060 – TV Writer/Producer Danny Zuker

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Danny Zuker is a TV Writer and Producer known for Modern Family, Just Shoot Me, Off Centre, and Grace Under Fire.

Show Notes

Danny Zuker on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0958521/

Danny Zuker on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_Zuker

Danny Zuker on Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/dannyzuker

Danny Zuker on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dannyzuker/

Michael's Online Screenwriting Coursehttps://michaeljamin.com/course

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Join My Watchlisthttps://michaeljamin.com/watchlist

Automated Transcripts

Danny Zuker (00:00):
So like, the people interested on the podcast who are aspiring and whatnot. Yeah. I mean, it is, and you can attest to this, and everybody I know can attest to it. Is he getting punched in the face contest? I mean, and there's no shame in stopping. It's just how many times he can get punched in the face. Because you will continually, I mean, I recently been punched, you know, I did a pilot and it was like all the way and boom, punched in the face and it's like, it never stops hurting. And at some point you just decide not to get up. I'm just not there yet.

Michael Jamin (00:26):
You're listening to Screenwriters. Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

(00:34):
Hey everybody, welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I'm Michael Jamin. I got a special, very special guest today, Mr. Danny Zucker. You don't know who he is. You don't know who. I barely, we worked together on many for many years on a show called Just Shoot Me. But I want to, man, I want to, this guy is, you don't understand this guy in the industry. He's known as a joke machine. He is known as the guy who comes in and hits that home run joke that makes everyone just laugh out loud in every episode. And so, let me just talk about his credits and I'm gonna bring him in. He's got a ton of credits. So I guess we'll talk about this, but we, I guess he started out on the Arsenio Hall Show as a joke writer, evening Shade, which I didn't, I forgot about that cuz I was a PA on that show. But not when he was there. Roseanne, listen to his credits. Roseanne Grace Under Fire fired up. He probably, do you want, is it okay if I mention No, I guess I shouldn't mention

Danny Zuker (01:26):
That one. No, you can totally mention all the terrible

Michael Jamin (01:28):
Ones. <Laugh> jhu Me. We were, we, we worked together. Jesse Off Center, which he created Coupling the Men's Room, another show he created Surviving Suburbia, the Unusuals modern Family, which you've just got off of. So he was there for many seasons. But then also God the Devil and Bob Norm watching Ellie Oliver Bean come to Papa Stacked. I mean, dude

Danny Zuker (01:54):
Act I'm glad you finished on Stacked By

Michael Jamin (01:56):
Though. Yeah, that was a, yeah, <laugh>. But what a man, dude, you have some, you have some you in in this podcast right now, I would say you have the second best credits.

Danny Zuker (02:07):
Who have you had who've had

Michael Jamin (02:09):
<Laugh>? No, I'm talking about me. Oh, no, your, your, your credits are fantastic, dude. I mean, a

Danny Zuker (02:14):
Lot.

Michael Jamin (02:15):
Oh,

Danny Zuker (02:16):
But great memoir in me when I want to get out of the business.

Michael Jamin (02:19):
Oh, but also you do, well, you, well, you can start writing it now, I suppose. <Laugh>. How dare you. How dare. But also can I even talk about this? Do you have a famous book about where you, you and Trump? You got into a this is before he was president, right?

Danny Zuker (02:34):
Yeah, it was, it was I think 2014 back when everybody hated Trump. Not just people who could read

Michael Jamin (02:41):
<Laugh>, but, and so you just started trolling him on Twitter

Danny Zuker (02:44):
Just randomly and just a little, like, just a small little tweet. It was like, and then he exploded and then we went onto a month long with hundreds of tweets back and forth. And if you go back and look at it, cause it went rebal when he got the nomination. But if you look at it, he didn't like I was just a beta test. There's nothing he said about anybody else, whether it's like whoever he wants to talk about that he didn't first try out on me to no effect

Michael Jamin (03:08):
Really.

Danny Zuker (03:09):
And always bugged me when the Democrats would say like well it's so hard to fight against. It's like, no, just read what I did. It's not that hard. I feel like anybody could dunk on him.

Michael Jamin (03:18):
I remembered thinking though you, that he picked the wrong fight. You don't pick a, a Battle of Witch with professional comedy writer. That's not what you want to do,

Danny Zuker (03:25):
<Laugh>. It's all I do. It's, yeah, it's like, it's like me getting into a Dunking contest with LeBron. It's not gonna work out. I have one skill period. I can't do anything other than this. It's all I was trained to do.

Michael Jamin (03:36):
And this was at Modern Family where you were a writer, and did you, did you wanna, did you bounce off any jokes off of anybody?

Danny Zuker (03:42):
No, in fact, I mean, I would, he started to go after Modern Family, like when he would, you know, and that became like something he would pick out at that point that when he started doing that, I went and I talked to the cast and the other writers and the cre co-creator Steve and Chris, and I said, Hey, like, you know, my show, I would just go forward, but it's your show, right? And they were like, no, get him. It's like, fine. And it was like, I have to say, like back then, you just have to remember like, he was a, he was such a safe target. Like I would have to scroll for scroll and scroll and scroll to find one tweet that supported him. Like one reply that supported him. And I'm sure it came from somebody in his office. What was weird and why I knew like, oh, shit's different is it went viral again in like 20 16, 20 17.

(04:31):
At which point I got a lot of like, you are an asshole. Y O U R. I got like, it was like, there was a lot of hate. Like people were on his side all of a sudden. It was like, what? Because it was Republicans, he was a joke. Right. You know? Right. and, and so it was like, whoa. It was really weird. And it was yeah, I mean it was, you know, I, I continued, I continued to be a voice, but, you know, I I, I had threats. I was hacked. I had a lot of stuff go down that was like sort of yeah, it was like, it, you know, it, it got a little bit scary. I mean, it's scarier for women who went up against

Michael Jamin (05:05):
Him. But at, at some point though, did he just block you?

Danny Zuker (05:08):
Oh, within the middle of that. And then by the end, after months, he blocked me and I stayed blocked all through his presidency. <Laugh>.

Michael Jamin (05:15):
And then how did that become a book?

Danny Zuker (05:17):
Well, I was doing it like at the 20, what was it? The the midterms, the 2018 midterms. I was part of like a democratic affiliation. Like there was some fundraiser. And they had asked me if I wanted to do like a live reading of my Twitter war. And like, you know, Tim Simons from a VE was there and he said he had an un enviable job of being Trump. And we did it. And then another friend of mine who does a lot of this stuff says we should put that out as a book. And, and then we just, I just wound up doing it.

Michael Jamin (05:47):
That's fantastic.

