Do you watch The Daily Show? If so, don’t miss this awesome podcast episode featuring Vance DeGeneres!

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Autogenerated Transcript

Michael Jamin (00:00:00):
To me, I’m guessing the goal of it was just to be creative and make music. That’s still, that’s it. But do you have, are there, are, is there, are there other future ambitions? Is there more ambitions there more you hope to get outta this though?

Vance DeGeneres (00:00:13):
Just, just the enjoyment of, of being musically creative. Right. And and that, that’s it. I mean, I, I’m under no illusions that I’m going to get another record deal. Right. You know, capital Records is not gonna call and offer me a deal again. Right. but that’s fi that’s fine. You know, the, it’s, you know, it’s a fun band. It’s, it’s a good band. And we play lo we play live gigs, you know, like two or three times a year. Right. and we make, we make our records. And that’s, that’s enough, right? I mean, it’s just fun.

Michael Jamin (00:00:49):
You’re listening to Screenwriters Need to hear this with Michael Jamin.

Michael Jamin (00:00:56):
Hey everyone, it’s Michael Jamin. Welcome back to Screenwriters. Need to hear this. I got another good guest for you. This is another reason to sit through me talking because my guest is actually an old friend of mine. And his name is Vance DeGeneres, comedy writer, TV producer, film producer, film executive musician. And I met Vance many years ago and can tell Quick story, Vance. And then I’ll let you chime in for the rest of the interview. Please. First of all, I first please. I gonna just get the elephant outta the room. Yes. Vance. His, his little sister is someone you may have heard of Ellen. Ellen Generous, but we’re not talking about her now. We’re talking about you Vance. So stop bringing her up.

Vance DeGeneres (00:01:34):
Yeah, yeah, please,

Michael Jamin (00:01:35):
Please. So, I’m met Vance many years ago. I’m a first job as a, as a comedy writer. I was a comedy writer and show on the Mike and Maddie show. It was a morning TV show. I was very nervous, very excited, didn’t know anything about the business. And Vance was the other guy, the other comedy writer. And we shared an office. And I just did. I was like, Vance, I, I don’t really know what I’m doing here. And Vance was like, it’s okay. We’ll be okay. I’m not sure if Vance knew what he was doing, but I did everything. You did Vance. I wore shoes to the set. I wore a a jacket to the set. I did whatever you told me to do. Whatever you did, I just copied. And you were, and

Vance DeGeneres (00:02:12):
It, and look, look where you are today,

Michael Jamin (00:02:14):
<Laugh>. I’m sitting in front of my computer screen <laugh> in my garage.

Vance DeGeneres (00:02:18):
<Laugh>, can I, can I, can I just say I I do have to to thank you because we’re not for you. I wouldn’t be able to do this.

Michael Jamin (00:02:30):
That’s right. We did a lot of that. And you got, you got a nice lot of,

Vance DeGeneres (00:02:33):
You taught me to

Michael Jamin (00:02:34):
Juggle. I taught you that. I didn’t, what else You taught me to juggle. Didn’t I teach you how to love as well?

Vance DeGeneres (00:02:40):
Well, I was gonna say, yeah, I was gonna say that, but since you brought it up Yes,

Michael Jamin (00:02:45):
Vance has, go ahead.

Vance DeGeneres (00:02:48):
No, I was just gonna say, you know, we I think we laughed a lot in that, in that office. It, it was it was an interesting job.

Michael Jamin (00:02:57):
Did we make anyone laugh? <Laugh>, I’m

Vance DeGeneres (00:03:00):
Six months

Michael Jamin (00:03:02):
<Laugh>. We made each other laugh and then on six month time they showed, they showed me to the door <laugh>.

Vance DeGeneres (00:03:10):
Yeah. And yeah. And I didn’t last a lot longer.

Michael Jamin (00:03:13):
You didn’t, I don’t remember. But you’ve had such an amazing career event cuz you have done something. Like you are truly a very creative person and you’ve made a career out of being creative, but not pigeonholed in any one category. Like, I’m gonna start, I’m gonna start by telling, refreshing your memory, how you’ve, how much you’ve worked in the business. I guess you first started, you were a musician, you in a, in a band called House of Shock, which was Gina Shock, who was in the Go-Go’s. You formed a band with her, right? Was that your first band? I

Vance DeGeneres (00:03:43):
No, no, no. I, no, I, well, very quickly, I, I had, I had been in bands since seventh grade. I had my first garage band. Right. and then I was in a s a really successful band in New Orleans called The Cold in the early eighties.

Michael Jamin (00:04:01):

Vance DeGeneres (00:04:02):
And and then I moved out to Los Angeles in 85. And the Gogos had broken up and a friend introduced me to Gina and we put together house of Shock. And so she and I were partners on that.

Michael Jamin (00:04:17):
And you toured a lot of with her?

Vance DeGeneres (00:04:19):
No, we didn’t tour a lot, but we rec we Gina and I wrote, wrote the album and it came out, we were on Capital Records, Uhhuh <affirmative>. And and that came out in 88.

Michael Jamin (00:04:30):
Now, when you moved to LA was it to become, I mean, it’s weird, you know, you’re very, very funny, very talented comedy writer. But was it, is music really your first love and look at your background there?

Vance DeGeneres (00:04:42):
My first love is music. But I had done bef Okay. <Laugh>. I, I’ve got such a, such a a checkered a career path. Originally I had done, oh boy. Yeah, this is, it’s too much to get into. But I, I was the original Mr. Hans with the Mr. Bill Show, and I

Michael Jamin (00:05:04):
Wanna talk about that. Okay. So that came first

Vance DeGeneres (00:05:07):
That Yeah. After yes, when I was 18, I guess I, I met this guy Walter Williams, and we, we got an apartment together and we started doing, we were both Big Bob and Ray fans. Right. you know Bob and Ray,

Michael Jamin (00:05:25):
Right? Yeah. Ellis dad <laugh>. That’s how I think about it. Yeah,

Vance DeGeneres (00:05:28):
Exactly. Exactly. but they used to do this improv improvisational comedy. And so we thought, yeah, we can probably take a crack at that. So we started doing little comedy bits and then started shooting little tiny movies. And Mr. Bill was one of the movies. And anyways, so, you know, what happened then?

Michael Jamin (00:05:49):
Well, for many people who, who don’t, I wanted to tell them, so Mr. Like, Mr. Bill was a, a little claymation character on Saturday Live, A little sketch they did on Saturday Live, or in the early years of sa And this Mr. Bill was like, before the internet, it went viral before the internet virality was a thing. And it was like this, I remember everyone was talking about Mr. Bill, Mr. Oh, no, Mr. Bill. And it was Mr. Hand was the char, another character. And like everyone talked about Mr. Bill cuz it was like this sketch on Saturday. It was recurring sketch that everyone talked about. And so yeah. Go into that. That’s a, that was when I found out you were Mr. Hand. I was like, you’re Mr. Hand.

Vance DeGeneres (00:06:26):
Yeah. Well, oh yeah. Well, it’s, it’s a, it’s a a very long and a very frustrating story actually. But I, I’ll just tell you that we started it in New Orleans and we did these, you know, we, we started doing nightclubs in New Orleans there. This was before there was even a a comedy club in New Orleans. This was in 73 45 Uhhuh <affirmative> six. And so we would do these kind of live shows where we did comedy and we showed, we showed our eight millimeter films. We’d set up a screen, Uhhuh, <affirmative> and then when Sarah I live came on we sent in a reel of our shorts and they liked Mr. Bill and they put that on.

Michael Jamin (00:07:11):
How did you know, you just sent it to like, what do you mean you sent it?

