Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Reality is overrated and underwritten.

Reality shows.  I’m not a big fan of them, but I can totally appreciate how they came to be.  With so many “characters” walking around – and it seems like the most colorful ones out there I am related to or acquainted with – snippets of dialogue and watch-worthy situations are everywhere.  But, it’s as though reality TV got the phrase about bad children all wrong and that they should be seen and heard, apparently around the clock on every channel known to man.


As it is, I see plenty of people that seem to prove the theory that reality show producers are trying shove down our throats (or eyeballs).  I just don’t know if they should all have their network to hold hostage with their antics.


Over Winter Break, my daughter and I sat in the lovely College of the Canyons theatre anxiously awaiting the annual performance of The Nutcracker.  A delightful holiday treat for us, we couldn’t wait to hear the beautiful, soaring music of Tchaikovsky and watch the performances of the multi-talented ballerinas of Santa Clarita Ballet, one my daughter’s best friend who had a lead role this year.  To pass the time until the curtain went up, I was enjoying glancing around at all of the other theatre patrons, most of them dressed in their Christmas finery.  Spirits were high as girls from 1 to 92 decked the auditorium halls in taffeta, silk, satin and crystal beading and almost every man they brought with them seemed to sport a holiday tie or a festive seasonal sweater.  One grandpa, festooned (truly the only word to describe his multi-colored fabric wonder) in cheerful knitwear, entered our row, four seats over, took one look at the floor and loudly harumphed, “Looks like somebody lost something!”  His wife, daughter and son-in-law nervously began looking around, locating their own items, with various muttered remarks of confusion.  Finally, frustrated at finding nothing, his daughter asked, “Lost WHAT, Dad?”.  Grandpop roared aloud for the entire balcony to hear, “Their LUNCH!  Bwah-ha-ha! Looks like somebody threw up all over that there floor!”  Smiling impishly, knowing that it was only years of scuff marks beneath his feet, the man sat down.  Obviously happy with his keen super power to reduce holiday cheer to germ phobic fear as mothers collectively began pulling pumpkin and cranberry scented hand sanitzers out of purses.


Yes, there are folks far and wide that we can all point a finger at (rude, though it may be) and say, “You know?  You should be on TV!”  But, I’m not so sure that a camera pointed on ANYone 24 hours-a-day/7 days-a-week is interesting or entertaining.  Sure, creative editing and wily producers making storyline < ahem! > “suggestions” to every Vom, Ick & Scary (those are the names of those Jersey Shore kids, right?) who end up on television each season makes for bizarrely fascinating armchair train wreck viewing, but I still have a love of all things written.  In my opinion, today’s reality shows cannot hold up to some of the greatest situation comedies and dramas throughout TV history, there’s just no way. 


Recently I had the great privilege of listening to Bob Mills speak.  Mr. Mills was one of the gag writers for Bob Hope for over 20 years and a fabulous example of how writers serve the greater good in the world of entertainment.  Bob Hope was a FUNNY man (one of the greatest), but working with some of Hollywood’s most talented writers he was even FUNNIER than he might have been flying by the seat of his plaid golfer’s pants (although sight gags and physical comedy are good, too – Chevy Chase, you rule, even when nothing comes out of your mouth).


What makes television writers so wonderful — even though so many, sadly, are unemployed at the moment (thanks to reality television) — is their gift of judiciously transferring what they see and hear in their private lives to their scriptwriting.  TV writers are like awesome undercover spies, without messy gunfire or hidden Swiss bank accounts (which they might actually like).  They sit, patiently watching and waiting in the wings of family gatherings and at public events, collecting bits of conversations and situations that ultimately make their way into the shows they work on.  A little bit of this person + a little bit of that person in this or that situation = drama/comedy gold. 


I have certainly found it to be true that if you wait long enough, people all around you will provide little nuggets to tuck away to be used later.  It’s one reason I became a storyteller long ago – I’m surrounded by and related to people who don’t even know they are comedy and (way more than a little share of) drama gold.  So much so, that I have a sign above my computer monitor that says, “I cannot make this crap up.”  Someday, when Hollywood (and America) decides that the average bear has become unbearable to watch on every channel 8,760 hours a year … I wanna be one of their writers, because all around me people just keep doing things that need to be heard … and not seen, unless coming out the mouth of card-carrying members of an actors union.  Central Casting, if you’re listening, I already have character profiles – you can meet them if you want — just don’t bring a camera.

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