The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Scriptnotes Live in New York City.

Craig: Live! In my hometown!

John: Oh, yeah, so, [sings] welcome back.

Craig: [laughs] It’s going to be a night of music.

John: It’s going to be a night of singing. So, Craig, why are you in town?

Craig: Well, my sister had her third kid.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So, I’m going to go visit my newest niece. And I’m also, let’s see, tomorrow I’m going to be on Seth Rudetsky’s show, On Broadway, SiriusXM. And then tomorrow night I’m seeing this show. It’s a struggling show…

John: Yeah. It’s a struggling little art house/black box thing.

Craig: It’s about marine life.

John: It is.

Craig: Big Fish.

John: Uh-huh.

Craig: Big Fish. And a bunch of other fun things here and there.

John: Cool. Good. Show of hands — who here in the audience has already seen Big Fish. Has anyone seen —

Craig: All right.

John: Oh my god! You people are just the best. And so I have a special discount code for Big Fish and thank you all for using that because that’s awesome and it gives me lots of cred among the producer types.

Tonight, we are going to look at the things that are on my little folded sheet of paper. This is all the notes I ever do for any show. But we’re going to talk about a couple different topics. We’re going to talk about this article that came out which was proposing that we should shoot pilots for movies, and whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea.

Craig: All right.

John: We are going to talk about Kickstarter and how much Craig loves Kickstarter. And we have special guest, because our show is much better when we have special guests. And if we can’t have Aline Brosh McKenna, another awesome choice is my very good friend, Andrew Lippa, the composer/lyricist of Big Fish. Yay!

Craig: Awesome.

John: But long time listeners will also know that there is always a little bit of housekeeping at the top of a show. So, we should go through our housekeeping.

Craig: All right. Let’s do it.

John: First off, if you are a person in this audience or a person listening at home in the audience who ordered one of the little USB drives with all of the backup episodes of Scriptnotes, that should be in your possession now. They all shipped out. So, if you didn’t get one, you need to email Stuart at orders@johnaugust.com and tell him, “Stuart, where’s my drive?” And he will take care of that.

Other people have asked, “You know, I didn’t get one of those little drives. I want one of those drives so bad.” Next week we’re going to start selling them again, so people can get those.

People also ask, “You know, I like that the most recent episodes of the podcast are on iTunes, but it’s only the last 20 are there.” So, now we’ve made them all available. The back 20 episodes are free on johnaugust.com or on iTunes. And then if you go to johnaugust.com/scriptnotes, you’ll see links to all of the back episodes.

So, the old archived episodes, it’s sort of like a Netflix model where for $1.99 a month you can listen to as many episodes as you would like to listen to.

Craig: Two dollars a month. I mean, come on.

John: Two dollars a month. For two dollars a month you can listen to all of them.

Craig: I mean, I don’t want to judge anybody for not spending the two dollars a month, but…

John: Yeah.

Craig: And, I mean, we’re still in debt. I just want to make sure that people know that no matter what we sell —

John: Yes. This is a money-losing proposition.

Craig: Always. That’s our credo and our promise to you. We’ll always lose money.

John: Yes. So, thank you for that. And so if you want to hear those back episodes you’ll either be able to buy the USB drive or go to johnaugust.com/scriptnotes and listen to those back episodes, because people need to catch up. And people like to binge listen to shows. And, why not?

Craig: Why not?

John: Why not? Now, Craig, one of your favorite things on earth, I know, is to support Kickstarter campaigns for projects. And where this first came up, it was one of the movies that was trying to —

Craig: All of them. [laughs]

John: All of the moves. Well, Spike Lee’s Kickstarter was not great.

Craig: I was okay with the Veronica Mars one, because that was such a specific circumstance. Warner Bros. has the rights to Veronica Mars. They weren’t going to let it out of right’s jail essentially and allow the filmmakers to do it unless Kickstarters proved that there was enough of an audience. That was the first and last reasonable one of these. Then along came…

John: Zach Braff.

Craig: Zach Braff. Which was just, “Hey, I’m a rich guy. Please give me money.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: And then Spike Lee, because I guess he blew it all on Knicks tickets, and his $6 million apartment. So, I’m not a big fan of…

John: No, you’re not a big fan.

Craig: …of people giving money to non-charitable organizations and getting no ownership in return.

John: So, I did something that I’m not actually so happy that I did. So, I want to sort of apologize to you and sort of try to find what the right word is for it. In a blog post I said that there was this musical from a couple years ago called The Yank! that was looking to raise money to do a cast album, because they were never able to actually to a cast album. They were an Off-Broadway Show that never transferred so it never got that cast album that they wanted.

And so I said, “Well, Craig Mazin loves cast albums.”

Craig: I do.

John: “Maybe it’s a Kickstarter.”

Craig: Correct.

John: And so where will he end up on this whole thing? And so in this blog post I sort of — I used you as — and we can’t quite find the right term for it, because it’s not a stocking horse. That’s not the right thing.

Craig: No.

John: But, I used you in a way that was maybe that appropriate. I dragged you in on something that was maybe not appropriate.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And so I apologize on that.

Craig: I like “Shanghaied.” I think you Shanghaied me.

John: I did. I Shanghaied you. I did. I basically clubbed you and took you on a boat to Shanghai.

Craig: Right. And as it turns out, in the internal war between my love of cast albums, and my hatred of Kickstarter, as always my hatred won.

John: Yes. So, here’s the backstory on this cast album. So, this show written by David Zellnik and Joseph Zellnik, who are brothers. And it was this sort of gay World War II love story thing. And Bobby Steggert —

Craig: You know, the usual.

John: The usual, you know, the mass market.

Craig: You’ve seen it, but whatever.

John: So, two of the actors who were in Big Fish are actually from that show. And they were going to be part of the cast album. And so they tweeted about the money they needed to raise. The two actors are Bobby Steggert, who plays Will in Big Fish, and Tally Sessions, who plays the mayor in Big Fish. They’re both lovely and wonderful. So, they tweeted saying like, “Hey, we’re trying to raise this money,” and they were like a couple thousand dollars short of their $35,000 goal for making this cast album.

And I said, well, you know what? I will tweet about it and I will promise that if they can hit their threshold that I will sing a song from Yank! on the live show of Scriptnotes here in New York City. That’s this.

Craig: And did they hit their threshold?

John: They hit their threshold. They exceeded their threshold. They have $36,000 they raised. So, there will be a cast album where somebody will sing this song so much better than I’m about to. But, there’s going to be singing tonight, so I figured I would just get it out of the way.