Danny Zuker (05:48):
Yeah. I mean, it's just a little, it's a hundred pages. It's like, it could not be sort of, and and, and I comment on the little tweets as they go along and Yeah. So <laugh>. But and then I gave it to ch Yeah. And then I gave it to charities like, you know, Uhhuh legal aid for people at the border and Planned Parent, like all the things he, oh

Michael Jamin (06:04):
Good. Oh, now tell me. So I don't, I remember, it's so funny cause we worked together 20 something years

Danny Zuker (06:10):
Ago. I know a lot,

Michael Jamin (06:12):
But I, you remember, just so my audience knows, you were the guy who all of us wanted to impress in the room to make laugh. You were the guy cuz it was your approval. Yeah, it was. Because if we could make Danny laugh then Paul Yeah. Because you were the home run hitter.

Danny Zuker (06:29):
But that, but that room had, I felt like that room had a lot of heavy hitters. It's very flattering to know that. I mean, I always thought, you know, I thought you and your partner Siever were like, it was just, everybody was good.

Michael Jamin (06:40):
We were, we were all baby writers. But it, I mean there were definitely, it was a really talented, I think that might have been one of the most talented rooms I've been in, to be honest.

Danny Zuker (06:47):
It was certainly one of the, it was one of those rooms where like, cuz Just Shoot Me was a show that really survived on jokes. Like, it was like, the way it was built, it was like, it wasn't, you know, it wasn't about like a lot of touchy-feely moments, you know, or we'd get to them occasionally. But it, what it was most successful at was like, you know, what are the s in that world? Yeah. And, and, and so, and we had a lot, you know, it was a lot of really good people. So,

Michael Jamin (07:11):
Man, and then, but you started, I forgot about this as a, as a joke writer on the Arsenio Hall Show.

Danny Zuker (07:17):
Yeah, it was weird. I mean, I got <laugh>, I mean, I was quite young. I was like, I think like 24 or 25, and I managed to get like a like a pa job on that show. Cause I'd worked on as a pa on another show with a producer there. And anyway, I got there and, you know, we're doing run through things and it, you know, writers there had 13 week contracts. And in the first 13 weeks that show became an amazing hit. Like he was on the Coming Time magazine and he wound up purging a lot of the staff on a Friday. And I just went home. This, you know, I went home that night and now long ago, and on a typewriter looking at newspapers typed up a bunch of jokes and on Monday handed up, you know, my submission to some of the other writers there to put it in with the packet.

(08:03):
You know, they, because I knew they were looking and they knew I wanted to write. And on Monday, like he did one of my jokes. And then like on Tuesday he did two of my jokes. And on Thursday I had a good amount of jokes in. And on that Friday, the following Friday, he hired me. Wow. So it was like, but I, you know, I'd been doing jokes, you know, I don't, I wasn't, it's funny, I was like, we were doing a move in our house, like we were remodeling, something had to move out and we get, so go through all of these boxes and in one box I found, oh, my Arsenio jokes, like a big book of my Arsenio jokes. And I thought, this is a gold mine. I can sort of recycle some of these and put them in things. And I started reading through them and they were also shit. It was like, it was nothing salvageable <laugh>, but I guess it worked for there.

Michael Jamin (08:43):
That's so, you know, cause I was a joke writer on the mic and Maddie's show for a little bit, and I had this

Danny Zuker (08:48):
That's right.

Michael Jamin (08:49):
But I would go through my material. I, I have the same like a binder like gold. Right. And I looked at it recently, I was, was like, there's nothing in here. It's terrible. It's

Danny Zuker (08:57):
Terrible. I would never hire this fucking guy.

Michael Jamin (08:59):
<Laugh>. But, but was it your goal, like in high school to be like a on to work, like late night or what? Or scripted?

Danny Zuker (09:07):
Yeah, it was. I mean, I really, you know, I wanted, I, I mean I, in high school I was doing some standup poorly, you know, cause I had nothing to say and, but I really did. I wanted to be on Letterman or snl. And and, you know, I got outta college and I did, like, I put together this reel that people seemed to like, and I got into Letterman it as like, you know, I talked to like Gerard Mulligan and a couple people there, and I mission and then, and I got my first rejection letter from them and the second one from snl. And and and I still have those. And they're, they, they, they're, because, you know, you go through that. I wound up getting a job with but glad up getting a job with Howard Stern, who was doing some box pilots.

(09:44):
He was gonna be the show that followed Joan Rivers Show. Right. And they never went, but it was, it was a couple months producing a week of shows, you know, practice shows. And well, a couple good things came outta that one. I've been friends with him for 30 something years as a result. Bob who was in my wedding, and right. But then, but then I also met a producer on that show who liked me, and he brought me out to, you know, he brought me out. He said, I have a a pa job out here if you want it. And, you know, so it all led from that. So,

Michael Jamin (10:12):
But you never decided to like resubmit to SNL or

Danny Zuker (10:16):
Letterman? I did. I mean, I was, you know, I was absolutely planning, but then I wound up getting an opportunity to be, you know, I, I got, I, I I wanted to. And then I came out here. It's funny because before I got the Arsenio Hall ugh, this is a really dark, like, horrible story. Before I got the Arsenio Hall show <laugh>, I got I was like up for like, to be a baby writer. If you remember Pat Sack had a late night talk show mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. Yeah. That was Pat s Show. And was a lot of my friends, a lot of good people were there. Like, you know, Fred Wolf who went on to write a lot of stuff for all those movies for David Spade and Chris Farley. But like, so I was submitting packages and the head writer there, this guy Monty, I don't mind trashing him on this.

(10:52):
He, he he put me through the ringer. Like I kept submitting like over the course of you know, weeks of submitting to him and with notes. And I was like, fine. I was like young and prolific. Anyway, I wind up going in and I get there and there's another guy, there's writer Rob Young, who went on to write Forleo for many, many years. And he and Mon said, here's the thing, you're both baby writers, so if you don't mind, I'll make you a baby writer team. You know, you'll means splitting a salary and all that and you have to be okay with it. And we're like, I was broke and had gotten no credit card. We were like, yeah, let's do it. My family was in town, my mom and my two sisters and and my stepdad and we're like all getting ready to go out and celebrate.

(11:34):
And as I'm getting out the door, the phone rings and it's Monty. And he said, you know what? We've re he gave me a key to the office, by the way. We've reconsidered. We're just gonna go with Rob. Oh my God. Like, after offering me the job. And I literally like my knees buckle and it was like the darkest meal ever. So I was really depressed for exactly 12 hours. And the next day Marla, this woman who went up to Bruce, the Arsenio Hall show called me and said, I can't offer you a writing job yet, but if you want, you can come in here and be like, like a, like a segment pa. And I was like, yes. And so that's all I wanted was the opportunity. So it was like literally I had disappointment for 12 hours and

Michael Jamin (12:14):
But still that is crippling that disappointment.

