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Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier (Paperback)
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With his tender, funny memoir of four decades in the business, Alan Zweibel traces the history of American comedy
Alan Zweibel started his comedy career selling jokes for seven dollars apiece to the last of the Borscht Belt stand-ups. Then one night, despite bombing on stage, he caught the attention of Lorne Michaels and became one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, where he penned classic material for Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and all of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players. From SNL, Zweibel went on to have a hand in a series of landmark shows—from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
In Laugh Lines, Zweibel weaves together the stories of his influential career, from writing for a generation of Jackies and Mortys and Dickies to meeting Gilda while hiding behind a potted plant. He goes deep into the origins of famous SNL sketches, as well as how the show evolved in the wake of meteoric success, and the projects—not all of them so enduring—that followed. And Zweibel writes tenderly about his friendships—with Shandling, Billy Crystal, Larry David, and others. Woven throughout are also words from other comedians and writers, including Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, Carl Reiner, Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Silverman, and more. This is a warmhearted cultural memoir from a talented, award-winning writer.
About the Author
Alan Zweibel is an original Saturday Night Live writer who has won multiple Emmy and Writers Guild of America awards for his work in televi-ion. He also collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award–winning Broadway play 700 Sundays and won the Thurber Prize for American Humor for his novel The Other Shulman.
"Any comedy fan will thrill to see the contemporary art's invention through the eyes of consummate funny man Alan Zweibel. He takes you behind the velvet rope and makes you weep for all those artists who made us laugh. Screamingly funny--also very moving. A classic."
— Mary Karr
“In Laugh Lines, Zweibel looks back, affectionately and informatively, at a career that began when he was a young deli worker grinding out jokes for old-school borscht belt comedians in his spare time, and that, after his “S.N.L.” years, included rewarding collaborations with, among others, Garry Shandling, Billy Crystal, Martin Short, Larry David and Dave Barry. … Fascinating.”
— New York Times
“I interviewed Alan for my high school radio station when I was sixteen and have been hungry for comedy and life insights from him ever since! Finally, I have the Zweibel bible!”
— Judd Apatow
“Alan Zweibel will tell you everything you need to know about comedy writing. Actually, he might tell you too much, but it’s hilarious and worth it. Alan has candid and heartwarming stories about all of the greats, but in some ways, he buries the lead. He’s one of them.”
— Mike Birbiglia
“Alan Zweibel is legendary among us comedians. He is the man who delivers comedy with an emotional clout that makes him respected and revered.”
— Steve Martin
“I love this book! And it’s not just because Alan says nice things about me. Well, maybe it is.”
— Larry David
“I have read the complete works of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, and Melville. Trust me, Alan Zweibel is MUCH funnier.”
— Dave Barry
“A brilliant book by a brilliant man. I can’t wait to reread it with the TV off.”
— Martin Short
“Alan Zweibel is the original man behind the man! I don’t have enough fingers to count how many people would not be where they are without Alan Zweibel. (I only have four fingers, but still . . .)”
— Sarah Silverman
"Laugh Lines reminds me of the many long, leisurely lunches I've had with Alan –– filled with laughter, great stories and humanity. He's a completely delicious original!"
— Susie Essman
“An amiable, big-lug, heart-of-gold sort of book . . . A pleasant, amusing tale of a life in jokes, suitable for budding comedians and students of the form.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“This zippy memoir by comedians’ comedian Zweibel offers laughs on nearly every page . . . hilarious and self-deprecating.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Readers will find plenty of new, behind-the-scenes details and celebrity anecdotes. This is a truly fun romp.”
“It’s medicine we can all use right now.”
“Alan Zweibel is an architect of 20th century comedy”