NOTE: This was first posted on March 31, 2009. The person named “Bob” in this story is actually Super Dave Osborne aka Bob Einstein aka Albert Brooks’ brother, and we were working on a limited run Super Dave special for Spike TV.
One of the “older writers” I refer to is a guy by the name of Pat Proft. He is a legend. His writing credits include “Police Academy”, “Bachelor Party”, “Real Genius”, and “The Naked Gun”. A few times I tried quoting lines from these movies and he had no idea what I was talking about. Then I realized – I’ve seen Police Academy a thousand times, he wrote it in 1983 and probably hasn’t seen it since. I stopped throwing out “Blue Oyster” references after that.
Without further ado, here is this post:
This story is only funny because I have another job.
I got a job writing on a show that was just starting up. It got a 4 episode order. The star of the show – BOB – is also the head writer, and he’s done this character for the last 30 years. Versions of it have been on various networks, and for some reason the powers that be decided to bring it back, even though he’s pretty old at this point. Throughout it’s various incarnations, Bob’s always written it with 2 of his buddies – and all of them are in their 60’s now.
But now that it was coming back and supposed to be younger and hipper, Bob was talked in to hiring 2 new guys to add some “fresh ideas” to the mix. That’s where I come in. I met with him and he liked me, and very begrudgingly he hired me. But keep in mind, it was really against his will. He did not want anyone new, he just wanted to do it with his friends like he always has. So me and the other writer he was forced to hire had a strike against us before we even started.
The writing process was supposed to last 10 weeks.
I go in the first day and I’m put in a very small, windowless office with the other “new” writer – let’s call him, THE DOUCHE. He is an older guy, with some pretty good credits, and some pretty terrible hair plugs. Because we share this office and are the two new guys, we are sort of linked – even though this is the first time we’d ever met. That was entirely unfair, but that’s just how it was.
The way Bob liked to work is that he would sit in his office, with all of us in there, and just talk. He would throw out ideas, tell stories, and dominate the conversation. Our job, as it seemed to me, was to sneak in ideas, help him get to where he was going, add jokes, but also stay out of his way.
In fact, when I initially met Bob (we had a breakfast meeting), I pitched him an idea. He then proceeded to lecture me for 10 minutes on why he would never do an idea like that. By the time I showed up for the first day of work, my idea was incorporated into the show and it was now “his”.
I’ve worked with people like this before and once you figure out the rhythm of it, it’s good. What you absolutely cannot do is be the star. You can’t dominate, you have to let him control things. That way, when you slip in ideas, the star thinks everything is his. He maintains ownership and his ego is intact. All you have to do is not be disruptive.
Well, The Douche didn’t understand that. He thought this was a partnership. He thought it was a democracy. He couldn’t let the star do his thing, he was intent on putting his imprint on the show. He was also bat shit crazy. And on Thursday of that first week, The Douche proceeded to have the worst day in a writer’s room that I have ever seen.
Bob wanted to do a “the joke of the week” every show where he would very theatrically tell an old, classic joke. He came in to our office on Wednesday and told us one he wanted to use. It started off “a guy is at a party and he pukes all over himself. He says, what am I gonna tell my wife, I promised her I wasn’t going to drink…”
Well on Thursday morning, The Douche pipes up, “hey, I’ve got a great joke for joke of the week”. We go, let’s hear it. He says, “a guy is at a party and he pukes all over himself…” All of us (me, Bob, his 2 old friends) are just looking at the guy like he has lost his mind. The Douche goes through the whole joke, we assume he has some twist on it or something. He can’t possibly just be ripping the star off right to his face. But no, he tells the joke the same exact way as if he’d just thought of it.
Bob loses his mind. “I said that joke yesterday!!!” It was just bizarre. But we continue on.
Later, Bob has an idea and he’s talking it out, when all of the sudden The Douche takes out his blackberry and shoves it in Bob’s face “Look at the email I just got!” Bob is taken aback. He takes the blackberry and reads the email, it’s from the Writer’s Guild and completely innocuous and meaningless to what we are doing. But it totally disrupts everything. Bob is thrown off track and completely pissed.
After some terrible pitches from The Douche that are completely not in line with the show, we finally get near the end of the day. Now, this was a “soft” room. In other words, the three old guys do not work blue. They don’t swear, none of the jokes are hard or edgy at all. It was very PG in there.
Bob tells a story about how he had a gun pulled on him one time, and he asks if that’s ever happened to any of us. The Douche says it has. And he proceeds to tell us the story. This is what he said:
“I was out one night and I got completely drunk, and then I started driving home. But I had to piss really bad, so I pulled over and got out and pissed near the sidewalk. Suddenly, a hooker comes out of nowhere, and she’s like, running from the police or something and she jumps in my car.
I was drunk, so I didn’t really care. I get back in and I’m driving and she’s blowing me.
(stunned silence in the room)
I was driving her back to her place, which was in a really bad part of town. So she’s blowing me, but then she stops and picks her head up and says “this is gonna be 50 bucks”. Well, I only had 50 bucks, and at that point in my life it was all the money I had to my name.
I say, no, I’m not giving you 50 bucks. She says, you will if you want me to keep blowing you.
So I take my hand and jerk myself off really quick and come.
At this point in the story, Bob interrupts. He’s completely flabbergasted. But he goes, “you jerked yourself off?” The Douche goes, “yeah. So I wouldn’t have to pay her!” And Bob says, “where did you come?” The Douche replies, “I don’t know. All over my hands”.
But he’s not done…
So I’m all satisfied and I look at her and I say, guess it doesn’t matter now. And this whore reaches into her purse and pulls out a gun. She pulled a gun on me! She says give me the 50 bucks, so I do. And she gets out of the car.
I start driving off, but in my drunken mind I start getting pissed. I think “I can’t let this bitch steal my money!” So I turn the car around and I decide that I’m going to run this whore down.
(he said that, “run this whore down”)
I point the car at her and I start driving, and I’m just gonna take her out. But she pulls the gun out and aims at the car. And at the last second I swerve away and drive off. But I swear, I was gonna kill her.”
The next day we were not allowed in Bob’s office. He told us to stay in our office and come up with ideas while he and his friends came up with their own. On Sunday I got the call…he didn’t want either of us to come back. It was over.
My new job lasted a week.