In the midst of the flu, holiday prep, hockey season, getting ready for school and the thick of helping my friend and sometimes writing partner Marcus pull together a play, a friend of mine asked if her daughter could interview me for a project on women in the arts.
My response was something akin to, "Whah?"
"Oh goodness." I said, "Is this for publication anywhere?"
There was a long pause. "I don't THINK so... She wants to write comedy. Don't you still write comedy?"
I looked over at Marcus. He was on day two of running on no sleep and black coffee until finally agreeing to eat deli-fried chicken while informing me that soy pudding was Not of the Lord. He looked, well, scary. I thought of sweet, impressionable young Brandie coming face to face with the comedy writing version of Alec Holland and was both appalled and amused. Maybe I could scare her into nursing school.
"Send her on." I said and twenty minutes later Brandie sat on my couch nursing a Mexican Coke while Marcus typed out a line, grumbled, hit the backspace key and typed it again and again and I stood in a doorway at the other side of the room, swathed in a scarf to keep her from catching whatever I have. We looked like Nancy Drew had decided to spend career day with the Symbionese Liberation Army.
"Okay, how where do you want to start?" I asked.
Brandy thought for a minute and then said, "Pretend you don't know me. You don't have to be all nice and stuff. Act like this is a real interview."
"But it is a real interview." I said.
She preened for a moment and then opened her Jonas Brothers notebook and turned on her tape recorder.
"How long have you been writing comedy?" she read from her list of questions.
"Seriously? Since I was maybe eleven. I watched Second City and Saturday Night Live and wanted to write for Gilda Radner and Catherine O'Hara."
"They had Saturday Night Live when you were eleven? How long ago was that?"
Marcus looked up from his laptop, "It was originally on the radio..."
"Shut up, Marcus!" I shot him a death glare. "He's kidding," I said to Brandie.
She looked dubious and soldiered on to her next question.
"Who did you write for?"
"I, sometimes we, ghost wrote for various people, comedians, a couple of football players, speeches and ad copy, stuff like that."
Brandie looked more interested. "Really? Which comedians?"
"I'm sorry, kiddo. Can't say. Professional courtesy."
Marcus stopped typing for a moment, "Not even the dead ones?"
Brandie looked enthralled. Oh, dear. "You wrote for dead people? That's kind of cool."
"Brandie, they weren't dead at the time."
Marcus decided to help again. "They died after she wrote for them."
"Awesome! Do you write for anybody right now?"
"Just me," I said.
She looked a little disappointed and scanned the page in her notebook for her next question.
"Who is your favorite person to make fun of?" she asked.
"I'm more likely to poke fun at situations than people. Anymore, if they're the kind of people I should be making fun of, they're probably best left alone because they really don't deserve my attention."
How do you decide if you'll write it or not?"
"Easy," I said, "I substitute my name for the person I'm writing about. If it still makes me laugh, it stays. But I'm weird and I know it. What makes me laugh might hurt someone else's feelings. So sometimes I think, 'Eh, that's too mean' and go back and change it."
"Kind of lame. The meaner people are funnier. I write funny stuff all the time about people."
"You'll outgrow it," I said. "So, uh, Brandie? This is a class report, right?"
"Kind of. But it's gonna be in the school paper if that's okay."
Oh yeah. Gonna buy five copies for my mother...
copyright 2009 jas faulkner