Friday, October 5, 2007

My Baby, She Wrote Me an E-Mail


Courtesy of Mr. Chris Othic


Good writers can take things from real life and turn them into comic gold. You can do the same thing from other places. Here’s one of them.

If you are like me, you have a ton of e-mails in your inbox, sent mail, etc. In this exercise, you can use them to steal scene ideas from various e-mails you have sent and received. I just randomly picked 4 e-mails in less than two minutes, and each one has given me an idea or two for a scene.

I have just pasted the e-mails below and under each one I have written a quick note that might be a hook for a sketch:

1) Wow! You are busy! But it sounds like fun busy. I’ve been doing a lot of Red Cross Blood Drives (volunteer work) which I love. I've met some great people. I am having 3 of the women I've met over for lunch next week. This past Sunday I went on a bus trip down to the Cape with one of the women. We went down for The Annual Scallop Fest (I had chicken) which also included a 90 minute boat cruise around one of the canals which was fun. It was a beautiful warm sunny day.

IDEAS: We have a couple potential settings—the Scallop Fest or a boat cruise. I’m thinking two Red Cross Blood Drive workers on their day off at the Scallop Fest. One is a little loony, she had chicken at the scallop fest for crying out loud. Let a detail like be your springboard to heighten the scene.

2) I'm good friends with Spielberg. I'm the one who came up with the shark angle on Jaws. He originally had a sheriff who was scared of the water. I was like, "dude put a big fucking shark in there."

IDEAS: A friend of mine sent me this when we were joking back and forth. It’s a great premise for a scene. Spielberg is blocked and he has a writer helping him develop Jaws. You could also transform this into other movies that Spielberg has done. “Originally, it was a boy and his dog and I was like, dude, make it a fucking alien.” You get the idea.

3) You are invited to attend an anniversary celebration for George M. and Dave J. on Tuesday, June 27, at 3:00 p.m. in the Living Room area on the 37th Floor. George is celebrating his 40th anniversary with the firm this month, and Dave is celebrating 30 years with the firm.

IDEAS: This was a work related e-mail. Who wouldn’t want to see how George and Dave feel about sharing a reception. Instead of anniversary, maybe it’s something bigger, like employee of the year and employee of the month. And of course, George and Dave hate each other. (Joe's note: I think there's also potential in George feeling very bitter about it pissing away 40 years of his life while Dave, who wasn't bitter before, now questions the 30 years he's already invested. Is he going to be resentul ol' George in 10 years? Or vice-versa, where Dave is plotting his escape so he doesn't end up like George who didn't realize there was a problem with ending up like him.)

4) So you did meet some of my work people? Oh I didn't know who you guys met. I know you all met Joe (the one in the hat) and maybe Kiva--the only other girl there with us. So my boss bought everyone a drink??? Was it the short grayed hair guy or the little brown haired man? The wasted grayed hair man was my boss---the one with the credit card! ha!

IDEAS: This was an e-mail from a friend of mine. I love the vague details like “wasted grayed hair man or little brown haired man. I think I could just do a scene with this girl describing her co-workers. Or develop a scene based on these characters at a party. It’s just a jumping off point.

So there you have it. If you are looking for a quick scene idea, dig into those e-mails. Part of the fun is pulling them out of context and creating your own comic context for them. Have fun.


Yesterday, I asked...

"Filipino senators are considering lodging a formal protest with the US government because they are 'mortally offended' by a statement uttered by whom?"

20% selected "Former President Jimmy Carter"
- No. He only offends people who support genocide.

20% also thought "Talk show host Bill O'Reilly"
- No. I think they were just making a safe bet. I'm sure he'll get around to offending Filipinos.

Nobody picked "Vice-President Dick Cheney"
- He wouldn't offend anyone. He'd torture and kill them in an undisclosed location first.

60% got it right with "Housewife Susan Mayer"

According to the AFP, an episode of Desperate Housewives showed actress Teri Hatcher, who plays Susan Mayer, asking during a medical consultation to check "those diplomas because I want to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines." The producers of the television series have apologised and Philippine Senators said it was not enough. They have urged their Foreign Affairs Department to lodge a formal protest with the US government. "I am mortally offended by the statement...," said Senator Miriam Santiago, whose sister is a doctor working in Los Angeles. Anyone who is a patient of Dr. Santiago need not worry. She got her degree in Haiti.