Craig: Oh good.

John: And just do it.

Craig: I’m going to get offstage.

John: All right. Fine.

Craig: I’m going to leave you alone.

John: So, the other reason why I thought it was actually kind of useful for us to do this is for the past nine years Andrew Lippa and I have been having to sing Big Fish at a piano for investors, for directors, for producers, for everybody. And so we’ve probably done the whole Big Fish probably 150 times. Yeah. So, Andrew Lippa is a brilliant singer and really, really good. I’m not, but I’ve actually gotten much better just being sort of in his presence over time.

The way you present a show with just at a piano is kind of like this in that it doesn’t have to great. It just has to sort of approximate what a song might sound like. And that’s what I’m going to do is approximate what a good song might sound like. So, Dan Green, if you can get started.

[John sings I Keep Remembering You from Yank!]

So, buy the cast album at some point and listen to how it’s supposed to sound.

Craig: Can I just say…?

John: Yeah.

Craig: That that was really nice. It may be a reflection on my own sociopathy, but I just imagined you were singing it to me. About me. You know, if something should happen and you’d be alone on the podcast with no one to get angry at. No? [laughs]

John: It’s a random song. And what’s weird is like Craig you are sort of my podcast husband.

Craig: Right.

John: And Andrew Lippa is sort of my Big Fish husband. And Mike is my actual husband. So, there are men in my life. So, yeah, I’m visualizing all of that to some degree. The men in my life.

Craig: This is kind of a big moment for us.

John: It’s kind of nice. Well, wait till you hear what Craig is singing at the end of the show.

Craig: Oh yeah, let me tell you. If you think that was gay, wow.

John: This gets much gayer.

Craig: I’ll show you gay.

John: This is the biggest, gayest episode ever and you are here for it.

Craig: The gayest episode of this podcast. It has to be.

John: It has to be.

Craig: Yes.

John: Done.

Craig: When I’m the least gay guy on stage, phew.

John: Oh, boy. No, Dan Green is actually much straighter than you are.

Craig: Oh yeah. Good point.

John: Dan Green is getting married in a week!

Craig: That’s right.

John: Congratulations Dan Green!

All right, our next topic. So, this was an article that someone had tweeted us this week and it was an article by Aaron Cooley arguing that we should really be shooting pilots for movies, because if you look at sort of all the terrible movies we make, we probably wouldn’t have made some of those movies or wouldn’t have made them the same way if we’d gone through the process that television goes through which is shooting a pilot. And you shoot a pilot and it’s like, yeah, that didn’t work. And so then you don’t shoot a series.

His argument being that you could actually shoot quite a few more pilots of these moves and realize what it is that you actually have in front of you and save the $250 million it costs to make The Lone Ranger. Craig, what do you think of that argument?

Craig: There are multiple ways in which it’s stupid, so I’m struggling to start with which one. I mean, so, just to clarify, his suggestion is that for what is a pilot of a movie, I think he’s suggesting you shoot 20 minutes or 25 minutes of the film, watch it, and then decide what to do. Which, to be fair to him, is in fact very much what they do in animation. They do animatics, pencil drawings, and just very crude. And the animators themselves will provide voice and they can watch reels, chunks of the film. And then at some point they make the decision — should we go forward and spend the big money to actually animate this?

Obviously when you’re making a movie, it doesn’t work like that. So, there’s the procedural reasons why this is never going to happen. And there is the actual reasons why it shouldn’t happen anyway, even if the procedural reasons went away. So, let’s talk about some procedural problems with making pilots for movies. [laughs]

There are sunken costs to making a movie that are not by the minute. It’s not a cab ride. You have to pay somebody to write it and you have to pay somebody to direct it and you have to pay, most importantly, people to act in it. They tend to not do like, “Yeah, I’m acting by the act.” They don’t do that. You need to pay them or they’re not showing up.

So, the great bulk of costs is actually built in before you ever roll a single thing. You need to build sets. You need to go on location. You need to crew up. There is just an enormous amount that happens. So, from a financial point of view there is that problem. There is also the problem that actors in particular, but directors also, because of the length of time they commit to a movie, they block out time in their lives to do these things. They can’t commit to anything if they don’t know if they’re actually going to be doing it or not. If I’m just making — am I making a movie for three weeks or am I making a movie for four months overseas and locations around. They have families and they have other offers on the table.

But let’s say all that went away. The author’s argument is that we could watch these 25 minutes and just like in television, which is experiencing this wonderful renaissance, studio executives would be able in their wisdom to help and make good choices. Now, I like a lot of studio executives, but no, that’s not in fact what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen is that they’re going to use the opportunity to meddle tremendously.

And when it comes down to this fundamental difference between television and film, in TV they make a pilot and they meddle with it. Sometimes for the best. Sometimes for the worst. But, no matter what they do to the pilot, if they decide to make the series they’re only committing maybe six, nine episodes, maybe 22. But you get episodes. You get multiple bites of the apple.

A movie is nothing but a pilot. That’s what it is. It’s one episode. So, they’re going to meddle as much as they possibly can because you only get one shot.

John: I will take the counter argument and say that we’ve actually already been doing this process, it’s just not called pilots. And I think we’ve actually done much more of it and I think this guy was just not aware of how much we do this.

So, for a director to land almost any movie, unless the director is actually really well established movie, now that director, he or she is shooting and cutting together a demo reel essentially for what this movie is. And so they are going out and they’re shooting stuff. Maybe not with the real actors. Maybe not with the real things, but even, you know, look at 300. That guy, he went out and had a shoot with his assistant like, “This is what it’s going to look like. This is what it looks like climbing the cliff with the capes and all this stuff.”

They actually sort of are doing that, it’s just not a formalized process. It’s in order to land the job the director is doing all this work to try to try to make this happen. So, I think we’re doing that. The development process overall, on a script level, we are essentially shooting a pilot just by continually rewriting the script and asking for all these changes.

What I’ve learned about in Big Fish, because Big Fish has been a nine year process getting up the stage, we did these staged readings which would actually be kind of amazing if we could somehow make them happen in features. Because what we ended up doing is we’d bring in actors, and hopefully actors we’d love to have, but sometimes actors who just were available. And for 29 hours, it’s a union rule, 29 hours, four days basically, you can teach them the script and they can perform the script at music stands.

So, it’s like a table read, but like a much better table read, like a rehearsed table read. And you get a chance to like hear what it sounds like. And you get to see what it s actually that you’re working on. And from there we could go off and do a lot more work and get things a lot better.

