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Mixed Media

Laugh Track

Award-winning humor writer Alan Zweibel keeps the plates spinning

Alan Zweibel

Writer, producer and actor Alan Zweibel (BA ’72). Photo: Mike Pont/FilmMagic

By Kevin Purdy

On a Friday night last December, Alan Zweibel (BA ’72) stared at long slabs of lime green, chartreuse and other loud colors on his bulletin board, trying to determine which one needed the most attention. The colors help the Emmy Award-, Tony Award- and Thurber Prize-winning writer organize the numerous projects on his plate. Television, film, theater, books, speaking engagements—Zweibel always has something due. But the multipronged pressure suits him.

Zweibel, who began his career as an original writer for “Saturday Night Live,” has been working with Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry on the film adaptation of “Lunatics,” their critically acclaimed 2012 novel about two New Jersey suburban dads who go bonkers after one, a soccer referee, invalidates a potentially game-winning goal by the daughter of the other. Zweibel wrote the part of referee Philip Horkman, while Barry penned the role of disgruntled plumber Jeffrey Peckerman. The two writers alternated chapters, giving each other no rules other than to avoid renaming people or excessively killing supporting characters.

Zweibel’s recent projects also include helping his friend Billy Crystal make a film version of his one-man Broadway show, “700 Sundays,” which Zweibel co-wrote; working on a sitcom with Whoopi Goldberg; and playing himself on the upcoming season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  “I’m collaborating more than ever,” says Zweibel. “But that’s also a way of socializing. It’s so lonely …  sitting here, trying to be funny, by myself, in a room. You can go crazy.” Enter the color-coded board, which helps keep him sane.