Every once in a while, I read about someone who gives off so many creative sparks and has survived so many ups and downs that I just need to stop, smile, and admire. That’s exactly how I felt when I read a USA Today story about Billy Crystal. Sure, he’s a popular comedian and Oscars host. But he’s also a storyteller with some creative writing chops.
His one-man show, 700 Sundays, which won a Tony for Best Special Theatrical Event, took years to develop, hit Broadway, and toured nationally. He also wrote the story for his hit film, City Slickers and then went on to produce, direct, write, and star in Mr. Saturday Night, a bittersweet tale of an aging comedian that nosedived. Says Billy, “It was a big leap. I’m still proud of it, and so many people have come to enjoy it…”
Stretching creatively and taking risks can be dangerous in show business, an industry where performers are easily pigeon holed. But Billy’s willing to get out of his comfort zone, which is key to nourishing creativity. As he’s aged, he’s also begun looking for different kinds of stories. His most recent film, Parental Guidance, took a lighthearted look at grandparents with an eye toward a older film goers, an audience he thinks is neglected. “You keep hearing, oh, the 18-to-24 demographic — well, they don’t have money to spend! The older audience, there are like 80 million of them in America, and they’ve got money to spend, and stories to tell. And this is one of them.”
Stories to tell: isn’t that what really matters? And isn’t it refreshing to realize that there are huge populations out there just waiting for storytellers who aren’t afraid to take a leap into unknown territory? Write on!