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1. According to the narrator,
1) people choose their occupation accidentally.
2) every person has a gift of humour.
3) each person has a natural ability.
2. The narrator says that her mother
1) often plays in comedies.
2) says funny things in a clever and critical way.
3) likes to give unreal answers to questions.
3. The narrator is grateful to her parents because
1) they were very strict to her.
2) she always felt their support.
3) they gave her money to achieve her aims.
4. The narrator particularly enjoys Thursday because on that day
1) she has lunch with the members of her crew.
2) she usually checks all the stuff she worked on.
3) her show is broadcast.
5. The narrator prefers laughter to applause because
1) she gets a hit when she gets a good laugh.
2) applause can be insincere.
3) applause is not as prompt as laughter.
6. The narrator admits that she is
1) a cruel person.
2) not tough at her shows.
3) capable of making biting comments.
7. The narrator believes that to make a good comedian you
1) should be amusing and hard-working.
2) should be crazy and live dangerously.
3) need to almost die.
1 – 3
2 – 2
3 – 2
4 – 3
5 – 2
6 – 3
7 – 1
People often ask me whether my humour is a gift. I guess, every kid has something they’re good at, that you hope they find and gravitate towards. This is my thing. I don’t think I was supposed to be a gymnast and accidentally landed on this.
My whole family often played to each other. My mom’s a dry wit and she’s one of my comedy inspirations. Philadelphians have a smart-alecky humour. A college roommate from the South said, ‘How come when I ask someone in your family a question, they give a smart-aleck answer before the real one?’ I think it’s the difference between the North and the South. My dad has a good sense of silliness. He was the one to let me and my brother stay up to watch comedies. He introduced us to the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy and even the Three Stooges.
My parents were extremely encouraging and always made it seem like we could achieve anything we wanted. They were generous with their praise and their time but also good, strict parents. The first time one of my friends met them, my mom came in and gave me a million kisses. My friend was surprised because he didn’t even know what that was. For me, it always felt like there was a real safety net there. It made it okay to try and it was really great!
My favourite day at 30 Rock is Thursday, when the show airs. At lunch we screen the episodes. For everyone to watch together, to see the stuff we all worked on, to hear the crew laugh. Well, it’s great fun and I still get the hit when I get a good laugh.
Laughter pleases me much more than applause. You can prompt applause with a sign. My friend, SNL writer Seth Meyers, coined the term clapter, which is when you do a political joke and people go, ‘Woo-hoo.’ It means they sort of approve but didn’t really like it that much. You hear a lot of that on The Daily Show.
I’m not a mean person, even though my humour has sometimes been described as biting, but I have a capacity for it. I have the biting comment formed somewhere in the back of my head — like it’s in captivity. Sometimes people expect that I’m going to be tough. It’s not a bad situation. People treat you better. The rules of improvisation are about taking risks, saying yes and jumping in. One of my teachers at Second City said that learning to be an improviser is like doing the Hokey Pokey: ‘You put your whole self in and you shake it all about.’ You just jump in.
At SNL, when you come downstairs to leave after the show, there are people waiting for autographs. A lot of the young women I talked to there told me they wanted to be writers. I always tried to encourage them. I think the world has too many actresses.
There have always been different types of people if you look at great comedians. You have John Belushi and Richard Pryor, who lived dangerously. Then you have Jerry Seinfeld and Bob Newhart, who are happily married, mild-mannered guys. And their humour doesn’t come from a place where they need to almost die to make comedy. You don’t have to be crazy to make comedy. To make comedy, maybe you just have to work hard and be funny.