While writing for television, Jonathan decided a fun weekend job would be to teach a Saturday morning stand-up comedy class for kids. The plan was that the kid comedians would watch tapes of famous grown-up comedians, memorize their jokes and then perform the jokes at a graduation show.
Just as Jonathan had hoped, teaching the class was lots of fun. Only one problem; one day one of the kid comedians said, “Can you teach me to write my own jokes?”
Not wanting to say “no” to a nine-year-old, Jonathan decided to diagram some jokes to see what he could come up with. His curiosity piqued, he then began diagramming the structure of all sorts of comedic writing – sitcom dialogue, the story line of romantic comedies.
To Jonathan’s surprise, it turned out that what he had believed about why the funny is funny was incorrect. His assumption had been that what makes us laugh did so for reasons that were mysterious, subjective, multi-faceted. But entirely to the contrary, it turned out that what makes us laugh – a Dave Chappelle joke, the story of how Harry met Sally, the witticisms of President Lincoln - shared the same structure and were funny for the same reasons. Moreover, the structure could be easily diagrammed, making the reasons why the funny is funny easily understood, teachable, learnable.
Today Jonathan’s popular classes and workshops for grown-ups focus on different mediums including memoir, sitcoms, acting and stand-up. But they are always all about... why the funny is funny.
Jonathan also consults on writing projects. He first started consulting when former students asked if he would work with them one-one-one. Those students recommended Jonathan to others. Today he his clients include comedians, screenwriters, memoirists, folks in the business world, academia, you name it.
And finally, when not teaching and consulting, Jonathan appears often at various spoken-word venues around LA including the LA Story Festival. He chats frequently about politics, culture, sports and, of course, comedy on podcasts, on NPR, on FOX Sports and on other radio stations on your radio dial.
Thank you so much reading!