January 18, 2013  |  Local Interest, Uncategorized


It has been pretty quiet on the blog for a while. I have been immersed in a long-term project and just didn’t feel like I had anything interesting to say here. And you might well wonder what the title of this post and the image above have to do with each other, but — trust me — I do have a point.

The project I’m working on is a story about life and work at Golden Gate Fields. I’m at the point now where I’m trying to edit and sequence and lay things out, and it’s difficult. Not surprisingly so, but difficult. I’m fortunate to be working with The Mentor Ray Ketcham, and to be inspired by the contributors to Rear Curtain. I’ve studied the work of master storytellers William Allard and Michael Freeman. I return often to advice from my boyfriends heroes Ken Burns and Ira Glass.

But today I am grateful to Jerry Seinfeld. In this piece he talks about his 2-year-long process to write a joke about Pop-Tarts. He’s got the broad outline done, he knows the story. Now he’s down to the specifics of shaving syllables to get the beats just right. Comedy depends on rhythm. So does storytelling. So does visual storytelling. He’ll know when it sounds right, and he’ll keep tweaking until he hears the music.

I really like this image, and it’s probably not going to make the cut. It doesn’t really fit within the beats of the story I want to tell. I wonder if Jerry is ever sad when he crosses out a word on his yellow pad.

All the people listed above set a mighty high bar and I’m not pretending I’ll reach it. That’s not my point. What I love about them is that they are all generous teachers, and that the work is still hard for them. But it’s worth doing.

Even for a joke about Pop-Tarts.

By the way, if you miss Jerry Seinfeld like I do, check out his YouTube series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It’s funny, informative, and beautifully shot.


  1. I really like that photo, too.

  2. I really like the blog entry! Cutting is always hard for me too.

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