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Brandish

Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 061019 — Fred Raker

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A warm #sparkchamber welcome to writer Fred Raker. A former stand-up comedian in New York City [sharing the bill with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Paul Reiser] and television comedy writer [staff writer for the late-night comedy/variety series Fridays, featuring Michael Richards and Larry David, the prime-time sitcom/sketch show No Soap, Radio, starring Steve Guttenberg, and even The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson!], Fred transitioned to the business side — now a corporate marketing writer.

The creative energy still flows, though, and to scratch that itch, he works on his own projects. He wrote a pilot for a TV series about a self-help guru from the 1970s who mysteriously disappeared, and co-wrote a musical about crowdfunding. The story of three people desperate to reboot their lives who cross paths at a “how-to-crowdfund seminar” at the Terre Haute Airport Suites, Baby Toupees is a one-act musical comedy about dreams, the digital divide, and finding love by — or in spite of — our own devices. Of course, the musical is currently on Kickstarter through this Saturday, June 25th. Check it out — it’s funny!

On the starker side, “Lately, I've been inspired to vent about Donald Trump.” Fred has self-published a humor book, The Official Trump Bitterness Quiz, and just finished a play that features a character obsessed with the 45th president.

1.] Where do ideas come from?

My ideas come from various places. Sometimes I write about success and failure as that’s a recurring theme in my life. I started out doing stand-up with a few guys you may have heard of [Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Saget] so there are some lingering issues there. I wrote about it in a one-man show, “It Could Have Been A Wonderful Life.” Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Trump so that’s driving my current projects.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

I create to deal with my feelings. My one-man show, “It Could Have Been A Wonderful Life,” came about because I was having dreams about the famous people I started out with and needed to deal with the thought that I was a failure. I also create because the work I do for a living is not all that creative and I like to have something fun to work on.

3.] Early bird or night owl? Tortoise or hare?

Once I commit to a project, I try to spend at least an hour a day on it. I just keep banging away at the outline until I’ve got enough to start writing. I used to work on my projects in the morning but now I find I like working at the end of the day. As for getting it out into the world, I’ve become much more aggressive in my dotage. I tweet about my Trump book throughout the day. I’ll email and call people even if they might not be the right person but I do it because they might know someone. It’s the old adage if you throw enough stuff against the wall, something will stick.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

When I run out of steam. I just finished the first draft of a play and I’m tired of looking at it. Next, I’m going to get some actors together to read it. I’ll hear what works and what doesn’t then I'll gather more steam to fix it.