I have a fun clause in my contract. If I'm not having fun, I can leave.
Script comes first, then the actors, then you gotta be lucky enough to get the right time slot. Then people have to watch.
My father was Abe Burrows, who was a Broadway legend. 'Guys and Dolls,' 'How to Succeed,' 'Cactus Flower,' '40 Karats,' 'Can-Can,' 'Happy Hunting,' 'Reclining Figure,' it goes on. He was a legend, and when I was growing up, I was Abe Burrows' kid. That was my self-esteem.
I remember on the pilot of 'Will and Grace' some executives from NBC saying to me, 'There are too many gay jokes.' I said, 'If not on this show, then what show?'
Most of the pilots I choose do not have high-concept ideas, so for me it's not the idea as much as the execution of the idea, and if the idea, like you take a bar in Boston, that's not a high-concept idea. But if it's executed well, it makes a great show.
The best thing for an actor is to try it his way. The way they do it may not work, but it may inspire me to try something else.
I'll tell you what I love about directing: the surprise. You never know what's going to happen with your piece until an audience weighs in.
I know what's funny, and I probably know the best way to deliver the joke. Whether it's walking out of a room, facing that way, facing this way. I just have a sense of that.
I didn't have the drive; I never wanted to be in show business. I went into my father's business because of osmosis.
My father was weaned on books. I'm halfway between being weaned on books and weaned on television. And if you're weaned on television, you're not as good a writer as if you were weaned on books.
Networks are reluctant to take a chance. They put on shows that they know will work on some level, but to get the innovative show, it's very difficult.
On 'Taxi,' I had the great fortune of directing many wonderful episodes, none more classic than Reverend Jim's driving test. It was maybe the funniest show I did.
Sometimes an actor will stumble on the joke, and I'm right on them. Back it up before the audience hears the bad version of the joke, because humor is 90% surprise. If they know what's coming, they won't laugh as hard.
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