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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

SUCH Screenplay Ideas

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Hi, everyone!

As I've just posted my newest interview with Nathan—author of the screenplay "A Priest Walks Into A Bar..."—I wanted to share a few movie ideas I've come up with involving comedians (mainly with Bo Burnham acting so that he can get the coveted "O" in EGOT. Yes, I'm still on the EGOT thing!).

Here are all of my screenplay ideas. If you know of any Hollywood types who would be interested in pursuing one of them, please reach out!

  • George Carlin and Richard Pryor's relationship

This is my most planned and researched concept. I am picturing having the film start at their Tonight Show reunion in 1981 and cut to 1966 when they were both clean-cut comedians on the Kraft Summer Music Hall program. Then the film would follow the two into the tumultuous '70s.

It would focus on the pair breaking out of their uptight '60s shells to be true to themselves, fully embracing counterculture and underground comedy (hair, clothes, and attitude).

My dream cast would be Bo as Carlin and Jerrod Carmichael as Pryor (as you can see from my Reddit post above), with Rory Scovel as Carson.

This particular quote about the two influential comics seems to perfectly match the comedy styles of Bo and Jerrod:

Carlin gave us sociopolitical commentary through observation and wordplay, with a career that spanned five decades. Pryor was fearless in the face of taboos around race, drug addiction, sex, and personal suffering, and broke down barriers for comics to talk about their own lives.

1972 would be the climax for both, seeing as that year was pivotal and changed the career trajectory for Carlin:

In July 1972, Carlin was arrested on obscenity charges after performing "Seven Dirty Words" at Milwaukee's Summerfest (it was one of several times Carlin was arrested on such charges because of the routine).

And Pryor similarly had his career take off that year:

Pryor kicked around as a struggling stand-up and television writer for the next decade, but his career took off after he appeared at the Wattstax concert in 1972 and released a series of hugely successful comedy albums.

This Vulture article is one of the best sources I have found about the subject matter. And this Cracked article about the pair is useful as well:

But there’s one jaw-dropping thing that truly unites Richard Pryor and George Carlin -- both comics abruptly shifted gears after finding mainstream success, flipping almost overnight from amiable, family-friendly comedians to profanity-spewing, controversy-courting jesters.  Comedians grow and change over the years, but Pryor and Carlin are unique for the suddenness of the shift, for the moment you can say “There!  He’s a new guy now!” Let’s take a look at two seismic junctures that changed comedy.

I think we can all see "He's a new guy now!" in works like Inside and Rothaniel, which would make Bo and Jerrod being in it more poignant and would deepen the meaning of the film.

And I'm not the only one to notice the similarities!

  • Hospice nurse feature film

This idea is from Bo himself per his H3 podcast episode in 2018.

After listening to Bo and Ethan discuss Pattie's hospice work, I decided to listen to her NPR episode of This American Life called Death and Taxes. From my preliminary research, I came up with a basic plot and title that I laid out on Reddit.

I just really want Bo to write again!

  • James Taylor biopic

Another biopic idea, this time because so many people (including me!) have likened Bo's singing in That Funny Feeling to James Taylor's voice.

So Bo already has the voice and the acting skills (see Promising Young Woman for proof), but why else do I think James Taylor would be the perfect role for him?

Two reasons: One is that James is very tall (6'3). While Bo is obviously taller at 6'6, it would be easier for him to play a lanky folk singer versus other famous people who are typically of shorter stature (Hollywood seems to often attract small people lol).

The second reason is that James was born in Boston, and he has an accent that Bo could easily duplicate since he's from the same area of Massachusetts.

Bo already says "ruhm" and "drawrings," so it wouldn't be much of a stretch for him!

Finally, Bo himself has said he's a fan of James Taylor's lyrics per this 2011 Independent interview:

I'm a big fan of musicals, like the old Rodgers and Hammerstein stuff. As a suburban white child, I grew up listening to hip-hop - Deltron, Outkast and Eminem. Eminem's an incredible lyricist, such dexterity with language. People like Thom Yorke and James Taylor are brilliant lyricists in a more cogent manner. I don't like the Black Eyed Peas.

  • George Carlin biopic

If the Carlin/Pryor idea doesn't work, I was also thinking Bo could play Carlin in a solo biopic about his transformation into a counterculture icon.

Carlin is one of Bo's comedy heroes, so I think he could do a proper job of honoring the late comic.

  • Kurt Cobain biopic

Bo actually references Kurt in his song Kill Yourself ("Marry Courtney Love"), but this idea is mainly because I think Bo and Kurt have the same sad blue eyes.

There's also a few times in Inside and the Outtakes when Bo's blond hair partially covers his eyes that makes him look just like the late Nirvana singer.

  • Marvin Gaye biopic

Just as I want Bo to reach EGOT status soon, so too am I rooting for his fellow millennial polymath Donald Glover to win an Academy Award (both have the "EG" half secured already).

One way to achieve that would be to have Donald play the tragic R&B artist.

There were many times during the Solo press tour where Donald donned '70s-inspired outfits and looked SPECTACULAR in them, so I think he can capture that time period well. Plus, we know he can hit Marvin's high notes!


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