Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Write Stuff.

Robin Williams said something really great when the Writers Strike had just begun. Something like, "I was the only person on the picket line with nothing on my sign."

Funny. But there's also a lot of truth there. TV shows give us all something to talk about. They're safe. They're neutral. Perfect conversation when meeting someone new. (Except for those "Kill your television" types. Why are you so angry people? Watch Planet Earth and relax.) But if our shows aren't on, what the hell are we supposed to talk to strangers about?

I try to avoid asking people what they do for a living (various stretches of unemployment have made me HATE this question). I figure if someone really loves what they do and want to talk about it, they'll bring it up. I'd so much rather ask, "What do you do for fun?" or "What's your favorite snack...and why?" You always need that follow up. I really believe that the small stuff tells you just as much about a person as the big issues do. If someone takes a board game too seriously, guess how they probably approach life? I don't really have to know the political views of the person who keeps challenging everybody's words on the Scrabble board. I've got a pretty good idea of who they are.

For me, the most important small-stuff indicator is what a person finds funny. I think what a person laughs at tells you almost anything you need to know about them. In terms of TV, if someone says they love 30 Rock so much they want to take it behind a middle school and get it pregnant, we're probably going to get along. That's part of the reason why the 2-month Writers Strike is so significant. The lack of new catch phrase quips poured out and absorbed by the masses, limits the connection we have with each other. Hearing a stranger repeat something from TV that you found amusing creates an instant little connection, and I don't think we can overstate the importance of instant little connections. Because if in a room full of strangers someone was to say, "These pretzels are making me thirsty" it's a joke we'd all be in on. Inside jokes establish a bond between buddies but are only funny if you happen to be on the inside. Sitcom lines create inside jokes for the whole world. Outside, inside jokes. That's effing huge!

That's what she said.

Oh, right. I do have to say that the one positive of the Writers Strike has been the cancellation of the Golden Globes. Woody Allen so perfectly summed up award shows with his line in Annie Hall. "Awards! They do nothing but give out awards! I can't believe it. Greatest fascist dictator, Adolf Hitler."

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