Each week in Give A Little Bit, we talk to funny people — comics, writers, cartoonists, senators — about the first time they got a laugh and a bunch of other things about their life. This week, comedy writer and producer Brian Steele of Holt and Steele talks to us about his first script at the age of 9, begging his parents for a Delorean, excessive fart jokes, and singing Scott Bakula.
Your first bit…
Well, I don’t know if you could call it a bit, but when I was like 9 years old I wrote the first act for a Spider-Man movie. But here’s the twist, while the story covered the typical origin story stuff, bitten by radioactive spider, etc., in this script he was be joined by a nosey nine-year-old neighbor who figured out that Peter Parker and Spider-Man were one and the same. And who did the esteemed screenwriter imagine would be playing this star-making part? Why none other than himself. Sadly, I soon moved on to other pursuits, like trying to get my parents to buy me a Delorean in exchange for forgoing my allowance for the rest of my life, and never finished the script.
Your writing process is…
Well, for most of my work with HoltandSteele.com, I write with my partner, and since the two of us can’t stand to be in the same room together, there’s a lot of separate passes. I’ll think up an idea about, like, wouldn’t it be funny if a couple tries to break up because they’re horrible at communicating, and ends up getting engaged. I’ll crank out a script with way too many jokes, then my partner, Mr. Holt Bailey, will come in and help it make sense, removing any excessive fart jokes until it isn’t trying too hard. Then I’ll go back in and add those fart jokes back in. Then we’ll argue about it, and decide we’ll just shoot it as is, and we can always cut the fart jokes later. Then, while shooting, we’ll realize that this thing needs more fart jokes, and we’ll cut the whole couple angle, and just make it a sketch about farting.
Also, I am a college graduate.
Your influences are…
Gosh, so many. Conan O’Brien and his Late Night show were irrationally formative to me. The silliness, mixed with the smarts, absurdity, and sarcasm helped form a comedic vocabulary that I still use today. Kids in the Hall. The State. Mr. Show. Bill Murray. SNL, obviously. As much as it’s hard to admit these days, there were many hazy afternoons spent listening to Adam Sandler CDs that I’d never give back. We’d call the hour block of Simpsons reruns in college “Family Time” and never miss it.
How You Keep It All Together…
My therapist thinks it’s weird that I assume everyone hates me, but that’s just because she hates me.
— Brian Steele (@QuiveringSteele) August 12, 2016
I’m a list man. Long lists that I never reach the bottom of. I assume my To Do list will chase me to the grave, never getting down to those final entries. Right now the last three items are, “pants and shoes” just the word “dance” for some reason, and “write Western.” But I’ve got about three hundred things to get through before I get there, so don’t hold your breath. I also have about ten docs on my computer with the header “Ideas.” I can dig back fifteen years to some random idea I had about how NYC subway breaks play “Somewhere” from West Side Story, but I still don’t know what do with it.
Bit you wish you wrote….
Well, the latest thing I saw that made me just incredibly jealous was the Scott Bakula cameo on the season premiere of It’s Always Sunny. I tend to write stuff that’s a bit silly, with lots of pop culture and sci-fi influences, and Scott Bakula singing to Ziggy from Quantum Leap was one of those bits that feels like it was written just for me.
A new bit you’re working on….
Well, your readers might not know this, but a madman was recently elected leader of the free world, so that’s been taking up a lot of my headspace. Holt and I have a few sketches we’re working on, to keep taking the piss out of that guy until he just goes away. I haven’t written a lot of political stuff in the past, even though I’m a politics junkie, but combining my style with my fervent hatred of our President has really been something of a revelation for me, so we’ll see where it takes me. Judging by the reaction to my sign at the Women’s March, which said “DON, YOU’VE GOT THE MOST FUCKED UP CABINET SINCE NARNIA,” this is what I should have been doing all along.
Trumped by Holt and Steele
Brian Steele is a comedy writer and full-time neurotic. You’ve seen his writing on everything from FunnyorDie to TruTV, MyDamnChannel to IFC. Click here for HoltandSteele.com. Follow him on Twitter @QuiveringSteele.