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Jul 24, 2018

Banging My Head Against the Wall: A Comedy Writer’s Guide to Seeing Stars is a great book title because it is not only clever, it tells you exactly what the book is about. Humorist Andy Cowan’s career has known great highs, as captured in his memoir’s subtitle – and great frustrations, as telegraphed in the title. It also gets across the concept of opposites, which could be said to capsulize his work life ever since he conceived of “The Opposite” episode of “Seinfeld.”

ANDY COWAN podcast excerpt: "Initially, I met Jerry Seinfeld as a stand-up guy at UCLA in 1980. College audiences tended to be my crowd. I had a good set, felt good. Then this kid comes up and says, 'What IS head cheese?' I'd never seen anything quite like him. Just the confidence that the guy had, for his young age. The crowd was blown away. I walked up to him and said, 'You ever thought about doing Carson?' And he said, 'I'm not ready yet.'"

Cowan’s early career in TV was spent as a talent coordinator for “The Merv Griffin Show” – and yes, I know more than a few of you don’t even know who Merv Griffin is anymore. He was a prominent force in late night television for many years, attracting the biggest names in show business during his time – many of whom were pre-interviewed by Cowan. But Cowan’s ambitions were bigger than Merv – he wanted to write television sitcoms. He had a great deal of success – eventually – but there was a whole lot of waiting and rejection in between. Although he once scammed Lorne Michaels into a “Saturday Night Live” tryout, his big break came when Larry David, co-creator of “Seinfeld,” liked one of his ideas and eventually brought him on staff beginning in the show’s sixth season. We’ll talk about that and a whole lot more today.

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