Friday, November 16, 2007

We Need to Talk


Most scenes start with a very recognizable situation; a couple having dinner, a father and son playing catch, two co-workers sitting next to one another clacking away at keyboards, etc. This is good, because the audience needs to be able to connect with what is happening. But if continued to just be about a couple eating soup or a father and son tossing a softball or co-workers inputting data, our interest would wain, to say the least. Even "reality" shows know that something's got to happen.

This week's assignment is to have one of the characters in a familiar situation reveal significant information about themselves.

To prepare, whip up a list of ten things you might normally do during the course of a week or two that involves at least one other person. Here's mine...

1) Buy coffee at Dunkin Donuts
2) Cook dinner with my girlfriend
3) Tutor a student
4) See a play
5) Have a beer with friends
6) Shop for groceries
7) Chat with teachers in the teachers lounge
8) Shop for a gift
9) Go to the bank
10) Ride the El to work

Now, try to forget about this list as you create a second list. This is a list of the worst or most surprising things one person could reveal about themselves to another person. Use your imagination. This is NOT based on your own life. Unless it is.

1) I'm an assassin (That's for Jen)
2) I'm secretly Jewish.
3) I have a second job as a pimp.
4) I'm a serial killer.
5) I've been having an affair.
6) Your father has been hitting on me. And I like it.
7) I'm broke.
8) I got a new job and have to relocate to Ohio.
9) I'm Santa. And I suck at the job.
10) I've been studying ballet.

Now, see if you can pair up items from the first list with items from the second list. Be on the lookout for the match-up that will give you the most bang for your comedy buck. For example, telling the counter person at Dunkin Donuts that I am secretly Jewish probably doesn't have a lot at stake. But telling my girlfriend, or wife, while we cook dinner together might be interesting. Then the scene becomes about justifying the secret, revealing the depth of the secret, and finding a solution for moving forward with that person. I also like a tutor telling his student that he's an assassin. Could be because he's from the future trying to prevent a tragedy or that the student is an heir to the throne of an obscure country. And for some reason I imagine the tutoring lesson being with a piano. Makes it more active and adds a little class.

So, that's the assignment. Write a scene where someone drops an informational bomb on another person. Entertain different ways to reveal the info rather than just "I have to tell you something." In the dinner scene, the wife can find kosher salt in the pantry. In the piano lesson scene, the student can find an unassembled sniper rifle in the piano bench. Have fun.


Adam Felber writes for Real Time with Bill Maher and is a regular panelist on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! While currently on strike, he has been spending more time at Fantacial Apathy, his website where he often has brilliant satirical takes on current events. I am envious of this guy. His take on the Blackwater investigation is priceless. Check it out by clicking HERE.


Saturday Morning Cartoons might be taking the weekend off. I leave for Clarksville, Tennessee today for my dad's 75th birthday. My girlfriend and I will be spending the night mid-state in Effingham, Illinois. We here at the Bite and Smile regional corporate office are understaffed and I don't trust any of the interns to do this job properly. A posting tomorrow is unlikely.


Yesterday, I asked...

"A poll of NYU students revealed that 50% of them would give up the right to vote forever for what?"

30% said "An iPod"
- Nope. Sorry. An iPod will only buy you giving up one vote. You'll have to pony up more to get someone to give up the right to vote forever. At least an iPhone.

No one said "Unlimited party supplies"
- Which is my fault. I meant stuff like free kegs of beer and pizza puffs, but I think people thought I meant cocktail napkins.

No one went for "A job working for Donald Trump"
- The only thing people will give up for that is their dignity.

70% got it right with "$1 million"

According to Washington Square News, a recent survey by an NYU journalism class found that NYU students would exchange for their right to vote in the next presidential election for cash and prizes. 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an iPod touch. 66 percent said they'd forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they'd give up the right to vote forever for $1 million. Clearly, these were not math majors. After Uncle Sam takes out taxes, that leaves approximately $600,000. If they are frugal, that spreads out to about $10k a year if they live to be 75. But they are students. They live in New York. In all likelihood, that will buy them candy for five years and then they have to live out the rest of their life bitching about who's in office. Wait a minute. I voted and I'm bitching about whose in office. I'm older. That one million will be more for me annually. Okay, suckers! My vote is for sale. Let the bidding begin! I'd love a million dollars, but I'll settle for a new sofa.

1 comment:

Dennis Frymire said...

I used to go through Clarksville, Tennessee on a touring children's theatre gig. You might not believe it, but that was THE favorite layover for the crew. Have fun!