Thursday, January 21, 2010

"It's always something"



The summer I decided, "Man, I really want to do comedy" it started from reading the book "Live from New York". At first it was just a love of Tina Fey, but then I read about all the other women on SNL and there really were a few gems. I liked Jane Curtain for wanting to do what she wanted and nothing else - and she was talented enough so when she fought with Lorne Michaels and hated everything about the men's behavior, he kept her anyway and let her get what she wanted.

But mainly, I loved loved loved Gilda Radner. Of course, she was funny and she sounded adorable, and she actually had great relationships with everyone on the show. She got a good amount of stage time and her attitude seemed a lot like, "I'm having fun. This is fun. I'm surrounded by funny people. I'm going to do this until it's not fun anymore."

But it was this story from Alan Zweibel that really won me over:

"Well, you know what it was? It was an unusual sort of meeting in the sense that Lorne Michaels had this meeting up in his office. Everybody got together for this first time and he was going to tell us about this brand new show that was going to premiere in October. And so, there were writers there whose work I had admired for years. And I saw Belushi there and Ackroyd and Chevy and all these people were real funny. I was just out of college and I was real nervous. Real, real nervous. I knew these guys were good and I felt like a fraud and I didn't want to be exposed, so what I did was I went in the corner of Lorne's office and he had a big potted plant there, and I basically hid behind a plant during this meeting where everybody was supposed to tell their ideas for sketches and commercials parodies for this new show. I was hiding behind the plant, trying to remain somewhat inconspicuous when I heard this girl's voice talking through the plant from the other side to say, "can you help me be a parakeet?" And I looked up and parted the leaves of this plant and I look through and it was Gilda. She was standing and I was squatting behind and she was looking down and me. I say, "what?" and she said, "yeah, I think it could be really funny if I stood on a big perch and I sort of squished up my face and squawked like a parakeet, but I need a writer to help me figure out what the parakeet should squawk," and she says, "can you write some squawks for me?" And I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, but at least somebody was talking to me so I said, "yeah, you bet, I'm a great squawk writer." I didn't know what I was talking about, and basically she was as nervous and as scared as I was and she joined me behind the plant. We spent most of the meeting behind the plant, just sort of talking and at one point Lorne called on me to tell everybody what my ideas were and I got real tongue-tied and I was real nervous, so Gilda stood up and she addressed the room and presented her parakeet idea as mine and told everyone that I have lots of other ideas and she and I are going to work on them like a team. That's how we met.

I just thought, "What? I don't get it!" Who in the world, especially a woman, would be that selfless? Who, nervous as she was, nurtured someone else's nerves and helped them out by GIVING THEM CREDIT for her ideas. It blows my mind. The comedy world is a man's world, and she was just happy to be there, so she easily handed her ideas off so long as she got to be a part of them.

It's inspiring. I wish I had the same generosity as her. But I just... don't.

I say things like, "I paint my face to look like a porcelain doll when I rape people. Which I don't do... every Saturday night."

No, I'm going to start thinking "What would Gilda Radner do?" every now and then because I think "What would Tina Fey do?" a lot and well, I think we just might be on the same wave length of awfulness. (In a good way!)

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