Vance DeGeneres (00:07:15):
Because, because they they had a thing, Lauren, Michael said, Hey, if if, if you have some funny short films, send them to us and if we like it, we might put it on. Right. So we we sent ’em a, a reel of our, our shorts and they liked that particular one. So Lauren aired it and it was during Mardi Gras in New Orleans when it first aired. And, and Saturday Night Live was preempted for one of the parades, Uhhuh <affirmative>. So nobody in New Orleans got got to see it. But they invited us down to the N B C affiliate to watch it in the control room. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So we got to see speed.

Michael Jamin (00:07:58):
How, but how, but did you do several of them? There’s We did,

Vance DeGeneres (00:08:02):
Yeah. Right. We did. And then we, we well we had a weekly radio show in New Orleans called the Mr. Bill Show, and where we did little sketches, and then we even did eight local TV show few episodes.

Michael Jamin (00:08:17):
Like 18 when you were doing this.

Vance DeGeneres (00:08:20):
In 19, yeah. 18, 19, 20, kind of a big. And and then once it was on Saturday Live, we we picked up a third, a third member named David Derickson. And we moved to, we got a, we got a loan for $3,000 and moved to New York and got a, a one bedroom sublet. And we did the the improv once a week on Monday nights, we would do our standup. And then we we made a couple of other Mr. Bills. And after the second season, I, I decided to, to leave the act. And I moved back to New Orleans. And then my friend Dave, who, who was a third member, took over as Mr. Hands.

Michael Jamin (00:09:08):
What, when you left what to go back to New Orleans, what, what were you, what was it to pursue at this point? What did you wanna do?

Vance DeGeneres (00:09:15):
Well, comedy, comedy, I, I went back to New Orleans and I, I wrote a a half hour, another comedy show, a full half hour like sketch comedy show and and cast it. And I got Loyola University gave me their TV station to shoot the thing in. But they said You got 12 hours because 6:00 AM tomorrow morning, we’re tearing up the, the, the studio to redo it for the, for next semester. After we shot the first sketch, there was a power brown out on campus. And and that was it. I I, we were done. So I, I, I had no show. Right. I, I got, I was really depressed. It’s like, Jesus, this is, you know what, I spent months putting this together and I just thought, you know, God show business kind of sucks. <Laugh>, what

Michael Jamin (00:10:12):

Vance DeGeneres (00:10:15):
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so I mean, what, what, what would you do if if you were in that position? I thought I’ll join the Marines.

Michael Jamin (00:10:27):
Right. I forgot you were Marines, which is what I did. Yeah. Which is, that’ll be easier than showbiz. <Laugh>. <laugh>.

Vance DeGeneres (00:10:36):
You know, it, it’s, I I’m not sure which is tougher.

Michael Jamin (00:10:39):
Yeah. <laugh>. And so you, you were, I forgot you’re a Marine. Like, oh my God, I got all the branches that I’ll, I’ll gimme the one that’s the hardest <laugh> to do.

Vance DeGeneres (00:10:50):
That’s exactly what I wanted. I, I, I wanted, I wanted a real challenge. And and, and honestly, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t trade you for anything. I’m glad I’m not still in it. Uhhuh <affirmative>. But boy, does it give you discipline?

Michael Jamin (00:11:06):
<Laugh>? Yeah. I’m so surprised. Cause you’re not exactly you know, as a comment writer, you’re like, anti-establishment. It’s like, it’s odd to say, well, I’ll just join the establishment <laugh> where, where I can’t mouth off and I can’t be a wise ass. I’ll do that for three years. <Laugh>. So you got outta that and

Vance DeGeneres (00:11:22):
<Laugh>. So, and, and, and so I came back, I came back to New Orleans in 79 and with the intent of continuing in, in tv, radio, comedy. And I, I got a job as a as the morning guy at a local fm radio station. And in the meantime, some friends started a, a new wave band. There were a couple of, there were just a couple of writers. They were journalists and could play guitar a little bit, but the whole new wave thing happening. And they said, Hey, you know you’re a good musician. Why don’t you, why don’t you, you know, join? And so I did. And it was just gonna be a little side project, and it turned into something like really, really big in, in new Orleans and in the South. We put out a bunch of records. We had some hits. And and by 85, I couldn’t go any further there. So my, my sister who you mentioned Yeah. Was living in LA and she said, you know, you should really come to live in Los Angeles. So I, I made the move and it was to continue in music at that point. So that’s when I met Gina Shock. And we, we formed House of Shock. We did the record on Capital and by and by 89 that had that was ended at that point.

Michael Jamin (00:12:52):

Vance DeGeneres (00:12:52):
And that’s, that’s when I transitioned back into being a writer.

Michael Jamin (00:12:57):
And then, yeah. And how did, okay. What came, how did you do that? <Laugh>, everything, history, everything you’ve done sounds like a mystery. How did you do that? <Laugh>.

Vance DeGeneres (00:13:06):
It, it it’s, it’s crazy. I was I, I was actually, I was paying, I’m also a painter a little bit. And I, I did, I did a bunch of paintings. This couple came over to, to see some of my paintings that they were interested in buying. One, the guy happened to be a, a showrunner named Carl Schaffer. And he Carl Schaffer had a show on CBS b s called TV 1 0 1.

Michael Jamin (00:13:39):

Vance DeGeneres (00:13:40):
And, and he had a place called the Fourth Floor on on Hollywood Boulevard on the corner of Kanga and Hollywood. What’s that?

Michael Jamin (00:13:49):
Above the Pizza store, right? Yeah. Right. Yeah. Yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (00:13:52):
Right. And he, he had a deal with Hurst Entertainment, and they subsidized this whole floor and parted the second. And Carl rented it out to writers that he liked. Okay. and Carl, Carl knew that I had done Mr. Bill. We talked about that. And he said you know, you should really come take an office up on the fourth floor and just start writing again, Uhhuh. And it’s like, yeah, okay, why not? Yeah, sure. Yeah. So, and he, he rented out for 125 bucks a month. Right. You got, you got an office. And and so I, I, I got an office. I, I had no computer. I didn’t even have a typewriter. I said, I, I, you know, what should I write <laugh>? He said he said write a pilot. There’s a there’s a guy, a comedian. I like, let’s create a show for him. I’ll, I’ll tell you the format. So I, so I started writing by hand. Right. and anyway so I went through this process with Carl wrote this, this pilot. And it, nothing happened with that. But Carl then got a show called, called Erie, Indiana Right. On nbc.

And he, he gave me my first job in 91 as a staff writer on Erie, Indiana. And I wrote, he gave me two episodes to write of that. And that that was my real start in tv.

Michael Jamin (00:15:25):
Yeah. Man, that’s amazing. And then, and then what happened after that? You, cause you’ve bounced around you. I wanna say, you’ve done a lot of stuff, including, we’ll get to all this, you we’ll get to all this, but I want, just for people who are listening, like to know what to expect. You were also a daily show correspondent, like the first, this is the first season, right? When, when it was just starting?

Vance DeGeneres (00:15:45):
Well, it was, no, it had been when John Stewart took over, when John took over. But yeah. Skipping stuff.

Michael Jamin (00:15:53):
Is there stuff I should, I should talk about stuff in between. I don’t wanna, but I wanna mention that. So, cuz I we’re gonna talk about that. But what happened next?

Vance DeGeneres (00:16:02):
Well then after Erie, Indiana, Carl got a a blind pilot deal at a B, C, and he asked me to create a show with him for that. So he and I created a show. We wrote the pilot Uhhuh called Lost Angels for a abc. And it didn’t go, never do. And then yeah. Yeah. and then my my agent called and said, Hey you like Dick Van Dyke, you wanna write a for Dick Van Dyke? Said, I love Dick Van Dyke. And it was diagnosis murder.

