Not my oddest, I’ll admit, but pretty damn odd even for me.
It started with my having to deal with a stupid person. Not average, ‘oh, they may have trouble understanding how water can be hard AND soft’ person. I’m talking ‘playing fetch with a dog, faking the throw, hiding the ball behind your back which confuses and astounds the animal’ dumbfounded.
You know that look dogs give you when you pull this trick? For the eighth time in three minutes? That confused, startled, asphalt dull, six degrees lower than room temperature look? Yeah, that stupid.
After such a joyous start what else would you expect of my day? Oddness as I’ve previously stated.
We’re pitching TV show ideas. Pitching is tedious, odious, atrabilious work to me. Which is why I’m not rich. I can’t wrap my head around talking about something which the person I’m speaking to has read or at least had someone draw pictures of so they could understand.
It’s a good thing I’m not the lead on pitching. Mainly I’m left alone to do re-writes and things of that ilk. Not that that often makes sense (I was once asked if I could make a character a black nun. The character they wanted to change was a Mexican drug lord) but it’s a task I am capable of.
But today’s request was odd even for this industry.
“Chris,” is how trouble often begins. “We need you to flesh out an idea.”
Turns out I was requested to write an entire thirty minute script. Okay. By the end of the day. Yeah, okay. For a reality show. Yeah, okay, huh?
Ummm, am I missing something here? The show we pitched wasn’t one of those scripted reality shows. It’s why we like the idea. Very little writing involved (“Hi, I’m Flaubert Von Estersmoten, welcome to Idiots Who Can’t Live Off Camera!”). We’re lazy but we want money.
“A script? Dialog and scenes? For a reality show we summed up in less than twenty five words?”
I did it though. I figure if I’m allowed to bitch about pitching I have to bite the bullet on something.
Later I walked into a TV studio to do a shoot. The crew was there, I was walking in with the producers, our name was on the scheduling board, it’s a simple procedure done often.
“What are you doing here, Chris?” Asked someone who, obviously, knows me. Although it may not sound like a stupid question it is. He is also quite friendly with the producers of said show standing right next to me. So, I look this guy, who runs the place, by the way, and say,
“I’m here to do the commentary track for the DVD release of my colonoscopy.”
I love when their eyes vibrate due to brain shift.
Just when I think my day is winding down I get a frantic call from a friend. He’s doing some project and wants me to see a guy he’s auditioning. Why am I involved if he’s auditioning him? It seems the guy lives here so wants someone he trusts (funny how often last minute favors hinge on trust, huh?) to see the guy read.
Be still my heart! I don’t think the old ticker can handle it!
I ask, because I’m trusted, who and where. Turns out the guy will be at a restaurant down the street. Fuck. I figure I’m going to be dealing with a waiter who’s going to squeeze me in between delivering the appetizer and entree.
I ask who the guy is and he says, “Bob.” I ask what he looks like and he says, “Big.” Oh yeah, I know him.
But, this time it’s odd with beer.
“Chris.” A guy pats me on the shoulder. It takes a second for me to realize I knew this guy twenty years ago. He wouldn’t remember me because, what I’m sure of is, he wouldn’t remember much from that time in his life.
I’m sure if you’ve a fan of a certain very famous TV show you’d recognize him. He wasn’t a major character but had some pretty memorable scenes.
After bitching about the copy of the script his manager gave him (if he said “Why didn’t they just give me sides? All I need was sides. They gave me a full script but I wanted my sides.” one more time I’d wished he was a waiter just so he had to go to the kitchen to get sides and I could catch a break) we get to the part where the reading was to commence.
We got to that point because I took his script (which I’d never seen nor knew anything about) and pointed out where in the script his character had to speak.
Somewhat calmed, he told me he only had about twenty minutes before he had his set. Turns out he was doing two shows tonight. He asked if I wanted to stay, I asked how much his set had changed in twenty years.
I’m not sure but I had a feeling my invitation was withdrawn.
He started reading and, holy fucking shit. Don’t get me wrong, I have dyslexia but this guy’s reading ability was not very good.
It wasn’t that he was doing a cold reading, it was the fact he was having trouble pronouncing almost every word. I could feel him struggle but he finally got through it.
When he looked up I didn’t know how I was going to report this. I could tell he knew what I was thinking and smiled.
“Don’t worry, I can do the part. I’ll have someone read it on tape and I’ll learn it that way.”
A work around! I know all about them.
Then, after asking, again, if I wanted to stay for his set, he had a question for me.
“Was the script as bad as I think?”
“Worse. But then you’re talking to a guy who had to write a script for a reality show today.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying all day!”