David Andrew Lloyd is a comedy writer who has optioned several screenplays. He is the author if the book “Brain Like Twain”. Here is a link to the website:
Q: What is ‘Brain Like Twain” about?
A: “Brain Like Twain” reveals some of Mark Twain’s amazing work habits, so students and aspiring writers can improve their own writing by modeling after a true genius. Although he was a comic freak, “a great and sublime fool” as he called himself, he was extremely disciplined. Twain would start work at 7:30 everyday, skip lunch and write into the early afternoon. When writing “Huckleberry Finn,” he was so engrossed in his work that he would write into the night “six days in the week; & once or twice I smooched a Sunday when the boss [his wife] wasn’t looking.”
Q: What inspired you to write the book?
A: friend gave me the initial spark, and then everything unfolded from there. I thought I knew Twain pretty well from college. I always loved his ability to expose our human flaws through humor. However, when I became reacquainted with him, I realized he’s a greater mentor than I ever imagined. The knowledge I’ve acquired doing the research has really helped my own writing, and friend constantly tell me how specific lessons have inspired them.
Q: What made you interested in comedy writing?
A: Comedy is the only thing anybody should ever take seriously. Human nature is absurd, totally absurd, and I don’t think you can write honestly about society without writing comedy. Besides, it makes me laugh, and that’s a good thing.
Q: What are some of the screenplays you have sold or optioned and who did you sell them or option them to?
A: My partner and I presently have a script set up with the producers of “TED”, and we’ve sold and optioned scripts to Fox/Searchlight, Franchise Pictures and Paramount, plus a few other production companies.
Q: Who are some of your influences?
A: I’ve always loved humor, the Marx Brothers, George Carlin, Monty Python. They get to the heart of the joke in a big way, but they also have a subtle touch of insight that makes you think. In college, I instantly became addicted to good satire, obviously Twain; but also Voltaire, Swift, Wilde and the Seven Romans Satirists, who invented the art (and were all killed, banished or forced to commit suicide when they upset the emperor…oops). They could all say more in one witty line than most people could write in an entire book.
Q: What advice would you give to someone getting into comedy writing?
A: Hmmm. Be funny. If you can’t be funny, at least be persistent. One of my favorite writing quotes is attributed to several authors, Mark Twain, Robert Benchley, and that silly Greek Anonymous. “It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing,” one (or all of them) said, ”but I couldn’t give it up because I was too famous.”
Q: What makes someone funny?
A: I think your childhood environment has a huge influence. For example, the Marx Brothers grew up in a very funny atmosphere. Minnie pushed them to perform at a young age, and, if you ask any mom, it’s not easy corralling five boys, which must have created greater humor – at least for the boys. However, the way we each react to our environment differs. Some people deal with problems through anger, others through humor. Both can be dangerous. Mark Twain’s humor almost got him shot – twice! So be careful who you ridicule.
Q: What do you like about Hollywood?
A: The decadence! There’s always something to make fun of. Plus, you’re also around a lot of creative people. Sure, some can be total flakes and freaks, but enough about me. You can feed off the creative energy of others, and the weather’s not bad.
Q: What don’t you like about it?
A: The frustration can be brutal. It’s all peaches & cream, until the studio executive in charge of your project gets fired, and their replacement scraps everything on the production slate, including your screenplay. Ouch! Or the actor ruins his own career doing a crappy film, and never makes yours. I’ve been there, done that. I tell my friends my tombstone will read, “Here lies David Andrew Lloyd; who wrote the screenplay that came in second to [Insert Title].” I’d never call out the actor, not while I’m still alive, but Roger Ebert called it was the worst movie of that year. If he had done our story first, he might have had the best film. LOL.
Q: Tell me a writing joke.
A: writing joke? Hmmm…Okay, I heard this one from Fred Willard, “How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?”…”Changes! It doesn’t need any changes!” Yeah, we writers are a stubborn breed. If you want to end on a Twain-ism, this humorous tip on writing seems to be popular with political correspondents these days, “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)