Michael Jamin (00:16:35):
All right. You always wanted to be a doctor, so if it fit right in. Yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (00:16:39):
Yeah. <Laugh>. Exactly. Anyway, so I, I wrote I wrote a couple episodes of Diagnosis Murder, and and then I think right after that was Mike and Matt was there right where, where we

Michael Jamin (00:16:56):
Met, we met, and that was, man, that was a trip. I really did. I really, I’m so grateful for You took me under your wing. It really was. What do I do? Vance <laugh>. And we would sit in the morning, we’d come up with bits. A lot of them weren’t used. I don’t, I don’t remember many of them make you there. <Laugh>.

Vance DeGeneres (00:17:16):
Well, well, well, here, well, here’s the thing. There was absolutely no reason to have comedy writers on on that show. I mean, it was, it was a morning show. And although, although Mike you know, was a, he was a standup. He had been a standup and done, done warmup for sitcoms. There, just, there really, there shouldn’t have been comedy on there. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (00:17:42):
But we didn’t wanna, we didn’t wanna bring it up that to anybody. Hey, you know, why are, you shouldn’t be any <laugh>. You don’t need comedy in this show. But I remember when I took the job, there was Tamara Rawitz, she was a producer, and she produced Living Color. And her goal was, and I was so exci, I I was excited. This was my first job. She hired me and I was like, fantastic. And but her goal was like, she wanted to turn it into the Morning to Letterman show. Cause like, basically Letterman show in the morning. And I remember thinking about Letterman had a show in the morning and it didn’t work.

Vance DeGeneres (00:18:12):
It didn’t work.

Michael Jamin (00:18:13):
Don’t say a word, but Yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (00:18:15):
Yeah. Now yeah, you’re right. I mean, that was, that was the thing. Yeah. she, I mean, she sold me on the idea that this could be, you know, a really cool, you know, comedy show in the morning. And it, it just was not built for that.

Michael Jamin (00:18:28):

Vance DeGeneres (00:18:29):
That particular show. So, but

Michael Jamin (00:18:33):
Recipe. But,

Vance DeGeneres (00:18:34):
But we, we met there and and went went on to bigger and better things

Michael Jamin (00:18:40):
We did. And so yeah, I was, but yeah, that was the first job. And I was, I felt rich for the first time. I wasn’t rich, but I felt it because I felt like at the first time I had pride in myself. I was a comedy writer, and I, I was, I think I was making like 50,000 a year or something felt really good for me. And then, and then the back, the hammer came. Yeah. and then what happened? You, what did you do after that? I, I remember I went home crying.

Vance DeGeneres (00:19:05):
Well, it, well, in the in the meantime I was, I was shooting little episodes of a, a mock talk show called The Fourth Floor Show Right at the fourth at the record, which you, you remember

Michael Jamin (00:19:18):
I was a part of it. I remember you had friends Help out, and some of your friends included George Clooney <laugh>, and he was in it. Yep. and that was really, that was a really, I’m always fa like, I’m sorry that never went further than it did because it was such an interesting show, and it was so, what’s the word I’m looking for? It was like, it is edgy, but it was like, also like anti, it was kind of counterculture. It was really interesting show. It was a talk show that took place in your office. That was the premise.

Vance DeGeneres (00:19:45):
Yeah. And a tiny office where it was me and Alex Hirschlag, my sidekick mm-hmm. Who who had to share his microphone with the guest. When the guest came in this, we had that one mic.

Michael Jamin (00:19:59):
The guest sat on the couch opposite you, <laugh>. I mean, the,

Vance DeGeneres (00:20:03):
Well, the, the audience. There were five audience members who sat on the couch directly in front of us. So the whole, the whole concept was take away all the niceties of of a regular talk show. Yeah. And and then we actually, I don’t know if you remember, but we actually e wanted to do it as their five night, a week late night show.

Michael Jamin (00:20:27):
What happened?

Vance DeGeneres (00:20:27):
And we, we, we shot, we shot the pilot and it aired, but it didn’t, it didn’t go to series.

Michael Jamin (00:20:34):
Oh, so you re reshot a pilot for e for Not the one I was in You Reshot something. Oh, wow.

Vance DeGeneres (00:20:40):
Re yeah, we re reshot it. Yeah. With Rob Robert Town. Robert Townson was the guest on that one.

Michael Jamin (00:20:46):
And so you basically rebuilt your office on a sound stage.

Vance DeGeneres (00:20:49):

Michael Jamin (00:20:51):
<Laugh>. Yeah. How fun. <Laugh>. Wow. Yeah. That’s cool. And so right when that didn’t go, you were obviously bummed out. Like e e everything’s a matter of, everything’s always a strikeout in Hollywood. You get

Vance DeGeneres (00:21:04):
Closer. Well, you know, it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s all timing. If the internet had been around, that would’ve been the perfect thing to, you know, to go viral. Yeah. You know, these, these short episodes of this ridiculous talk show.

Michael Jamin (00:21:19):
Yeah, you’re

Vance DeGeneres (00:21:19):
Right. But it was not around. So

Michael Jamin (00:21:22):
Do you ever think of dusting it off and doing it again for the internet? Or why bother?

Vance DeGeneres (00:21:26):
You know, we had talked about it David Steinberg. Yes. You know, loved the show. And, and and we, we did talk about, you know resurrecting it years ago. But it, it just, it didn’t happen.

Michael Jamin (00:21:45):
You gotta, it takes momentum. It just takes momentum, you know? Yeah. And so, okay, so then what happened after that? You,

Vance DeGeneres (00:21:54):
Well, let’s let’s say I then I wrote for a couple of sitcoms. I wrote I wrote for the, the coming out season of my sister’s sitcom. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (00:22:05):
Your, your, your, it’s funny, your comedy voice is, you know, is very similar to hers. And I remember you pitched jokes and you go, yeah, yeah, that’s exactly something your sister would say. That’s, that’s the right tone. Like, you seem like you’re the perfect writer for your sister.

Vance DeGeneres (00:22:18):
I’d like to think so. <Laugh>. But but so I, I wrote for that. And then I, I wrote for a couple of, when she hosted the Emmys, I, I wrote for a couple of notes. I wrote for a couple of Grammy awards and a couple of Oscars when she did those.

Michael Jamin (00:22:35):
So what is that like you’re, you know, do they bring you in? Do you get an office and you’re like, is there a small staff ofri joke writers coming up with bits? How does that work? I’ve never done an award show.

Vance DeGeneres (00:22:46):
Yeah. It’s, it’s a, well, yeah, it’s a small staff. Well, she would, she would choose who she wanted to write, you know, it would be maybe five or six, seven people and months ahead of time. She would have us start writing bits and jokes and send them to her weekly. Right. And she would go through ’em and like this, I don’t like that. And start honing in a little tighter on, on what she wanted to do. And then as it got closer the week of, then you go down to Kodak and and you have a meeting room where, you know, you’re, you’re all sitting around writing jokes and coming up with bits and and the tension gets more and more as you get closer to mm-hmm. <Affirmative> to the day. And and I, I, I was lucky enough to besides writing, I wrote the opening song for the first Ox Oscars that she hosted where we had a gospel group come out Uhhuh on stage. Wow. And I wrote that song. So I, I had to deal with that as well as the other stuff. And that was that was a lot of pressure for that. But

Michael Jamin (00:24:13):
Global audience is there, the part of my dr like, in my mind, the moment, like my fantasy, because when you, sometimes you’re on a show and you pitch a lot story or a joke, and the actor goes, I’m not doing that. Right. And you’re like, and my, my, in my fantasy, like some people think, well, can, can, can the writer just make the actor say it? Like, not unless they’re a puppet. You can’t make ’em say it, you can’t put the words in their mouth. But my mind, like, because she’s your sister, is there any of like, eh, pulling her aside and pressuring her? Did that ever work?

Vance DeGeneres (00:24:42):
No, no, no. You know, I tried, when I, when I write for Ellen, I, I, I always tried to make myself just one of the writers. I, I never wanted to have any kind of special influence. So that was, that was important that the other writers felt like I wasn’t getting preferential treatment.

