I like my coffee black and unsweetened, so I can taste the pristine flavor of the coffee. I mean, why drink coffee if you don’t like how it tastes?
“I have to ‘doctor’ it.”
I have a better idea.
Drink something else.
I know. That’s hardline. And borderline doctrinaire.
“Doc Trinaire. You are wanted in surgery.”
“Call me Doctor Trinaire or I’m not coming.”
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah.
As with liking pristine coffee, I like my commercial entertainment, unencumbered by diluting illusion and artifice.
And I have never once found anything close. (I give acknowledging “passes” to the likes of The Wizard of Oz, but only if they are truly exceptional.)
I know funny people in actual life; I have occasionally been one myself. Somebody says something funny, you laugh real hard. Where is that paralleling natural exuberance in TV shows in movies?
I saw the film The Meyerowitz Stories (subtitled, “New and Selected” as if they are actual stories when they’re not.) All I experienced in that movie was “acting”, everyone furiously pretending to be “troubled.”
The withholding father. The bickering brothers. The sister’s a basket case.
Bleh. Bleh. Bleh.
Who knows? Maybe it was the writing.
“Look at this nightmarish family.”
I get it.
“You see how dysfunctional they are?”
Message received. They’re unhappy. Is this over soon?
Our entertainment feels dismissingly fake to me. The thankful exception to the
norm of slathered illusion and artifice:
Parts of Judd Apatow movies.
It seems like they’re not acting sometimes. Probably because they’re
not acting, they’re improvising, the freeing spontaneity of that approach according a welcome reality to the cinematic proceedings.
However, like in Apatow’s The Big Sick, when they get to the obligatory “story points”, they’re acting. And not particularly skillfully because they’re improvisers.
I am extremely difficult to please.
Though I do not – the writer assures us – just “talk the talk.” Like those intrepid, trailblazing pioneers of Yore – and elsewhere; sorry, I can’t help myself – I also, demonstrably, “Walk the walk.” Insistently believing, if you don’t find it, do it yourself.
Which I did.
Offering – as close as is humanly possible – unadulterated commercial entertainment.
Like the All Things Considered audition commentary I submitted, about “The people who do commentaries on the radio, they’re not talking to you; they’re reading to you. And when I said, ‘They’re reading to you’, I read that. And when I said, ‘I read that’, I read that too. And when I said, ‘I read that too’, I also read that. I am reading this whole thing!”
Ah, yes – an overdue expose, blowing the lid off the radio commentary racket.
All Things Considered turned it down.
Intrepid Experiment Number Two: * (* Not in chronological order.)
I created a sitcom called Family Man, trying to replicate normal, everyday life. That “normal everyday life” being my own.
The lead character was a comedy writer. Married, with both a stepdaughter and a biological daughter. Like me. (I threw in a boy, to play “Young Me.” Which sounds Chinese, but it isn’t.)
I ordered a living room set built, duplicating our actual living room at home. The house’s “Exterior Location” – the front of our Santa Monica craftsman bungalow.
I got rid of the live studio audience, liberating me from writing the obligatory “hard jokes” required to make live studio audiences guffaw, and giving me the freedom to garner laughs in a naturalistic manner.
I told stories that had actually happened to me, in my earlier life and as a parent.
Family Man was the most exhilarating formula-free writing experience of my career, the closest I ever came to the kind of comedy writing I inherently believed in.
The show was cancelled after seven episodes.
And then there’s this blog. Where if I mess up or change direction, I leave everything in, trying replicate, not manicured essay writing but the meandering flow of recognizable conversation.
My readers are precious to me.
But they are tellingly few in number.
Sending the reverberating message:
“We like illusion and artifice. Leave us alone.”
Maybe an uncontrived movie or TV show can’t be done. It sure hasn’t been so far. Possibly because it is effectively impossible to pull off. Or because the “Smart Money” knows there is no money in attempting it.
Yeah, well… (SIGH)
I’m going to keep at it, at least on this fragmentary level.
Maybe someone interested will pick up the torch, carrying it successfully to the box office “Finish Line.” I hope so. I know it’s worth attempting.
A more muscular champion to get the job done.