18: Steve Kaplan (The Comic Hero’s Journey)

Danielle Krage interviews comedy expert Steve Kaplan about tools from his most recent book, ‘The Comic Hero’s Journey’.

The conversation covers: ways to create your main character and supporting cast; what to do when your ending isn’t working; and common comic character mistakes (plus how to fix them!).

You can find out more about Steve and his work here:



The Hidden Tools of Comedy


Danielle (00:00.898)

Hello, I am very excited to have Steve Kaplan with me, who is such a phenomenal comedy expert. I first came across Steve through his books, The Hidden Tools of Comedy, which is so incredibly practical and useful. And more recently, I’ve been really digging into the Comic Hero’s Journey. So I’m excited to talk to Steve about his work today. But before we dive in, Steve, is there anything else that people should know about you and your work in comedy?

Steve Kaplan (00:28.93)

I’m a Libra. My favorite color is blue. I like long walks on the beach. So I think I think I’ve hit the high notes there.

Danielle (00:39.206)

Okay. I like blue too. So we’re off to a good start. Excellent.

Steve Kaplan (00:41.354)

Okay, because my eyes you know…it brings out the blue in my eyes.

Danielle (00:47.29)

Good. So I wasn’t expecting fashion advice as well, but that’s perfect. That’s a great start. Amazing.

So there are so many things I loved about the book, The Comic Hero’s Journey. I found it incredibly useful and practical as all your work is. And listeners and watchers will have to go and read the book to get the full sense of all those steps. But if you don’t mind, I’d love to start by pulling out two of them that I found particularly helpful, just because I think they’re really great for thinking about comedy characters. And the two that I pulled out were connections and disconnection, as being two of the steps in the journey. And I wondered if you wouldn’t mind just speaking a little bit to those as you see them being useful to creating comedy characters.

Steve Kaplan (01:30.242)

Well, I think you got to start with the fact that most mistakes in comedy are caused by people trying to be funnier than they need to be. And so there’s a lot of effort in bodily jokes, bathroom jokes. And I think what people sometimes forget. And what actually is at the heart of most modern television and streaming comedy, I’m thinking… I’ve just watched The Bear, which is amazing, Ted Lasso… is the fact that comedy, narrative comedy, not standup, but narrative comedy depends upon first your protagonist being broken and isolated at the beginning. So…I know that there are exceptions, but if you think about 40-year-old Virgin, you know, he’s literally alone. He shut himself off from the world because of past moments where he was embarrassed or humiliated. And so he’s kind of given up on all that. Groundhog Day, where the Bill Murray character, Phil Connors, thinks he’s all that.

thinks everything’s going great, but we in the audience can see he’s a jerk. And even though he might, you know, have some game with women, he’s not going to… he’s going to be alone for a lot of his life. So in the beginning, our protagonists are broken. In Bridesmaids, which I love, Kristen Wiig  starts off…. She’s desperate to just sleep over at Jon Hamm’s house once, but he kicks her out and she has to climb over the gate. And she doesn’t realize it.

So in the beginning, your protagonist is broken, but they don’t realize it. They don’t know it. They don’t know how broken they are. And as they go through the various stages of the comic hero’s journey, the normal world, and then the next stage, as we call WTF, what the fuck, something weird happens or unexplainable happens or impossible or improbable happens.

And then they’re desperate to return to the normal world. And when they’re not able to return to the normal world, either because they’re in a fantasy like Groundhog’s Day, or because the situation has simply changed and they can’t get back to the comfort zone that they were existing in, then you have a stage in which, in most films we call connections, in which your isolated broken protagonist starts to form a somewhat dysfunctional but alternative family around them. They start to reach out and make friends and they start to for maybe the first time, they start to really connect with other people that connection. So and this happens in the silliest of comedies, in the silliest of best of comedies. I’m thinking of Tropic Thunder….

