I Could’ve Been Dr. Phil | HumorOutcasts

I Could’ve Been Dr. Phil

December 2, 2012

Dr. Phil © by greggoconnell

This might surprise you, but I was not invited to Oprah Winfrey’s two-day party that celebrated her 25-year-old show ending. I’m sure I would have enjoyed hanging out with people like Aretha Franklin, Tom Cruise, and Michael Jordan. And I probably wouldn’t have been able to resist telling Maria Shriver, “Eat a little something.” But I wasn’t there, and that’s okay. It’s fine with me that Oprah was praised by people for two days. Why not? She earned all that adulation.

Oprah’s story is an “only in America” one. She started with nothing, and ended up one of the richest people in the world. She turned unknown writers into literary luminaries, and was responsible for several people getting their own TV shows. She had four former presidents on her stage as well as President Obama. And me.

That’s right, back in 1990, an entire Oprah show was devoted to a “My Turn” column I wrote for Newsweek. I wrote that kids were playing too many video games instead of real games with actual bats and balls and mud and the occasional scraped knee. Apparently, a great number of people wrote to Newsweek lauding or decrying my article. So, Oprah decided to devote an hour to the topic and have me on the show.

I barely got to talk, as it seemed that whoever talked the loudest got to talk the most. Parents of kids who played video games 15 hours a day bellowed about how wonderful their kids’ hand-eye coordination had become. Others sobbed loudly about the whole family going to support groups because of their electronic game addiction. I was the only one who didn’t come with rehearsed remarks. It never occurred to me to do that. I figured I’d throw in something clever now and then. That didn’t happen. Most of the time, I just sat there looking almost as uncomfortable as I felt.

Despite my poor on-camera performance, Oprah wouldn’t have had that entire one-hour show without me. Don’t get me wrong. It was a thrill and an honor to be on her show, but let’s face it: her show really took off after I was on it, and it continued to soar for the next 21 years. Coincidence? That’s possible.

I’m not the envious type, but when I see what she did for so many others who appeared on her show, I can’t help thinking that she could have done a little bit for me. She didn’t have to make my career skyrocket, but she could have used her magic to give it a little boost – or at least keep me employed. If she had hinted that she was going to make me a best-selling author, I might have actually finished writing that book that I’ve been talking about starting for years.

Look at Dr. Phil, Phil McGraw. He was an unknown psychologist who earned his BA in psychology from Midwestern State University. Have you ever heard of Midwestern State University? Do you even know what state it’s the midwestern university of? And this guy gets his own TV show because of Oprah. He’s so successful that he doesn’t need a last name. He’s just “Dr.Phil.” You’ve made it in our culture when you’re known by just your first name – like Barack or Madonna or Lady Gaga. If you say, “Lady Gaga,” everybody’s going to know which Lady Gaga you’re talking about. Similarly, if you say, “Dr. Phil,” nobody is going to think you’re talking about that credit dentist at the mall.

So Oprah, if you’re reading this, and I assume you are, I congratulate you on all of your success and wish you well on your new ventures. I really don’t want anything big from you, but I would love you to do something for me that you did for Dr. Phil. Could you please just make sure that everybody will think of me whenever they hear someone say, “Mr. Lloyd?”


We are proud to welcome television writer and producer Lloyd Garver.  Ever gracious, Lloyd is allowing HumorOutcasts to post his past and any upcoming columns.

Lloyd Garver

I was fortunate to be involved in one of the Golden Ages of Television comedy. I wrote and produced television shows ranging from "Sesame Street" to "The Bob Newhart Show" to "Family Ties" to Home improvement" to "Frasier." (I've also read many books, some of them in hardcover). I grew up in Chicago, went to college at the University of California at Berkeley, and got my Masters at Northwestern. Then I followed my dream to become a serious writer… by driving to Hollywood and getting a job writing questions and "ad lib" jokes for the game show, "Hollywood Squares."I wrote spec scripts in my spare time while I was toiling away at "Hollywood Squares," and after a few years sold my first to a show called, "Love, American Style." After that, I was lucky enough to continue to write for many comedies for the next 30 years or so. However, I always had an interest in writing essays and columns. An early "My Turn" column for "Newsweek" about the evils of Nintendo resulted in my being a guest on "Oprah." I assume that she will support me if I ever run for President.I have been a weekly humor and opinion columnist since 2001. I have written columns for "The Kansas City Kansan," "The Denver Post," "The Santa Monica Daily Press," "The San Francisco Examiner," Crawford Texas' "The Lone Star Iconoclast," and the "The Jewish Journal." My column has also run on line on CBSnews.com and I wrote a sports column for SportsLine.com. It has also been syndicated to hundreds of papers and sites. I was also recently honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for a column I wrote about the NCAA final four tournament. In this age of suspicion, I feel compelled to give you a guarantee about me. I swear that I have never written a column or a script while on steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. All right, once I took a swig of some Human Growth Hormone, but it gave me gas.

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7 Responses to I Could’ve Been Dr. Phil

  1. December 4, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Coulda woulda shoulda – you’re probably not even as old as I am and yet, look at all your accomplishments. Excuse me while I rid myself of all this envy, but I’m still waiting for my big break, and I don’t mean my hip. On a more serious note, I think you should let Oprah know how you feel. Maybe you could get a spot on her OWN network and star in her new show – Talents I Overlooked Along My Road to Success:)

  2. December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I read somewhere (Wikipedia I think) that Dr Phil was once on the run from a state board of medical examiners. Perhaps that explains the divergent results of appearing on Oprah. Or it’s the stache. Either way, welcome to HO.

  3. December 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Mr. Lloyd, you are a hero in my book. I used to send things to My Turn all the time, and never got so much as a thank you note.

  4. December 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Welcome to HumorOutcasts! I see you are hard on Dr Phil for attending “Midwestern State University”, but you hail from “Northwestern”. This seems equally vague, geographically-speaking, unless you are from the “midwestern” city of Chicago! As a Kansan, I think the whole idea of the “Midwest” is only makes sense to people on the East coast who never travel west.

  5. Bruce Ferber
    December 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Am I correct in understanding that the writer is about to launch LGW, the Lloyd Garver Network? I am trying to get some details out of Direct TV, but they’re being very coy and hush-hush about it. Should I switch cable providers?

    • December 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Well, Bruce, this is the scoop and I heard it from the horse’s mouth. Mr. Garver’s logic is that it might be a coincidence but he is not on Oprah’s network and that network is not doing so well so draw what conclusions you think works for you. Cryptic answer? yes. A new cable provider? Maybe.

  6. Deb Martin-Webster
    December 2, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Funny article ‘Mr.Lloyd’! Welcome to HumorOutcasts!

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