On the bright side, all those co-workers are gone now...
|Dan Fiorella: Writer @ large||
From 1999 to 2004-ish, I was one of the contributing writers for Garrison Keillor's renowned radio show "A Prairie 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...
Another one I forgot. Boy, was reading this a trip. Some of this is lifted from one of my scripts, where my character goes undercover at this really horrible office job with really horrible people (spoiler alert; it was my job and co-workers). And after hearing the pie commercials, I realized it was about horrible things that are eventually made right by eating the pie. So I grafted my bits of office scenes into this. Didn't make the cut, however. And, unless I'm mistaken, it's the only time I tried to do a Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie commercial. But even when I was writing for the show, I see that I really wasn't. I had too many characters. the pacing was off. I was writing to amuse myself. Sometimes it worked, sometimes (mostly) it didn't. I'd like to think I'm better at adapting myself to the gig, but I also know the difference when my heart is in it and when it isn't. It's with these kind of sketches I was most disappointed in when they were rejected. I honestly thought that by writing up these mockeries and getting them produced it would break the spell of my tedious job. I tied a lot of faith and hope to these type of writing projects when I set them out, like I really needed them to be picked. I needed them to be produced. I needed them to validate the ill-feelings I had toward my job.
On the bright side, all those co-workers are gone now...
Bebop-A-Reebop Rhubarb Pie
Okay, so here's the thing; last night I attended an event hosted by ComedyWire, it was an open mic night for the stand-up comics and writers on the site. They were offering 15 slots of 3 minutes each. And people could just come in an hang, as well. I thought it would be a good way to network and meet important people from the company. It was not.
First, when I got to the club they were holding the event in, there was a long line to get in. After I reached the front, I was asked my name by a guy with a list. I mean, there were a lot of people, but the site is pretty popular. “Good thing I RSVP-ed,” I thought to myself as the guy looked up my name on the list. It wasn’t there.
“Is this the ComedyWire event?” I asked. It was not. I had to go downstairs. Oh. OK.
Downstairs, there were far fewer people, arranged as so: One person at each table, each looking at their cell phone. “Oh, my,” I mused, “Are there 15 people here?” I considered the possibility that if there weren’t, they might grab people out of the audience to do a set (This is foreshadowing).
Once I entered the room, the person in charge said something like “Make sure you sign in!” Every workshop and group I’ve gone to always has an attendance sheet. So I signed it.
Drinks were on the company, so I was sitting with another writer/performer who was set to go up and I mentioned that I was there to be the audience, after all, somebody had to do it.
So, I’m drinking my beer and enjoying the show. It was an interesting mix. Some came prepared. Others had notes. Some had good jokes, but no delivery. Others had stage presence but not good material. As they pulled names out of the hat for the 3rd batch of performers, my name was called. “No!” I blurted out. No one heard, except Aaron who I was seated with. “Do it,” he said. Meanwhile, my nerd brain decides to note that this is just like “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
My brain was slipping gears as I desperately attempted to figure out how to play this. I supposed I could have just run over to the woman calling out the names that my name was in there in error. That would have been the sensible thing to do. Instead, when my name got called, I took the stage.
“There’s been a horrible mistake,” I announced. “I thought I had signed an attendance sheet. I shouldn’t be up here, I’m a writer guy. A writer guy!”
I looked out at the audience and couldn’t see a thing. The spot light was right on me. I’m pretty sure I shielded my eyes at first. After that, it gets fuzzy.
I wish I could state that I rose to the occasion. I did not. I pulled out my “I’m from New York City. Downtown NY. Very downtown—I live in Staten Island, okay?” intro that's on all my bios that i submit. I did a butchered version of my ferry concept, “I ride a boat into the city everyday like our explorers did…” I think I meant “forefathers” or “ancestors.” These are things I remembered from the time I was in a "Funniest Staten Islander" contest back in the 90s. I then announced it was my birthday “tomorrow” and got a round of applause but didn’t joke about it as a way to eat up time. I announced my age. Stated I’m a grandfather and said basically I’m writing stuff for my grandkids now, like “Why was the chick standing on the curb? Because it wasn’t allowed to cross the road without an adult.” Anyway, that’s how the joke is supposed to go. I’m not sure what I blurted out exactly. I blanked bad. All the jokes I’ve written, all the time’s I’ve imagined getting up on stage and I just babbled on. The woman running the night then called out “You don’t have to use all the time” and I quickly concurred. I didn’t say anything witty like “I hereby yield my time to--” I just apologized again and said, “let’s get a real comic up here! Thanks!” Or words to that effect. Then I slunk off the stage.
Aaron said I did a solid minute and a half. Seemed longer.
Naturally, as a writer, I’ve totally re-written the scene in my head. I’m remembering the fantasy set I’ve thought about time and time again if I ever did stand-up again. I thought of old jokes and new jokes. I remembered the knock-knock joke I thought for my grandson. All of which reminds me of what I discovered last time I preformed stand-up. I’m more comfortable behind the keyboard than the mic. I’m not quick enough on my feet to man a stage. There I was, the first time on stage since that karaoke night on the cruise ship (which would have been a good set-up with me just adding “I killed.”). I was goofily panicked but not nervous. I noticed one guy’s hand shaking as he kept pulling out his list. It didn’t feel like that. It felt safe. Like you were among colleagues and not a hostile audience. I wish I had done better. I wish I had thought to take a selfie of me on stage. I wish it could have been a fantasy-come-true moment for me. But, then, hey, I’m a writer; it will be.
Still moping about my rejection notice from NBC's Late Night Writers Workshop. I pulled out the one essay question earlier, since it dovetailed so nicely with the SNL video they posted on-line. So, what the heck, while I'm at it, I'm just going to post all my various essay answers over the years. Maybe this'll force me to write brand new ones to the 4 or 5 questions they seem to rotate through each cycle. Maybe read them and avoid my pitfalls, whatever they may be...
Galaxy Rangers Reviewed: Series 6 Podcast,
At the end of October, I heard from Kevin, "my producer" again. He had spoken to Joel the producer concerning “The Kringle Project.” Joel thinks I should re-write the Pee-Wee version and keep it as the mailroom boy turned detective. Kevin told Joel he’d mention it to me. While mentioning it to me, Kevin recommended that I NOT do such a thing, as it would involve a “page one rewrite” for no dollars. Meanwhile, Kevin is back in contact with former Warner executive Kimberly Brent (huh?) who had moved to Paramount and was working for producer Howard Koch, Jr. Kevin wanted to get her “input” (huh??).
Freelance writer, still hacking away.
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