Directing Comedy with Barnet Kellman

INJ 32 | Directing Comedy


Barnet Kellman is the Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he is a Professor of Directing and the founder and Co-Director of USC’s Comedy program. He is even better known for directing theater and television – specializing in comedy. He has received two Emmy awards and seven Emmy nominations for his work directing the television show Murphy Brown.

Listen to Episode #32 here

Directing Comedy with Barnet Kellman

Our guest is Barnet Kellman. He is a Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He is a Professor of Directing and the Founder and Co-Director of USC’s Comedy program. He is even better known for directing theater and television, specializing in comedy. He has received two Emmy awards and seven Emmy nominations for his work directing the television show Murphy Brown. Welcome, Barnet.

I’m glad to be here.

If you weren’t working as a director or a professor, what would you be doing with your life?

I expect I would be writing. If I were free, I would be writing something I’ve been trying to work on for a long time, which is the book that shares the process that I have found inhabits my work. Like most professionals, you do it. You learn as you’re doing it. You do it as many years as I’ve done it and you learn and know a lot more than you even know you know. You do things that you would describe as instinctively. You see things in a certain way. You see the ball coming in a certain way. That’s called being a pro after a while.

There’s a famous story about Ted Williams. Essentially, he analyzed the strike zone and he had 50 or 100 different parts of the strike zone that he would adjust his swing differently based upon where the ball was in the strike zone. This is that idea that you get so advanced.

The question that comes to everybody’s mind and pertains heavily to comedy is every time you hear about anything like that and that’s an amazing story, if that’s accurate. Ted Williams probably would be the guy because he was the one who was said to be the genius of hitting. The question is can you think and do the thing at the same time? Do you think as you do it? It depends on what we mean by think. If we mean do, we slow down and say words to ourselves inside our head, probably that’s thought moving slower than somebody like Ted Williams who I connect. I would guess that after the fact, he figured out what he was doing that worked. The question is probably, and this is the underlying theory behind what I do in my teaching, as you said, reverse engineering. The purpose of it would be twofold because you are not doing it as you work.

[bctt tweet=”The primary way we learn anything is by interacting with other humans.” via=”no”]

The purpose would be twofold. One would be the ability to share with others, which most people who do something like comedy don’t do. Not in any analytic way. They do it by being together, like some primitive jazz musicians. They play with one another and they learn from one another by playing together. That is the primary way that we learn. It’s the primary way we learn anything. We learn to be human. We learn to be social animals. That’s all well and good but at a certain time, there’s a value in knowing what the process was that got you to be most human. Besides it being useful for sharing, it’s also extremely useful when something breaks down. When it’s working, you don’t need to analyze anything. When something is not working, if you know the strike zone, if you have metrics by which you can work you can say, “What am I doing that’s breaking the fundamentals here?”

You directed live theater television and that was the order. You started in theater.

It’s a weird jumping around the order. That part is simple. I started in all kinds of theater, not particularly in comedy at all. Directors in theater rarely specialize that way. They think of themselves as generalists. You do whatever the script requires. Your career talks to you. Your career tells you where you’re going. You get answers from the universe as it were. You put stuff out there and you start to get answers. One answer I got was that people appreciated and valued my work, most directing the premiere productions of the new plays. That was my first specialty. That’s how I found out that most of my career was going to be in New York City and not in the hinterlands doing revivals. I grew up with a generation of terrific playwrights like David Raven, John Patrick Shanley and Donald Margulies in doing the first productions, new productions, premiere productions of their plays and Kevin Wade and Lee Kalcheim. That’s what I was doing in New York.

One day, one of those plays became a hit and ran for a year. That was Key Exchange by Kevin Wade. He went on to write Working Girl, which was nominated for Best Picture at Oscar and many other things and onto a great career. He was brand new and the first neophyte playwright. Shanley’s first play, Danny and The Deep Blue Sea, was something that I directed the production of. Those plays had a comic element to them. Critics started to pick up on this. I started to get noticed for comedy. When I got noticed for comedy, I started to get offered more comedy. I started to do more comedy. I started off as an actor. I joined Equity when I was nineteen as an actor. I stopped myself from acting because I was afraid that if I went on acting, people would never let me direct. I knew I wanted to direct. I stopped my own acting career short. Even in my acting career, my biggest success is I couldn’t help but be funny on stage. That’s what everybody always said.

