“Labor of love” describes the feeling of doing something—even something difficult—that you enjoy so much, it does not seem like work. It might be a stretch to tie “labor of love” with Labor Day, but that’s what I’m doing.
While I would rarely call comedy “work,” it’s not always easy. Sometimes I can’t get to the punchline the right way. Sometimes the thing I think is hysterical is only hysterical to me. I can try a piece of material 20 different ways, and find one audience that likes it and… 19 that don’t. So sometimes you have to realize you’re just wrong, and what you thought was funny, just isn’t.
Even so, the creative process is truly a labor of love.
The labor comes into play when you take a stand and write something serious, find out you were wrong, and have to come clean about your mistake. That sums up today’s blog post.
In August 2017, I blogged about a friend, the very funny comic Bruce Baum. He passionately argued that he was not getting his due for an idea he helped create. The people involved were none other than one of my personal heroes, Jerry Seinfeld along with his great (and funny) friend Barry Marder.
I saw what Bruce said, did some research, and believed his side of things, while expressing my confusion about the other side’s position. I defended Bruce, but I didn’t have all the details.We tend to support the people we know. That’s what good friends do. But when that support is found to be unwarranted, it’s time to set the record straight.
Since my blog post about Bruce, I have received more information from someone I’ve known almost as long as Bruce. Scott Channon is a multi-talented, creative person (I knew him as a stand-up comic) who identifies as an independent producer. Scott let me know there was much more to the story. He knows Barry Marder as well as I know Bruce.
It took me a while to get to the “more of the story,” but here’s what I’ve pieced together over the past year: Bruce and Barry collaborated on some books. Who did what may be up for debate—by not by me. This collaboration was in place for the first three books and Bruce gets royalties. The attorneys who set up the agreement say these payments total some $600,000. Credit for and revenue from future books and projects goes to Barry Marder. The lawyer’s letter is shared on YouTube.
I understand what it is to give and claim credit. I have a few jokes in my act that are the result of major help from other comics.
In fact, I am often asked if I write my own material. Of course I do, everyday. But some of my ideas were sparked by others during our writing sessions. (This is precisely why writers get together!) Sometimes a bit is given to me by someone I trust who thinks his or her concept fits better in my act than their own. I then “Steve it up” and try it out. I have helped other comedians with bits or refinements as well.
When I can, I give others credit for helping me get laughs. I think the cool kids call these “shout-outs.”
Maybe a shout-out would have been the only thing needed avoid this drawn-out controversy about the credit for ideas. I don’t know. I have nothing bad to say about Bruce, or Barry, or Jerry. And I want to send a big thank-you to Scott, who helped me see the bigger picture.
Misunderstandings happen in every business, and show business is no exception. Frankly, I could have simply deleted the earlier blog post, but I wanted admit my mistake in the same place I made that mistake.
If my original blog post on this matter hurt anyone or added fuel to the fire, I sincerely, and humbly apologize. I wish all parties continued success in the future.
Now let’s all get back to the labor of love that is comedy.