Home » Intrinsic nature of his art » JEAN SHEPHERD–What’s in a Story? 2 of 2

JEAN SHEPHERD–What’s in a Story? 2 of 2


On a television program in 1975, Shepherd talked with Tom Snyder about his preparation for his radio broadcasts.  This also appears to be truthful and straightforward, and thus an important description of how he usually worked his 45-minute shows.  Anyone looking for some description by an artist using sound and words, regarding what he considers his craftsmanship to be about, can probably find an answer here:

Anybody who’s tried to do a monolog knows—any good actor will tell you—that sustaining an audience for even three minutes when you’re standing in front of them is tough.  It takes preparation.  It takes technique, it takes a beat and a tempo, dramatic tension running through it.  I don’t talk when I’m on the air, I perform.  Very different….I use silences a great deal, Tom, just the way that on the stage you use space, light.  And I build the show in a series, just as any good monologist —like a one-act stage play.  I build it in a series almost like sine waves.  I hit several peaks and then as I go out—off the air–it’s a theme that runs through it which I have long-since determined. (June 6, 1975)


He describes Bill Cosby’s stage technique—how he will “…use seven or eight major stories—has the feeling he’s just thought of them as he comes out.  But he’ll orchestrate them whole—not just a series of stories.  That’s the difference between a good monologist and someone who comes out with a whole bunch of one-liners.”  Shepherd goes on to describe his own technique of creating “a mood, rather than the thing itself.  If I want to do a story about fear, I don’t talk about fear, I tell a story.”




“I was this smiley-face, see.”



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