Chuck Jones on What Makes a Comedian Funny

Many thanks to the editors at BigThink.com and to Patrick Allan at LifeHacker.com for sharing this terrific story and quote from Chuck Jones!

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From BigThink.com:

Chuck Jones (1912-2002) was an American animator, cartoonist, and director of animated films. His most famous work consisted of numerous Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts for Warner Brothers featuring characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Wile E. Coyote, and others. Jones was nominated for eight Oscars, won three, and was awarded an honorary statuette in 1996. Robin Williams called Jones “the Orson Welles of cartoons.”

Many luminaries of humor peddle varying definitions of comedy. Jones’ stance was that comedians are funny people who do funny things against a backdrop of relative normality.

“A comedian is not a person who opens a funny door — he’s the person who opens a door funny.” [Wikiquote]

Source: “The Art of Chuck Jones: John Lewell Interviews the Veteran Hollywood Animator [1982],” in Animation – Art and Industry, ed. Maureen Furniss (John Libby Publishing Ltd., 2009), 134.

From Patrick Allan writing at LifeHacker.com:

Having a good sense of humor can make you more charismatic and become the type of person people like to be around. Being funny isn’t always easy, however, and legendary animator Chuck Jones believes the main ingredient is how you say or do something—not what you say or do.

Chuck Jones—most known for his animation and direction on Looney Tunes—has been nominated for eight Academy Awards and received four for his cartoon work. Needless to say, Jones—who passed away in 2002—knew comedy pretty darn well. Jones believed there was a secret to it all:

“A comedian is not a person who opens a funny door — he’s the person who opens a door funny.”

Ever tried to listen to someone repeat a stand-up comedian’s joke? It’s amazing how unfunny it can be. So as you work on your jokes and humorous conversation, remember that you don’t need to stress about material. Instead think of ways to be funny without relying on a “funny door.” Of course, you don’t want to be all jokes all the time, but a sense of humor can get you a lot farther than you think.

…There’s a New Rabbit in Town

“What’s Up, Doc? The Animated Art of Chuck Jones” opens Saturday, February 14th in Fort Worth, Texas a their Museum of Science and History.

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Chuck’s daughter, Linda Jones Clough, and his granddaughter, Valerie Kausen, will be special guests on opening day. The exhibit, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits with the collaboration of the Museum of the Moving Image, New York; Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Beverly Hills, and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, Costa Mesa, explores what it takes to make a cartoon and how Chuck Jones’s unique perspective on film-making, his comedic genius, precision timing, and intense focus on character shaped and guided the evolution of the animated film. It is a not-to-be-missed exhibit.

For more information, visit the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History website by clicking on either image.

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Calling All Artists for the Fifth Annual Red Dot Auction!

Dear Artists and Friends of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity,

Preparations are underway for the Fifth Annual Red Dot Auction benefiting the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, scheduled for Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1, 2015.

Last year, 180 artists contributed 196 canvases and over 400 supporters of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity attended the Red Dot Auction.

Last year, 180 artists contributed 196 canvases and over 400 supporters of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity attended the Red Dot Auction.

Today we’re writing to ask you to donate a work of art to this year’s Fifth Annual Red Dot Auction. The canvas provided is 12” square and as last year, we ask that you sign the artwork on the reverse.  You may prefer to work on paper or another substrate and that’s fine as long as we can mount it to the 12” square canvas for presentation the night of the event. The artwork should be signed on the reverse so that bidders at this silent auction will not know who has created which painting.

Eric Schlegel gets a 3D perspective on one of the works from the 2014 Red Dot Auction.

Contributing artist Eric Schlegel gets a 3D perspective on one of the works from the 2014 Red Dot Auction.

“What should I paint?” you might ask. Chuck’s life spanned most of the 20th century and with such a wealth of inspiration why not the life and times of Chuck Jones? That should not limit you to cartoon-related imagery, although many of the most sought after works at last year’s event were inspired by his Looney Tunes creations; you might be inspired by his love of puns, his enjoyment of painting with watercolors or the fact that he once owned a horse named Lord Mischief.

Imagine a world where the laws of gravity don’t apply; a world where the space-time continuum can be altered; a world where you’re in control to break the rules. It sounds a lot like the world where the wonderful, vibrant characters created by Chuck Jones live. Imagine then, applying that kind freedom of thinking to your canvas and to the subject matter you choose.

You never know who might be a contributor--the object of the photographer's interest is a work by three-time Academy Award winner, Nick Park.

You never know who might be a contributor–the object of the photographer’s interest is a work by three-time Academy Award winner, Nick Park.

Won’t you share your gifts with us and with the Center’s members and patrons?  If you will, please drop me a note with your mailing address and I’ll get a canvas out to you or drop by the Center to pick up a canvas.  What’s that you say?  You’d like to contribute two works?  No problem!  Just let me know and I’ll send you two canvases.  Have an artist friend who would like to be a part of this exciting project?  Please send them my way: Robert@ChuckJonesCenter.org.