In Tropic Thunder, Ben Stiller plays a ridiculous action hero. Robert Downey Jr. plays a ridiculous method actor who’s so, you know, he’s Australian, who’s so method that he’s, you know, made himself into an African American to be in this Vietnam War movie. But they are two stars who are, from the beginning, competing with each other, trying to upstage each other. And there’s a moment in Tropic Thunder where for the first time…they’re talking to each other and they’re not just, you know, it’s not just Robert Downey Jr. kind of getting off zingers at Ben Stiller. But Ben Stiller says, ‘you know, I don’t know why my big film Simple Jack didn’t work’. And Robert Downey Jr. kind of goes, ‘really?’ Well, yeah. And I’m not going to use the word because there’s a politically incorrect word that he uses. But he went full….Look up the movie if you want to know the word. And even though it’s insulting and funny, it’s really for the first time that they’re talking truth to each other. And he’s telling him something truthful and valuable. There’s the moment, Michael Haig calls it the getting naked moment in a rom-com. And by getting naked, it’s not the moment in which protagonists and their bject of desire have sex. It’s the moment in which they are open with each other, in which they’re vulnerable with each other.

There’s this beautiful moment in Groundhog Day in which he’s gone through all the machinations of trying to exploit the benefits of living the same day over and over again where nobody else realizes it. He’s gone to bed with all the women in town. It’s a small town, so it’s possible. He’s been there for a lot of years. He robs the armoured car truck and he’s bored with it. And he tries to have a relationship with Rita, the producer, Andy McDowell. And he gets only so far, but then because she’s, you know, she’s kind of a, you know, a wonderful woman, she’s not gonna go to bed with him on the first night.

And there’s this whole wonderful series of slaps. And then he kills himself over and over and over again. And until he comes to the point where…. Because he’s going through the five stages of depression, you know, denial, anger, negotiation, and then he’s coming to acceptance and he’s honest with her and he says, you know, he’s trying to prove to her that…He knows everything because he’s lived this day over and over again. And she says, ‘well, you know, what do you know about me?’ And he says, ‘well, you, you know, you look for more than being a producer.’ And she says, ‘everybody knows that.’ And then he says this wonderful thing with this wonderful underscoring. You know, ‘you like the ocean, but not the beach.’ I’m paraphrasing, but it’s wonderful and it’s touching and it’s heartfelt.

And then they go, there’s another, the next scene… I think it’s in his bed and breakfast and she’s sleeping. And in a moment stolen from his own life, because he told Harold Ramis about the time in which he had been married and there’s, you know, this big wedding and this big to do, and they get finally, the real Bill Murray and his real wife finally get to the place where, where they’re going to have to start their honeymoon.

They’re tired and exhausted and his wife is asleep. And while she’s asleep, he kind of pours his heart out to her because, you know, he’s this tough Chicago guy. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. But because she’s sleeping, he tells her everything in his heart that he doesn’t want to tell her or can’t tell her while he’s awake. And Harold Ramis took that and put that in the movie. And there’s this beautiful moment in which she’s sleeping and he just tells her, you know….’I don’t deserve somebody like you, but if I ever could, I’d spend the rest of my life deserving you.’ And it’s such a beautiful moment where you’re connected. He’s connected, you’re connected, because I think the fault with a lot of comedies is that they don’t realize that first we have to care. If we don’t care, it’s all noise, it’s just noise.

The Farrelly’s Brother, the remake of The Three Stooges, in which it’s literally all noise. And it’s funny or it’s not funny, but you don’t care. It’s the hardest thing to do is to create a comedy in which you don’t care about anybody. It’s possible, Airplane, but even in Airplane, you kind of feel for that pilot. There’s very few comedies in which It’s just a series of sketches or a series of bits that you do not care about.

The Pythons are known as a great sketch comedy group. But when they did their first film, their first film was a series of sketches from their TV show, cut together and distributed in the United States. And they did a preview of it, and the audience laughed hysterically for 45 minutes and then…quiet. They completely lost them.

And then, they said okay, we’re onto something, but it’s the wrong edit. So they re-edited the sketches, they put them in a different order, did it for a preview audience. And again, 45 minutes of hysterical laughter and then quiet because you cannot make an audience just laugh and laugh and laugh without hanging onto something, something to think about, something to someone to care about, someone to root for or root against.