For Big Fish we did two of these 29 hour readings. We did a four week workshop in a rehearsal studio which probably wouldn’t make sense for a movie.

Craig: No.

John: If you were doing a drama, it would be great, but for this it wouldn’t make sense. And then we were able to make the real production which we did in Chicago. But, I look at stories like The Social Network where David Fincher would have the actors do like 100 takes and really drill them down. And he would say things like, “Well, in theater this is what you do. You’re going to rehearse.” And it sounds like the worst of everything. And if you actually were to just do a real rehearsal and test stuff, it would be a better option.

Craig: Well, his process is…

John: His process is to kill people.

Craig: …is maddening and [crosstalk]. But, to the extent that whatever, I mean, I think that the author is arguing that things should change from what they are now. I agree that there are certain elements that are pilot like in the system as it has always been.

And it is true that some directors will go out and sort of try and lobby to get a job, but they’re not making that movie. And more interestingly I should say that the movies that this guy seems concerned about are directed by people that don’t do that because they don’t have to. The truth is that he is — his heart is in the right place. He’s trying to mitigate risk. Everybody is trying to mitigate risk. What he doesn’t understand is that risk mitigation is the problem. It’s not the solutions. The studios are obsessed with risk mitigation. That’s why they make the movies they make.

So, I understand where he’s coming from, but to me , I actually feel that the answer is to go the other way, which is to accept a little more risk in the process and to let filmmakers just make their movies. Trust them a little bit more. Because it seems like the movies that are catching fire are the ones that are kind of surprising people a little bit, and not necessarily the ones —

John: It’s The Chronicles. It’s the things Rian Johnson makes. And if we were to just trust the talented people, life would be happier.

Craig: Well, yeah, I mean, and we see a lot of it. For instance, there’s this producer Jason Blum who makes all the little horror movies that cost like $3 million, like Insidious 2 just came out. So, it’s not just the art movies. It’s also popular fare. And they’re incredibly profitable. So, that movie made like $100 million or something. I mean, it cost $2 or $3 million. The Paranormal Activity movies. And what’s interesting about those movies is there’s no studio involvement at all. They just make them. And then they sell them and they’re fine.

So, maybe less.

John: Maybe less.

Craig: Maybe less.

John: Let us get to our special guest tonight who has been with me through this process of workshops and readings. The one and only, very talented lyricist and composer of Big Fish, Mr. Andrew Lippa.

He’s a hugger.

Craig: I like it.

Andrew Lippa: I’m gay. I don’t shake hands. Hello everybody!

John: Yay!

Andrew: It’s so exciting. You know that thing, the [sings Scriptnotes theme], that was the runner up for the theme from ET.

John: I know. And, so —

Andrew: [sings a Spielberg theme] It’s almost —

Craig: No, that was Close Encounters.

Andrew: I mean Close Encounters. Yeah, that’s it.

Craig: ET was [sings ET theme].

Andrew: Right. ET. [sings ET theme]. That’s right, Close Encounters.

John: It’s a John Williams [crosstalk].

Andrew: That’s the kind of day I’m having. Should we talk about the day I had?

Craig: Yeah.

John: You can tell them a little bit. Andrew had an injury today.

Andrew: I had an accident, like an old man accident. I’m 48, which is not old —

Craig: It’s not young.

Andrew: And I fell in the bathtub —

John: [laughs]

Craig: I’m just trying to make it okay that you did this.

Andrew: No, it’s okay. Now I know the rules of the evening.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: I feel in the bathtub reaching, trying to get a towel from above the door. And I fell and slammed down on the tub and I got a — I split my hip open. And I had to go get four — yes, the gentleman, thank you. That gentleman knows how serious this is. I had four stitches. Here, let me show you.

Craig: Wait, you said four or 40?

Andrew: Four stitches. And, you know, what’s amazing about — what’s amazing — and the best thing about the whole experience, and it was a good experience, was that — and I’m not kidding . Like I learned a lot about gratitude today. And I actually, like, there was a cab when I needed it and there was a place to go that isn’t an emergency room like those urgent care places. And thank god I have insurance, and I went, and I saw a doctor in 30 minutes. They cleaned me up and sutured me and I went off to meet with John August about Big Fish.

So, I’m really lucky.

John: Yay!

Andrew: So, it’s a lucky day. And it worked out.

John: We’re happy that you’re good. And so Andrew texted me sort of with the news, or did you call me? I guess you called me, yeah.

So, we have level of hierarchy of needs. It’s an email if it’s not too urgent. It’s a text if it’s a little more urgent. And if it’s a call then, oh my god, something is deeply wrong, to say like, “This is what happened,” and to tell the rest of the team because we had a meeting.

But Andrew and I over the course of the years have developed this sort of like — we have to be so ruthlessly honest with each other that I will like, “Andrew, do I smell?” And Andrew will sniff me and tell me if I smell before important meetings. That happens.

Andrew: There is a whole hierarchy of smell, too, that one could talk about. “Do I smell right now?” “Do I smell as a result of what I ate?” “Do I generally smell?” “Is my writing smell?”

John: Yes. But we have to be sort of truthful.

Now, Craig Mazin, when did I first tell you about Big Fish? Because we kept it a secret for a long time. Did I tell you before we started the podcast?

Craig: No, I don’t think before. But I remember it was pretty early on. And I remember that you were talking about it and I thought, oh, in my stupid mind I’m like, “Oh, this is great. I’ll be able to go see a musical in like a month or two.” [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Craig: And then you’re like, “Oh no, it will be out in like 20 years.” I’m like, oh, how long am I going to have to wait? But here it is. It’s here. I’ve been following it, I feel like I’ve been kind of like a proud uncle basically following along.

John: The strangest thing as sort of how Andrew and I got hooked up to work together is that it was not like — it was sort of a shotgun marriage. And so I had wanted to do a Big Fish musical. At the first test screening of Big Fish the movie I said I really think there is a stage musical here because these characters want to sing. So, let’s figure out how to do that. I told it to the producers, “Let’s figure out how to do that.”

And we sort of started and we sort of started talking about composers and what might be a good situation. And then Andrew completely independently had the same idea.

Andrew: I met Bruce Cohen who is one of the producers of the film and who’s also a producer, one of the producers of the musical, at a party in New York City. And I really hit it off with him and he’s a wonderful man. And it dawned on me that he had produced Big Fish. And I said to my husband, David, “This would be a really good idea for a musical. Should call I Bruce Cohen?” And he said, “Call Bruce Cohen.”