Michael Jamin (00:25:01):
I see. I would think that to the opposite. I, I would think that they say, come on, Vance, we like, we all like this joke. Like, you know, but no, you,

Vance DeGeneres (00:25:08):
Yeah. Yeah. No, no. I, I, I really, I thought it was important to yeah. To make that clear.

Michael Jamin (00:25:15):
Right, right. And so, okay, so you did the, you did all that, all that joke writing, which to me, I think I, it’s a shame. Like I never got a chance to do that, cuz I, I feel like that would be really fun and exciting

Vance DeGeneres (00:25:26):
And Yeah. You, I mean, you’d be good at that. So if, if you get the chance, do it.

Michael Jamin (00:25:30):
Never called my, the phone won’t ring for that. I do know some writers, like, I knew writers that wrote for, like, I don’t even if they have ’em anymore, the sbs, like the p n awards, I’m like, let me get me to do that show. I’ll do that. No, no one’s interested. Yeah. No. Like, isn’t there, isn’t there a court no one’s ever heard of that they can get me? They can ask me to write for? No. all right. And so then was it after that that you did the Daily Show?

Vance DeGeneres (00:25:57):
Yeah. So this I then I, I, I, I wrote for another city com and then my agent called me and said Hey John Stewart is taking over the Daily Show, and they wanna know if you’re interested in, in being a correspondent. They wanna

Michael Jamin (00:26:17):
How do they even, what do you mean they wanna know if you, how at this point you’re just a comedy writer?

Vance DeGeneres (00:26:23):
Well, okay, well, I, I, I mean, I skipped over stuff. I, okay, so the fourth floor show was seen by some other people. They, they, they cast me to host a show called The Beef which was a show about it was almost like a daily show in a way where correspondents would go out and, and talk interview neighbors who had beats with other neighbors. And it was, it was comedy. Right. and, and I I was cast as the host of that. We, we did the pilot we went to Vegas to the

Michael Jamin (00:27:03):
Oh, you cast as the host of that. Did you audition? I mean, you auditioned for it, because that’s a big jump from behind the camera to in front of the camera,

Vance DeGeneres (00:27:10):
Because they saw the fourth floor show and they, they loved the fourth floor show. And they, they asked me to do a, a story for the beef. Okay. So I went out as correspondent and shot a piece. And then when it came time to, to cast a host, they asked if, if I wanted to to audition to be the host. And so I said Sure.

Michael Jamin (00:27:34):

Vance DeGeneres (00:27:35):
Did no, no, not really. No. I, I just, I I thought it would be fun. Yeah. And because it, it, I was doing a character that I had established with the, with the fourth floor show.

Michael Jamin (00:27:50):
He was very lemme see if I can describe him. What, how would you describe him? He was very earnest, very he didn’t, he almost, like, he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. Right,

Vance DeGeneres (00:27:59):
Exactly. He, you know, very earnest a good guy. But the last guy you would, you would want hosting a talk show,

Michael Jamin (00:28:06):
<Laugh>, he’s the Alaska <laugh>. Right. That’s

Vance DeGeneres (00:28:10):
Enough. So that was my character.

Michael Jamin (00:28:12):
Right, right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:28:13):
Yeah. And so, and so, I, I just did, when, when I did my audition to host, I, I just did my, my Ernest guy. Right. And they liked it, and I got the job. And anyway, so we went through all this stuff and it looked like it was gonna go, and then it didn’t. And then when the original Daily Show was going on the air, they brought me in. They were looking for a host for that. They brought me in to, to interview me for, for that. I didn’t get that right. But then when John Stewart took over, they’ve remembered me from bringing me in originally. Right. And so they gave me a story to, to go shoot a couple of months before John took over. So I flew up to to Saskatchewan, Canada, Uhhuh <affirmative>, and met one of the producers up there and shot shot a story. Was he, and then your

Michael Jamin (00:29:19):
Idea was the story, like how does that work with your correspondent?

Vance DeGeneres (00:29:24):
No, that they they had a story and they just, they as they assigned it to me, they, who I guess they had

Michael Jamin (00:29:33):
Who did they figure out? I mean, you have to figure out what’s funny about it or you’re just, I had loving on camera.

Vance DeGeneres (00:29:37):
Well, the way this worked was basically you’re gonna go up to Canada and you’re gonna interview this, this guy, he’s a, a, a farmer, and he he’s in the Farmer’s Alman act for forecasting the weather by Licking Pig Spleens

Michael Jamin (00:29:56):
<Laugh>. Okay. All right. So that was

Vance DeGeneres (00:29:58):
Funny that that was it. That was, that’s it. I mean, that’s, that’s the basis of the story. So so I met the producer. We drove four hours into the middle of nowhere and shot this story with this guy. I flew back to Los Angeles, they called a couple of weeks later and said Hey we, we love the story. Can you, can you come here in once it a week or two weeks? Right. so I, I flew to New York. It was the Monday John started and I worked with an editor and a producer editing the piece, putting it together. And then they, they aired it on, on the Thursday show of John’s first week. And then the next morning they called me into the executive producer’s office and said, how soon can you move here? And I said I guess I can be here in about a week. Ah, and I flew home put my stuff in storage and moved, moved to New York.

Michael Jamin (00:31:05):
How, and how, how long was your contract? Do you remember?

Vance DeGeneres (00:31:09):
Well, I was there. I don’t remember how I, how, how long the contract was, but I was there for two and a half years.

Michael Jamin (00:31:15):
Right. And when you were coming, working as a correspondent, are you looking for storage? Are you coming up with the edge and what the angle, what makes it funny? Or you’re working with other writers or what?

Vance DeGeneres (00:31:25):
Yeah, they ha well, you know, they’ve got writers, they’ve got field producers. So the field producers, that’s their job is to scour, you know wherever looking for these, these stories. And so they would, they would assign different stories to different correspondence. And then you’d be assigned this producer or that field producer, and then you’d meet with them and you talk about the angle you want to take with the story. Then you fly out and you spend, you know, a whole day with these people shooting the story and come back and then spend a few days cutting it together. And then,

Michael Jamin (00:32:04):
But you’re doing on the spot. You’re ad you, I mean, you must be ad-libbing. A lot of, you know that you have to Right. That’s just you thinking, oh,

Vance DeGeneres (00:32:11):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, well, well, I mean, you know, I would go in, I would, I would write, I would write the opening standup. Right. we’d shoot that. And then I had, I would write, you know, a list of questions along with the, the field producer. You know, we’d have this list of questions, and so I knew what I wanted to ask. Right. but that everything else is just ad lib.

Michael Jamin (00:32:33):
Yeah. Is there any sense of your hope questions that you’re hoping are, are you leading them at all? Are you hoping to get a certain answer? Are, are you hoping to corner them with an answer, a question, rather? Well,

Vance DeGeneres (00:32:42):
Sure. I mean, you, you, I mean, you’re hoping that you hear something that you’ll be able to you know, get in, you know, some, some kind of a a line. Because you, you, you never, you never knew you know, what, what was gonna happen or what they were gonna say. So, I mean, you’re, you’re just kind of bouncing around.

Michael Jamin (00:33:03):
And at this point, did the, did the audience, were they, whoever your interview, the guests rather I, are they aware that they’re gonna be spoofed or no?

Vance DeGeneres (00:33:13):
Well, ba you gotta remember this, this was early on in the Daily Show. So we were lucky in that most of the people that, that I did stories on just thought we were this daily show that did, you know, stories of interest.

Michael Jamin (00:33:28):

Vance DeGeneres (00:33:29):
And because if they’re in on the joke, it’s not as funny.