Danny Zuker (12:16):
It was crippling. I've never forgotten

Michael Jamin (12:18):
The Yeah. I feel it just the way you said

Danny Zuker (12:21):
It, it was really cruel. I mean, it was like I described, I mean, to like the people interested on the podcast who are aspiring and whatnot. I mean, it is, and you can attest to this, and everybody I know can attest to, is he getting punched in the face contest? I mean, and there's no shame in stopping. It's just how many times he can get punched in the face. Because you will continually, I mean, I've recently been punched, you know, I did a pilot and it's like all the way going and boom, punched in the face and it's like, it never stops hurting. And at some point we just decide not to get up. I'm just not there yet, but, you know. Right. But but

Michael Jamin (12:53):
People don't, yeah. I think that's important to know. Like even us at our level, <laugh> is none of it's a cake walk. Everything's, you know, a lot of rejection.

Danny Zuker (13:03):
It, it's true. And I'll never forget this cuz so there's a writer under studio Hall show. He's about like eight or nine years older than I was. And, and like we would pretty young staff and, but, and we were going like, all the way to Vegas, why did you ever come to Vegas with us? And he's like, you know, and he pulled me aside, he took me for a lunch. He goes, he said, you, you're good. You don't wanna stay here in late night the whole, your whole career. You should, like, I'm taking the time. A friend of mine is doing a pilot. I'm helping him with it, and I'm pu you know, and I think you should be thinking about like starting to speck out half hour. And I thought, okay, you know, he's very avan Well, that pilot he was working on was, and his friend was Larry David, who was working on the Seinfeld pilot. He was Larry Charles. Right. and, and, and, and, you know, so he, you know, it was a real inspirational thing that moved me forward. And years later when I'm first getting like my first like, you know, I'm a story editor on like evening shade or one of those things. And I remember running, talking to him and I said, it must be nice to not worry about the next thing. And he is like, oh, I worry every single day. And

Michael Jamin (14:01):
This is who, who? Larry Charles said this

Danny Zuker (14:02):
Larry. Charles, yeah. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I thought, like, I thought, is he just saying that to make me feel good? But then, you know, as I saw it, I saw like the people from friends leaving the hottest show on friends, like not, you know, scr you, it, it doesn't carry over. It's like you, you, you get in the door more. Right. But you're still subject to the same humiliations most of the time.

Michael Jamin (14:24):
Why did they tell you, why did he tell you you don't want to be in late night for the rest of your career?

Danny Zuker (14:29):
He thought that I want, he said, if you, he, he more said it this way. He said, do you want to be in late night? Do you have aspirations to do more? Because it can be a golden, you can, it can be like a golden handcuffs because what can happen is it becomes comfortable and you won't do anything else if you wanna do something else. And he thought, and he, and he said he thought I was good enough to, he thought I had the ability to go do something else. I, and and that was all it was. It wasn't like he was belittling it mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, he just knew I had aspirations beyond it. And he said, while you are working on something good is a great time to be working on the next thing. Right. And I, I, I, I took, I I, I took him seriously. I

Michael Jamin (15:06):
Mean, but you had to learn a whole different thing. You had to learn how to write stories. That's a

Danny Zuker (15:09):
Whole different thing. You don't, and but didn't you find this for you? So you started as a joke writer. You don't know if you can do it consistently until you do it. And then you find out, oh, I can. Right. It's the same thing with half hour. It's like, I don't know if I can do this consistently until you find out you can.

Michael Jamin (15:22):
But I remember the first couple specs I wrote the first were terrible. Then I wrote a couple that were decent. And then after wrote that first decent one that got me an agent. I remember the, I got soundbite agent and then I remember thinking, I, I don't know if I can do this again. I think that's it. I think I got lucky.

Danny Zuker (15:37):
Oh dude, I'm utter, even to this day, I have to tell you, like I've, I, I'm utterly convinced that every job I have is the last job I'll ever have for my whole career. And that this is the script where I'll be found out.

Michael Jamin (15:53):
<Laugh>. Yeah. Yeah.

Danny Zuker (15:55):
Where the, where the big, where the, you know, it's it's imposter syndrome I think. But it, I don't know. I, I've never met somebody who turned into script and was so freaking proud of it to me or something like that. It's like, oh, this one's gonna kill where that was any good <laugh>. You know? Right. Like, that kind of confidence doesn't means you haven't like, questioned

Michael Jamin (16:11):
It. And what were those early days like for you on those early shows like Roseanne and like, what was that like?

Danny Zuker (16:17):
I loved it. I mean, cuz I, I did discover I was good at it and they were like, it was competitive, which I liked mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And it was like, you know, I held my own. I was like, you know, I did a really good, I felt like I did a really good job on Evening Shane. And they recommended me to Right. Roseanne. And I was a good hire there. And I'm, you know, the Roseanne was one of these situations where like 30 something writers, cuz she would hire all these people. But there was one like, main room and, and, and, or like, like two, you know, of the main writers. And it was very egalitarian, you know, it wasn't just like, okay, you're co-executive producer, you're gonna be in that main room. Or the, it was egalitarian. And, you know, I had worked, you know, as a second job. I worked myself into the main room. Now keep in mind that also meant working on weekends, but it was still,

Michael Jamin (17:00):
What do you mean as a second job? What do you mean?

Danny Zuker (17:03):
Well, no, it wasn't a second job. It was like I said that you would, I, it meant that if I got into the main room, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I would, you know, I would work longer for the same about someone here. Oh, oh, I see what you're saying. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (17:16):
Yeah. Right. And and they were, yeah. Cause the hours were really tough on Roseanne. I remember

Danny Zuker (17:20):
They were hard. No.

Michael Jamin (17:21):
Yeah. I remember getting, it's funny, I remember getting interviewed to be in the night pa on Roseanne. I was like, the night pa Yeah. You start around midnight. I'm like, oh, start at midnight. <Laugh>. That doesn't sound like a good job.

Danny Zuker (17:35):
Yeah. I remember, I think at one 30 in the morning, Rob hen at one point saying, guys, if we just let's focus, we can get out here early

Michael Jamin (17:42):
<Laugh>. But he wasn't. So what time, what were your hours? Like what time did you usually work until <laugh>?

Danny Zuker (17:50):
It depended, but like, you know, cause she would blow up the script several times and you had to deliver it. Yeah. And you know, sometimes we'd have to start from scratch. And so, you know, we saw more than, you know, I saw several sunrises. We called it working from Howard to Howard. Like, you'd come in listening to Howard's Stern and you go home listening to Howard's.

Michael Jamin (18:04):
Oh my God. And that's, and that's rough. I mean, I've been at a couple

Danny Zuker (18:08):
Young though. It, it helped to be young.

