As many of you know, I put my Peabody Award Nominated-series Hate By Numbers™ on hiatus a few months ago so I could pursue my screenplay. Since that time, many of my Facebook friends have been hounding me with one question: “G-Stone, what’s your e-mail address? I need to send you pictures of myself in fishnets.”
But a few of them have also asked about the screenplay. The truth is, it’s not going that well. Although I drafted what I believed to be a timely satirical tale about one man’s amusing struggles against corporate America, my agent felt it was just “too smart” for Hollywood. Actually, he described it as “really not funny,” but I think if you’d seen his face, you’d be able to tell “too smart” is what he meant (I’m assuming here. I actually just got his comments scrawled across the title page when he mailed the script back to me).
So I’d pretty much given up hope of selling it when my agent called me last week with an idea:
“Gladstone!” he screamed. “Why don’t you see if that funny columnist over at Cracked.com could help fix up your screenplay?”
“Oh, Ian Cooper?” I asked. “I’d love to, but he doesn’t work here anymore.”
“No, no. The other one.”
“Oh, Ross Wolinsky! Yeah, he’s great, but he’s on sabbatical.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” he said. “Well, why don’t you take a shot with whoever’s left over there?”
I must confess that, initially, I hated the idea. I hadn’t tried collaborating with someone from Cracked since I wrote that Valentines Day skit with Those Aren’t Muskets. I guess it turned out funny enough, but every time I shot down one of Swaim’s punchlines he would cry for hours until I stroked his hair and swore to him that one day he’d have a clip-based show on Cracked even more popular than Hate By Numbers™. But in this economy, money is money, and if collaborating with my intellectual and comedic inferiors meant getting paid for a script well then, hey, I was up for it.
So last week, I called an emergency meeting at the Cracked House. Everyone was there on time, but only because of the false incentives I had provided: I told Jack O’Brien that the meeting was a rave where prizes would be given out to the partygoer who took the most X. I told Swaim the meeting was a tutorial on hairstyles that do NOT make you look like an 18th Century English lesbian. I told Dan O’Brien that I was giving a lecture on Dan O’Brien. And I told Robert Brockway that I was giving a lecture on Dan O’Brien (Chris Bucholz wasn't invited. Not because he isn’t nice or funny, but because I’m still not convinced “being Canadian” is not contagious).
“OK, Gentlemen,” I began. “First, I have some bad news. I lied about what we’re here to discuss. I actually just wanted your help writing a movie. Before each of you is an excerpt from my script Working Man Triumphant -- my break out comedic performance where I play a man done wrong by the system. In this scene, our protagonist --me-- is laid off by his uncaring boss, so he decides to seek revenge by opening up a rival business. Take a look.”
Everyone started thumbing though the pages, except Dan O’Brien who rolled them up into a tube and stuck it in his fly.
“Look,” he said. "Coming at ya! Get it?"
"Yes, Dan," I said. "You've made a penis out of my script. Very clever."
"Not just," he protested. "I also made a pun. Coming at ya? Get it?"
"Good stuff, DOB," Jack said, as he downed some X. "Remember that for the site."
"Damn it, Jack," I yelled. "Can you stay focused? I asked you here to get your ideas on my script, not encourage Dan to make penises out of things. It's not like he needs encouragement anyway. Do you NOT remember how he Photoshopped the Cracked Christmas cards last year?"
"Well, I'm sorry Gladstone," Jack mumbled, with tears starting to form in his spinning eyes. "It's just that my forte is really not writing. It's titling things. So I looked at this scene and I'm thinking instead of Working Man Triumphant, we go with Crappiest Boss Ever!"
"Thanks Jack, but I'm trying to get this movie released in theaters, not Digg.com."
"Believe me, Gladstone. I get it," he said. "If you were trying to land on Digg.com I would have already received 27 whiny Digg Me requests from you."
(I'll never know how a man can drop so much X and listen to so much vintage Madonna and still make astute observations like that. I guess that's why Jack's the boss.)
But this was going nowhere. I started pacing the room. "Does anyone have any ideas for how I can tweak this movie."
Robert Brockway, the newest Cracked columnist, was eager to please. "Well," he said, scratching his beard. "I'm thinking that instead of firing him, the boss kills him with a hammer. A bad news hammer!"
"So you're suggesting we kill the protagonist of the film in the first scene of the film, am I getting you, Robert?"
But Brockway wasn't paying attention. He had already curled up his script and stuck it in his fly. "Coming at ya!" I heard him scream, as I turned towards Swaim.
"Swaim. You've taken classes. Surely, you have some input?"
"Well, Gladstone. Seems to me you've written what's known as satire here."
"Yes!" I said.
"You have your protagonist--laid off unfairly from a big defense law firm--open up a plaintiff's shop and then bring a series of nuisance strike suits against all his former bosses. Revenge."
"And in doing so, he becomes very rich, very sucessful and, ultimately, just like those he despised."
"Yes, Swaim. Exactly! So any suggestions?"
"Just one. Burn it. People hate satire, Gladstone. Christ, haven't you noticed that? Seriously, what is wrong with you?"
"He's right G-Balls," said DOB. "If you wanted to make a revenge flick, you should just have your proctologist --
"Protagonist," I corrected.
"Right. You should just have him bone all his bosses' wives. That's what I'd do."
"That's funny," Swaim said. "And like some of the wives could be hideous, but he still does them anyway because its more about spite than sex."
"Yeah," Brockway shouted. "And then after the sex, he kills them all with a bad news hammer!"
Everyone laughed, and Jack shouted, "Great. I'll call some venture capitalists I met in Thailand during Spring Break '01!"
The meeting broke up shortly after that, and I didn't think much of it until my agent called this morning.
"Gladstone," he said. "I got the new script and you're a genius. Beautiful."
I put down the "Shouts and Murmurs"section of the New York Times. "What are you talking about?"
"Jack O'Brien sent along the new draft this morning. We already got a rough draft of the new poster! Check your e-mail."
And so I did:
--(this post is dedicated to Gemineye the Great)
Learn more about Gladstone at Kafka Lives in Maine