Michael Jamin (00:33:36):
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

Michael Jamin (00:34:00):
It’s, and you make them, you’re done. You get to sign that release, and then you put it on <laugh>, put it on the air. Is there any <laugh>? Is there any blowback? And like, wait a minute. I didn’t, I’m not supposed to look like an idiot. <Laugh>,

Vance DeGeneres (00:34:10):
You, we, you know, I’m, I’m proud to say I never had, I never had one complaint. I mean, some, some of the stories that other, other people did, people did complain, but I always tried with all my stories, I tried to make myself look like the idiot. Right. as opposed to, I mean, it’s, it’s not fun to, to like, you know, poke, poke a finger at, look, look what an idiot this guy is. Of course. You know? Of course. Because for the most part, they were just, they were just very nice people who had an interesting or, you know, weird story.

Michael Jamin (00:34:45):
Yeah. Right. Right. Now, who were the other, let’s talk about this. Who were the other correspondence that you, that two seasons that you were there?

Vance DeGeneres (00:34:54):
Yeah, probably nobody that you’ve heard of. Steve Corll. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (00:34:59):
Go on. I never heard Stephen.

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:01):
Stephen Colbert

Michael Jamin (00:35:02):
Doesn’t ring a bell.

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:04):
Yeah. Nancy Corll moka.

Michael Jamin (00:35:09):

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:10):
Beth Littleford.

Michael Jamin (00:35:12):
Right. And so you were in good company. It really was a great ensemble. You were, you know, and that show was Yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:20):
Oh, they were, they were amazing. Yeah. They were all just so great. And all, all the writers and field producers were all super talented and funny. Yeah. And just made it a a a a great working environment.

Michael Jamin (00:35:36):
Did you get a sense that there are writers or producers on the show that wanted to get in front of the camera

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:41):
There? Yeah, there were a few.

Michael Jamin (00:35:43):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Were they able to at some point? Or is it, are you not?

Vance DeGeneres (00:35:48):
I think, yeah, I think, yeah, a couple of couple of them did. And I, <laugh> one friend of mine did a couple of stories and then kind of realized that he, he’d rather be back behind the camera.

Michael Jamin (00:36:01):
Why? What was the, what, what was let you know, what did he discover in front of the camera?

Vance DeGeneres (00:36:08):
I, I, I, I don’t know. He just, I, I, I guess he just wasn’t as comfortable right. In front. Right. But very funny. Right. You know, very funny writer.

Michael Jamin (00:36:18):
And so, and that was how you met, obviously, among one, you became close with Steve Corral and then Yeah. I, I imagine then, cuz after, after, and at some point you, you ran his production company.

Vance DeGeneres (00:36:30):
Yeah. This, I mean, if, yeah. If you want to jump I, let’s see. Well, I, I started, I started it in the end of 98 on the Daily Show, and I left in the middle of 2001. Yeah. and then if you wanna jump ahead to,

Michael Jamin (00:36:46):
To when I, well, let’s just talk about even leaving. Was, was it hard to lea anytime you leave a job or any kind of security in Hollywood, anything at all? It’s scary.

Vance DeGeneres (00:36:54):
Well, well, here now, I, boy I decided that, first of all, I was not, I was not really a, a New Yorker. I didn’t care for the cold winters. And I had I had broken up with my girlfriend of a year and a half. And my agent was saying, Hey, aren’t you gonna come back here at some point and create your own show? And, and we were kind of hearing some rumors that maybe John might might move over to a, b, c with a late night show. And I just thought that, you know, this might be a good time to, to leave and go back to LA and try to create a show. So. Right. So that’s why I did, if, look, in hindsight, I, I should have stayed another couple of years probably. But I, so I left and I I created a show with with a guy named Andy Lassner who had a deal at Fox. Okay. Do you know Andy?

Michael Jamin (00:38:00):
No, I don’t.

Vance DeGeneres (00:38:03):
He had a deal over at Fox and he’d been a, a fan of mine on the Daily Show and said, Hey, I’ve got this deal. Let’s create a show together. So we, we created a show called Your, your Local News that, that he and I wrote and I, I hosted, and we shot a pilot half hour pilot. And that didn’t go

Michael Jamin (00:38:25):

Vance DeGeneres (00:38:27):
So yet another show that didn’t, this

Michael Jamin (00:38:29):
Is par for the court. It’s not a knock on you or any, it’s just this, this is how the business is, you know? Yeah. You get an at bat and you can, you can hit it outta the park and they go, you know what? We think someone else will hit it at the park further. <Laugh>, you know, this is how it’s

Vance DeGeneres (00:38:44):
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve got, I’ve got so many of those shows that Yeah. That that didn’t go, but like a lot of people. And so so then I, I produced a, a few other, other shows not, not really even worth mentioning. And then Steve got offered a, a production deal at Warner Brothers and he said, Hey, would you, would you be interested in, in running my production company?

Michael Jamin (00:39:19):
But what did you know about running a production company?

Vance DeGeneres (00:39:24):
What do you, what do you have to know, Michael? I don’t

Michael Jamin (00:39:25):
Know. <Laugh>, I, I often ask that people sitting desk, what do you know, <laugh>, I mean, tell, tell people what, what it means to run a production company?

Vance DeGeneres (00:39:35):
Well, I, I think for Steve, he wanted, he wanted somebody to run it who, who he trusted and who he knew had the same kind of sense of humor that, that he did, because we, we would be, we’d be the comedy shingle at Warner Brothers. Right. and that’s, that’s why he decide to sign with Warner Brothers. So he, he asked me and a another friend of his, a writer actor named Charlie Hartsock. And so we became co-presidents of he named the Carousel Productions. Right. So we we had a deal for six years at Warner Brothers. And we produced crazy Stupid Love and What’s that

Michael Jamin (00:40:25):
Good movie. And so, but how does it, and, and Go, yeah, go on. What are the other projects?

Vance DeGeneres (00:40:31):
We did another movie called the Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Right. and then we did produced three seasons of Inside Comedy. I showed that David Steinberg hosted that we interviewed with all these comedians.

Michael Jamin (00:40:45):
Oh, it’s funny. So that’s how that came back. So, and so all this time though, Steve is doing other projects, so, you know, they’re acting in other projects, but basically what it means, you’re, you’re running his studios, like you’re looking, you’re looking for scripts based. I’m, tell me if I’m wrong, you’re looking for scripts that you think that he would be good in, but, but he wasn’t. Yes. Did you, did you produce any think projects that he was Wait, that he wasn’t involved the inside? Yeah. Yeah. That one you didn’t, of course. But you’re looking for script for him, and he’s deciding whether he likes it or not. And then if he likes it, you take it to the studio and you see if the studio likes it. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:41:22):
Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s how it works. We would I mean, we took lots of meetings with with writers that, that their agents would submit scripts, would read ’em if we liked him, the writers would come in, would meet with him, and and then we’d, if we liked it enough, we’d we’d send it to, to Steve to read, to see if he was interested enough that we would we’d produce it.

Michael Jamin (00:41:46):
But was it would, so they would sometimes bring s scripts here, but sometimes you’d just, it was a general meeting and they, and they, they, they’d pitch you ideas too, right?

Vance DeGeneres (00:41:55):
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

Michael Jamin (00:41:57):
Yeah. And then you, if they like it, and if Steve likes it, may, then you bring it to the studio, and then the studio’s, like, now, whether they wanna put money on it or not, sometimes did you, you could, I’m sure you had a deal where you could bring it to Warner Brothers, and if they don’t, it’s a first look. If they don’t like it, then you could bring it somewhere else.