Michael Jamin (18:10):
Right. I know. Imagine doing that now. You'd be, I don't know guys, it's getting, it's, it's right five-ish. It's getting dark <laugh>. I go, now

Danny Zuker (18:18):
I wanna eat my dinner at four 30 now. So it's like different

Michael Jamin (18:21):
<Laugh>. So then all your other jobs afterwards. Just interesting to follow. How were they just mostly connections or your agents submitting you? How have

Danny Zuker (18:29):
Almost all were con like, so what happened was, so yeah, so Evening Shade led to a connection because Victor Fresco was friends with Rob Yuen. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and then Tim Doyle who was coming in also. And, and, and so I got there from there. When I went to Grace Under Fire, it was Kevin Abbott. It was like a, a a splinter group. Us went on to that. From there Kevin wound up getting like a brillstein deal off of that. And then they were like, he, they were asking who else is good over there? And he recommended me. So then I got a Brillstein deal and did my first pilot. And when that didn't go, I was like on, I was somewhere like on vacation, you know, my wife. And, and I got a call from my agent that about like, Hey, they're looking to bring somebody on the show, just shoot me. And you know, you know, I read the script, which I liked. I, you know, I hadn't seen the first pilot and I was wrapping up and so I, I don't how many You were there from the beginning

Michael Jamin (19:23):
Right? From the pilot. Yeah.

Danny Zuker (19:24):
Yeah. So what was how many did you do that first season? Because I came in in, in at the le Yeah. So I came in on episode six of that

Michael Jamin (19:32):
First season. You were there, you were there for the first episode. Final episode of Season of Season One. I don't remember

Danny Zuker (19:37):
That. Yes, I was, yeah. Wow. Okay. Yeah. Cause we were, yeah. Cause I, yeah. And so yeah. So it was yeah. So that, and that's how that led. And then from there, you know, that led to a lot of different things. And, and you know, you know, it is, you start to develop a name, so then you at least Right, you can at least get in the door, you know, a little bit. So,

Michael Jamin (19:56):
And then, but even now, okay, so how does it work for you now? What is it? I mean, even like, I know you just, you just had a pilot what it felt like. What was that process like?

Danny Zuker (20:05):
Well, it's, it's, you know, it's, hopefully it's gonna be alive again. But we, we gotten into some, some, a little good news, but, you know, I was talking about a couple pilots, but like, I, you know, I got, I having the same manager as I'm at Brillstein again as a management company. And over Covid, they were like, Hey, you know, you wanna sit down with Kevin Neon as this idea?

Michael Jamin (20:25):
Oh, right.

Danny Zuker (20:26):
Kevin and I wound up writing something that I really love. And here

Michael Jamin (20:29):
We go. Let's give him, give him a shout out.

Danny Zuker (20:32):
Oh, you got

Michael Jamin (20:33):
It. Yeah, because Kevin was a Kevin, Kevin's so sweet. He was the voice on, he was actually the voice on this animated show. He did. He's over there and

Danny Zuker (20:41):
Oh really? Which one?

Michael Jamin (20:43):
Glen Martin dds. So I work with Kevin. Oh,

Danny Zuker (20:45):
That's right. I

Michael Jamin (20:46):
Remember that. And he's, so, he's the sweetest guy. And so he's

Danny Zuker (20:51):
Been, he's been a pleasure to be in my life. Yeah. So yeah, it's, it was a real blessing.

Michael Jamin (20:56):
Well, I was just gonna say, so when he put his book out, I was like, yeah, I gotta give, I gotta help promote his book. Cuz he's just the sweetest guy, you

Danny Zuker (21:02):
Know? Yeah, he is, he's the greatest. And, but, you know, there's a perfect example. So it's Kevin Neen who has always acclaim. I don't have no acclaim. And, and like we write a pilot That's great. And we still get fucked around with, you know, it's like, sort of what I was saying, you know, it's like there's no, it never ends

Michael Jamin (21:18):
<Laugh>. Yeah, no, it doesn't end. And so, yeah. So that, so just so people understand those work, so the, you've sold it to, well, your, your studio paid, you

Danny Zuker (21:27):
Don't just We the studio. Yeah. And it was like, developed for tbs. Okay. And and then the whole TBS structure went out the window mm-hmm. <Affirmative> like in, in the midst of doing it. And, and we just got screwed. Now it came back to us and knock wood, we have something. But, you know, and then, you know, I'm just developing other things right now.

Michael Jamin (21:46):
Yeah. So you'll try to shop that. Right. And so,

Danny Zuker (21:48):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean this is the, this is the first year though when I, because I've been working on this animated show, housebroken mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, it's their second season. It's on Fox. My first animated show I've ever

Michael Jamin (21:57):
Oh, I know that. Oh, wait, wait, I know that one.

Danny Zuker (22:00):
It's with, yeah, it's with Gabby Al Gabby and Jen Friton did, and Ku it's like bunch of pets and group therapy. Right. Which is really a funny idea. Right. And it was super fun to do when it ended, like, in, in, I don't know, September, I mean, we're still doing post-production, but when it ended in September, I had a couple offers to staff or thinking like this. And I just, I said I, unless it was something I really wanted to do, this was the first time I decided not to do that. Not to run really in my whole career because I, I felt like I don't want to do that right now. I'm tired of racing and I wanted to, and I got to travel and I wanted to do certain things and work on what I wanted to work on. Right. It just sort of have faith in the process. Cause cause you know how it is, you miss a lot of life if you don't do that. So

Michael Jamin (22:45):
Yeah, well it's, there's that, yeah. It's like that trade off. Do you go on staff or, or try to develop on your own and you're just

Danny Zuker (22:51):
Yeah. And I'll go, but I also, it's just a trade off of like, if I don't go on staff now and I wanna go on staff later, I'll find something. You know, it's like, I'm not gonna just not do it in there, you know? Right. So,

Michael Jamin (23:03):
Hey, it's Michael Jamin. If you like my videos and you want me to email them to you for free, join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos. These are for writers, actors, creative types. You can unsubscribe whenever you want. I'm not gonna spam you and it's absolutely free. Just go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist.

(23:27):
Right. So now you're just coming up with ideas or teaming up with other people.

Danny Zuker (23:31):
Yeah, I'm, I'm actually supervising a couple pilots that I like and I'm writing one, you know, developing one on my own. And then, and, and, you know, it's been super fun and, you know, I'll start submitting again when, you know, shows get picked up. But it was fun. I got to go around the world

Michael Jamin (23:45):
Interest Oh, go around the world for for what? Oh, oh, because you're on yourself. You, you

Danny Zuker (23:49):
Just Yeah, my, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Jamin (23:51):
Right. Interesting. And then, and so what was go, so your last, I guess your last big credit was Modern Family. So what was that a called, what was that like?

