Thanks Ira

29 Oct

So…I’ve been busy writing, clearly not in here. I started at the UCLA Professional Program for Screenwriting. On the first day of class everyone in my group introduced themselves. The people who had already taken some sort of writing class talked a bit about where they’d come from. I talked about my first writing teacher at Second City, Ira Miller.

When I met him, he was gray-haired and slow-moving but he was quick as a whip when it came to comedy. He has worked with everybody and told us he was very good pals with Mel Brooks. Well, to me, Mel Brooks is a GOD. I was impressed. Prior to meeting Ira I thought I was only funny to friends and family, but only because we share DNA and they wouldn’t want to admit to me being abnormal. Saying I was funny was more…polite. What I immediately loved about Ira was that he was totally honest, but in a kind way.  He wouldn’t tell someone they were funny if they weren’t. One of the best things I’ve ever heard a teacher say was by him to a guy who wrote a horrible skit, “Well, that could be funny.”

Three weeks into my session with Ira I wrote a sketch about Moses (of commandments fame) that I didn’t think anyone but myself would like. It was filled with historical references and sprinkled with Yiddish. I was shocked and thrilled to hear his blustery laughter throughout the 5 page sketch. I waited for his kind criticism. He opened his mouth….

“You would make Mel Brooks laugh.”

I have never received a higher compliment in my life. It was like the comedy gods gave me their blessing. He gave me a great sense of confidence and has helped me become totally fearless and willing to try anything with my writing.

The week I told that story to my NEW writing group, I received a text telling me that Ira had passed away. I am so glad he was my teacher, I will never forget him. He encouraged us to keep trying, even if you fail, try again. That’s good advice for life, hard to follow, but worth trying!

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5 Responses to “Thanks Ira”

  1. Pat Mann October 29, 2012 at 8:07 AM #

    Love this! In life, sometimes it only takes one person to propel us forward and change our lives.

  2. silverscreenings October 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM #

    Love LOVE this tribute to Ira Miller.

    And when he said you would make Mel Brooks laugh, I was not at all surprised.

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