So, I called Bruce Cohen a couple of days later and I said have you guys thought about turning Big Fish into a musical? He says, “In fact, we have. And John August is going to write the book and let me — you’re at the top of our list of composers and lyricists,” which I didn’t believe. But, you know, he said, “Call John.” And I did. And I flew to LA and we went together for four days to write the first two scenes, neither of which are in the play anymore, but we did do that. And we played it for Bruce and for Dan Jinks. And they turned and looked at us and said, “Let’s make a musical.”

John: And then it only took nine years after that point.

Craig: Just a short nine years.

I have a question. I don’t know if you have like a path you’re following here.

John: Oh, no, go.

Craig: I mean, this is the question that — I’m standing in for the audience tonight as the guy who doesn’t really understand how musicals are put together specifically, although I’m a big fan of musicals.

Andrew: I don’t understand either.

Craig: Well, we’ll get to the bottom of that.

Andrew: Don’t have any preconceptions.

Craig: The question that I have from a writer’s point of view is we’ve got story to tell and we have two ways of doing it. We have conventional dialogue with some characters and then we have song. And the song can — sometimes the song is telling an emotional story and sometimes it’s telling plot. How do you guys negotiate who tells what part of the story?

Andrew: Well, let me modify the question for a second, because there are more than two ways of doing it.

So, there are the obvious two ways of doing it which is either in speech or in song. But, inside that, in the song itself there are two things going on. There is lyric and there’s music. And inside that, they can either work as partners, the music and lyric can work together to tell one emotional thing at the same time, or the music and lyric can tell two different stories at the same time depending on what you’re trying to get across.

And every song has a different purpose. You want to stay true to the theme of your show or the overall arc of what your show is about. Every song should relate to it. But, you’ve also got direction and choreography which tell the story very, very further deeply inside the thing that you’ve already made. So, sometimes you’ve made the thing and the director and the choreographer have a real profound impact on getting to the deeper level of what it’s about. And sometimes they come up with an idea that surpasses the original idea. And that’s why in some ways — and we’ve had that experience, too, in developing the show.

So, there are twenty songs that aren’t in the show that are available for purchase after the podcast.

John: [laughs]

Craig: [laughs] But again, running in debt.

Andrew: So, that’s just to start. There is much more than just the speech and the song going on.

John: I think it’s actually great to rewind time to our first time talking through the show which was the drive from LAX out to Palm Springs where we rented this house. We rented a house with like a pool and a piano so we could just work.

Andrew: That was my prerequisite. A piano and a pool.

John: Yes. He’s pretty hardcore about that.

Andrew: And John’s a terrific swimmer.

John: Yeah, okay. And we tried to play tennis and I’m just the worst at Tennis. I remember that.

We needed to talk through what the show was on like really fundamental questions like is Edward Bloom going to be one actor or two actors. In the movie it’s two actors, but we thought it’s probably one actor. Right? That’s probably one actor.

What is the act break? Broadway shows have an act break and it has to be at this incredibly crucial moment where you’ve achieved this great thing and yet there’s a big question. So, what would be that moment?

Andrew: What’s the tone? What’ s the tone now that you’ve added music as a component and poetry as a component. What’s the tone, the overall tone, of the piece. And how country do we get? And fantastic do we get? And what story did we really want to tell together first because as you know from Big Fish there’s the emotional family story, which is at the heart of what the whole play is about, but there’s also the fantasy sequences which have to fulfill a real grand sense of who Edward Bloom is.

John: Yeah. So, it ultimately came down to answering two questions that are at the heart of sort of every musical adaptation, which sort of they exist in a way in movies but are very specific in a music, which is the “welcome to the world of it all,” which is sort of the “welcome to the world” song. And then the I Want song, which is the character in a musical will boldly state what he or she is going for either as a direct goal or sort of that inner need. What is driving that character in a way that you never really see in a movie stated so clearly.

And so some of the first things we had to do was figure out, well, what does the world sound like? And how do we introduce the audience to what this world sounds like? So, let’s talk about the welcome to the world song.

Craig, from your experience, the examples of, what do you think about how a world begins?

Craig: In terms of Broadway musicals?

John: Yes.

Craig: I mean, I always think of Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof.

John: Absolutely.

[Pianist starts playing the song]

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah. Tradition sort of really introduces the mama, the papa, the daughter, the sons. It also introduces the theme of the movie which is that we stick to traditions or else we get hurt. So, obviously, you know, you saw the movie, the play, so you know that the musical is going to be about, in fact, moving away from traditions. We meet characters. By name he introduces Yente the Matchmaker and so I think of that. I think of Hello from Book of Mormon. No? Nothing?

John: Oh, no I was —

[Pianist starts playing the song. John, Craig, and Andrew sing along briefly]

Craig: It’s an amazing book.

Andrew: It made enough money. Let’s stick to my songs. I want to go back to Fiddler.

Craig: Very good.

John: Let’s talk about Alan Menken, though. Let’s talk about Circle of Life. Remember Elton John’s Circle of Life.

Andrew: No, that’s Elton John. “Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala” to you, too.

John: Yes. So it’s —

Andrew: [sings a bit from Lion King]

John: The welcome to the world song will establish the musical vocabulary and what it is you’re in for in this show tonight, hopefully.

Andrew: Well, yeah, we need to go back to Fiddler for one second, because it’s the question of like who are we, what do we do, what do we believe, right? As opposed to here’s the story you’re going to see tonight.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: And in Fiddler on the Roof, the craziest thing about Fiddler on the Roof, and everybody talks about that as one of the great examples of opening numbers. A, it wasn’t their first opening. And it was the thing that Jerome Robbins said to them later in the process. He said, “Well, what’s this play about?” And they had to go really, really, really, really think about it.

John: I want to make sure you’re on your mic.

Andrew: I’m on. Can you hear me? Thank you. Oh, yeah, we’re recording this, right? This is for posterity. It’s a time capsule. Sorry. And for people who really study musicals and study the making of musicals, that’s like a seminal moment is that conversation about what’s your play about and what is the opening number. How is the opening number presented.

But the other thing that’s kind of nutty about Fiddler on the Roof, if anybody is really paying attention, Tevye comes out and who is he talking to?

Craig: Right.

Andrew: Who is he talking to? He goes, “A fiddler on the roof sounds crazy, no?” And he’s talking to us. He’s not talking to a character. He’s the narrator at the beginning of the play. And then later he talks to God. It’s really, if I were directing a production of Fiddler, it would be hard to keep that from being the thing that the actor believes he’s doing. Because you don’t really want to believe that he’s talking to an audience full of people because the rest of the play, that doesn’t really happen. He talks to God and he has various conversations with God.

