, its Director of Content and Production who joined UCBComedy from The Onion News Network in January.

--You don't need to feign interest in Rotary Club to get on this scholarship gravy train.  An anonymous donor pledged a $10,000 contribution for the next three years to support The PIT's artistic outreach and endeavors. The PIT took this money and created the Improv Your Life Scholarship Program.  The program will offer five full-ride improv scholarships (Levels 1 - 5) and three partial improv scholarships (Level 1 only) to be awarded to individuals who are passionate about improv and demonstrate financial need.  For more information on how to apply, visit http://www.thepit-nyc.com/improvyourlifescholarship.html Thanks Anonymous!

--Mike Sacks, the author/editor of And Here's the Kicker (ACCLAIMED), has been hard at work on a new book: SEX: Our Bodies, Our Junk. It's due out from Random House in August.

If you have any news to share, send it to theapiary@gmail.com