I love live TV. It’s not that I just watch The Regis, it’s that I used to actually do live TV, every week. Oh, sure it was hyper low ball cable access live TV, but I had a paid staff and all and we did five half-hours of TV every Monday night, one of them live.
It’s hot stuff, believe me. Those lights and the focus and all, and you connect quick. It gets in the blood. I was at the Royal Agricultural Fair in Canberra and for $10 you could go in front of an ABC camera and read a prompter. I had never read a prompter before, but I wanted to try.
Everyone else got a full read though rehersal. I got 10 seconds. The director stopped me when he knew I could do it as a cold read. It was a compliment, but hell, isn’t everyone supposed to be able to cold read copy off the prompter while looking through the camera?
I like Studio 60 when it’s fast and about TV. Almost as much as when I was in fifth grade and got to hold Elliot Frankel’s Emmy. I was friends with his son, they lived up the block in Hillsdale, NJ. I may not have understood how powerful he was or would be at NBC news, but I was 10 and I liked that Emmy.
See, when it’s good, TV has little room for anything but smarts. It squeezes out niceities and cuts to the core, demanding the best you have to offer. Small talk, meaningless and polite is something I don’t have room for. Smart talk, well, anytime any place. My family is sharp, it’s what we do, and one of my jobs is to keep my mother sharp by throwing her bon-mots that make her think, make her laugh. Many of them are about how bad the local news she prefers is, all shallow thinking and sloppy language. I tend to pick a bit at shallow thinking and sloppy language, if you haven’t guessed.
I get that part of Sorkin. And yeah, I was a pol in high-school, working campaigns and being on Army Intelligence bad lists. Same kind of energy, you do it right.
Problem is that editing is what I do now. Smarts demands smarts, and speed. I watched Debra Wilson do Oprah on Comic Relief 2006, thinking that she was incredibly brilliant even as she tanked. People who didn’t know O didn’t get the joke, and people who did know O didn’t appreciate the joke. But she sold it.
Problem is that what is there, inside me, all that live TV stuff, well, I know who doesn’t get it. I can take rancid fecal mattter and make it funny, and people who get it laugh even as the sick oily taste fills their mouths. That’s what we do you know, we take garbage and make it tasty, funny, beautiful. Fast art.
Michael Richards went kablooey at a comedy club this weekend, over the top and beyond the edge. Thanks to a bootleg camera taping the show and a black man who announced that all Blacks in America were offended by his performance, it’s national news. Wanna guess who offends me more, a crack ranting nasty stuff to 300 people in an L.A. comedy club, or a guy who feels entitled to speak for all Blacks in America? God, go big — why the hell not speak for all Black people in the World, or the Universe?
I know when people don’t get it, know when people don’t hear, know when people get all up into their own judgement place and have no freaking idea how to be funny while they tell the truth. And if you don’t know how to be funny, you don’t know how to be with funny. It just don’t work.
I wrote a bit about Portland, gonzo style, and Holly was worried that TBB wouldn’t like one of the jokes.
“Do you mind if I compare you to a beloved star at one of the tourist attractions in your native Orlando?” I asked TBB.
“Oh Shamu?” she asked. “Sure. Everyone does.”
TBB knows funny.
I live in the cesspoot. It’s not the cesspool. That’s nasty. It’s the cesspoot. That’s funny.
And the idea that it’s a treat to spend time with people who can’t tell the difference, well. . .
It’s like having to have dinner with the fucking suits.