How Your Comedy Sausage Gets Made

In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, there’s a lengthy profile of Peter Principato, manager and discoverer of such people as Jonah Hill, Rob Riggle, David Wain, Will Arnett and Rob Corddry. It’s a fascinating look into the deal-making side of the comedy business in Hollywood, including a peek inside a pitch meeting with the three guys from UCB LA improv favorites Convoy.

The troupe riffed off one another, like the experienced improv comedians they were. It was easy to see how the show could be very, very funny. The presentation wound down, and Weidenfeld began to speak with professional caution. “I like the genre,” he said. “Science-fiction parody — we haven’t seen this yet.” However, he continued, “I think the question is . . . how you’re going to execute a procedural in 11 minutes — as a farce, when it’s even hard to do as an hour? There’s a reason they’re an hour. To make it work as an 11-minute, the procedural has to be a B or C story.” Forget about following a realistic plot. The episode in which the O.P.P. investigators ignore the investigation and hang out in the spa, kibitzing? “I mean, that’s every episode. That’s how it’s going to have to be.”

For comedy fans, all they see are finished products. This is a good reminder that when something doesn’t work quite right, there are a lot more cooks in the kitchen that produced it than the big names on screen. If you’re curious about the business of comedy, this is a must-read.

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