"I wasn't the kind of guy kids in my class pointed to and said, 'He's really hilarious,' " recalls Andrew Donnelly. To this day, the 31-year-old New York copywriter is mostly pretty earnest, which belies the fact that Donnelly is quite the jokester when he grabs the mic at Caroline's or the Improv or another comedy venue. He's been on stage for three years now, winning over audiences everywhere -- well, most of the time. "There are times when it's horrible," Donnelly allows. "I still bomb now and then, but I work through it. It's part of the process of getting better."
So far, the comedy work is mostly a labor of love: advertising jobs net Donnelly up to $900 a day, but the comedy gigs pay maybe 50 or a hundred bucks -- and nothing when he plays open mic nights.
Donnelly essentially works two jobs, spending most days thinking up campaigns on behalf of agencies like Cliff Freeman and Y&R, and "three to seven nights a week" honing his comedic skills. He claims there's synergy between the two fields: "Comedy is a lot like doing an ad. It's making an idea work, hammering away at it until it's right. And often, if it's really good, the result seems totally easy and simple."
Does advertising inspire his comedy writing? "No. There is nothing funny about advertising," he asserts, and it's hard to say whether or not he's serious. Then where does he get his material? "It's just observations. Like, you know the difference between a cat and a stuffed animal?" Pray tell. "Blinking," Donnelly says. (RvB)
Convergent Media Man
Brian Hurst: Interfacing the future
Brian Hurst is co-author, with Olivia Newton-John, of a best-selling children's book called A Pig Tale, but he spends most of his time wallowing in a whole different kind of MUD. Last month he was named head of the new convergent media division at Culver City, Calif.-based graphic design company Pittard Sullivan, which acquired his year-old Tandem Intermedia. At Tandem, Hurst designed interactive TV interfaces for clients like the Disney Channel, CBS and Sony's experimental Game Show Network.
So what's up with convergence, anyway? "Ten years from now your TV will be a universal appliance that will do everything from telephony to controlling your house," says Hurst, 42. "And it can be portable." Even in the short term, the ability to run television and the Internet simultaneously on Web TV is just the tip of the iceberg, with astounding multiplayer gaming possibilities on the super-bandwidth horizon. Convergence is begetting "a whole new animal and a whole new design palette where all the choices are in the hands of the user," he assures.
Hurst has years of Internet design experience with L.A.'s Object One Design, among other places, and his TV background runs even deeper. Both his parents were longtime TV producers, and his father is the creator of American Bandstand. Yet Hurst, an unproduced playwright, remains true to the printed word. "I'm planning to exit this business in maybe four years," he says. "I want to get