There's a good excerpt from Mike Sacks' new book, Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today's Top Comedy Writers, over at the New Yorker.

Here's George Saunders talking about his comedy influences:

I was a big fan of Steve Martin's. It was absolutely new at the time, the early- to mid-seventies. We'd never seen or heard anything like it. Now I can see that what made his work so radical was that it was so self-aware, so postmodern: he was making comedy about the conventions of making comedy. But then it just felt … limitless, and honest. In those days so many comics were completely conventional. You'd see them on "The Tonight Show," and they felt old-fashioned and sort of dead. I mean, George Carlin was around, and Richard Pryor—both geniuses—but I felt they were kind of outliers. They were radical and angry, whereas Martin presented himself as a sort of mainstream comic who tore the whole thing down from inside, very sweetly. He wasn't really rejecting anything; he was accepting of everything, with the force of his charm and his will. I also picked up from him something that reminded me of the way some of my uncles were funny—that whole comic riff of pretending to be clueless, exaggerating that quality and not flinching. I loved that.

[Photo Via: The Afflictor]