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Notebook on Cities and Culture S1E21: Connoisseur of Silence with Todd Levin

Colin Marshall sits down in Silver Lake with comedian, writer, and comedy writer Todd Levin, who’s written for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Conan, and the Onion News Network. They discuss using comedy performers as tools; the advantages of being a cipher; deliberately bewildering the audience, listening for reactions beyond laughter, and in the process becoming a connoisseur of silence; the comparative humorous possibilities of Tetley and Bigelow tea bag package copy; the inevitable and healthy decision to stop reading internet feedback on one’s work; Conan O’Brien’s coxcomb of hair; New York’s inherent masochism, and Los Angeles’ bus stops full of people who look just about to surrender; the pleasures of New York’s crosstown buses and the agonies of its garbage trains; Los Angeles’ lack of an excuse for shuffling around in flip-flops; his heightened suspicion of venues that aggressively promise good times, and what aggressive promises of laughter can do to comedy; the ultimately fruitless technique of reliable joke insertion, which reveals an anxiety to hold an audience’s attention and in so doing loses that attention; that particular Conan O’Brien brand of delivering silliness and lasting memories at once; and the haunting question of telling which of your actions indicate maturity, and which indicate complacency.

Download the interview from Notebook on Cities and Culture’s feed here or on iTunes here.

(Photo: Lisa Whiteman)

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