And so it’s like voiceover in a sense. It’s somebody talking about something that I need to know in order to get into the story. And somehow we buy it.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: We just watch it. And John and I — oh, sorry, go ahead.

Craig: I was going to say, it sets tone also because what’s so great about Tradition is that there are serious parts. It ends with a very serious, you know, this is what keeps us from breaking our neck, but there are jokes. So, it’s teaching you how to watch the musical. It’s teaching that there’s going to be jokes but there is also going to be serious stuff, too.

Andrew: That’s right. And it also introduces you to the world. So, the world of Big Fish, we wanted everybody to meet Edward Bloom. And we thought the best way to do it was for Edward Bloom to tell a story, because that’s what he does.

And so we thought we could do the route of him talking to the audience, or we could do the route of him talking to somebody. And then we’re in a scene from the very beginning. In the original opening, it’s this piece where, John, do you want to come in on this.

[pianist begins playing]

John: So, he and his son, he’s talking to his kid, and he’s missed the kid’s baseball games. And he’s going to tell him a great big story about — “Let me tell you a real story. The story of the day you were born.”

Andrew: And eventually he sang. “By the time you were born, you were already a legend. You’d taken more hundred dollar lures than any fish in Alabama. For sure. Some said, that fish was the ghost of a man named Henry Wall, a thief who drowned in that river 60 years before. “

John: “There are ghosts in the river?”

Andrew: “The rivers in Alabama are choked with ghosts. [Ghost howls.]” Crazy ghosts. We thought that would be fun. And then eventually, “Now I’ve been trying to catch that fish since I was a boy no bigger than you. And on the day that you were born, that’s what I do. This is the God’s honest truth. I happened there on that morn. It was just that way on the day that you were born.”

Now, we ended up cutting that number.

John: Yes.

Craig: [laughs]

John: That number went with us to Chicago. And it wasn’t the right way to start the show as it turned out. And so we got to Chicago and this was — so Norbert Leo Butz is Edward Bloom and he’s fantastic and truly charismatic. And so it was Norbert and the boy. And then this giant fish swallows them all. And so you sort of see the jaws swallow them in. There’s all this story stuff happening inside.

Andrew: With projections. And we saw it demonstrated to us. Everybody gasped. Remember that day when they showed it to the cast? It was so cool.

John: It was fantastic. And so we’re like, “Oh, this is going to be amazing. This is so great.” And so it was just a father and son through the whole thing. And then it’s like, oh, it felt really empty and weird and it just did not work. And so Andrew Lippa and I went to the basement of the Oriental Theater in Chicago and it’s, “Fuck! What do we do?”

And so it was like, well, maybe we make it a whole company number. And so then we had to figure out like a way to sort of get everybody in there. So, essentially everybody is swallowed up at once.

Craig: Ah, the Ragtime method.

John: Yes.

Andrew: Yes. Exactly. “The Ragtime method. For three easy payments of $29.95, you can get the Ragtime method!”

John: So, we did that.

Craig: [laughs] He’s funny.

John: It’s funny.

Craig: He’s funny.

Andrew: Don’t get pregnant. Use the Ragtime method. Play this music, she’ll stay away from you for years.

[Pianist begins playing a Ragtime number]

John: Ooh!

Craig: Ragtime!

John: [Crosstalk].

Craig: [to Andrew] This is great. Do you want to do a podcast, me and you?

Andrew: Frankly, I’ve been waiting for Peter Sagal to show up.

John: So, we went down to the basement of the Oriental Theater and it’s like, “What do we do?” And so we just hit our head on some walls. So, we built this whole new thing, would still use the “God’s honest truth” as the underlying idea, but we’re bringing the whole company into it so everyone can have more to do, so it wouldn’t just be Norbert and son on stage the whole time.

Andrew: Now, this is what is known in theater parlance as a Band-Aid.

John: It is a Band-Aid. And the one thing we did introduce which became a very important idea was the idea that to get out of this fish you would — Edward would teach a dance that would cause the fish to spit them up and that’s how we got them out. That dance was called the Alabama Stomp, which was useful. So, that was a useful thing that came out of it.

And so we had to teach this to the cast while we were actually putting on the show every night, which was terrifying, making such a big change in a number, but it was useful.

Andrew: And they did it. And, you know, to use a baseball metaphor, they got tagged out by the shortstop. But that’s how far the number got. We got much further than the original number, but we didn’t quite get the whole point of what the play was about.

So, we went to work after Chicago to talk about what really is the opening. And John and I went through lots of different conversations and permutations of what the opening could be. And we kept going back to the idea that Edward Bloom needs to tell his son’s story. But the one thing that we realized was that if you talk about an idea, that’s one thing, but if you talk about a person, if you give something to somebody and say something to them, you can do this, or you are this, or here’s this thing for you, it suddenly made it much more personal than it did before. If he gave something to his son, we realize, oh, this could be better.

And what came out was this really long day. I had a meeting with Susan Stroman, our director and choreographer, the next morning in New York. And John was still in LA at that time in early June. And we — oh, it was a very long day and a very long night. And I got really frustrated on the phone and sometimes John has to play sort of therapist with me and he’s like, “Well, how could we look at this from a different angle?”

John: [laughs] And I talk Andrew off of ledges.

Craig: Wait, can I just say it’s okay now to do impressions of you on the podcast.

John: It’s fine. When they’re quality impressions, then it’s fine.

Andrew: [laughs] Oh, wow.

Craig: I think I get to your spirit…okay, never mind.

Andrew: Do I need, to should I leave?

Craig: Slap the back of my head.

Andrew: And so finally John said, and this is sometimes how it works. John spit out the very name of the song. He said, “Well, he wants to say this, and this, and this.” I said, okay, and I’m writing it down, I’m writing it down, and I said, “Keep talking.”

And he would say more stuff. And I could see like sort of the juices happening, making stuff up. And I’m like, “Keep talking!” And then he’d say more and I’d be like, okay, goodbye. I’ve got to go. I’m going to call you back.

And then I wrote this.

[Pianist begins playing]

He’s there talking to his kid. And he sings this to his child. “What if I told you you could change the world with just one thought? What if I told you you could be a king? Anything you desire, boy, anything on a plate, all within your power to create. I know somewhere I the darkness there’s a story meant for me, where I always know exactly what to say. I know somewhere some surprising ending waits for me to tell it, my own way.

“Be the hero of your story if you can. Be the champion in the fight, not just the man. Don’t depend on other people to put paper next to pen. You’re the hero of your story, boy, and then. You can rise to be the hero once again.