It became apparent that I had some instinct for it and I loved doing it. Television came by accident into my life. It came up as a bread job. A very ambitious producer of a soap opera in New York saw an Off-Broadway production that I had directed. He asked me if I wanted to train to direct his soap. I had no thought of it. I never watched a soap opera. I was a starving artist who worked in theater in New York and this was a bread job. This is in the ‘70s and a tough time in New York. His particular thing was that he would hire whatever actors were the biggest stars on Broadway at the moment. Whoever had a great play running or something like that, Morgan Freeman or whoever it was, he would hire them for his soap. He put them on a limited run on his soap. He got these fabulous actors on his soaps and he started to say, “I need directors that can talk to them. It’s not enough to have the technicians who I have just shooting.” They come in. They want somebody to talk to them.

When you say talk to them, do you mean manage their egos?

No, these are theater actors. They have a process. It’s not just saying the lines. This producer, Paul Roush, had more taste than that. He appreciates a terrific performance. You couldn’t tell them, “You’re just doing a soap opera, Paul.” He then started to train directors from the theater to direct his soap opera and work with these terrific actors that he was putting up on screen. That’s where I learned how to do multiple camera technique and that’s where I learned editing. All of that was still in the realm of a bread job, a way of supporting my theater habit. When this play, Key Exchange, became a hit, it subsequently got sold to the movies. It took a while they chased around a lot of Hollywood directors. One day they came back to me and said, “We’ve been thinking about this. How about we do this with the guy who directed the play that got us interested in the first place?” That became my first feature film. I learned on the job.

My observation is this interesting thing about you specializing in new. Most of your acclaim comes from Murphy Brown, which you directed for many seasons, but you’ve also directed a lot of comedy pilots.

I have done other things. I directed ER. I directed Alias. I directed Ally McBeal. Those cases I was stepping in to air as a guest in episodic television. Those were all sidelights or anomalies. Most of my television career and the part that I enjoyed the most were directing pilots.

[bctt tweet=”When you know that something is working, you don’t need to analyze anything. ” via=”no”]

You were saying you were doing these new plays and you do these new TV shows as a pilot. Why do you like doing them? Why were you good at it?

In a way, you’ve gone right to the heart of the matter. The truth of the matter is that at the time in the ‘70s, there was almost no television in New York whatsoever. Television had died and moved out of New York. It was entirely on the West Coast. Every now and then they would come and for various reasons usually because somebody wanted to live in New York. They would do a show. They would do a series out of New York, in which case they always brought the directors from Los Angeles because they didn’t feel they were trained directors in New York. I still was looking for something that paid better than theater to support my theater. That was my only interest in television at that particular time. A young man got the job named Greg Maday. He got the job as Head of Comedy Development at CBS. He had a theater background. I’ve been the beneficiary of some unusual notions from some talented people. The first case was the soap producer who decided to hire theater people to direct. Greg Maday thought that a new play is the same thing as a pilot.

The director’s job is to manifest the world that comes off the page. There are many major decisions that have to be made and then carried out forever based in that first template show. The casting, the tone, the pace, the look, everything comes off of that first realization. He said, “The job of a director directing a comedy pilot on network television is the same as the job of a director.” He hired me straight out of New York to do a couple of pilots with CBS. That was unheard of. That was a radical move. The candor of pilot directors was a small, select and separate list than episodic directors. At the time, it was not something you went back and forth. You were either pilot director or an episodic director. Breaking into that pilot list was a mysterious process. You certainly didn’t get there on one jump. That’s what Greg did with me. He jumped me into the business. In that first season of pilots that I did, a couple of them went well. In the second season of pilots that I did, I got Murphy Brown on the air. That was a game-changer for me.

You might do multiple pilots within a season?

I would do up to four pilots in a season.

INJ 32 | Directing Comedy
Directing Comedy: In theater directing, you do most of the directing before the show starts, and then you entrust the rest to the actors as it goes on.


We’ll get back to your writing because this is all leading to that. I had a conversation with a comedian actress and we talked a little bit about theater versus television acting and a little bit about directing. This is a nice complement to that conversation. You mentioned learning about editing. That’s one major difference between theater directing and television directing. In theater directing, most of the directing is done before the show starts and then the show starts and you are trusting the actors. In television directing, you’re doing takes and scenes and so you’re doing some assembling and changing. In post, you’re going to arrange all this stuff, put it all together. How does that change the way you direct?

