6-22-14 A Comedy Writer’s Challenge!
Longtime subscribers may remember this blog was originally called The Wandering Humorist. I said I’d write about all my funny adventures around New York City.
The weird thing was, it just didn’t happen. I could write easily about photography, directing, my creative process, but somehow, my comedic mirth just didn’t come through. I was perplexed.
As I move into writing comedy scripts again, I know the answer. I was having trouble because I felt so passionately about being funny, I was afraid I would fail.
I’ve decided my next challenge is making my posts funnier.
In the summer of 1999, I volunteered at The Nantucket Film Festival. One evening, I was told to arrive with black shoes and a suit. All the volunteers wanted to attend. It was a celebrity reception for oscar winning screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr., who would be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
When I got there I saw this was the real deal. I made my way over to the event producer. She asked me to forgive her and then gave me the job of the men’s bathroom helper. I had to ask her to repeat herself, “We just need someone to help guests who have trouble using the mens bathroom” she explained.
While other volunteers rubbed elbows and partied it up with the likes of Brooke Shields, Matt Lauer and Victoria’s Secret model Annette Roque… I would be helping elderly men go to the bathroom.
I grudgingly took my position outside the men’s bathroom. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked myself. “How far do I have to go into the bathroom to help guests use it?” “What is a bathroom helper?”
As the party got into full swing, I stood at the bathroom door, opening and closing it for guests.
I was about to commit Hari Kari, when an elderly man walked up using a walker. I opened the door for him and he said, “Thanks”. He seemed a little upset so I asked how he was doing. Without missing a beat he said “Well, I’m deaf and can barely hear, I need to use a walker and I can barely take a whiz, but aside from that, I’m having a great time”. I helped him into the bathroom and then made sure he got back out again. He thanked me.
I learned later that old man was Ring Lardner, Jr. He wrote MASH and was one of the Hollywood 10. No wonder he was so funny!