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An average playwriting class at DMACC became a special event Tuesday when comedian, writer and actor Bob Odenkirk dropped in remotely to discuss writing, show business and even offered a few Iowa Cubs references.

Professor Lee Keeler originally met Odenkirk in Los Angeles, where he did live comedy production for eight years. The two met at a fundraiser Keeler produced and they stayed in touch.

When Keeler asked him to skype in for his "English 235: Playwriting and Screenwriting" class, Odenkirk quickly accepted the invitation.

According to Keeler, Odenkirk emphasized the importance of not writing alone and that, when writing comedy, you shouldn't go off in a corner away from people. Comedy writers need a partner or a team to workshop ideas, he told students.

"He's from Illinois originally and came up with Second City in Chicago," Keeler noted. "So he understands the value of Midwest writing, of Midwest comedy. He was dropping Iowa Cubs references on us — he's been to the games. He gets it." 

Odenkirk — though now most widely recognized for his acting talents in hit TV shows like Breaking Bad and its successful Odenkirk-focused spinoff, Better Call Saul — spent most of his early career as a comedy writer. 

Starting at Saturday Night Live alongside Conan O'Brien in the late 1980s, Odenkirk wrote for various late night television shows like the Conan O'Brien Show and the short-lived Ben Stiller Show before creating the influential HBO sketch comedy series Mr. Show. 

Keeler has only been an English professor at DMACC for a short time but is already excited about the future of the program. Last fall, he hosted a reading of comedy cult classic Wet Hot American Summer as a fundraiser at the Civic Center. 

"If anything, I think we would have a better chance of getting a lecture from Bob than some high falutin' program like Northwestern," Keeler said. "I'm proud of us."

Follow the Register on Facebook and Twitter for more news. Aaron Calvin can be contacted at acalvin@dmreg.com or on Twitter @aaronpcalvin.

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