Canvases are due back no later than March 15, 2015. Again this year we are partnering with Heritage Auctions to bring the Red Dot Auction to the attention of their over 800,000 subscribers. This online auction will go live on April 1, 2015 and end the evening of Thursday, April 29, 2015. In order to be included in it, your canvas must arrive no later than Sunday, March 15, 2015.

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New this year! A commemorative poster, similar to the one shown, will be printed; 30 canvases will be selected to represent this year’s Red Dot Auction. A limited number of the posters will be produced and sold the evening of the event. To be considered for inclusion, your canvas must arrive no later than Sunday, March 15, 2015!

Thank you in advance for your generosity, time, and commitment to Igniting Imagination for Life!

All the best, Robert

Robert@ChuckJonesCenter.org

Photography by Stephen Russo

Image of the Day: “The Night Watchman” + a Bonus Feature!

Chuck Jones’s first cartoon as a director premiered in October of 1938 “The Night Watchman”. His advancement to ‘supervisor’ from animator at Leon Schlesinger Productions was noted in the film trade journal, Daily Variety, prompting not only a flurry of congratulatory letters from co-workers (Grim Natwick, for instance) and family (his brother Dick, an in-betweener at Schlesinger), but also a few telegrams from the likes of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, and Max Fleischer (sent, we believe, with a wink from his co-workers.)

THE NIGHT WATCH MAN DRAWING #2-HOODLUM MICE

THE NIGHT WATCH MAN DRAWING #1-TOMMY CAT

Top: Model drawing of the head rat from “The Night Watchman” by Chuck Jones, colored pencil on 12 field animation paper, 10.5” x 12.5”. Model drawings of the Night Watchman by Chuck Jones, graphite on 12 field animation paper.

Bonus feature: “Text messages from the early 20th century”!

TELEGRAM-MAX FLEISCHER 10-20-1938 TELEGRAM-MICKEY MOUSE 10-20-1938 TELEGRAM-WALT DISNEY 10-20-1938

Chuck Jones in the News–Recent Press

Sabeena Khosla writes in the online magazine, “Highbrow”, about Chuck Jones and the exhibit “What’s Up, Doc? — The Animated Art of Chuck Jones” currently on view at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. Read the article here.

In the online blog, “War is Boring” Steve Weintz writes about the professional and personal relationship of Ted Geisel, AKA Dr. Seuss, and Chuck Jones. You can read it here.

Key Master set-up from "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas", 1966.

Key Master set-up from “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, 1966.

This Just In! “Cels” are 100 Years Old Today!

Thanks to Tom Sito we learned that on this date in 1914, Earl Hurd patented animation ‘cels’ (celluloids) and backgrounds. Before this cartoonists tried drawing the background settings over and over again hundreds of times or slashed the paper around the character and tried not to have it walk in front of anything. By the late 1990’s, most cels & cel paint had been replaced by digital imaging.

"Plein Air Genius" a hand-painted cel art edition celebrating the Chuck Jones Centennial year 2012

“Plein Air Genius” a hand-painted cel art edition celebrating the Chuck Jones Centennial year 2012

Image of the Day: Inside Cindy Lou Who’s Home!

The inimitable Maurice Noble created the backgrounds for the Chuck Jones-directed 1966 “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. This example shows his layout for the interior of little Cindy Lou Who’s home during the opening sequence of the animated television special.

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Gouache, graphite, colored pencil on 12 field animation paper.

Help support the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity’s initiatives and programs. Go to the Urgency Network and donate today and receive a gift for your generosity. We appreciate your support.

Our Final Winner Is!

Our Sunday (#7) and final winner of the Chuck Jones Gallery Black Friday Week Give-aways is Julia Knauss of Pennsylvania!  Julia will receive an original production drawing of Bugs Bunny from the 1980 Chuck Jones-directed television special, “Bugs Bunny Bustin’ Out All Over” ! Congratulations, Julia!

Original production drawing from "Bugs Bunny Bustin' Out All Over" 1980

Original production drawing from “Bugs Bunny Bustin’ Out All Over” 1980

…Ta Da! Friday’s and Saturday’s Winners Are…

Our Friday (#5) winner of the Chuck Jones Gallery Black Friday Week Give-aways is Bruce Gamble of Alabama!  Bruce will receive a hand-painted cel art “Director’s Cut” edition, titled, “Fast and Furry-ous”! Congratulations, Bruce!

Fast and Furry-ous, a Director's Cut edition

Fast and Furry-ous, a Director’s Cut edition

And, that’s not all! Our Saturday (#6) winner of the Chuck Jones Gallery Black Friday Week Give-aways is Ron Eenhuis of Colorado!  Ron will receive a hand-painted cel art edition, titled, “Georgia on My Mind”! Congratulations, Ron!

Georgia on My Mind, a hand-painted cel art edition by Eric Goldberg

Georgia on My Mind, a hand-painted cel art edition by Eric Goldberg

Our Sunday and final winner will be announced tomorrow. Thank you everyone who participated!

…And Our Thanksgiving Day Winner Is…

Our Thanksgiving day (#4) winner of the Chuck Jones Gallery Black Friday Week Give-aways is Scott Johnston of North Carolina! Scott will receive a limited edition fine art reproduction on canvas, titled, “Still a Stinker”! Congratulations, Scott!

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