Danny Zuker (24:00):
Wow, I mean, what a credit. Oh, here's the thing. So I'm 44 when that show gets, you know, picked up and, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, especially like in comedy. Right. You know, you think like, I went prior, so it's kind of funny. So prior to modern Family, you know, a year before that happened, a full year, you know, we had a writer's strike. And right before that, Steve Leviton, who we know from Just Shoot me and, and Chris Le Lloyd were doing a show with Kelsey Grammar and Patricia Heaton called back to Back to You. Back to You. Yeah. Yeah. And and, and I didn't get hired for it, and I was like, really? I've done everything for, and it would've meant like I could've logged my deal and, and then the writer strike happened. It was the first time I went a year, like basically almost a year without working on anything.

(24:49):
Right. And so I started to spec out a couple, I specked out a pilot that was a little bit more dramatic and wound up getting hired on a drama that Noah Hawley was doing in New York called The Unusuals. And it was like, and it was really fun to do a drama and easier by a mile. Right. And so BEC but and it was like, I was the funny guy in this, like, people, other writers would come to me if they need because it had, shouldn't have had a rye aspect to it and this cop drama. And so I could punch up and I was able to write a drama a script. And it was great. And that show didn't get picked up. But then I had a couple offers on other dramas when Steve called me and said, Hey, Chris and I have done this pilot.

(25:27):
I think you should come in and take a look at it. You might be interested in it. Now in my head I'm thinking, I can't wait to watch this pilot and say, no, I don't wanna do it. Right. <laugh>, it's like hired other stuff. But I got five minutes into the Modern Family Pilot. And honestly, to me, it's the best comedy pilot I'd ever seen. Yeah. Like, for just like, it, it felt so fully formed already. Yeah. Like, but that cast, and it just like, everything clicked in a way that was magical. And I was like, I gotta get hired on this show. And so people asking, you know, it was gonna be a hit or did you know this? We had, there was a lot of pressure that first season to do something as good as the pilot and to be in that world. And, but we could feel it. We, you could, you know, you could feel something building like you could feel, yeah, this is something special. And and yeah, it was an amazing ride and I'm sort of glad to have that happen to me in my forties. It was particularly after a year of sort of, oh, slightly slimmer picking. So I really appreciated it and I knew it won't, I, I knew this doesn't go on forever. Like I know that that's a very unusual Yeah. And rarefied thing to happen.

Michael Jamin (26:35):
It's kind of like the last big, big hit, you

Danny Zuker (26:38):
Know? It feels like it, I mean, it, it, it's especially a broadcast hit. It's like Yeah. It just like, like it, it went from the beginnings of like, screaming is a possibility to like, no one watches network television at the time it's on anymore.

Michael Jamin (26:53):
Right. What's interesting about, I, I always love like writing in that show is like you've literally watched those children grow up to be adults, you know, on the

Danny Zuker (27:03):
Air same age. So Luke, the kid who played Luke and the kid who played Manny and Alex for that matter, Uhhuh <affirmative> were all the same age as my twin girls. And my son was younger. So I, I, I used to joke that I, I got to watch the kids who make me money grow up with the kids who cost my money

Michael Jamin (27:19):
<Laugh>, but, and how odd is it to write new stories? Like, it just seems like it's, you know, it's almost odd that because they're older now and you get, you're writing stories for them being older, you know?

Danny Zuker (27:29):
Yeah. But it's like you, that is actually, oh, for me, I did not mind that because I felt like in those first couple seasons it was very, you know, we in all purged our lives for like stories. Right. And so I was just waiting for my kids to grow up and do something more interesting.

Michael Jamin (27:48):
Right,

Danny Zuker (27:48):
Right. You know, you know, and I think, and, and I think a lot of us were, and so I didn't mind that you were moving into those, those stories. I mean, it gets hard though. I mean, you know, we joked like, you know, everybody's like, oh, you know, it wasn't as good in season eight or whatever. It's like, well, let me put it this way. It's like the most interesting family, you know, most like the Obama's, let's say when they're at a dinner party, they have at most 15 to 20 stories they tell me. Yeah, yeah. That's it. Tho those are their go and they're the most interesting family, you know, like, we did 250 episodes, or each family had like, it's hard, you know, you, you, it's, it's, it's different. And we're not like animated, so they have to be somewhat ground. It's all you can do like meta episodes, like you can do like on The Simpsons or things like that. Although I wish we could have <laugh>, but

Michael Jamin (28:34):
But I, and I always, cause I always talk about like how writer's mind their own life for stories. But you have a famous, you famously took a story from your life, I think, right? And you said in one of the, at least one of the episodes was the, it was the fire. It was the fire. I'm thinking of the firemen.

Danny Zuker (28:47):
Yeah. I didn't write it, but I, I told it in the room. I had had a okay. So yeah, it was like the, the, I live in Manhattan Beach and the the e EMT workers there are like famously good looking dudes. Like I Right. Some, I, it makes me question where I am on the sexuality spectrum.

Michael Jamin (29:06):
<Laugh>.

Danny Zuker (29:07):
Anyway, I wound up having an attack, which I thought was a kidney stone. It turned out to be gallbladder. It was like, but at two in the morning and I wake up and I feel like I'm being stabbed to death. Right. And my, my wife Annette. Annette, you gotta call nine one one. You gotta call 9 1 1. It's like, she was like, okay, it's gonna be fine. She calls 9 1 1 and then I'm on the floor and I don't see her, when I hear the, the firemen like knocking on the door like, Annette, Annette, where are you? And then she comes out of her closet and she's dolled up <laugh> like she, cause it was the middle of the night she put on, she's looking you up for the fire bitch. And we just did that word for there.

Michael Jamin (29:40):
Right. So you go in to, and you tell the story the next day in the writer's room, and then it goes right in the script.

Danny Zuker (29:45):
It's amazing. And it's amazing cause you start to lose any shame. So like, one of the things like I'd worked, I had known Brad Walsh who was part partnered with Corgan and Walsh. Right. I'd known him for many, many years before this. Worked on a show with him, a couple shows with him and never, and, but we get into that first season of Modern Family and we're like looking for stories. And he is like, and I see him struggling and he is like, okay, fine. My sister and I were part of an ice dancing team. <Laugh>. Like, it's something he wouldn't tell us ever except we needed it.

Michael Jamin (30:16):
He, you needed stories, right? Oh, you give, yeah.

Danny Zuker (30:19):
Yeah.

Michael Jamin (30:19):
You'll give your mother. I mean, people don't realize, like you're, it's late at night, you're trying to come up a story and like you do, you'll swab someone's arm for a story. You know, like a good story is so hard to get.

Danny Zuker (30:31):
Now I've only like, like there's a time on like, it was actually just shoot me, I think it was. But like, we're looking for a story on some kind. And it was the only time I'm tell it here, but it was like that my wife at the time, she, she actually said I would rather you didn't do this cuz they, they want, they'll watch her. But it was, it was, it was this very simple story. It was like, like I used to fly my in-laws out here before they moved out here to come see the grandkids. I was like, you know, of course you're gonna come over there and say I'd fly and I do this back and forth. Happy to do it. I'm a generous guy. It likes been good. But then I found out like they'd get the ticket and then at the airport would pay for the upgrade to first class <laugh>. And it like, sort of like, wait a minute, <laugh>. And it shouldn't have bothered me, but it did

Michael Jamin (31:13):
Wait. But, but they were paying it out, the upgrade outta of pocket. They were paying for the upgrade.