And so if you look at their next two films, Holy Grail and The Life of Brian, they put Graham Chapman, who’s this wonderful, troubled, brilliant guy, and they make him the centre of the story and you care for him, you feel for him. And so, especially in The Life of Brian, you know he’s not gonna succeed because you know he’s not Christ, he’s Brian, but you want him to succeed somehow.

And so connection is very important.

And then disconnections is simply the fact that in a narrative, you know, what does T.S. Eliot say? The centre cannot hold. Things have to fall apart. Things have to fall apart for you to put them back together again. Now life doesn’t work that way. Sometimes everything falls apart and it never gets put back together. Sometimes somebody who you think should fall apart never falls apart. And, you know, just horrible, horrible things happen. And Rupert Murdoch gets to run the world. OK, but in a narrative, because fiction is the lie that tells the truth… A narrative wants to show you what happens when the protagonist who’s broken in the beginning and is beginning to transform, you give them an opportunity to revert. It’s what you call, what I call a mask to mensch. And mensch being a Yiddish word, which means mensch. Which means a good person, a good man. And so, in the beginning, like with Groundhog Day, he’s a jerk, but underneath being a jerk, maybe there’s a good person there. And that’s his transformation. A 40-year-old virgin…. He’s really a 40-year-old adolescent, and he doesn’t wanna grow up.

What would happen to Peter Pan if Peter Pan really lived in Van Nuys, California? And near the end of the film, well, at the disconnection part of the film, in which he’s supposed to finally have sex with Catherine Keener, they’re starting to make out and they’re making out on the bed in which all his action figures are being packed, you know, to sell on eBay so he can start his own store. And he says, ‘no, we can’t. We have to preserve this packaging. This hasn’t been opened. I got this in second grade. Do you know what’s like for a kid in second grade to not open this?’ And what a beautiful metaphor because that describes him because he’s stuck in second grade and he’s never opened himself. And so he says. ‘You want me to change? I can’t change that much. I don’t want you know, you want this. I don’t want any part of this.’ And so literally he’s put the mask back on. He’s reverting back and that’s what happens in disconnections. In disconnections, the bond that started the family that started to form together breaks apart. And then we want to see what happens.

How can they possibly get back together? We want them to get back together. And this is the thing. You want your audience to be rooting. You want them to be involved. You want them to be rooting for something so that when it happens, it’s an emotional experience. And that’s what people forget about comedies. They think, well, emotion, that’s for drama, you know, Nazis and you know…people being abused in war, but comedy, comedy’s fun.

No, comedy tells the truth about people and people go through a lot of pain in their lives. And drama helps, one of the things we say in the book is, drama helps us dream about what we could be, but comedy helps us live with who we are. And so if you have a comedy in which there’s no pain, no loss, it’s not really life. And that’s why the best comedies nowadays are really what people would call tragic comedies or black comedies or dramas. But they’re not dramas in the sense that there’s no humour and there’s no objectivity towards the characters. There’s understanding and there’s objectivity and there’s also knowing…realizing how sometimes these characters are idiots.

So those are the stages of connection, the disconnections, and then there’s race to the altar in which your protagonist, in a romantic comedy, oftentimes your protagonist literally races to the altar. And in most comedies, your character…does something, takes some action, some positive action to try to attain his or her ultimate goal.

So, I mean, and this all comes from, it comes from basically teaching people about comedy. And while I was doing these workshops, you know, which was the basis of the first book, The Hidden Tools of Comedy, people would say, well, how do we apply this to film? I went…Good point. So I thought about it for a long time. And so we pulled together what I thought were these universal aspects of comic narrative that would be useful, but would be a template, but not a formula, not a restrictive template.

One of the things that we talk about is the fact that, yeah, there’s a disconnection in almost every film, but it doesn’t have to happen in the same exact spot. You know, most romantic comedies, they break up two-thirds of the way through, you know, just before the third act. But in Tropic Thunder, the platoon literally breaks apart about 50% of the way through the movie. So these things happen. They don’t necessarily have to happen all in the same, all at the same point, all in the same order.

