A Page from His Joke Book

Howard wondered how long it took Chris to get comfortable 'muscling an audience,' and Chris levelled with him: "Honestly? About 10 years."

Chris said he almost had no choice: "I had nothing else I could do...I wanted to be a writer, to tell you the truth, but I had no idea how to get into writing."

Chris said it was still hard work: "A breath could make something not funny. Just breathing in when you should be breathing out."

Howard asked what Chris would do if he lost a joke book, so Chris laughed that no one would know what it was: "If you found it, you would think I couldn't read."

Chris pulled one such book out of his pocket and said most of the notes inside were simple observations--not yet fully-formed jokes. For example, Chris read one about the disparate women in his life, listing his mother, his wife and his young daughters: "When they don't get what they want, they sound exactly the same."