“Now part of an adventure is the people you meet. What if I said I met a witch,” and then the witch comes out and suddenly we’re introducing all the people in the stories that we’re going to meet the rest of the night. The witch. The giant. The mermaid. All of these people who have come out and then become part of Edward Bloom’s story and they all sing his idea to his kid, “Be the hero of your story and then you’re life is going to be better.”

And Susan Stroman in her miraculous way does this thing with fish in the pit. And I’m not going to give you anymore. And it’s so joyful and at the very end of the number, on our first night on September 5th, no one had heard this number except people making the show. And on September 5th, 1,400 people screamed at the end of the number with joy. And one Jew in the back wept, because I was so happy that it worked.

John: So, I think part of the lesson behind talking about the Welcome to the World song is that the original song wasn’t introducing us to the world especially well at all. It was sort of telling about this one guy and that there’s a kid, but it wasn’t introducing you to the world. Like it didn’t tell you this is the night you’re going to see. Our example was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

Craig: Right.

Andrew: Comedy Tonight.

Craig: Comedy Tonight is perfect. Yeah.

John: Which is like these are the characters. Nothing up our sleeve. This is everybody you’re going to see.

Craig: “For those of you that don’t like pirates,” one of the great lines in the whole movie.

John: [laughs] So, you see the whole company and like they’re really good. And you get the big vocal moment, but it’s not trying to tell a specific story. It’s more just like this is the world of how it goes.

Andrew: And it turns out that if you look at all of the — if you look at a lot of opening numbers, the majority of them are like that. And what I’m very proud of is actually our play starts with a scene between Edward and Will.

John: Yeah, well what Andrew calls a “pesky talking bit.” Yeah, the pesky talking bit.

Andrew: Yeah, the pesky talking bit.

John: It opens on a small simple scene between the grown son and Edward Bloom. So, you establish who those physical people are so you know like it’s most about them.

Andrew: And there are four or five really solid laughs in that scene. And it’s very — it’s a perfect scene, John. It is. I’ve never said that to you before. And I’ll never say it again.

And then we go back in time and we teach the audience that that’s what we’re going to do, because one of the things Big Fish does is it really plays with time, unlike most musicals I’ve ever seen. And if you look at the classics, you look at the musicals with great opening numbers, or great openings, the ones I love the most are the ones that are scenes, that are people engaged in some activity, they’re I the middle of something, as opposed to the musicals where someone comes forward and says, “Hey, this is what we’re doing and this is what we’re about.”

That can be a very successful musical opening number, like Comedy Tonight, or Fiddler on the Roof, Tradition. But there are also numbers like Oh What a Beautiful Morning at the beginning of Oklahoma.

Craig: Life Is from Zorba. I always like that they’re having an argument about what life is. And you just find them having this argument and this one lady —

Andrew: The beginning of Phantom of the Opera is a four minute scene in an auction house and you have no idea who anybody is or what anything is. And someone — and there’s no music — and Phantom of the Opera, this really long-running show all about the music, supposedly, and it’s called Phantom of the OPERA, and it starts with no music. And there’s something so audacious if you think about the creators in the middle ’80s writing a new musical. And the successful composer like Andrew Lloyd Webber and the idea in the room is, “Let’s start the musical without music.” [British accent] “That’s a great idea. I love that idea.”

You know, it’s like, I think a lot of people would look at you and think you’re crazy. And that’s pretty audacious when you think about it.

John: Great. So, the other thing which is very unique to, I think, musicals is that I Want song. And so when Craig and I did our episode about The Little Mermaid, we talked about Part of Your World and what a perfect I Want song that is. You understand exactly what Ariel is going for, what’ she’s hoping for in life.

And so the I Want song is a fundamental part of pretty much ever movie musical and every stage musical you’ve seen where usually your lead character has come forward and said, “this is what I’m going for. This is my — we talk about want and need — it’s sort of both. This is where I see my life headed.

And so in Big Fish, we can talk about other examples.

Craig: Well, there’s so many.

John: What are great I Want songs? What are your favorite I Want songs?

Andrew: The Wizard and I from Wicked.

[Pianist begins playing]

Andrew: Very good. Thank you, Dan.

Craig: There you go.

Andrew: Did that really just happen?

John: Dan Green actually plays on Wicked.

Andrew: Ah. There’s Something’s Coming in West Side Story. That’s an I Want song. There are two I Want songs in Fiddler on the Roof. Matchmaker, which is really the I Want song, because it’s about the three girls are saying they want. And then the whole rest of the play is actually about them getting what they want. They get husbands, but they get them in different ways. The first one gets them by the traditional matchmaking. And he second one gets it by finding her own Jewish boyfriend. And the third one goes off with the non-Jewish guy, the Russian guy.

And then If I Were a Rich Man is the next one. And what’s curious about that I Want song as it were is that that is never fulfilled in the play. The thing that he says he wants, he wants to be respected, and admired, and sit in the Synagogue all the time and have money. The guy never gets that. He never gets it.

So, I Want songs don’t have to fulfill the want, you just have to express the want, because we need to know what the character is going after. And musicals, gosh, there are few examples — I don’t know, we might be able to think of one like maybe Next to Normal, what’s the I Want song? And I Miss the Mountains, is that the I Want song?

John: Probably.

Andrew: I don’t know. Early on, what do they sing at the beginning? I don’t know the show that well.

John: And if you think about musicals, the I Want song is generally the second or third song. So, usually we establish the world and then the character comes forward and says what he or she wants. Second or third song. If it’s the fourth song, there’s probably a problem. And that was a problem for us. Our I Want song was coming kind of late.

Andrew: Yeah. And we originally wrote — I wrote a song called A Story of my Own, which was Edward as a child singing to the witch, but it was a grown man singing as a child singing to a witch. So, already you’ve got a problem. And he sang about all these things he wants to do and places he wants to go. And it was a list song. He sang about going to Japan and riding kangaroos and meeting all kinds of people. And it turned out that it was just that. It was just a bunch of information that slowed us down from figuring out what the play was really about. Because the play wasn’t about that.

The play is about this guy wants to reconcile with — wants to be understood by his son. His son wants to understand his father. So, in the opening number, in “Be the Hero,” as that number goes on what we learn is that Edward wants his son to get on board his stories and get on board these ideas.

And then when we get to the son a couple songs later, the son who finds out — John, do you want to set it up actually? You’ll be good.