Danny Zuker (31:18):
They were paying for the upgrade. But it was like, I guess you pay for the upgrade. You like what? Like,

Michael Jamin (31:23):
Oh, if they can pay for that, when they could pay for the ticket, you're saying? Yes, I got,

Danny Zuker (31:25):
Well not even, but but of course that's me. That was not like, and even as when I was pitching the story, I said, this is gonna be my problem not there

Michael Jamin (31:33):
<Laugh>.

Danny Zuker (31:34):
But I said, so I, so I, I put the ki on, I, I stopped, but that's about the only time I have I all embarrassed people in our lives, you know?

Michael Jamin (31:43):
And, but, and so yeah, I mean, so, but, but basically there, so there are other stories in Modern Family you took from your, from your life as well, basically?

Danny Zuker (31:49):
Oh, tons. All of us did. Yeah. We, we, we, we, we had one like five twin daughters and at one point, like, so we had to go to a we had to go to a parent teacher conference when they were like in, I don't know, second grade. And my daughter, it's Lily and Charlie, my daughter Charlie, I mean Charlie, my daughter Charlie, you know, we're sitting there and it's and and then I say, Hey, so your dad and I, you know, tonight your dad and I are gonna need to split up. And and it's like, so do you, is there, do you have a preference? And it's like, and she just thought about it for a second. She goes, well I love dad, but I think you'll take better care of me. And she thought like we were, and she was so calm about us splitting up. Like she just like, yeah, I get like obviously that's <laugh>. So she was like, it was just such a weird, and so we had Luke basically do that with Claire and and Phil.

Michael Jamin (32:47):
So yeah. Wow. That's so, yeah. You just got, it's like you're just gonna be conscious for your life. But go, but go ahead. What

Danny Zuker (32:52):
You were gonna say? No, we had a lot. I mean, Steve's kids walked in on him having sex in the pilot when Luke, they do the thing, we're gonna shoot you Luke. Right. That is the deal. If you shoot your sister, he has actual footage of him doing that to his son. <Laugh>.

Michael Jamin (33:07):
Yeah. That I remember thinking that this, I remember watching the pilot thinking this had to be from his life. And it doesn't sound right. <Laugh>. He shouldn't have done that.

Danny Zuker (33:15):
Yes, exactly. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (33:17):
Now, when you go about creating a pilot, other than the Kevin Neon thing, which is, you know, a little different cuz he has this like how do you go about, how do you start thinking about ideas?

Danny Zuker (33:26):
It's, it's a variety of ways. Like there's some that are just like, oh, this is an idea that's been sort of itching that, that I've been itching to do. I mean, and in the day, you know, I would think like, you know, but there's just an idea that I'll get in your head. The other way is somebody comes to you with an idea or a piece of casting. I have one right now that was kind of a, I'm not gonna talk about it here, but it was like, right. But it's, it's cause I'm, I'm, I'm down the road. But it, it was so wild idea that came to me with like, some good casting associated, but it was just one line and it's broad and silly. And I was like, how am I gonna make that work? Right. And they actually went away and on a trip and, and somebody just clicked how I would do it. And so I'm, you know, I've written up treatment and so hopefully that thing goes, but it's, sometimes it's an actor. Sometimes you read an article.

Michael Jamin (34:13):
Do you, are you, do you develop sometimes with actors? Cuz we never, we develop for comedians but never actors really.

Danny Zuker (34:19):
It depends. I have developed for an actor why They're usually a comic actor though. Yeah. You know? But yeah, that's, that's about it. Yeah. I have, I mean, I know where do you guys get your, what do you do with your ideas? I mean, and don't they mostly come from your heads? Are you talking about it or it's such a hard target to chase?

Michael Jamin (34:37):
Is this a hard part of it that we struggle with? Cuz you always hear this as like, why are you the only ones who can tell this story? And you're like, well I'm, we're not. You know, I mean, and, and the other thing is like, well I'm a writer, I can kind of make up stuff. Like, so they, but they always want to hear like, why is so you have to always, it always has to be personal, which is a little hard. It's like you run out of the personal things. And so yeah.

Danny Zuker (35:02):
It sound like an obvious, this is gonna sound like a question, and maybe this just speaks to me not being a good guy, but I, I know this, but don't you lie

Michael Jamin (35:10):
<Laugh>. But you, you, you exaggerate, you, you basically say, you know, you try to extrapolate, well this is, I this didn't happen to you, but something similar happened to me, you know,

Danny Zuker (35:20):
But I'll be like, okay, so this is based on a guy I went to school with.

Michael Jamin (35:23):
Right. But is that good enough? Because then they'll, but then they'll say, okay, but then go get the guy who you went to school with. Hey, get him in here. It's his story.

Danny Zuker (35:32):
<Laugh>. No, no. I mean, I, I no, what I will say, this is my real, real, you know, I'll, I don't know. I can, first of all, I do think when you're writing a show, no matter what you're putting yourself right in all of those characters, I think it's a silly request. I do try, even if it was like something science fiction or it was something like broad and big, I will always try to craft an origin story that is usually mostly true. But just like, you know, I had this experience, like how do I explain like I'm doing something with somebody right now, an animated show that I'm supervising that has a lot to do with mental health stuff. Right. And this girl cracked it. And it was like, so when I'm coming in I say like, I've tried to do mental health issues for a long time. Never found the key. I think she did. This is like, and, and so that's my, that's my part of the sales pitch in this. And

Michael Jamin (36:20):
It's so interesting cuz we don't even supervise. It's not, it's not that I'm opposed to it, but there's not a lot of money to supervise something. And you wind up doing a lot of the work. So,

Danny Zuker (36:33):
Well, I'm very careful with what I pick in the supervision. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I'm also very careful what my, you know, rate will be. So I, for me it was like, oh, okay. I, but, but, but it's like, no, but it's like I'll take, I, I, you know, somewhere along the way it's gonna be a gamble, but I wanna be with somebody who I know is gonna, and I'm very explicit about that. I always say like, if I'm going to wind up co-writing this, we are going to be back here to renegotiate because my deal is very specifically not for scripts. And Oh

Michael Jamin (37:00):
Really? Okay.

Danny Zuker (37:01):
Yeah. And I'm, and I'm pretty clear with that, with my management and stuff like that. Because if I'm gonna do that, then I'm gonna take a piece of it. I normally, I don't, I I don't want to, I wanna help them do it and then I'll run it if it goes right. But I, but I'm just, when I was younger, I had a couple people, I had one person in in particular who's sort of supervising me, who took over something and I feel like Crash landed it before I was ready. And, and I'm so careful not to do that. I'm just there. So I, I really do wanna make it that person show.

