Being Michael McCarthy

I spent a large chunk of this weekend, as I sometimes do, substitute teaching for Michael McCarthy’s writing classes at the iO Chicago. Michael has put together a tremendous writing program that, unlike many other writing programs, actually results in students producing something by the end of each eight-week program. If the students put the work into it, they will have either a packet to submit to talk shows or SNL, a spec TV script, or even a complete pilot script. At the very least, they will have something to submit to potential agents for possible representation. It’s a nifty program and I’m delighted to have a part in it.

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Michael also shows videos during the course of each class to better give students an idea of what–or what not–to aim for. This weekend, instead of showing them a TV pilot or sketches, I decided to do something completely different, and showed a Youtube clip of one of John Cleese’s early Creativity speeches. When I used to work for John, I helped him customize his corporate speeches. The clip I found predates my working with him, but there was still plenty of useful information to help these already creative students become even more creative. Sometime I’ll write more about John and the creativity speeches. I learned a lot and I think everyone will.

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