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Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before…
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Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed

by Jon Macks

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Jon Macks wrote for Jay Leno, during Leno’s entire stint as Tonight Show host. Macks churned out a hundred jokes based on politics and pop culture. Every day. Jay Leno added them to his total of a thousand, and then spent the day whittling the list down to a monologue. Every day. Macks now freelances for various tv shows and personalities, again both pop cultural and political.

The book is immensely gossipy, and therefore ephemeral. Many of the names he drops will be meaningless to readers in 10 years’ time. He says at least 25 times the reader should google someone he’s talking about if they’re under 30. If there’s another edition in 10 years, it will be 75 times.

There are really two books here. One is a book of jokes, both Macks’ and others, which range from Huh? to hilarious. The other book is a Hollywood tribute to stars. How the hosts handle things, how the guests handle things. How the public handles things about the personalities they skewer. Macks limits himself by loving everyone. Everyone is great, everyone is terrific. It’s a Hollywood B movie about working in showbiz. The result is there’s no penetrating criticism, no revelations, no new insight. He skims like USA Today. He goes wide but not deep. The most insightful thing Macks says is that in his new timeslot, Stephen Colbert could be the biggest kingmaker – bigger than the Koch brothers and Soros, without spending billions.

You can tell one host’s jokes from another by their style. You can just hear them telling these selections on tv. My own favorite in the book is this from David Letterman: Mitt Romney said he liked to fire people. Well, there’s a pretty good message to send to Middle America. When Rick Perry heard that, he said “That’s nothing. I like to execute people.”

Interestingly (to me alone), Macks has an “everyman” he uses for setups. He calls him Joe Doakes. He uses Joe three times in the course of the book. Joe Doakes is the everyman Robert Benchley created for his New Yorker pieces in the 1920s and he played Doakes in his short subjects (For those under 50, google Benchley). I think Jon Macks is deeper than he makes out to be. ( )
  DavidWineberg | Apr 30, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0399171665, Hardcover)

"Jon Macks is one of the greatest comedy writers of all time."—Chris Rock

A hilarious, revealing look behind the history and culture of American late-night TV, by a longtime comedy writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Ever since Johnny Carson first popularized the late-night talk show in 1962 with The Tonight Show, the eleven p.m. to two a.m. comedy time slot on network television has remained an indelible part of our national culture. More than six popular late-night shows air every night of the week, and with recent major shake-ups in the industry, late-night television has never been more relevant to our public consciousness than it is today. Jon Macks, a veteran writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, takes us behind the scenes of this world for an in-depth, colorful look at what really makes these hosts the arbiters of public opinion.

From the opening monologue—what’s funny, what’s dangerous, what’s untouchable—to the best vs. worst guests, Macks covers the landscape of late-night comedy and punctuates the narrative with hysterical personal anecdotes, shining the spotlight on some of the very best late night jokes, and drawing from more than half a million of his own jokes written over the span of twenty years. With an insider’s expertise and a laugh-out-loud voice, Macks explains how late-night TV redefines the news and events of any given day, reshapes public opinion, and even creates our national zeitgeist.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:33:03 -0400)

"Ever since Johnny Carson first popularized the late-night talk show in 1962 with The Tonight Show, the eleven p.m. to two a.m. comedy time slot on network television has remained an indelible part of our national culture. More than six popular late-night shows air every night of the week, and with recent major shake-ups in the industry, late-night television has never been more relevant to our public consciousness than it is today. Jon Macks, a veteran writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, takes us behind the scenes of this world for an in-depth, colorful look at what really makes these hosts the arbiters of public opinion. From the opening monologue--what's funny, what's dangerous, what's untouchable--to the best vs. worst guests, Macks covers the landscape of late-night comedy"--… (more)

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