Michael Jamin (37:33):
But the problem is cuz and I, I haven't, we haven't done this, I haven't experienced, but my fear is you'll turn it in the studio will not be happy with it, with their work, with their draft. And then you will have to do all that work. You will have to do all that regretting.

Danny Zuker (37:51):
Well, I'll have to do some work. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But I'm, I'm picking people I think who's have a pretty good sense of, right. I, I'm betting on certain people. I'm not betting on like somebody who is just like a comic. I'm betting on somebody who is at least writing or has some work

Michael Jamin (38:09):
To. And so those people, they don't come to you out of the, I should be clear, they probably don't come to you out of the, off the street. They come to you through channels, through agents, managers, stuff like that. Yeah.

Danny Zuker (38:17):
Or through, or through like pods. They, somebody we're developing this or we, we love this pitch. And that's sort of what happened with this, this animated one

Michael Jamin (38:24):
Doing so. Right, right. Interesting. Now have you done a lot of animation? That's something I I didn't know you got the all that

Danny Zuker (38:30):
Just this housebroken show. That's the first night I've ever done.

Michael Jamin (38:34):
It's been very all on Zoom.

Danny Zuker (38:36):
All on Zoom practically. Yeah. Yeah. All on Zoom. But it was a real blast. Now I kind, I didn't mind it.

Michael Jamin (38:43):
Right. Well you had to be in your house, get to relax too.

Danny Zuker (38:46):
It was kind of fu It was. Yeah. I mean, and also just having something like, you know, it was, again, we went into the pandemic, nothing was going on during that. I was just sort of sitting home riding pilots and, and doing stuff. And I was like, oh God, am I done again? Am I done? Then I got a call from mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, Gabby and Jen and that production company that if I was interested, I could come there. And it's like, I loved every, you know, I love those guys and it's all these a bunch of really great people over there. It's like basically the whole cast of Veep is isn't that thing

Michael Jamin (39:14):
<Laugh>? Oh yeah, I know. And

Danny Zuker (39:15):
It's a, and and, and it was just like, it's just been a blast, so. Right.

Michael Jamin (39:20):
Wow. And so, and I also know, I, I noticed you've been, you've been performing a lot too.

Danny Zuker (39:25):
Yeah, I have. I started doing I started doing standup a little bit. I'm, I took a little break, but I've been going, yeah, I took like a 30 something years break from standup. But it's been fun. Cause like I have stuff to talk about and I don't care what happens. Cause I already have a career. Like there's no stakes in it at all.

Michael Jamin (39:41):
And you go, I mean, and so you go up, how often do you up?

Danny Zuker (39:44):
Well, when I was doing it more, I was going up a couple times a week and little clubs, little club shows. I was actually I shortly before the Pandemic was going through a divorce and but I was dating somebody who was a comic and so, and she did a lot of club shows and would put me on. And then we just recently broke up, so now I need another Ed doing club shows. What I wound going though, I wound up going to Edinburgh. A friend of mine who's a comic was doing a show at Edinburgh at French Fest. And I opened for him, like, for four shows. And it was really a blast.

Michael Jamin (40:12):
It's so interesting. We're talking about doing that. What, what was your experience there? I I would definitely talk

Danny Zuker (40:17):
About that. Loved it. Yeah. We have to talk. I'm actually thinking about putting something up there myself.

Michael Jamin (40:22):
Oh. And they gotta talk now. We definitely

Danny Zuker (40:23):
Have to talk. Yeah. Yeah. We'll talk afterwards.

Michael Jamin (40:26):
Wow. Now I wanna, I wanna <laugh> stop this conversation talk, but, and so, but do you wanna do more? It's so interesting. Like, do you wanna do more performing? Because

Danny Zuker (40:36):
I always like, I love to perform. I don't need to do it as a career. What I find is I just like the process of it. Right. I like the way it makes, like, I had this epiphany when I started getting up on stage, like right before the pandemic, a friend of mine was doing the DC improv and at this point I had like, and was gonna needed a, like a, a feature. And so I was like, she's like, do you have 15, 20 minutes? And at the time, I had five. And she's like, and I had a week to go. It's like, well, I'll figure it out. So I, you know, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, you know, just on all the way over, I get it. And I got there and I'd written some stuff and like, there was a joke I had in the act that I thought was, it's gold.

(41:16):
Like I, I just know the stroke is gonna work as an open. Yeah. And the first night it didn't really work that well. And I, I came back, my first night was a little rocky, but my fir there were two shows a night, two, I mean, so the first show first night was a little rocky, not terrible. It was not like I bombed it, not terrible. So, and but from second show, I started to figure stuff out and it got, got good, except that joke didn't work again. And I was like, well, I don't know, keep going. It'll work tomorrow. Third try still doesn't work. And with that and so forth, Joe, I abandoned it. But what it, what was interesting about it for me was this, I'll write a joke for a script and a table read and it won't go well. And I will be convinced. I don't, I didn't go out to table read, but it's a good joke, right. And it'll work and I'll fight for it. And sometimes it'll get on. And now I'm thinking it should be a very obvious realization to anybody who's not a complete narcissist. But to me it's like maybe, I don't know,

Michael Jamin (42:11):
<Laugh>. But the thing is, Danny, if I was, if I had to, but if I had to bet, if I had to say who could, what comedy writer do I know could go and put together a standup act in an evening li or you know, in a couple of hours who could write a fricking five or 10 minutes in a couple of hours and kill it would be you. Because it's just, it's just easy. If, you know, if one thing bomb, whatever you can, you'll pitch on it. You get the one that works.

Danny Zuker (42:36):
I, I, I feel like that's the case for me. And I also think like, you know, you know this, there's like the two kinds of comedy writers. There's the extroverted ones, and then there's the ones who are just like quiet, but like, you know, good on the page and like, you know, really, and, and you know, will pitch. They're assassins when they pitch, but they're not, like, they don't have that perfor, they're not frustrated performers. Right. And and I just, I just really enjoy it. I mean like, and again, I enjoy it wherever it is. Like I enjoy it in a club with 10 people or in a theater with like 200. It's like, for me it's like been, it's been really kind of, it's just about the process. Like I am no goal to, like, I, I'm not looking to get a Netflix hour. Like I don't, none, none of that appeal. None of that happens. I just like doing it. I find that the process of it works a different part of my brain and like my, you know, I, you know, like I said, like in like in the course of a couple years, my marriage ended, my job of 11 years ended and then the world ended and it was like, yeah. So I was like, grasp, you know, so it was like, it was a lifeline.