First of all, my initial transition was in those days there was no editing. It was called live for tape. It was recorded in real time. It was a stage-bound medium primarily, all the changes that the show went through which means changes of time, changes of the set, changes of costume were performed in real time like in a play. It was an interesting, funny, now archaic, nostalgic process exactly like live television. No difference at all. When we get to a commercial break, we would sit there in real time for the three minutes that the commercials would play. We would roll in what they called black. We would be recording black that the network, later on, would superimpose the commercials on. It was a real process. It was a lightning process. It was like doing a play but a lightning process, with no time for rewrites. There’s a big difference.

When you’re doing the first production of a new play, you’re not only working with the actors to realize but you’re also working with the playwright to develop the script because it hasn’t been proven yet. On a soap opera, there’s no time for that. You shoot what was written. We’d start at 7:00 in the morning with rehearsals and then we would move down to the stage and stage it and then the camera block it. Then does a dress rehearsal and then we would do this show. It was a theatrical process. It’s very quick. Instead of the audience having the option in a proscenium universe to look as onstage. To look where they want to look although good staging in the theater does direct your attention via the staging. In this case, you’re getting to change the camera angle but you’re doing that in real time. You’re throwing up four shots at a time and selecting among them. The process I had to learn, which a famous old lightning process was developed some years before by the original pioneers of television and live TV. It was where you’re watching four cameras and snapping your fingers to indicate when to cut between shots and change angles so as to direct the audience’s attention and to build the drama.

What it did was it forced me into thinking editorial thinking and compositional thinking everything in warp speed. It was a nightmarish process and scary tightrope act. It’s live because you can’t fix it and your mistakes are forever. Once you get through it, you develop a certain amount of confidence that you know something about what you’re doing. When I made the transition then to feature film, I had to learn yet another discipline where you’re relying on post. Even these sitcom pilots, the half-hour comedy pilots I was initially brought to LA to do. They had some differences from the soap but some of them were shot quite exactly in the same manner as the soap. Live on tape. However, there was an ability out here to edit them.

[bctt tweet=”It’s not a question of getting something done; it’s a question of finding the right moment to do it.” via=”no”]

To me, it sounds like what you’ve gone through created an advantage that you had. Being able to “fix it in post” can make people lazy. The problem with post is you can’t go back oftentimes. It’s hard to go back. If you’ve learned that you need to have everything right because there is no editing and you carry those skills over to when you have editing, it creates an even greater advantage.

Being trained to direct for the theater to direct actors for theater also has an enormous advantage in the sense that you’re midwifing a performance. You’re working with the actors to build it in such a way that it will last over time, instead of being it disposable. It’s not a question of getting it once. It’s a question of finding the right moment that’s right and inevitable that it can be repeated many times. You’re also ultimately turning it over to the actor. You’re trying to guide them in a certain way in which as it grows in their hands and as you lose control over it, hopefully it’s still something you would recognize as what you wanted to see to begin with. That’s the goal as opposed to the potential advantage that one has that can be abused, that one has in doing a feature film, single-camera comedy, half-hour or an hour drama. You only have to get it once and you can get lucky or you can cast somebody that’s not an actor and cut together a performance that works under the circumstances but is not replicable.

Is it fair to say that, in general, theater actors are much stronger actors than television or film for that reason? That they have more control, they have to be more trusted?

They have different acting chops. They have a definitely different day in and day out chops. People who are truly great film actors, they also develop a set of skills in relation to the filmmaking process. Wherever you start your journey into a profession, you develop certain muscles. The muscles you develop for your initial task will always be your strongest. You’ll have to develop other muscles as you add the other disciplines to your thing. They’ll always be playing catch up. If you start off for example as a director, as somebody who’s a photographer, for example. You could start your career as a film director, as a still photographer and develop a great eye and great visual composition sets. You’re going to have to acquire skills of working with actors and working with techs and stuff like that along the way to become the complete package. It will be amazing if you get good at those things. That would be wonderful but probably your selling point is always going to somehow be the thing you started with your eye. In the case of the visual artist, in my case, it will always be the skills that a theater director has.

The reason I asked that question as you watch a movie or TV show and someone from a different discipline, a musician, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, show up on screen and they do a competent job. It’s difficult for me to imagine them doing as competent a job in live theater because the great benefit is you can do multiple takes. You can edit it and you can make someone look as good as possible.