Danielle (18:34.866)

Yeah, that makes total sense and is really useful and helpful. And you’ve given us so many valuable points in that answer about, the comic hero or, you know, you also have the term being a non-hero to really put your finger on what their qualities are like.

But I wondered if you wouldn’t mind speaking a little bit too, to when people are thinking about the supporting cast, whether –  and this may be a different answer for if it’s a kind of buddy comedy or if it’s an ensemble comedy – But what are some of the ways that you help writers to think about that supporting cast within the context of comedy?

Steve Kaplan (19:10.422)

Well, one of the things we talk about is archetypes. And in the first book, we talk about the fact that the commedia dell’art was a theatre form that was formed out of the middle ages in which there was no literacy. And so these actors took on our typical characters and played out scenarios with no scripts. It was totally improvised. And… they were a troupe where the character stayed the same, but the situation changes. And I would say, can you think of an art form in which characters stay the same, but situations change, maybe, I don’t know, say on a weekly basis? And that’s sitcom.

So when you’re thinking about the other characters, everybody is a nonhero in a comedy, meaning they’re flawed, they’re human. They’re not perfect. They don’t have to be the biggest idiot, but you want to make sure that you’re not duplicating characters. You don’t need seven best friends because are there seven different points of view? What you’re looking for is you’re looking, can I create separate points of view, separate and distinctive points of view so that when something happens, there are different points of view towards what happens.

And in a practical sense, let’s think about the cast of Friends. So you have the cast of Friends. If somebody has to say something stupid, who are you going to give that to? Are you going to give it to Chandler? Maybe. Most likely, you’re going to give it to Joey, because he’s the fool. If you want somebody to say something spacey or, you know, or ditzy, well, maybe Phoebe is the one. You want somebody to have a wisecrack, have a sharp observation, that could be Chandler. Somebody who’s going to… There’s a Yiddish term called the shlomil. For some reason, Yiddish has like 14 different ways of describing, you know, a foolish person. Schlemiel, schlimazel. The schlemiel is the person who gets soup poured on his lap. The schlimazel is the clumsy waiter who pours the soup on the lap.

Or maybe it’s the other way around, I’m not quite sure. So who’s the schlemiel in Friends? It’s gonna be Ross. So one of the benefits of archetypes is that archetypes are slices of human behaviour, universal human behaviour, so that you want to make sure that you have some of these archetypical characters there to carry the comedy.

I was…working on somebody’s animated film the other day, and it’s for the, you know, eight to 12-year-old set. And there’s no fool in there. And I said, this, ‘you have three characters, all of whom are cranky and negative. Maybe this character’.. pointing to one of the characters…’the younger character, maybe that character could be a fool, because then you could carry a lot of comedy, because fools are optimistic.’ It’s what Lisa Kudrow called the unearned optimism of an idiot. They don’t know that they’re wrong, and therefore they’re able to be wrong in a very forceful way. Kramer in Seinfeld is another example of that. And so, you know. Does there need to be a fool in there? Usually, if you want somebody to say something stupid, it’s great, rather than having funny lines put in the mouths of anybody in your narrative, have a character who, when you bring the character on stage, that character’s apt to say something foolish, something stupid, something that might be funny.

You usually need to have some kind of animal character, primal character, John Belushi in Animal House, Melissa McCarthy in everything, and somebody who has primal appetites. There’s usually the voice of reason. Jay Barushel has become, has kind of mastered the voice of reason in several films. He was the voice of reason in Tropic Thunder. He’s the only one who read the instructions, the guide. He can read a map. He’s the voice of reason in This Is the End, the apocalyptic comedy in which the rapture takes place and hellfire breaks out. There’s this great scene between him and Seth Rogen in which Seth Rogen says, I can’t have that. It’s full of gluten. Jay Barushel says, ‘What’s wrong with gluten?’ ‘Oh, gluten’s horrible. You know.’ Seth Rogen doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s just what it’s what he’s heard. So you have the voice of reason. Sometimes the voice of reason is a mentor. In the classic hero’s journey, the mentor is Obi-Wan Kenobi, somebody wise. In a comic narrative, the mentor is oftentimes an idiot who has some specific knowledge. In Dodgeball, Rip Torn plays this old champion dodgeball player who throws tools at the players and he hits Justin Long with a wrench. He says, if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, which is an idiotic thing to say. But yet he’s their mentor.

