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Modern Comedian

Published regularly on YouTube by filmmaker Scott Moran

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Though it seems counterintuitive, comedy is a craft as precise and learned as carpentry. To be funny--not just randomly funny, but consistently, deliberately funny--takes a lot of work and practice. And that thought process, while fascinating, is generally kept hidden to preserve the illusion of comedy's spontaneity.

But a new Web series has risen to give a peek behind the curtain at how comedians work and rework--how their craft is honed.

The series is Modern Comedian, which is published regularly on YouTube by filmmaker Scott Moran.

Moran follows both up-and-coming and established comedians as they dissect their joke book, tour the clubs, and prepare for appearances on late-night TV. In one of the series' most compelling episodes, Moran delves into the late great Mitch Hedberg's hand-written notes and hears about his writing process from his widow, Lynn Shawcroft.

Episodes generally run around 10 minutes and arrive weekly-ish.

But the most important thing to note about Modern Comedian is that it isn't funny. It isn't a comedy series but a series about comedy, about the drive to create and to constantly self-improve, and how practitioners put that desire into action. It's a fascinating and dramatic exploration of the complex psyches of true artists who are sometimes perceived as clowns.

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