March 6, 2011
The following is an excerpt from the book “And Here’s the Kicker” by Mike Sacks. In his book he interviews famous comedy writers and grills them on all sorts of subjects. It’s an excellent read for anyone really into comedy. The most poignant point of the book for me was when the author interviewed Todd Hanson, the original creator of the Onion.
For those of you who don’t know, before the Onion was an immensely popular website, it was a self-published newsletter distributed around Wisconsin. The vision of the satire struck a chord and it began to grow in popularity. Todd said something in his interviews that gave me a little bit of hope.
Todd Hanson: People will often ask [me], “How do I get a job writing comedy?” … I always answer, “You do it for free for ten years and then, if you’re really lucky, you get to write humor as a full-time job.”
Mike Sacks: Any advice for those readers who dream of writing for the Onion?
Todd Hanson: Start your own paper. Do your own thing. That’s just what I would recommend to anybody who wants to do anything, not just write for the Onion. Do it for free and have fun. Whether it’s writing comedy or making music or painting or performing interpretive dance. If you want to do something creative, you should have a better reason for wanting to do it than to make money. If you want to make money, my advice is to sell shoes or go into banking.
Only five and a half years left…