In most comic narratives, you need a trickster. Now, the trickster is somebody who colours outside the box, who doesn’t follow the rules. The trickster doesn’t have to be the protagonist. But I can’t think of a narrative in which a trickster isn’t useful. In Big, the comedy with Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks is an innocent, but his friend who steals his parents’ money to allow Tom Hanks to live in a flop house for 30 days while they’re waiting for the magic fortune-telling machine to be located again. He’s the trickster because otherwise how does Tom Hanks, he can’t go home, his mother thinks he’s a rapist, he can’t go to school, they’ll think he’s a child abuser. He’s gotta convince his friend that he’s really Josh and that he needs help. So Josh is the trickster who helps him out by stealing money from his parents.

So you have these…these are typical characters and they serve the purpose of moving the story forward simply by having separate points of view that you can utilize. And also because they are the people who have to coalesce around the protagonist during connections.

Danielle (26:55.766)

Yeah, that makes total sense. And again, so much to think about there. Thank you.

There was a line of your book, which I underlined because it spoke to a particular pain point of mine at the time. I’m currently working on a YA novel… And what I underlined was ‘if you have act three problems, they’re really act one problems,’ which I found so helpful.

Steve Kaplan (27:14.602)

Yes, I was just telling somebody that the other day. Yeah. This person was telling me that they’re working on this novel and they can’t quite make the ending work. And I said, well, you have the most painful thing that happens to your character… That when you described it to me, it hurt me viscerally. So that’s powerful. Because I don’t know anything about the story, but…Wow, what a story. And you put it in like, like two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through the story. And by that time, it’s like, okay, why not start the story that way? And that way or have something similarly horrible happen. So we know why this character goes on the journey. So, all act three problems are act one problems.

Also act two problems are act one problems. You have to, everything you want to pay off, you have to set up in the beginning. Everything, everything that you want to come to fruition has to be seeded in the beginning.

Now you can write a draft based on an image. Fine. And then maybe the second draft is a refinement of that. And maybe the third draft, you add some funny lines. But at some point, somebody’s gonna say, what is this movie about? And they’re not talking about the plot or the premise, they’re talking about the theme. So once you figure out, oh, I know what this movie is about, then you have to go back and seed that stuff in. Because you can’t just throw it on, throw it in on page 52 and have it make any sense.

In the very, near the beginning of Groundhog Day, somebody said…’ does he, has he never watched any film besides Groundhog Day?’ I have. I happen to like it. So F you if you don’t like Groundhog Day. And if you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s, it’s not bad. It’s funny.

They’re driving up to Punxsutawney and he says to his producer, Rita, and Chris Elliott, the cameraman, he says, ‘One day somebody’s going to see me’. Well, Chris Elliott says, ‘what do you have against doing the remote from Punxsutawney, the Groundhog Day?’ He says, ‘somebody’s going to see me interviewing Groundhog and think I don’t have a future’. Well, isn’t that the film? Now, you’re watching it in the movie theatre or on your…phone or whatever, maybe you’ve never seen it before and you don’t go, aha, that’s the theme, but it resonates.

Later on, he meets the insurance guy, the annoying insurance guy. And the insurance guy says, ‘you know, a lot of my friends, you know, live by the actuarial tables, but I think it’s all one big, you know, crap shoot anywho, don’t you?’ Again, theme expressed by characters, not like on the nose. You have to live as though every day is your last day, but that that’s what we’re talking about and you have to seed that in.

If you want there to be some big event that ends your movie or near the end of the movie, well have somebody talk about it near the beginning of the movie. You know, set that up. When they’ve…Sorry, another Groundhog reference… When they first were working on Groundhog, they ended up at a wedding because there’s these two kids in the diner, the Kleizers are gonna get married. When they went to Punxsutawney to actually research what happens during the Groundhog Day Festival, because Rubin wrote the script without ever having gone to the Groundhog Day Festival, they realized that at the end of every Groundhog Day, there’s a Groundhog Day dance.

