Saturday, October 15, 2005

Navel Gazing

Last night, I spent a while poring through old file folders, reading scripts, jokes, and what (by way of S.J. Perelman) I used to call feuilltons (short, 1-3 pages “stories” that are as much about the writer as the characters in them.) I was both impressed (in some cases by the quality, but in all cases by the quantity) and depressed (in some part by how was all for naught, but in all part by how paltry my current output is by comparison.)

My papers are organized in expanding files, by year. The 1984 file, for example, has half a dozen sitcom scripts (including a “Laverne & Shirley,” a “Too Close for Comfort,” and a “Facts of Life.” There are pages and pages of jokes for comedians like George Wallace, Tom Dreesen, and Byron Allen. My first full-length feature film, “Hot Dogs” in in there too, along with at least 100 feuilltons. How did I do it? Who was this 24 year-old kid and what were his days like?

I recall that I used to spend about two hours every morning with a yellow pad on my lap writing down joke ideas. I would then type up the best of these, turning them into one-liners. For the rest of the day, I worked on scripts and screenplays; for a half-hour sitcom I recall I was able to go from concept to completed (and beautifully typed!) script in about a week. In the evening, I wrote for myself: poems, feuilltons, and letters.

I was supporting myself at the time mostly through a variety of free-lance writing jobs, including what I made from writing jokes. I didn’t really go out that much, except to see stand-up comedy, especially on nights that performers I was trying to write for were performing.

I wish I could go back in time and shadow myself for a day. I miss that busy young many and would like to see him in action again.


Post a Comment

<< Home