John: So, what we realized sort of post-Chicago is that we’re a two-hander. We almost function like a romantic drama except that it’s the father and son who want to — you want a relationship to happen between these two people. It’s a father and son who don’t get along and you’re trying to find a way for them to get along.

So, they both are kind of protagonists over the course of the story, but it was really Will who needed to have that X-ray vision and see what was inside his soul. And he had no song. He had no solo song where he could express what it was he was going for.

There was already a scene that happened in the play where it’s almost like a split screen where on stage left and stage right we have the doctor’s offices where Edward is getting his ultrasound and he’s finding out that his cancer has spread. And the other side of the stage, Josephine and Will are finding out that they are going to have a son, so she’s pregnant and they’re going to have a son.

And so that was a moment that was already in the play. But I was like, well, that feels like a singable moment. And this is honestly a thing that happened over the course of my life, since the time I — it’s been fifteen years I’ve been working on Big Fish. I had a kid. And so I know what that ultrasound was like. And I remember when I saw the ultrasound and I saw that I was having a girl, my brain raced forward. I could sort of see all these things about like what my daughter was going to be and what my relationship with my daughter was going to be. And the things I would teach her and how excited I was.

[Pianist begins playing]

And so I talked to Andrew about what that felt like. And, so I also said like Andrew I have words in other parts of the play, take these and work with them. So, I dictated a bunch of stuff and this became the song.

Andrew: [sings] “Stranger. I’m feeling stranger than I ever felt before. So much more. Different. Like something old is joined with something new. It still feels true. I’m passing through a right than every parent does. I’m walking on shared familiar ground. Yet every step I take is not a step that was. And lifelong, I like the sound, of stranger, a child I’ve yet to meet becomes my everything. My song to sing. Father. And suddenly the weight of it is real. What do I feel? I feel connected in a way I’ve never known. Line from dad to me to newborn song. So, from today I’ll never make a choice along. One for all. All for one. And when he’s born I’ll teach him to use his common sense. He’ll listen and he’ll learn he’ll excel. I’ll tell my son that life is lived in clear and present tense, not only in the stories we can tell. My father told me stories I could never comprehend. And every tale he claimed to be the hero. I’ve tried to understand him. But I wonder if I can. Because after almost 30 years, I still don’t know the man. I wish I knew the man. But he’s a stranger. My father is a stranger I know very well. A puzzling shell. Hopeful. What’s on its way may help us both to grow. But I don’t know. I don’t know when I’ll understand what made him wild. I don’t know why he has the urge to fly. I want to face him like a man and not a child, so I’ll try, I’ll really try. And in time my boy is sure to see brighter days for dad and me. We can do things better than before. So that strangers will be no more!”

Craig: That was good. That was good.

John: So, I got to hear that for the first time in the basement of the Oriental Theater. So, the last week that were there, we weren’t going to put any more changes into the show, but like we knew we had a lot of work to do ahead. And so Andrew was terrified to show the latest song, but I was like, you know, he had the first half of it. And so we were in the basement, just the two of us, and he plays the first half of it. And it was like, just give him a big giant hug.

And he burst out sobbing. Sobbing.

Craig: It’s a running theme here, isn’t it?

Andrew: Well, this is crazy, but the show itself is emotional. But there was this — we had opened, we had gotten really positive, really encouraging reviews. We knew there was a lot more work that we needed to do and that we wanted to do. And we were so grateful we had the time to do it. And so we didn’t stop. We didn’t take a break. We just were there. We were like, “Let’s work.”

And I worked and this is also like how the art is transmitted. John had a line at the very end of the play that this character said to a doctor in the hospital when Edward Bloom is in his final hours. And he said, “My father is a stranger I know very well.” And this idea emerged as a really cool idea. And so I as the lyricist went and I thought, well, what other meanings of the word are there? like what other relationships do we have or would this character have to the word stranger? And so initially — I wrote the first third of the song that I played for John that morning.

And I knew what I wanted to do was go from how I’ve never felt this way, you know, he sings, “Stranger, I’m feeling stranger than I’ve ever felt before.” And then he says, “My child is this stranger I’m going to just build my world around.” And I knew I wanted to somehow get to my father and get to my father is a stranger and he’s a stranger I know very well. And then the conclusion of the song is that we don’t even have to use that word anymore. The stranger — we don’t have to be strangers anymore.

And I knew I was heading down that road. And once I wrote that beginning it had the right — that’s the other thing is that not only do you have to write a song that’s appropriate to the story and the character, but there’s also a tone and feel issue. And lots of things get replaced in the show, like what Kate Baldwin sings right after this, she plays Sandra, and that moment went through several rewrites. A different feel because the energy of the show was getting — somehow got sad for too long.

And so she needed to sing something a little more positive, a little more up, and in fact we just made a cut in it last week. One section that when it was slow it was beautiful, when it was fast it sounded silly. And so we got rid of that fast bit and suddenly everything else around it emerged as terrific. And so that’s the great news about — we’ve talked about the difference between film and musicals for a long time, but in the editing room, you’ve got the opportunity to take at least, to find something that was done that’s the right thing and you edit it in the right way and you can get the right thing across.

Our version of editing is rewrites. So, we constantly are rewriting the show because that’s how we edit it. That’s how we get it to be better.

John: Yeah. This is one of our last weeks to work on it, but I put in 12 pages of changes today because it’s way of sort of refinements. It’s the things that you would usually do at in the editing bay if it were a movie, but it’s on pages here because it has to be what’s going in tonight. Like literally the show that’s playing there tonight has things in it that I’ve never seen before because it’s going in there tonight.

And any change you make has to go in the script. And so that’s been the strange part as a writer is that you just never stop writing.

Craig: Well, it’s kind of true for all of us, I guess. We only stop when they take it away, unless you’re lazy.

Andrew: [laughs]

Craig: But, I mean, it’s funny listening to you guys. Even though the medium requires so many different things, a different approach, in the end it seems like the struggles, the synthesis, the collaboration, it’s all common to what we all do. I mean, novelists, no, because they’re alone, weirdos. But, you know, for movies and for shows, putting on a show, whether it’s TV or film or Broadway, it seems like there’s a lot of the same stuff going on, a lot of the same challenges, and a lot of the same agita.

John: I agree.

Craig: All right.

John: So, we do this thing on our podcast called One Cool Thing where we each talk about one cool thing that we want to share and tell our audience here and our audience who is listening to the podcast about. Andrew, do you want to kick us off? Do you have a cool think you’d like to share, something you’d like to talk about?

