Danny Zuker, Emmy award-winning co-executive producer of the hit television series "Modern Family," gave a lecture on the relationship between comedy and American culture on April 15 in the Morgan Room of Cazenovia College's Hubbard Hall.
The talk was a part of the Cazenovia Forum Lecture Series and was co-hosted by both the Forum and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Zuker's alma mater.
"The only reason why I'm doing this is because I'm 3,000 miles away from anyone I know," Zuker said, joking with audience members before he began lecturing.
Zuker wowed the audience with hilarious recounts of incidents from his personal life which were incorporated into popular "Modern Family" episodes.
His focus included an episode called "Manny Get Your Gun," in which several scenes were inspired by events taken directly from the writer's life.
In one scene, couple Claire and Phil argues about the quickest way to a restaurant, so they agree to take separate cars, an instance taken directly from Zuker's life.
"We definitely wanted that to be an element," Zuker said. "It felt very real. And then that exploded into 'who is the more fun parent?' And that was just pure writing."
Zuker began his lecture by describing his journey from being a production assistant on "The Arsenio Hall Show" to writing for the late-90s comedy series "Just Shoot Me!," where he met "Modern Family" co-creator Steve Levitan. Levitan contacted Zukers years later, just as he was becoming disenchanted with the writing business.
"I was really feeling like my career was drying up," Zuker said. "So I started writing drama. I was all set to start becoming a very serious writer ... when Steve Levitan called me up and said 'Hey, I just did this pilot, it's sort of up your alley. I'd love for you to take a look at it.' I watched the pilot that he had shot, and by the time he got done, I felt like 'What do I have to do to get on the show?' It was just so good."