Hollywood actor stumbles upon a timeless copywriting lesson
I tuned into a recent episode of The Always Sunny podcast this week. And in the episode, Glenn Howerton (Dennis) and Charlie Day (Charlie) interviewed each other about their acting careers.
Both Glenn and Charlie (and Rob, who plays Mac but wasn’t on this episode in discussion) compliment their acting skills with writing and editing skills too. In fact, they each play a major role in the writing and editing process for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the show).
(Lesson in there)
And while Charlie was grilling Glenn with questions, he stumbled onto a timeless copywriting lesson.
Glenn’s acting career started out a little more “professional” than Charlie’s or Rob’s. He went to The Juilliard School, which is like the equivalent of Harvard for actors (if’n Harvard carried the same respect as they did before they went full woke).
Juilliard boasts having some of today’s best actors passing through its door like Anthony Mackie, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac.
Anyway, Glenn noticed, while at Juilliard, that he wasn’t like the other actors going to the school.
From my limited understanding of Juilliard, it seems like Juilliard is the home to try-hards. Everyone wants to puff their ego and impress their colleagues by taking on challenging roles while at the school. But challenging roles—and complete master classes in acting—tend to be on the boring side especially for the viewing audience.
Sure, they may crush their performance. But these roles are usually in self-aggrandizing movies to boost their egos and win them an Oscar nomination. Of course, this is when they become movies — not while they’re try-hards in Juilliard.
(Don't believe me? Would you rather watch The Wolf of Wall Street and Django or The Revenant? I rest my case.)
So, in class, they come off as, well, try-hards. And since they take themselves and their roles far too seriously, it creates a bad experience for everyone else in their class.
That’s where a young Glenn Howerton first showed himself he could be a good copywriter if he wanted to (whether he realized this or not).
As Glenn explains to Charlie on the podcast, this try-hard acting everyone else did was tiresome and boring. And that’s where Glenn had his realization:
Acting is about “fvcking entertaining people, not receiving praise” (his words, not mine). It’s not about rubbing your ego and proving how good your acting chops are to everyone.
And so it is with copywriting:
I’m writing this a day before the Super Bowl. When it comes, we’re gonna be attacked with “funny” ads and fluff pieces of praise about said “funny” ads.
But copywriting—whether in your emails, ads, or elsewhere—ain’t about receiving praise. It’s about persuading people.
When it comes to emails, it’s also about entertaining people while you persuade them.
Many copywriters, especially so-called “professional” ones who work at massive ad agencies and corporations, don’t understand this.
But you can’t cash in praise you receive at the bank.
Understand this and prosper.
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