"Closing arguments were given in the Michael Jackson trial Thursday. Defense attorneys painted him as an innocent victim. For proof, they said that when Michael lies, his nose grows, and that's obviously not happening."
– The Comedy Wire
Finding the funny
You might have heard the work of Pat Reeder ('80)
on your morning commute. Five days a week, Reeder
and his wife and co-writer, Laura Ainsworth, supply
story summaries with multiple punch lines to morning drive-time DJs through their service, the Comedy Wire (www.comedy-wire.com).
The Comedy Wire serves not only radio stations in the United States, but also in Australia, Great Britain and Ireland. Subscribers are "shock jocks" as well as more mainstream personalities.
Reeder and Ainsworth haven't missed sending out the Comedy Wire in 14 years. Even on days when the news is tragic, they rely on humorous stories to fill the wire.
"Our job is to find the funny in news stories, but it's not our job to have a one-liner about everything," Reeder says.
Talking to yourself
Reeder became a fan of comedy while growing up in Laguna Park, a rural town located about 30 miles north
"I loved the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Abbott and Costello," he says.
He transferred to North Texas as a radio, television and film major from Hill Junior College in Hillsboro, where he worked seven days a week at the local radio station.
"Growing up in the middle of nowhere, I had developed an uncanny ability to talk to myself when I was a kid, and that's what you do when you're on the air," he says. "I did
little jokes when I introduced the records — anything to amuse myself."
At North Texas, Reeder was soon working as a DJ for KNTU. On his first day, he met fellow student George Gimarc ('80), who became one of the original DJs on KDGE-FM in Dallas.
Sharing an interest in old records, the two became fast friends. They created a morning show for the now-defunct KDNT-AM in Denton and, in 1995, wrote Hollywood Hi-Fi: Over 100 of the Most Outrageous Celebrity Records Ever.
At North Texas, Reeder took many courses in film and English literature — subjects that particularly interested him — in addition to his required radio courses.
"The smorgasbord helped me later because, in my line of work, you handle a lot of trivia," he says.
He remembers many of his film professors, particularly Gerry Veeder.
"She took a real interest in my work, submitted my student film to the Dallas Film Society and invited me to parties at her house, where I met top visiting film critics," he says.
But comedy writing, not filmmaking, was Reeder's main goal after graduation. He was a voice talent and production director at several Dallas radio stations and head writer for the original Barney the Dinosaur videos. He also worked in corporate communications.
While searching for his big break as a comedy writer, Reeder interviewed for his dream job writing for Late Night With David Letterman. However, a Writer's Guild strike prevented him from being hired right away.
When the strike dragged on, Reeder decided to give up his dream and return to Texas to be with his parents, who both had terminal cancer. He again took up radio work.
His big break came in the late 1980s when he became head writer for the Morning Punch, which during his tenure was named the Best Topical Fax Humor Service in America by a trade magazine.
Ainsworth was Reeder's top freelance contributor on the service. After marrying, the two set up the Comedy Wire
Working out of a restored 1913 home in Dallas, the couple spends hours searching for news that people will be talking about the next day, from politics to showbiz to the oddest human interest stories. At night, they write the stories up in brief, ready-to-air capsule form, add multiple punch lines to fit a variety of styles, and fax or e-mail them at
4 a.m., as morning DJs on the East Coast are arriving for work.
Reeder and Ainsworth gathered enough outrageous-but-true stories from the Comedy Wire to publish a book, Nine Hallmarks of Highly Incompetent Losers, in 2002.
Reeder's current projects include promoting Ainsworth's one-woman show, My Ship Has Sailed, and maintaining her web site (www.lauraainsworth.com).
Producing the Comedy Wire, however, remains his daily priority.
"It makes me really happy when an obscure story I discovered is what everybody's talking about on the radio," Reeder says.