Vance DeGeneres (00:42:14):
Yeah. Yeah. And that happened a lot. You know, Warner Brothers, you know, not every project was right for them. So we, you know, we’d wind up taking something over to Universal and, you know, we wound up developing a movie over there. And then a mo we Charlie and I sold a an idea for Movie two Lionsgate. And we wound up hiring David Jabba to write that. Do you know DJ Jabba? No. He was a, an executive producer on The Daily Show and Okay. Really funny writer. And it was, it was a movie that had a, at, at start a North Korean uhhuh. And we don’t need to go into the whole story, but you know what happened with the thing at Sony with

Michael Jamin (00:43:11):
Yeah. My friend Dan Sterling wrote that mo that movie the what was it called? The what was it called? The North Korean movie? What was it called? The

Vance DeGeneres (00:43:21):
I can’t, I can’t remember.

Michael Jamin (00:43:24):
But it was him with, it was James Franco was in it. Right. And they go to North Korea. Yes. Yeah. And so, yeah, Kim Jong Gill took issue with it, <laugh> and hacked Sony <laugh> and Kim released everyone’s private information, and that was the end of that. Froze.

Vance DeGeneres (00:43:39):
And, and then that was the end of, of our movie. Right.

Michael Jamin (00:43:44):
Right. Cause that could kill your movie. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:43:46):
It, it totally, there’s like, they’re like, Lionsgate was like, there’s no way we can touch this right now. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (00:43:53):
So forever again. And so the, and that’s not, has nothing to do with you. We saw the movie to 20th century Fox called Only Child, and everyone loved it until suddenly there was another movie in the works called Middle Child, and I’m not sure they had anything in common other than the world child <laugh>, and suddenly ours was dead. It’s like, we’ll rename it. Nope. Sorry. <Laugh>

Vance DeGeneres (00:44:16):
God. Yeah. Yeah. It, it, it’s, yeah. Projects die for so many different reasons. Yeah. But, but that was, that was a pretty insane reason to have a movie killed. Yeah. but, and we, we developed so many movies with so many different writers over, over the years and it’s, it’s just, it’s tough to get a movie made. You know, even if you have a deal with a studio, it’s, it’s still tough

Michael Jamin (00:44:46):
With, with a major star attached to it. A major star willing to do this project. Major star an alien. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s hard, it’s hard to get something made. And so, and you ton of scripts I’m sure, which is hard, it’s hard to go home and read a script, right? I mean, you know. Yes. Especially if it’s bad. What are you, what, what do you see, I don’t know, what were you looking for? I imagine some of these scripts were almost, I’m gonna say something and put words in your mouth, were almost written in crayon, right? I mean, some of them were kind of bad, or, no,

Vance DeGeneres (00:45:19):
I wouldn’t mind a script written in crayon

Michael Jamin (00:45:21):
As a, as a, as a lark. I mean, there’s a lot of, like, you read a lot of scripts that were, I’m sure were not good. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:45:28):
A lot. Yes. A lot. Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of shocking actually. How many scripts you get that we got submitted that just weren’t just, were not good. Certainly we’re not what we were looking for.

Michael Jamin (00:45:41):
And how far would you go into the script before tossing it? How many pages would you give it?

Vance DeGeneres (00:45:48):
I’m, I’m, I’ll would give a script at at least, at least 20 or 30 pages.

Michael Jamin (00:45:53):
Generous estimate. I mean,

Vance DeGeneres (00:45:54):
If it, if, if it was really awful you know, maybe, maybe a few less than that. But I would, I would, I would tend to give it 20 or 30 at least.

Michael Jamin (00:46:05):
Right. But you’re not gonna finish it if it’s, there’s no point. If you’re, if you’re not hooked in 2030, you’re, why, why would you bother when you have a stack? Yeah. You know, you

Vance DeGeneres (00:46:15):
Know, and, and, and, you know, we, we knew the kind of stuff we were looking for, you know, that the right tone of comedy you know, there’s a lot of different, different tones of comedy and you know, maybe some of them were, were right for somebody else, but not for what we were looking for. Right. and in the, in the beginning we were really just looking for, for comedies and I guess four years into our deal the head of the, the, the studio came to our office and said Hey we need you guys to to really concentrate on on looking for tent poles, which was not what we were looking for in the beginning.

Michael Jamin (00:47:02):
Which, what is a tent pole? A big, a big giant blockbuster.

Vance DeGeneres (00:47:07):
A big, a big blockbuster.

Michael Jamin (00:47:08):
Yeah. As opposed to, it’s hard to think of a big blockbuster comedy. I mean, there really aren’t, you know, are there comedy zone? We’re not talking about like, we’re like a tent pole. You think it was like a Marvel movie or, you know, something like that. Or an action thriller, not a comedy. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:47:26):
Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s, that’s exactly right. I, I guess you, you could look at a film like The Hangover when that came out. Right. You know, that, that, that it was a little movie that just happened to do really well.

Michael Jamin (00:47:39):
Yeah. I, but I know, I can’t imagine conceiving that, Ooh, wait, here’s a tent pole. Like, no, here’s a, here’s a crapshoot that just worked, you know?

Vance DeGeneres (00:47:46):
Yeah. Yeah. So, but any, anyways, so we you know, we had to kind of turn the boat around a little bit and start looking for, you know movies that had the potential to be more international, I guess. Right. You know, and Right. They were very concerned.

Michael Jamin (00:48:04):
And that is hard because it, comedy is hard for, so you’re talking for international means, I, I’m guessing means broader, more physical comedy, less reliant on joke, le less reliant on, well, maybe dumb, maybe, maybe dumber, maybe dumb dumb, maybe kind of dumbing it down a little. I mean, kind. Is that what that means? Broader?

Vance DeGeneres (00:48:24):
I don’t, I don’t know. I mean well, well, here’s an example of, of something that, that we found that we, that we developed as, as a comedy, and that that could have been Big Acme mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you know, Acme the, the cartoons with Yeah. You know, the Road Runner and Right. We we developed a live, a live version, Uhhuh <affirmative> of of Acme. And the guys that directed crazy Stupid Love wrote the script for it. And it was, it was really good. It was really, it was funny and, and big. But

Michael Jamin (00:49:06):
But Acme is basically, it was people running into walls and, and boxes. Right. That crates that say acne on it, that explode. Yes. That kind of thing. So it was very physical.

Vance DeGeneres (00:49:17):
Yeah. Yeah. And it actually would’ve made a, a really funny and, and a very big movie as well. Right. but but we didn’t get to make that either.

Michael Jamin (00:49:29):
Right. Like, I mean,

Vance DeGeneres (00:49:30):
But that’s just an example of, of how it’s like, maybe we can take this and maybe this could be something that would be, you know, appealing internationally.

Michael Jamin (00:49:40):
Right. As opposed to like Little Miss Sunshine, which he was in, which is a small film, small little character study that blew up somehow, you know? Yeah,

Vance DeGeneres (00:49:48):
Exactly. And, and nobody, nobody knows what’s gonna work and, and what’s not.

Michael Jamin (00:49:53):
Was it hard for you to make the leap to executive? I mean, it’s a whole different, you’re, you’re doing a lot of, you’re, you’re making the rounds, you’re pitching more, you’re, you’re getting in that you have to get your lay of the land, you have to schmooze with other executives. I mean, it’s kind of a, was that hard for you? That hard jump for you?

