TMI: Hollywood produces a live TOPICAL show each week, every Sunday. And by "every" we mean "many." Not everything submitted gets in. And not everything that gets rejected has a shelf life.
Sometimes my material isn't so much topical as locational. A couple ideas occurred to me while walking the dog; they were both Hollywood-related ideas. I think I had just seen a promo on TCM for a Jackie Cooper movie and it made me think of that old story of how they got Cooper to cry in movies; by saying his dog was dead. I just extrapolated from there to come up with this little ditty. TMI: Hollywood took a pass, but if TCM ever does a sketch show, I'm submitted this!
Sketchy Tales: Buy-agra
By December of 2004, I had started freelancing for American Comedy Network, which produced comedy pieces which were then syndicated to radio stations all over the country that subscribed to their service.
Much of the more generic, less topical material that I created for PHC got routed over to ACN (in addition to new stuff). I had a pretty good success rate with them. Coming up on Christmas, Buy-agra was a perfect shopping season sketch that could play off-season as well. Malls were still a thing back then, you have to realize and Black Fridays were the Hunger Games of retail. So, here's the PHC version followed by the ACN production, with a shout out to my old pharmaceutical company, Ulti-med.
From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie Home Companion." I learned a lot of things there, mostly how to spell 'prairie." It was a solid gig and I'm proud of my work there. But, like any other job, there were...things...
Again, I was always trying to find a way to get the gang at PHC to notice my stuff. I would try to submit to their running jokes but with a twist of my own to make it stand out. It rarely worked.
I don't know if it goes on today, but there was a time ketchup was also sold under the name catsup. Today, my spell check won't acknowledge the word. Anyway, it seemed like a goofy take to insert into PHC's Ketchup commercials. So, naturally, I wrote a song parody. The thing is, PHC didn't do a lot of song parodies. Sometimes I'm my worse enemy. But with having to come up with something each week to show them I was still alive, I couldn't afford to be too precious about what I was creating. If it was a solid idea and I could type it out, I would.
But it didn't get picked.
Catsup Advisory Board
TMI: Hollywood started as a parody of all things Hollywood. Then they started dealing with the wider pop-culture. Now, politics has merged into pop-culture, so they are doing more political stuff. They try to limit it, or run issues through the Hollywood looking glass, which, face it, is very easy to do with Trump in the White House. We can all write "Trump is Stupid" gags until the cows come home (but we know, under this administration that a lot of cows won't be coming home) but how do handle news that hasn't been hammered to death by late-night shows, other comics and Twitter? It's tricky. And to put all that effort into a sketch that has a slim chance to make it (especially coming from an outsider on the wrong coast) is daunting. So here's what happens...
Naturally, Press Secretary and Official Fibber was in the news during April, coming up with wacky explanations for her boss' wackier behavior. Also, ABC started running its ads for their summer game shows. There's "To Tell The Truth" right smack in the middle of things; how could I not? I learned from noted writer and late, lamented online friend John Boni that you can't just plop out a sketch or article or anything with just one note, so, sure, Sarah's a liar, so let's do variations on that. But I can go further by picking the right "celebrities" to question her and play around with the 2 other contestants. I think I had a nice mix of gags and zingers in this sketch. But, it didn't make the cut. So, we present...
To Tell The Truth D.C. Edition
Now a Word From Our Author
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After the Dukakis episode, I would keep bumping into people who "could do things for me." Around 1995, there was one guy, Ralph Cooper, very slick producer-ish guy who fell in love with my Nick Flebber Christmas script. He was convinced it could be a TV show and had me re-write it up to pitch as such. He was really an advocate of my material. He was also trying to build up his stature in my eyes. I don't know why, but he really was trying to convince him he had the juice, that we were always just thisclose to making things happen. At the time he was hustling a script for a movie called "Hugo Pool."
Freelance writer, still hacking away.