And so they changed the screenplay to end things, near the penultimate end of it, at the Groundhog Day dance.

So the other thought is steal. Steal like crazy. Steal from your own life, steal from other people’s lives. Invention is overrated. Uniqueness is not unique, how do I want to say it? The product of your own imagination is overrated. Avail yourself to what’s real, what’s true, and put it in your script.

Danielle (32:13.666)

That’s really good advice and so many directions. I’d love to go with that. Um, one that comes to mind particularly is how you link that to decision points. When you’re creating, like you’re drawing, like you say, from things that are real, from you, so you may be able to say, draw from… knowledge of settings or draw from emotional experiences that have happened. When you get to something as big as a decision point….We see them happen in movies so often… we can see the place where they happen and quite a few of the pieces are in place, but it still feels forced. Do you have any advice for people for how to make those decision points work.

Steve Kaplan (32:55.134)

I think the decision point is where the character could logically and for all intents and purposes equally go one way or the other way. Now in many films, in many narratives, there’s really no decision point because you’ve set up a false choice. In the Woody Allen movie in which Owen Wilson walks around Paris and then goes to the past…. I think it’s called After midnight or Until Midnight. I can’t remember the name of the movie, but anyway, he’s got this horrible, horrible fiance with even worse parents. So horrible fiance, horrible in-laws, and then he meets these wonderful people, this wonderful woman in 1920s Paris, and we’re thinking, oh yeah, well, he’s probably gonna go with the horrible fiance, the shrieking, horrible fiance and her terrible parents. No, there’s no way he’s going to do that. So it’s a false decision point.

A better example of a decision point is when in dodgeball, it looks like Vince wants to go to lose Ben Stiller wants to bribe him and yeah…He’s not that committed and he’s kind of lazy and he’s kind of selfish. So yeah, maybe he will take that bribe. Maybe he will leave his dodgeball team up in the lurch. I could believe, you know, I think it’s not going to happen because it’s a Hollywood movie. But maybe, at least it doesn’t ring false to me.

In the Tom Hanks movie….Meg Ryan, Empire State Building, help me out…. Yes, of course, Sleepless in Seattle. Okay, thank you. I kept on thinking, You Have Mail? No, that’s not the right one. Yeah, in Sleepless in Seattle, she has the bad boyfriend, but he’s not really that bad. Bill Pullman, he’s got allergies. That’s a strike against him. You can’t marry a guy who’s got nasal problems. However, there’s this scene just before the climax in which Bill Pullman just says, ‘I don’t wanna be anybody’s second choice. Marriage is too hard to be anybody’s second choice’. And he’s so nice. He’s so great. I’d go with Bill Pullman. He’s a great guy. He’s just not the guy.

And so there’s a real decision point that Meg Ryan has to choose. It’s like, you know, rather than having the bad boyfriend. There’s a bad boyfriend in Wedding Crashers. Owen Wilson meets the daughter of a senator who’s got this bad boyfriend. And he’s like, violent during the touch football game. And you’re going, there’s no way she’s going to end up with this guy. And if she does….I don’t even like her that much anymore. Why is she with this asshole? So you want there to be, you want the stack to be evenly dealt. That when you set up the circumstances in the narrative, don’t make for a false choice in which, of course you’re gonna go this way, as opposed to that way. Give us two equally valid competing choices so that…while the protagonist is going, which way we’re going, which way, as opposed to, OK, let me just wait. I know you’re going to not go with that guy. I know you’re going to go this guy because it’s a Hollywood movie.

So and equally as important as decision points is the discovered goal. And this is something else that people make a mistake on because they’ve read all the screenwriting books and the screenwriting books say that your protagonist has a goal in the beginning and that’s the through line. But in a comedy, your protagonists are broken, desperately flawed people. So the goal that they have in the beginning is also broken and flawed and it’s through the transformative elements of the premise of the narrative that they change and because they change they start to want different things.

