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You’re Lucky You’re Funny: How Life Becomes a Sitcom Hardcover – October 19, 2006 by Phil Rosenthal (Author)
The creator and executive producer of Everybody Loves Raymond dissects the art of comedy and the making of a sitcom classic
In television, where programs can premiere and disappear in the same week, Everybody Loves Raymond reigned as America’s best-loved show for nine years with more than seventeen million viewers. As the number-one sitcom, it received more than seventy Emmy nominations, including two wins for best comedy. With You’re Lucky You’re Funny, Phil Rosenthal takes us onstage and inside the writer’s room.
Rosenthal’s meteoric ascent was preceded by odd jobs, including a stint as a museum security guard, running a deli, and writing for a slew of forgettable shows-including one starring Robert Mitchum as a curmudgeonly homeless man taken in by two orphans. But when he met comedian Ray Romano, they discovered a shared lifetime of family dysfunction-and endless material for a sitcom.
Not only a chronicle of one man’s rise to the peak of his profession, Rosenthal’s book is also an unprecedented look at the making of a hit series: how shows are written and character developed, how comedy is refined, how network executives are outsmarted, and most important, how egos are massaged. You’re Lucky You’re Funny is an inspiration to anyone involved in the creative process and a must read for the show’s millions of devoted fans.
In 1996, TV scriptwriter Rosenthal created Everybody Loves Raymond by stirring the standup comedy of Ray Romano into his own family memories. With Rosenthal as executive producer and inexperienced actor Romano basically portraying himself, their successful sitcom found an audience of 17 million viewers and ran for nine seasons (1996–2005), receiving over 70 Emmy nominations. Rosenthal offers a comedic chronicle of his own life, weaving wit and humor into every page. After a Bronx boyhood as a “shrimpy little nothing,” his high school obsession with TV led to college theater, odd jobs (museum guard, deli manager) and a New York acting career that bottomed out. Arriving in L.A., he discovered it was “suburbia without the urbia,” and after five years of grinding out scripts for now-forgotten sitcoms, he lit the Romano rocket. Rosenthal details it all—character development, devising dialogue, casting, table reads, run-throughs, doing publicity and dealing with interfering studio executives. Aspiring TV comedy writers and producers will see this as a valuable textbook of insights from an insider, while fans now buying DVD sets will welcome the vast array of amusing anecdotes and background information. Rosenthal also pokes the dark underbelly of “phoney baloney Hollywood,” so parts of this book are like listening to a very long and funny standup routine. (Oct. 23)
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At last a book that is not only highly entertaining, but spells out how to run a beloved television show. — Carl Reiner
Somewhere between ‘ever-so-rarely’ and ‘never’ is there a book such as this; you will laugh hard and loud. — James L. Brooks
“In the Prologue, Mr. Rosenthal says ‘No one listens to me. Maybe the reader will…’ You should! He is the real deal, both as a human being and as an artist of comedy.”
“I read YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE FUNNY and loved it! If you had the Everybody Loves Raymond bug during its 9 year run, this is the love letter you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve missed the bug, read it at the risk of being bitten and smitten.”
In addition to being a writer, director and producer, Phil Rosenthal is also a gifted comic actor and public speaker. He’s appeared on Inside the Actor’s Studio, Oprah, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, among other shows. He also played a chef in James L. Brooks’ Spanglish, a network executive in the forthcoming film The TV Set, and does a voice in the upcoming Simpsons movie.
Some would say it’s impossible to find a warm-hearted, genuine, funny person in what the author calls “phony-baloney Hollywood,” but at least one exists–author and reader Rosenthal. With his thick Bronx accent fully intact, Rosenthal regales listeners with his beginnings in a family full of absurd characters and situations, his teenaged mishaps and misfires, and his ascendancy as producer/writer of the popular sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Something of a manual of television writing, casting, directing, and producing, along with a jokey tell-all, YOU’RE LUCKY is a self-deprecating laugh-fest delivered by someone who was determined to create warmth and camaraderie in a notoriously cold business. D.J.B. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
This behind the scenes look at what it takes to be a comedy writer is a page-turner. I enjoyed it all, even his pre-Hollywood stories. What you will not hear is anything about salary negotiations on the Raymond show, or even that at the end, Ray Romano was the highest paid actor on television. He doesn’t say how he felt about that, or anything about his own negotiations or what he made. No gossip about problems with actors or co-stars, and when he references problems on other shows, he doesn’t say the actor or the show, so you can’t tell. He is careful to hide the identities of any bad guys in this story. I guess he wants to work again one day.
It is a good look at what goes on when you are a show-runner, which involves supervising and being with the writers throughout that process, the table reads, the blocking, and even the filming of each episode. He was the boss of all that. The writers used their own lives and marriages to create the stories, and the writing staff stayed fairly stable over the entire nine years. Maybe it was because I have the bargain paperback, but there were no photos in my book. I wish I had photos!