Directly opposing ideas from two successful people, Ricky Gervais (The Office) and Scott Adams (Dilbert), about how to be successful:
Scott Adams: "Other people are not like you. If you create cartoons that you like, you’re probably only appealing to other cartoonists. I made that mistake early on in my career when I did a lot of comics that focused on clever puns. If you want to preserve your artistic integrity and vision, that’s fine, but don’t expect to make money doing it."
Ricky Gervais: "We’re making comedy for us and people who are like-minded. We want to do the best we can and if that means leaving behind some people who prefer broad comedy then so be it, because I really don’t care."
Scott Adams: "Your readers care about themselves, not you. Readers will perceive as funny anything that "hits home" even if it isn’t all that clever by any objective standard. Unfortunately the only person you know well enough to "hit home" with on a regular basis is yourself. Write about the situations that you have in common with other people. The common situations can be analogous, not exact. For example, you might have a weird hobby that thrills you but makes others roll their eyes. It doesn’t matter if readers share your hobby, only that they might indulge in something that is also disdained by others. It’s the feeling of disdain that should hit home, not the hobby."
Ricky Gervais: (About Spinal Tap) "…Finally I thought that a film had been made for me and nobody else. When I got the chance, I didn’t want to make 10 million people’s fifth-favorite comedy for 10 months, I wanted to make some people’s favorite comedy ever."
When I first read Scott Adams’s advice, I thought he was kidding. It sounds like he doesn’t like his own comic and thinks less of people who do. Still, I had to stick it in this blog. Creative inspiration from a cynical desire to connect with other people for money is still inspiration.
Of course, I don’t really think Dilbert is funny. And Ricky Gervais has enough money that he never needs to work again.
I guess they’re describing how to create a fad versus how to create something lasting. Any thoughts?