And that’s called the discovered goal. And the discovered goal happens not because you turn around and go, ‘oh, I want to marry that girl’. The discovered goal comes about because your character has transformed through the process of this experience. They can’t help but transform. And so because they transform, they want different things. And that’s in almost every comedy I can think of, your character wants something different than they wanted in the beginning.

Danielle (38:31.542)

Yeah. Again, such a good reminder. There’s so many things in your book I’ve underlined and written on Post-it notes and written at the top of pages.

Steve Kaplan (38:37.642)

Which books? You mean this book? The Hidden Tools of Comedy? Or this book? Comic Heroic Heroic? I’m working on a third book about television.

Danielle (38:49.559)

Are you?

Steve Kaplan (38:50.922)

It’s going slowly, but it’s stymied me for a long time, but I’m inching my way towards there to maybe The Comic Hero’s Journey Watches TV. I don’t know what the title is gonna be, something like that.

Danielle (39:03.522)

Hmm. Okay. Yeah. Oh my goodness. I have so many questions about that. Yeah. Because I have, I’m curious, but I don’t want to take more of your time, like how you think about it when it’s like a series arc, like The Bear versus a film, so many questions. So I’m going to have to definitely read your next book in terms of how that works, pacing, ending, all the things I want to know… character development. So amazing.

So thank you so much. You’ve shared so many really helpful craft-based things. I just have…

Steve Kaplan (39:31.466)

you’ve been a great interviewer, you’ve asked great questions. And you have such a lovely painting behind you. Did you paint that? Well, whoever did it did a very nice job. It’s had all sorts of autumn colors. How nice.

Danielle (39:35.138)

Thank you. No, I did not paint that. No, but… I will pass that on to the artist. Yeah, totally.

So I’ve just got one quick question before we wrap up and also then to find where to go to see more of your work… which is just, I’m really curious. And the reason that I’m asking this is because…Quite often with comedy, I love it with a passion, but I don’t laugh out loud at that many things. I think it fulfills other different things in me and I’m still super interested and I need it as a lens to look through. So I’m just really curious with you because you’ve seen so many things and you analyze so many things, whether you still have that literal physical laugh response to shows that you’re watching currently.

Steve Kaplan (40:22.542)

Oh, yeah. Oh, a big laugh response. Yeah, because because, you know, just knowing stuff doesn’t make you immune from a reaction. I mean, when I watch a bad comedy or when I watch a flawed comedy, then I’m analyzing, I’m going, why am I not liking this? What’s wrong? What mistake have they made? How would I have done it differently or advised somebody to do it differently? But when I’m watching something fresh and original and alive. I laugh and I cry and I cheer. I cheer. You know, the guys in The Bear, you know, who get their fire license. Yay! Because I got so involved with them. Why can’t they get this license?

Danielle (41:00.871)

Yeah, I definitely cheer too. Great show.

Thank you. And thank you so much for your time today. You’ve been so generous. For people who want to find out more about you and your work, where are the best places that they can find you? And I will of course put these in the show notes too.

Steve Kaplan (41:28.266)

They can find me on the web. My website is KaplanComedy.com, Kaplan with a K. They can find me on Twitter, even though it’s now kind of a hellscape, but I’m still there. Hopefully it will be less of a hellscape in the future. At SKComedy. And you can find me on Facebook at KaplanComedy.

Danielle (41:41.663)


Steve Kaplan (41:58.194)

Oh, and also, also if you’re interested, we have online courses. We used to travel around before the pandemic, but then there was this COVID thing. So we’re doing a lot of online courses now. And that way people from India and London and Arizona can all take the same course. So we have an online course that’s called the Comedy Intensive Online that’s based on the first book.

And then we have, of course, Write Your Comic Screenplay, which is based on this, based a large part on the second book. And those are all going to be given in the fall and all that information is gonna be available on our website.

Danielle (42:39.97)

Perfect, that sounds like a lot of fun. So thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciate it.

Steve Kaplan (42:42.714)

Thank you. Enjoyed it. Thank you.