Vance DeGeneres (00:50:11):
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, yeah. It was, it was, it was a little, little tough. I, I don’t like being a salesman. Yeah. and there were times when, of course we had to, we had to go out and sell him. The, the o the other part of it, I did enjoy, I did enjoy meeting with, with writers and actors who would come in and and we, you know, we’d have great meetings and, you know, we, we would be pitching their projects, you know and that was, and that was, that was fun when we found projects that we’d liked and we would develop it with the, with the writer Uhhuh. So that, that, that part was, it was very creative and great. And that was, and that was a lot of fun. And it was, and it was also so great you know, getting to run Steve’s company. Cuz you know, Steve’s, he’s one of my closest friends, and he is just, you know, he’s such a great guy and he is so hilarious. Yeah. so I, you know, if I was to run anybody’s company, I’m glad it I got to run his,

Michael Jamin (00:51:17):
See, that’s another thing. So when a writer comp, so many people, you know, say I post a lot on social media and so many people are like I have a script I wanna sell, and, but I, I don’t wanna change a word. I’m like, you have, what are you talking about? You come in, you with an idea, you picture show if someone else is interested, you play ball. You. It’s a very collaborative, if you stay home, if you are not willing to take a note, you know, it, it’s like,

Vance DeGeneres (00:51:39):
Yeah. That, I mean, that’s, yeah. You gotta, you know. Yeah. If you don’t, if you don’t want to change a word you better have enough money to finance it yourself. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (00:51:49):
Right, right. You have to get people attached and it’s, it’s all about, yeah. So what, what advice do you have for people trying to break in the indu industry today? I mean, it’s, it’s changed even since you’ve left.

Vance DeGeneres (00:52:04):

Michael Jamin (00:52:05):
Former production of Shrugs, I don’t know, <laugh>, I don’t know.

Vance DeGeneres (00:52:10):
God, it, I mean, it’s, it’s just so, it’s just so scattershot now. I mean, I, I, I think, but at, at the, at the very base, I think it comes down to you have to wanna do something. If you want, if you wanna write, then you just have to write, just, you know, you know, get a, get a book on, on, on writing scripts and teach yourself and just write, write, write. And you know, it’s not easy because it helps if you, if you know somebody to send it to, because you can’t just send in scripts unsolicited generally. Right. but, you know, but a lot of, a lot of people get into it through doing improv and then, and then shooting little bits and, and you know, putting ’em, if they go viral,

Michael Jamin (00:53:00):
But, and that’s basically what you did. I mean, you’re, you’re vi it’s like you did long before Vi Viral was a thing, was you just did it. And, and I, I used to tell everyone, stop asking for permission. Just do it. You know,

Vance DeGeneres (00:53:12):
John, that, that’s, no, that’s, that’s exactly right. W because we did the fourth floor show, because it, it entertained us. It was something that if we could do any show, this would be the show that we would do, so we just did it.

Michael Jamin (00:53:27):
Yeah. Yeah. Right. You get a bunch of people that kind of want the same thing and you do it. Yeah. Yeah. And then now, now you have this, you’re basically back to your first love, your first love music. I’m not talking. Yeah,

Vance DeGeneres (00:53:41):
Yeah. Pretty, pretty much. I mean, af after, well, after Carousel, after we lost our deal I had a deal for God, another nine or 10 years at, at Warner Brothers at tele Pictures. Yeah. At tele Pictures at Warner.

Michael Jamin (00:53:58):
What are you doing there?

Vance DeGeneres (00:53:59):
I was developing TV shows.

Michael Jamin (00:54:01):
I didn’t know that. I didn’t know. Yeah,

Vance DeGeneres (00:54:05):
Yeah, yeah. My, my, my deal just ended in October.

Michael Jamin (00:54:08):
Oh, wow. I had no idea. And so you were, okay, you were for Warner Brothers, but not on a pro, not on a production shingle, but actually just for Warner Brothers doing the same.

Vance DeGeneres (00:54:18):
Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, I, my, I mean, all told I was there at for 15 years,

Michael Jamin (00:54:24):
But at this point, you’re more of a buyer as opposed to a seller if you’re working on Warner Brothers. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (00:54:29):
Well, n no. No, I, no, I, I had a deal to, to develop shows. So that’s what I was doing.

Michael Jamin (00:54:36):
You had Oh, your own deal. Okay. Yeah. It’s your, wow. Good for you. That’s unusual. Okay. You were Okay. You got a shingle, basically. Yeah. You, that’s what you were Yeah. We weren’t in studios. Exactly. Yeah. You’re okay. Wow.

Vance DeGeneres (00:54:48):
Yeah, exactly. No, exactly. Exactly. And then, so, so now that my deal is done I’m, I’m still gonna take, I’ve g I got a couple of shows that that I’m gonna try to sell, but in the meantime, I’m, I’m doing a lot of music again. Right,

Michael Jamin (00:55:05):
Right. And let’s, let’s talk about that. You now, who’s your band? Who and who are these people in your band?

Vance DeGeneres (00:55:11):
The band is called The Light Jackets. And it’s been my, my project on the side for the last 10 years with the other Bandmates or Eddie Jemison, who’s who’s a great actor. You know ’em if you saw ’em. Okay. Tim Ford is the drummer Dermot Kieran is the keyboard player. And bill Angola is the lead guitar player. And, and Go

Michael Jamin (00:55:39):
Ahead. How often and how often do you guys meet and get together and jam and write and perform?

Vance DeGeneres (00:55:45):
Well, we’ve, we, we just released our fourth record about a week ago. Right. And we’ve, so we’ve got, yeah, we’ve got four, we’ve got three eps and one album that we’ve released over the past 10 years.

Michael Jamin (00:55:58):

Vance DeGeneres (00:55:59):
And so, you know, it’s just, I mean, it’s always been a passion. So I’ve, I’ve never really stopped playing music. I’ve always managed to do it, you know in my spare time.

Michael Jamin (00:56:14):
And so what ha, what happened was you posted this really cute video that you guys shot, and it was, you did with all the puppets, and it was wonderful and saw it. And I, I go, let’s talk about this. Tell me, tell me how that came up together. And the song was great. And you know what? That’s what, this is a perfect time. We’re gonna play a clip from that song. We’re gonna play it. We’ll come back and you’ll everyone have a listen, and then we’ll talk about it

Song Clip (00:56:40):
All. Cause it’s a better way. The outside world would never know that we were here. We have known interfere A Little Nation will be our salvation. I know. It’s gone. Well get, join. We can leave right now.

Michael Jamin (00:57:15):
So yes, the song, I love that song you wrote that song? Yeah, yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (00:57:19):
One that you wrote. It’s called, yeah, it’s called Our Little Revolution. And it’s, it’s one of the five songs on our new ep. The EP is called fall So Far, if you look for it on iTunes or whatever.

Michael Jamin (00:57:32):
Yeah. Where, where should we look on iTunes, Spotify, everywhere.

Vance DeGeneres (00:57:37):
Yeah. All the usual places.

Michael Jamin (00:57:38):
Right. The light jackets stand.

Vance DeGeneres (00:57:41):
So I, I I decided that because of the theme of the song, which the theme, the theme of the song is really kind of about where we are in society right now, about how, how polarized we are. Yeah.

and I didn’t want to do a video with depicting real people in the, in these, you know, angry situations. Yeah. but I’ve got, I’ve got some friends that have a puppet production company. They do these, they do these videos. They’re called rag, mop and Goose. And it’s my friend’s Gus Renard and Jesse Cabalero they’re married and they do these amazing little puppets. So I asked them if they would do a video for the song. And and they, they did such a great job. They did. Yeah. Really happy with it.

Michael Jamin (00:58:37):
How, how long of a shoot was that?

Vance DeGeneres (00:58:41):
It, it didn’t take ’em long. We got together, I, I gave them, I gave them a very loose outline, and then they came up with the rest, and then they went off and shot it and cut it together. In, so you

Michael Jamin (00:58:53):
Weren’t even involved in the shoot, you said, Hey, good run with this.

Vance DeGeneres (00:58:57):
No, I, I, I was very happy to farm it out. It’s like, you know, this is this is what I’d like to, you know, to see. And then they went off and shot it, and they, and I have to say, it’s probably the first time my, in my entire career where I was sent a project back where I didn’t give them one note.

Michael Jamin (00:59:16):
Really? Wow. Yeah. You did a great job. And so, to me, I’m guessing the goal of it was just to be creative and make music. That’s all. That’s it. But do you have, are there, are, is there, are there other future ambitions? Is there more ambitions there more you hope to get outta this though?

