February 24th, 2009 15:00 EST
Interviewing Comedy Writer Martin Olson
Today I had the opportunity to speak with Martin.
Hello Martin, it`s so nice to hear from you, tell me about where you grew up?
I grew up in a happy family in poor section of Boston. I come from a long line of Swedish house painters and accordionists. My grandfather went insane from inhaling paint fumes and my great uncle was arrested for exposing himself at Myron Floren concert.
What made you decide to go into comedy and writing?
The first time I wanted to be a comedy writer I was nine years old. I was watching The Merv Griffin Show with my Mom when Merv introduced a comedian, Brother Theodore. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYMMJvSEwHw
The screen went black and a harsh spotlight hit a weird scary-looking guy in black. He began ranting about life being meaningless and how we should all kill ourselves. And each rant ended with a precise paradoxical punch line. Like a Steven Wright joke. It was the funniest thing I`d ever seen, and librated my mind. I knew then what comedy was, a license to mess with peoples minds and break their thought patterns, to inspire freedom of thought through satire, to show that what we consider normal is, objectively speaking, insane.
When did you begin writing comedy and when did you first realize that you were uniquely funny?
I remember when I first realized I was not uniquely funny. My Mother just had open heart surgery when I told her I sold a comedy screenplay to DreamWorks. Soon after on her deathbed she said I have something to show you. She pulled out a shirt box with two old notebooks inside. On the covers in crude handwriting: "Joke Book 1 and Joke Book 2 by Martin Olson." I`d forgotten about them. I wrote them when I was eight and in her mind I was destined to be a comedy writer. I thumbed through the books and couldn`t break the truth to her that they were execrable. Later in life I vowed to duck-tape them to my chest and hang myself from the Hollywood sign.
Share with me some insight on some of the shows that you previously worked on?
Many, many weird shows, including puppet shows on my front lawn when I was seven, HBO concerts for a number of insane comedians, staff writer for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, a local late night monster movie show in Boston, 30 episodes of Penn & Teller`s notorious FX variety series, an award winning series in London for Comedy Central, and playing piano in Florida for a Senior Citizen Center Talent Show.
Tell me about what you do for Disney and your involvement in writing the the animated series "PHINEAS AND FERB" and TWISTED WHISKERS?
I worked as head writer on both first seasons. I also compose music for the Disney show with the series creators Dan Povenmire and Swampy Marsh.
The economic crunch which is a situation that is on everyone`s mind and I would like to know some of your views on the future of comedy during this economic crunch?
As everyone knows, hard times are good for comedy. As for the future of comedy, comics either build on everything that came before them or react against it. So since self-reference and put-on humor and obscenity are accepted elements now for "edgy" comedy, I predict more of the same combined with a synthesis of unlikely styles of performance juxtaposed in new ways. Bobcat Goldthwait`s two new films, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
World`s Greatest Dad are two examples I think of synthesizing different styles of comedy and creating something new that on the surface looks normal. Sort of "put-on" films and comedy that work on several levels at once. I have no idea what I just said.
What is the best thing about being a comedy writer?
Getting paid along with the opportunity to work with incredibly imaginative geniuses, including facing challenges on a daily basis.
Any future plans for a new project?
I lucked out and sold the film rights to my first book Encyclopedia of Hell (now called Invasion Manual of Earth) to Warner Brothers and I`m now working with an editor to get it published. I owe the sale of the book to Andrew Lazar, the most creative film producer at Warners.
Thank you very much Martin for the illuminating interview. Keep up the great work and for more information please go to: www.martin-olson.com
Martin resides in Los Angeles and continues to write comedy.