I’ve never thought about that, but I would say it’s impossible. I had the great honor to have worked with and directed a lot of NBA stars and NFL stars.

I saw LeBron James in Trainwreck and it wasn’t bad.

We have to put an asterisk on this. LeBron James in Trainwreck was a genius. I’m ready to work with LeBron James. That’s different. I’m not talking about LeBron James. I will refrain from naming famous basketball players who simply can’t act who I have to somehow integrate into because the network wants the stunt of having a Chicago Bull walk into the ER on ER. They can promote that one clip and I got to make him look like he can say a few lines.

There’s been this State Farm series of commercials that have Chris Paul in them. He’s the Houston Rockets point guard. They have added James Harden. James Harden has become a bit of a thing. He’s got this big bushy beard besides being a great basketball player. He has this interesting brand. He’s noticeable. The guy has zero personality, nothing. Whoever directed this recent commercial, there’s no talking in it. It’s all voiceover work. They’re all standing there and then there’s voiceover work about their conversation that’s supposed to be, “We know each other so well, we don’t even have to talk.” Do I have to assume they’re like, “What do I do with this total dud? How do I make this interesting?” It was a clever directorial decision to do that.

I don’t come from that world at all. I had to learn. I come from the live world. I come from the circus. I come from when you see a stunt. It’s somebody doing the real thing. I’ve had to learn, “There are a lot of ways we can fake this and trick this,” and you can go in some ways much farther into the land of fantasy that people enjoy seeing through the trickery of the camera and the editing process. I’ve had to learn all that. My first inclination is always to find out, “How do we do this?”

Using your advantages and using your experience, these things differentiate you. You’re good so you continue to get work and get better. You have this long run with Murphy Brown. At some point in time in life, you decide you want a real job. You decide you’re going to become a professor. You’re going to wind down the directing and you’re going to start teaching. You’re LA-based for a while. You lost your East Coast ability to deal with the cold, so you’ve been here for a long time. You become a professor and that’s how I got to know you. I was like, “There’s a Comedy program at USC. I need to meet these guys. For the audience, I forced my friendship on Barnet. He didn’t realize I was doing it but that’s what I’ve done. Now, you’re a professor. How is being a professor in teaching differently than being a director and directing?

[bctt tweet=”There are plenty of reasons there’s empty space on the shelves. One is that no one wants the imaginary thing that’s there. ” via=”no”]

The truth of the matter is that there’s a real overlap on the skill set. I use the term intentionally that I believe in that has a degree of modesty built into it. That is when I’m working with actors, I talk about the director as a midwife. I talk to my students that way. My reason for doing that is to try to inculcate a certain amount of humility in directors, which does not come naturally to the people who opt to be directors. If the stereotype is there’s a certain amount of ego and egomaniacal through the directing personality, I try to remind myself and my students that somebody else is doing every job. Every identifiable job that the audience gets to benefit from, every job that you can put your hand on is being done by somebody else. The actors are doing the actions and saying words. The writer wrote the script. The lighting people are lighting, somebody else is shooting. What the hell else? Do we get the big bucks for saying action and cut? It can’t be exactly that. Amongst some other things, one of the biggest things we do is try to elicit from all these different artists their best. Get the best out of them that they have to offer in the telling of a particular story. That’s what we’re doing. I call it midwifing.

Inevitably, there’s a certain amount of what you could call teaching. At various times, directors have thought of themselves as teachers and not been afraid to act as teachers. In the best theaters in the ‘30s in America, it was common for the director, and sometimes still in England, at the beginning of a rehearsal process to lecture the cast for a few days on the meaning of the play and on the social history behind it. All things that would supposedly inform the work. Directors were not shy about teaching. There’s a real overlap is what I’m saying. I would never say or act like I’m teaching actors on a set. I’m doing a lot of things that good teachers do. I’m encouraging inquiry encouraging. I’m encouraging exploration. I’m encouraging their process. I’m throwing in things. I’m sneaking in ideas that I hope that they will find to be their own or make their own. I’m giving constructive critique. This tremendous natural overlap between the two processes. At a certain point in my life, after having done it on sets and on stage for so long, I was ready to come out and do it straight ahead and say, “I’m your teacher.”

I’ve sat in on your class once. I’m so terrible because I’m sitting in this class with a bunch of twenty-something USC undergrads. I keep raising my hand, asking questions and contributing. I’m this random dude who dropped into one class. I can’t help myself. I was enthralled by the ideas in there, even without the full context of the class. You teach directing the comedy, that’s your class. You have fifteen students. You’re teaching them your process of directing the comedy.