Andrew: Last year I was in Basel, Switzerland visiting friends and we went to this restaurant that you didn’t get to order food. You ordered the phylum, so it was like meat, fish, vegetable for your appetizer and your main course. And I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. And I just found out about one like that here called Recette in New York City, in the Village. And you do that — you go and you don’t get to pick what you eat. You just tell them meat, fish, or vegetable and then they bring it to you.

John: I respect that because I think too often choices — you have that paradox of choice where it’s like I’m less happy now because I have those choices. If you just give me the prix fixe and I’m happy.

Andrew: I’m like that in the cereal aisle. I’m overwhelmed. That’s why I just stick to Honey Nut Cheerios.

Craig: I don’t have any of these problems. A menu is fine. I generally can pick, I’ll have this, the soup.

John: Soup.

Craig: Soup. I like that.

John: So, Recette, like rice but “ette” at the end.

Andrew: Says you.

John: All right. My One Cool Thing is actually a thing that people here or people who are listening at home can actually join us for is that there is this great site called Charity Buzz, which if you’ve never gone to Charity Buzz you should, because basically charitable organizations anywhere in the US, maybe outside the US, but really inside the US can put things up for auction. And so it’s the kind of things you would normally go to like a silent auction for, you know, a museum, or for some kid’s fundraiser thing.

But they’re really good things usually, like really good things, like special things. Like Tim Cook did this, like, you get to meet with Tim Cook and spend 30 minutes and pitch him ideas and stuff like that, which went for like half a million dollars or whatever. We’re not Tim Cook, but Andrew Lippa and I have agreed to do a fundraiser on Charity Buzz for my daughter’s school actually it’s a public school fundraiser, where you can get a backstage tour of Big Fish and we’ll sit with you and have a drink with you and talk you through things.

So, if you would like that opportunity, you go to charitybuzz.com. The links will be in the show notes at johnaugust.com. And click there and you can bid on that if you would like to see backstage at Big Fish.

Craig: Great.

John: Craig, you had a question about travel plans?

Craig: Yeah, so it’s a One Cool Ask/One Cool Favor. I’m going to be —

Andrew: [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Craig: I mean, this is not like, you know, spend $50 to be here. I’ve done a lot for you people! I’m asking for a little something. It’s not — you guys can’t help me at all, you here. So, relax.

John: What if somebody in this audience actually had your answer?

Craig: I’m going to be traveling to Vienna with my family soon and I thought for any listeners who are in — because we have a lot of international listeners. Any listeners in Vienna, why don’t you write in and, but no weirdos, thank you, so that may eliminate everyone. I don’t know. Write into ask@johnaugust.com and maybe we could do a little Viennese Scriptnotes meet up.

John: That would be kind of great.

Craig: Yeah. That would be fun.

John: But there’s something that’s missing, Craig.

Craig: Yes.

John: There’s one thing missing.

Craig: The gayest thing of all!

John: The gayest thing of all. So, a promise quite early on in the podcast that if we did a live podcast at some point Craig would sing.

Craig: Yes.

John: And you sang with a guitar once.

Craig; I did sing once with a guitar, but it wasn’t live. It wasn’t in front of 300 people. It wasn’t on Broadway. It wasn’t in front of Andrew Lippa!

John: You’re not really on Broadway. This is considered Off-Broadway.

Craig: To me, this is Broadway. I’m from Pasadena.

John: [laughs] So, you’re —

Andrew: Yeah, this is Broadway, that’s for sure.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I’m on Broadway.

John: Yes. But there’s no fire trucks, so where are the fire trucks, Craig?

Craig: I know, I know.

John: You’re going to sing us a song.

Craig: Yes. So, this song is from Falsettoland or Falsettos. Falsettoland. Falsettoland? Falsettoland.

John: It’s from a musical.

Craig: Yeah. William Finn, a wonderful composer/lyricist wrote this song called What More Can I Say. And it’s a very interesting one because it’s a man who, he’s married, he has a kid, and then he realizes “I’m gay,” which I guess happens occasionally. And he’s met this man and he’s in love. And he’s really truly in love for the first time. And it’s an interesting song because he’s singing it about his boyfriend while his boyfriend is asleep, so it’s actually very annoying — it’s hard to sing because he’s really quiet. But then he gets loud, which always makes me laugh because I think, “Ooh, he’s gonna wake up.”

But I guess he doesn’t. He’s a super heavy sleeper. So, anyway, I’m not professional. I’m no Andrew Lippa.

[Craig sings]

Thank you.

John: Oh Craig.

Craig: I know. I totally did like the American Idol thing where Simon is like, “You forgot the lyric.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: But, you know, it was hard for me to remember all those words.

Andrew: The lyric forgot was right where it said, “It’s been more than words can say.” Do you realize that?

John: Oh my god.

Andrew: You lived the song.

Craig: You’re good. You’re good. See, he makes me feel bad, and you always make me feel good. I want to hang out with you .

John: [laughs] We’ve learned some secrets tonight. Ah!

Craig: Apparently the song works.

John: I need to thank some people who made this whole night possible. First off, I need to thank New World Stages for giving us this space, which is remarkable. Thank you so much.

Craig: Thank you New World.

John: This is normally the home of the Gazillion Bubble Show. And so usually there are bubbles all over this place, which is great. That’s why the floors are a little bit sticky, so if you’re wondering.

Craig: That’s why.

John: That’s why!

Craig: Got in there just ahead of you.

Andrew: If I had a nickel…

Craig: [laughs] He’s the best setup man ever, by the way. And he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. It’s so great. Can he be on with us all the time, please?

John: Yeah. I think we need — I also need to thank Dan Green, who we need to have Dan Green on this show all the time.

Craig: I know, yeah.

John: If we had a piano we could cut to. We’d be set. I need to thank Whitney Brit and Stage Entertainment who sort of organized this whole thing. Because literally it was just — it would be great to do a live show if someone wanted to make a live show happen, and she did. And Stage Entertainment and Michelle Groaner, thank you so much for making this all possible. God bless you.

And I want to thank our New York audience because Craig and I, seriously, we had no idea if anyone would show up.

Craig: This is so cool that you guys came. Thank you.

John: Because LA is like, oh, screenwriters, and it’s lousy with screenwriters. It’s not too hard. But you guys came out tonight which was just —

Craig: In your shirts. I mean, awesome. I saw so many shirts. Umbrage Orange. Very cool. Umbrage orange.

John: Thank you guys so much. I get a little verklempt sort of seeing that people actually would show up for something like this.

Craig: Yeah.

John: That’s really kind of amazing and wonderful.

Craig: Yay!

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