Michael Jamin (43:37):
Were you, did that, I mean, did that panic you at all? Did all that, that's a lot to hit at one time

Danny Zuker (43:43):
By the ti? Well, no, because by the time the world ended, my, my marriage like was, that was going through nine months and I'd survived the worst of it in Annette and Ireland we're super close. We're like, we're best friends. It's like the best. And then the show ended did, which was a little bit trauma, you know, traumatic and it was going on. But having survived the uncertainty of a show ending and a marriage ending, by the time, like everything shut down, I felt like, I was like, oh, I've been living in chaos for a while. Come on in, I'll show you. You know, it's like, lemme show you around,

Michael Jamin (44:11):
Let me show you. And that was, and that's kind of what your act is now? I mean, or no,

Danny Zuker (44:15):
No, no. My, my most of my act. I mean, it depends. I mean, I do a lot of my act about like oh my God, how far have I fallen? Or I talk about, I talk, I talk a lot about, like, I talk about like when a joke doesn't work or something like that. It's like, oh, they, you know, thing doesn't work. The, the Academy of Television Motion pictures and scientists really liked it though. And like, I'll talk about like my, I, I'll, I'll, I'll be falsely humble about that. Right. And also it's, it's been interesting to, to discover, you know, when I go out to a lot of these club shows, I am considerably older than a lot of the comics who are there. But like in my head, it doesn't feel that way to me. But I can tell that that's how I perceive. And that's also been interesting to talk about just being older.

Michael Jamin (44:58):
Do you think, cuz so many of these comments wanna get into actually sitcom writing, and do you think they look at you and like you're the guy? Oh, there's,

Danny Zuker (45:06):
There are some who look to me who there you can, but you know, this can't you tell when someone's talking to you and wants an opportunity? Or is just like being cool? I I, I, I can usually tell.

Michael Jamin (45:18):
Well, but no, but I wonder if, I wonder if, not that they're like sucking up to you, but if they're just in awe of you because of everything you've written. You know,

Danny Zuker (45:25):
I think they're, I think there are some people, yeah. I mean, I'm sure that they would be impressed with that aspect of it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. I, I, I'm pretty good at putting people at ease though. Cause that makes me uncomfortable. If people start doing that. I mean, I know it's all coming from a good place. I just, right. I, I don't, I don't like it's too much pressure to be vaunted. It's like I will like, cause all I can think of when someone's looking up to me, it's like, I'm gonna so let you down. It's like you have no idea how disappointed you be, really

Michael Jamin (45:53):
See it. It's interesting cuz that whole reinventing, okay, so even in the comedy room, even, I remember, like you were, there were times you'd be on stage in the con there were 10 of us in the writer's room and you're on stage. And so it seems like you are a perfor. You really are a performer, but this is you, this is like a big deal. Reinventing yourself, especially at this age. It's kind of, it's very intimidating, I think, or no for not for you.

Danny Zuker (46:16):
No, no. I love it. It's, it's, I I am so much more afraid of stagnation and things like that. Uhhuh <affirmative>. And it's, you know, and it, it's, it's interesting because, you know, especially as you get older and in comedy writing, you know, my full career, they were like, you hear like a certain subset of writers as they got into forties talking about ageism, which I'm not saying doesn't exist. Of course it exists. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But what's interesting is some of the voices that were complaining and the loudest about ageism I would see on the show. And then we'd be pitching some, they'd be pitching something and then somebody like younger might say, yeah, that feels like a little famil, you know, familiar. It'd say, Hey, it worked on this, you know, and then they would disregard. It's like, this is what worked on, you know, growing pains.

(46:57):
It's gonna work here. Right. And I, I really clocked that. And so for me, part of doing standup and hearing, like I say very, like, I'm interested in comedy as an exploration date. And I think writers don't understand that. It's like a lot of people, comedy people don't understand it. It's like, yes, this was really funny and you could be upset that you can't say this word or this word anymore, but you rolled your eyes at the generation that came before you too. Right. Like, remember that. And you have to like, it is constantly changing. You must, the big experiences I've had is like, I can't wait to show my kids when they would get older when starting to get older. This is classic comedy. And to watch when you watch it again for the, there's certain things that hold up, but a lot of it doesn't hold up that well.

Michael Jamin (47:41):
Yeah. Right. If someone said like, okay, they wanna put you on tour and you tore the whatever, like a, like a, like a road comic, would you do it?

Danny Zuker (47:50):
I mean, if I, I might, I mean now in the, it's different. I, if you asked me this before, the age of Zoom, Uhhuh <affirmative>, I'd probably say no. Now if I, if I got to that point where, you know, I would wanna be good enough, like I have many opportunities to cut the line given to like, you know, my status. I know people who, like, if I wanted to, I could suck up to somebody in a much bigger club and say, Hey, gimme a couple spots here in a way that younger comics wouldn't. Right. But I, I, I desperately don't want to do that because I wanna be good enough to get that spot, you know, I'll work it out there and when I get there, you know, so, yeah. I don't know. I have a weird ethos about the whole thing. It's probably just the way of me procrastinating doing more, but

Michael Jamin (48:34):
<Laugh>, that's interest. It's so interesting. I, anyway, I I know you, we actually, you do have a, you have a little of a time limit, but I wanna, and I wanna talk more off camera, but I want to, is there, yeah. Is there, is there anything I can pro plug or send people send if they wanna know more about what you're doing?

Danny Zuker (48:51):
Yes. I'm on all social media @DannyZucker, Z U K E R and, and yeah. What else? I got nothing to promote right now. I, I don't know, I don't have any dates till after the new year, so I don't know what those are gonna be. We're able to performing, but but yeah, that's it.

Michael Jamin (49:07):
But follow there to know when your next pilot gets picked up or whatever. <Laugh>, when your next show. Yeah.

Danny Zuker (49:12):
Thank you for saying when,

Michael Jamin (49:13):
When, when. All right everyone, thank you so much, Danny. I can't thank you so much. I'm so happy that you did this. This is oh,

Danny Zuker (49:20):
I'm so fun. Respond to you, man. You've always, you've, and also you've always been one of my favorites, so dude, like I a handful full of people in there that I

Michael Jamin (49:27):
Dude, you're kind. So that's it everyone. Thank you so much. Yeah, continue. What am I gonna say at the end of the podcast? Well, if you wanna get on a free newsletter, go sign it for that. I send it out once a week at michaeljamin.com/watchlist. And and that's it. Continue following you know, on Instagram and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. Okay. Thank you so much, Danny. Thank you again. All

Danny Zuker (49:48):
Right, you're welcome.

Phil Hudson (49:51):
This has been an episode of Screenwriters. Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin. If you'd like to support this podcast, please consider subscribing, leaving your review and sharing this podcast with someone who needs to hear today's subject. For free daily screenwriting tips, follow Michael on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @MichaelJaminWriter. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep riding.

Author Details
For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.