They hopefully have their own styles. I’m teaching a way of thinking about the work and a way of approaching work. I make a real point at the beginning and reiterated as many times as necessary that I am teaching my process. I am teaching something that evolved over time that I found suited me and who I am and that has proved successful for one director whose name is Barnet. It may or may not be the process for them, but it’s good to have a place to begin. It’s good to have a coherent process to work with and to try out as one is essentially and inevitably going to evolve and develop one’s own process. They will each, if they’re to be directors, have to ultimately rewrite the book for themselves. How do you begin? The truth of the matter is that there’s not a lot of teaching directing anywhere. Compared to other disciplines, it’s under-instructed. Even theater schools that have directing programs, they all have acting programs. Many have playwriting programs. There are few that teach directing.

Even fewer that teaches directing comedy.

INJ 32 | Directing Comedy
Directing Comedy: Directors have thought of themselves as teachers in the theater.


That was the market. You’re the guy who knows it. What’s the market absence? The space on the shelf that was empty that I saw that I knew that there was no such thing as a course in directing comedy anywhere.

There’s demand for it too, that’s the key. There are plenty of reasons there’s empty space on the shelves because no one wants the imaginary thing that’s there. The key is there’s demand for this thing that doesn’t exist. When I was in your class, I remember you talking about looking for these emotional moments. You were doing an exercise where people had a portion of a script from a pilot that you had shot and they were trying to identify these moments of emotion, powerful moments. Does this sound familiar?

It’s identifying the moments.

I’m pretty impressed I remember that.

It’s essential. To say a moment is like saying the atom, saying the smallest, most basic particle. That’s how much I know about physics. I want to take away the word powerful and emotional. A moment is something that is marketable. It doesn’t have to come in the package of strong emotion, but it has to be landed. There’s meaning. There’s something that stops us or breaks our rhythm to a certain extent. Something lands in a moment.

For a lot of people, they’re not familiar when a director takes these written words and then turns them into words, actions, feelings, movements and all of this stuff. You are taking these words and turning it into behavior. The students were debating and talking about where the moments were. You would discuss it with them and you give them feedback. What’s beautiful about your class is it’s not just conceptual. You would show them the scene that you had directed and they could identify how those words turned to behavior.

In that particular lecture, I was using my scene. As a matter of fact, it was a scene from a series that I did the pilot of and then did the series called My Boys. That is the only time in the entire semester that I used my own work. Most of the time is spent with them bringing in their own work and putting it up. In that case, I’m guiding, showing and demonstrating where there are moments that they have not seen. What is a moment? It’s hard to explain but it’s obvious when it’s pointed out to you. That’s my job.

[bctt tweet=”If you want to get really familiar with something, read ten books about it. If you want to become an expert, you do it. ” via=”no”]

Now you’re writing a book. You’re writing something. You’re trying to take what you do in your class and now you’re translating it onto a piece of paper. You’re living in a world where for your entire life you took words from paper and translate it into behavior. Now, you’re faced with the opposite where you’re taking behavior and you’re putting it into words.

That’s why it’s hard for me. It makes my muscles sore every day.

You’re not a person who complains. Over the last few years when I’ve known you, the one thing where you groan a bit is when you talk about your writing.

It’s a monkey on my back. What has happened since we last saw each other is that I am writing quite a bit and fluidly. It’s not a matter of I stare at the blank page and I have no ideas. That’s not it at all. As a director and as a storyteller, what you’re trying to do is unearth a structure. All those words and all the particulars and all that stuff in a certain way are dressing. The dressing is important and clothes are important, but the clothes don’t go anywhere unless you have a skeleton. Building that skeleton, building the structure that underlies it that points to what we’re doing is hard. Finding the right structure is hard. That has been a real process in telling this story.

You’ve been experimenting with the different structures?

I’ve gone off for a long time in one direction and then say, “There’s a lot of good stuff here and I know this stuff is going to be useful somewhere sometime. If I keep going in that direction, I’m trying to get to New York. I’ve got my face pointed toward San Diego and I’ll never find New York in that direction. I’ve got to turn around. I’ve got to reorient.” That’s why I groan.

INJ 32 | Directing Comedy
Directing Comedy: Clothes are important, but the clothes don’t go anywhere unless you have a skeleton.