Vance DeGeneres (00:59:33):
Just, just the enjoyment of, of being musically creative. Right. And and that, that’s it. I mean, I, I’m under no illusions that I’m gonna get another record deal. Right. You know, capital Records is not gonna call and offer me a deal again. Right. but that’s fi that’s fine. You know, the, it’s, you know, it’s a fun band. It’s, it’s a good band. And we play lo we play live gigs, you know, like two or three times a year. Right. and we make, we make our records. And that’s, that’s enough. Right. I mean, it’s just fun.

Michael Jamin (01:00:09):
That’s it. That’s it. And that’s what I’m always telling people, just do it if, and there’s so much in Holly, like, there’s so much where you don’t get paid in Hollywood. There’s a lot of work that you do that you don’t get paid. And if you’re not enjoying the work, well, this is not for you then. I mean, you have to be <laugh>, you know, whatever it is. Whether it’s music or writing or acting. Like if you’re not enjoying, you shouldn’t be chasing the paycheck. You do it cause you enjoy it. Right.

Vance DeGeneres (01:00:32):
Yeah. No, that, and that, that’s a good point. And that, you know, that’s, that’s also good advice for people who are looking to get into this business, is if, if you get asked, you know, to do a favor for somebody, just do it.

Michael Jamin (01:00:45):
Yeah. You don’t know.

Vance DeGeneres (01:00:48):
Yeah. You don’t know what it’s gonna lead to and Right. You know, plus you’re gonna be getting experience.

Michael Jamin (01:00:54):
Yep. Yep. What’s so other than, so what’s next for you? You’re, you, you have a couple show ideas, you’ll take ’em out, these ideas that you developed. Yeah, yeah,

Vance DeGeneres (01:01:04):
Yeah. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (01:01:06):
Warner Brothers must have really liked it. Yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (01:01:08):
It was it was, yeah. It, my my time was spent well over there. I, I like the people over there and yeah. It, it was, it was a, it was a good experience. And I’ve got, I, we may or may not still have one, one movie with Steve Corll over at Disney. It might be dead at this point. Charlie and I sold an idea for an updated Swiss family, Robinson to Disney. Right. Called called Brooklyn Family Robinson

Michael Jamin (01:01:39):

Vance DeGeneres (01:01:41):
And oh, well, it was just a modern day version of the Family comes from Brooklyn. And and we, God, we probably have gone through four sets of writers over the years because we, we sold it while, while we still had Carousel open.

Michael Jamin (01:02:02):
But then why so many writers, like, what, what hap how does that work? Because you

Vance DeGeneres (01:02:09):
You, you, you write, you the writer writes the draft, you bring it to Disney. They say, Hey, this is fantastic. Right. Let’s bring in another writer to do to it even better. Yes. right.

<Laugh> and then the writer, you, you hire, you, you interview other writers. They give you different pitches on how we could make it even more fantastic. Right. you decide with Disney, okay, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll pay this, this writer X amount to go off and write this new version. Right. they, they do that. In the meantime, this exec at Disney has been fired or left on their own. Yep. A new exec comes in that didn’t know anything about this project. Right. You turn the script in and they say, this is really a fantastic script. Yeah. But why don’t, why don’t we bring in a different writer to, to let’s try a little different,

Michael Jamin (01:03:03):
That way they can, the executive put their own stamp on it, basically.

Vance DeGeneres (01:03:07):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. And that happened you know, several times with, with this project. And it’s unfortunate it would’ve, it would’ve been a fun project, but I think at this point, it’s probably probably not gonna happen.

Michael Jamin (01:03:22):
The maddening thing is, most executives, they tend to take a stay the jobb two or three years and, you know, and then it’s a shop price somewhere else when their deals up. And that’s not a lot of time to, you got either right or needs six months to a year to do the work, <laugh> it doesn’t leave a lot of time to get a green light. So it’s really a, takes a miracle a little bit to get a movie made, you know?

Vance DeGeneres (01:03:44):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and that, that was the thing with crazy Stupid Love that that was one of these, one of these movies that everything just fell into to place that just never, ever happens because we were supposed to be doing a, a Steve and Tina Faye movie.

Michael Jamin (01:04:03):

Vance DeGeneres (01:04:04):
And Tina, right after the holiday break, Tina called and said, Hey, I have to turn in this, this book that I have to deliver the Bossy Pants book. Right. she said, I need to finish it, and we need to move the movie,

Michael Jamin (01:04:21):

Vance DeGeneres (01:04:21):
That could come. So, yeah. So it was like, okay, well that’s, that’s a drag. Yeah. But we Dan Fogelman had written this, this script that he sent, sent to us right before the holidays. We really liked it. Warner of our brothers liked, they bought it. So when Tina said that it was like, well, what about the Dan Fogelman script? So it’s like, yeah, sure. So that immediately went into pro into production, and we, we interviewed directors. We wound up hiring John and Glen and and got it shot within a few months after that everything just kind of fell into place.

Michael Jamin (01:05:09):
Did the, so the director didn’t wanna rewrite on it often. They, they wanna rewrite on it.

Vance DeGeneres (01:05:14):
They loved the script that Dan had written, but worked with Dan to do a, a rewrite. They did a another pass on that and made it even better. And and then the casting just went, went great. We just happened to land, you know, the, like the perfect cast. And the shoot went, went well, and yeah, it was one of the, one of these dream projects that just doesn’t happen.

Michael Jamin (01:05:43):
Were you on location the whole time for the shoot?

Vance DeGeneres (01:05:46):
You personally? No. We, we were all, we were at, at Warner Brothers on a couple of sound stages Oh. As well. As well as some locations. Yeah.

Michael Jamin (01:05:54):
So, see, that’s the thing. When people wanna be a screenwriter, there’s a lot of, it’s not gonna get made. Sometimes you’ll maybe you get lucky and get made, but in my opinion, the goal is really just can I get paid to sit at a desk and write and do something creative as opposed to having a job that I don’t like? And if it gets made, fantastic. If not, I can still do what I like doing all day, which is being creative and get getting paid for it, as opposed to like laying bricks or whatever, you know, that you don’t wanna do. So, yeah.

Vance DeGeneres (01:06:24):
Yeah, yeah,

Michael Jamin (01:06:25):
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So

Vance DeGeneres (01:06:28):
I, I, I think basically, I, I, I mean, to sum it up, I’ve been really, really fortunate. I’ve been really lucky in my career that

Michael Jamin (01:06:36):
You’ve had many careers. That’s the thing.

Vance DeGeneres (01:06:38):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I, I, I’ve been lucky enough to, to kind of bounce back and forth between careers, so Yeah.

Michael Jamin (01:06:46):
Yeah. Yeah. Fair. A creative life fans, thank you so much for doing this. It, it is so great to catch up with you. Everyone go check

Vance DeGeneres (01:06:54):
Out. Oh, my pleasure.

Michael Jamin (01:06:55):
Go check out his, his band Light jackets everywhere. I I’m sure it’s everywhere. Spotify, apple yeah. Yeah. Is on Google. You can do a Google search for it. Go listen to this, to music. It’s wonderful. Thank you again so much. Don’t go anywhere. I’m just gonna sign off and then, you know, that’s it. All right, everyone, thank you so much. That was a great talk. Next, stay tuned for next time, more episodes dropping every Wednesday. All right. And be sure to sign up for all the, the stuff we have, I I give you to sign up. All right, everyone, thank you so much. Be well.

Phil Hudson (01:07:25):
This has been an episode of Screenwriters Need to Hear This with Michael Jamin and Phil Hudson. 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 at @PhilAHudson. This episode was produced by Phil Hudson and edited by Dallas Crane. Until next time, keep writing.

Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

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.

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