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Comedians entertain Belles

Bridget Feeney | Thursday, September 13, 2012

Legendary comedy writers Bill Persky and Tom Leopold entertained students, faculty and staff at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday evening with a discussion panel.

The talk was the first in a series of lectures, private master classes, workshops and performances during their two-day visit to the College.

This is Persky’s second visit to Saint Mary’s in less than a year, as he previously visited in April. He is a five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director who has worked on such iconic television shows as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Who’s the Boss,” “That Girl” and “The Cosby Show.”

Leopold is famous for his writing, story editing and producing for classic television shows such as “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “Will and Grace.”

Together, the pair discussed with students how they got involved with careers in writing, producing and directing comedy.

“I kind of got tricked into [writing comedy],” Persky said. “It’s mainly observing and looking at life and saying ‘that’s weird,’ instead of just letting it go by. It’s all about how you notice stuff.”

Leopold, who said he had wanted to go into show business ever since he was five years old, also said writing comedy is about looking at everyday events in a different way.

“You just have to pay attention to what strikes you, whether it is funny or sad or just some guy in the street,” he said. “I didn’t know I had the ability to be funny until

I met other funny people and could make them laugh.”

Leopold and Persky offered some help to writers seeking advice on how to improve and build on their skills.

Leopold stressed the importance of simply sitting down and writing every day, even if no one sees it.

“By writing, you’ll find out who you are,” Leopold said. “If you write every day, great accidents can happen. You find your voice.”

Persky said practice can help one improve as a writer.

“Don’t start out to write something great,” he said. “Just start out to write something. Nobody has the freedom to do what you want to do like a writer. It’s just you and your desire and the way you express it.”

Senior Danielle Haydell said the lecture was not only an enjoyable way to spend her Wednesday evening but also a chance to learn about comedy and the personal backgrounds of the two writers.

“(Their talk) was hilarious and was very insightful,” she said. “It was really great to actually meet the people who write the funny shows because I feel like you hear about the actors all the time, but you never hear about the actual people who write it. It was nice to be able to talk to them and ask questions and hear their life stories.”

On Thursday, Leopold will perform his one-man show titled “When a Comedy Writer Finds God,” a story about his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.tin the Little Theatre of the Moreau Center for Performing Arts. Tickets and more information can be found at                                                  www.moreaucenter.com.