One of the things that is striking about writing is the world’s best writers groan about writing. I got serious about fixing my writing ten years ago. One of my things is if you want to get familiar with something, read a book about it. If you want to get familiar and you want to learn what’s going, read ten books about it. If you want to become an expert, you do it. I jumped into ten books. There are two clear messages that come from the world’s best writers, at least the ones who write about writing. The one is you need to create a practice. The second is it’s going to be a painful practice. Even for them, they talk about it in that way, “What’s the classic like?” Do you want to write something? Sit in front of a typewriter and open a vein. Doubly are both going to be painful and it’s going to have to come from you. It’s not coming from anywhere else. This is going to happen. It’s a matter of when and how.

It’s where I put my time now when I’m not teaching. I’m doing other things as well. I directed a play in New York not long ago, a new play premiere. I’m going back to New York to direct one of the episodes of the reboot of Murphy Brown. I keep a hand in that way but most of my time when I’m not teaching, I’m trying to figure out this book.

You have a lot going on but you consume, you read, you watch TV, you watch movies, you listen to music. What stands out to you right now as really good? Not just what’s good, but is there something that you’re like, “Wow?”

The Death of Stalin blew my head off. That was a fantastic movie. It was a deadly serious subject treated as an all-out farce, but organic farce based on real human behavior. It had the fever pitch of farce. It’s absolutely brilliant groundbreaking. It’s the toughest thing to do in the world as far as I could tell.

I haven’t seen it yet. It’s on my list. I’ve been told that it’s a little like In The Loop.

It’s the same director and definitely, you can see that he has mastered this medium. He’s got this particular ear but applying it to these historical characters with the stakes and the events that we associate with it, with The Purges.

It’s darker than In The Loop.

It’s riskier and to succeed in something that risky is amazing. Right at the moment, I finished watching Barry on HBO with Bill Hader. It’s a terrific new series. To move to another comedy, because I’m a comedy imperialist, that’s an important thing to know about me. I call a lot of things that other people question comedies. I just saw the first episode of Patrick Melrose. Patrick Melrose is a series of books by an English writer. You would think to defy adaptation, but they’ve got Benedict Cumberbatch doing it on Showtime. The way to navigate the tone in that is something that only a great comic director can handle.

This idea of being a comedy imperialist, I saw some quote from Quentin Tarantino. He describes himself as a comedy director.

He’s right, and that’s one of my big problems is I am tempted to spend too much time arguing with the world about these things. It’s not necessary. Tarantino knows what he’s doing and comedy is what he’s doing, so is Iannucci and so are they doing comedy with Patrick Melrose. A lot of people will watch it and go, “Is he out of his mind? The guy is shooting up heroin. His life is a mess. He’s been abused.”

[bctt tweet=”The only secret to success is to do and to persevere in doing.” via=”no”]

I’m on your side when it comes to this stuff.

Thank you. I’m counting on you.

Last question, the secret to success everyone knows but can’t seem to do, what is it?

The secret of success is to do it and persevere. There’s no question about that. You have to jump off a cliff and develop wings on the way down. That’s how we learn. The secret of success is to always scare the shit out of yourself. The secret of success is to do the thing that at the moment terrifies you or makes you most uncomfortable, not recklessly but to do that with eyes open and stay on the edge. Every time I found that I was getting good at what I was doing, so good that I could go to sleep for a couple of minutes in the course of doing. Take little naps during the day, is when I knew I had to make a change. I made a lot of changes in my career. I moved from theater to multi-camera, television to single-camera film back to live audiences. I had to develop a lot of different skills and then to teaching. To facing young people again without makeup and in each case it’s to be learning. To be always learning for me is the secret of success.

It’s this interesting thing where you’re never going to be completely ready to do that thing because in order to do that thing well, you have to be doing that thing for a long time and learning how to do that thing. Barnet, thanks so much for doing this. This was fun.

Thanks for having me. It’s a real pleasure. It’s always fun talking to you.


Resources mentioned:

About Barnet Kellman

INJ 32 | Directing ComedyBarnet Kellman is the Robin Williams Endowed Chair in Comedy at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where he is a Professor of Directing and the founder and Co-Director of USC’s Comedy program. He is even better known for directing theater and television – specializing in comedy. He has received two Emmy awards and seven Emmy nominations for his work directing the television show Murphy Brown.



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