Director Jay Roach

Emmy-winning Austin Powers director Jay Roach on Comedy and Directing

Here are some lessons derived from Gerry Katzman’s ( interview with director Jay Roach (“Meet The Parents”, “Campaign”, “Austin Powers”)

Lesson #1 – Everyone is afraid. Just because someone can successfully direct Zach Galifianakis, Mike Myers and Will Ferrel doesn’t mean he has faith in his own comedic ability.  Says Roach: “I’m not funny… When I walked up at the podium, I just hoped I wouldn’t start gushing sweat and blubbering because I really do have actually horrible stage-fright. it’s not healthy.” 

Lesson #2 – The only person who gets to decide whether you “have what it takes” is YOU. “You do not have to be funny or good at speaking to direct, thank goodness” added Roach.

 Lesson #3- Surround yourself with the best.

Lesson #4- Balance.  According to Roach, comedy direction is about creating a free, uninhibited atmosphere while the camera is rolling- while being analytical, obsessive, and painstaking while you prepare your next shot. 

Lesson #5- Work hard enough to earn your lucky break. Jay didn’t get to direct “Austin Powers” (his first feature film) until after he was 40 and had been working for years at every conceivable job in the entertainment industry.  But when Mike Myers asked him to take on the job of a lifetime, he was ready. 

Lesson #6- Success doesn’t look how you think it will.  Sometimes your dream job comes later in life than you had imagined it would.  Sometimes Emmy-winners have stage-fright. And sometimes, the world’s best comedy directors don’t think they’re funny. 

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How to be Great in a Meeting

Award-winning comedy coach, actor, and comedian Gerry Katzman gives valuable tools and secrets about how to pitch yourself and be great in an interview or industry meeting…

In any business, your results are usually dependent on how well you perform in a meeting. Getting the job, the raise, the contract or the sale is almost alway contingent on how well you are able to sell yourself or your product.

This video will show you how to talk about yourself in such way that you cannot fail to get people excited, eager, and hungry to work with you. 

After decades of preparing myself and others for high-level industry meetings, I have found three important questions which, if answered, will prepare you to shine like a star in any presentation, meeting, conference or audition. 

Knowing and practicing the answers to these three questions will enable you to talk about yourself masterfully.   They’ll also add focus and drive to your career.

Question #1: Who are you like? 

Name 5 successful artists/people/businesses in your field that you are similar to.  Who do people compare you to?  Whether the resemblance is physical, personality, or just an intangible essence- who are you like? 

People cannot spread the word about something unless they have some reference-points that will help other people understand it.  

What are 5 successful examples of people (bands, artists, businesses) in your field that have something in common with you?

“As a comedic actor I’m like Ben Stiller meets Jason Schwartzman meets Adam Sandler meets Josh Radnor meets Paul Rudd. ”

“Our band sounds like the Beatles meet Daft Punk”

“Her comedy feels like Ellen Degeneres and Woody Allen had a baby.”

“Our restaurant is the McDonald’s of Greek Food.”

Right now, try to write down your 5 examples.  You may need to call friends for help.  

Question #2: What do you want and who are the gatekeepers?

Write the three goals you want to achieve in your career this year and who you need meet with to attain them. Be specific.  For example, actors- is your dream job on TV, Film, Web or Theater?  Comedy or Drama?  Single-Camera or Multi-Camera? Which shows exactly?  Who are the casting people?  Decide.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” -Yogi Berra

Question #3: Why are you doing this/ What is your inspiration?

Why do you love what you do?  When did you fall in love with your art, craft, or business?  How long have you cared about it?  Why is it important to you?  

People want to work with people who are passionate. 

How can you show your passion? Learn to talk about it.  


Answer these questions at home.  Then, have a friend read you the questions and get comfortable answering them in front of another person.  Knowing how to talk about yourself, how to pitch your business- could be one of the most high impact activities that you can do. Start by knowing the answers to these three questions.  The results (clarity, focus, confidence, and purpose) should be satisfying and immediate. 

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Gerry Katzman

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY – What to do when you feel like giving up

by: Gerry Katzman

There comes a time in everyone’s path when the road ahead seems long, and we wonder if it’s really worth going forward. A time where we’ve heard the word “no” so many times that we’ve forgotten what it sounds like to hear “yes”. Where the only thing you can see is the areas that you fall short and the difficulties in your way.  This is usually them moment right before something great is going to happen, but the only way you’ll live to see that moment is if you stay in the game and keep yourself inspired.  The following technique has worked for my students and I, and it can help get you out of any rut and back onto the road of success. 

Tip #1 Reconnect to your dream. 

If you start to feel discouraged- ask yourself (and answer) the following questions:

When do you remember first deciding that you wanted to become a performer, artist, etc.?  What were your first inspirations? What were the things (albums, performances, etc.) that got you excited? It doesn’t matter how silly they are- they could be cartoons, kids’ shows, movies, commercial jingles- but something, no matter how silly it seems now, lit you up inside.. What was it?

Tip #2 Connect to the feelings.

Describe in writing or recollect out loud what it was that inspired you to try your hand at this profession. Describe in detail what it was that you saw, felt, and experienced that motivated you to get involved. Recall your first fun experiences when you got started in this craft- what made those early performances or experiences so delightful?

Tip #3 Go back to your roots.

As you feel your inspiration start to grow, go back to some of the source material. If a certain album or movie (no matter how silly or bad it may now seem) inspired you, find it online and listen to it or watch it.

Go back to the seeds of your inspiration. Warm yourself from the fire that first sparked your heart. Going back, understanding and reconnecting to your original reasons and purposes can provide some of the valuable inspiration we need to get through the temporary doldrums in any career.

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Remember, you’re just one action away from changing the world with your art- make a move, make a difference! -GERRY KATZMAN

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