Many years ago I came up with an idea for a screenplay – The Funniest Comedy Ever Written. It would be a masterpiece. People everywhere would stand in long lines to watch the movie. Tears would be rolling down the cheeks of everybody who saw it. Academy Awards and Peoples Choice Awards would await my future. Since my inspiration for the movie came from a successful old television program, The Dick Van Dyke Show, this movie would stand the test of time and generations upon generations of people would be talking – for eons – about the greatest comedy ever written.
And then I felt as if someone had wrapped choking hands around my neck. How dare me for even considering that something I would write would ever be considered the greatest anything! What if I never had another funny thought in my entire life – ever?
And what if I couldn’t pull it off?
Jim Riordan taunts me from the recesses of my mind. Jim Riordan KNOWS funny. He told me so himself. He was one of the hosts of one of our local television programs back in the 90s.
When I met Jim Riordan, which I did because he was an actual writer with actual books to his credit (Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison, Stone: The Controversies, Excesses, and Exploit of a Radical Filmmaker, among others), I wanted some insights. As we talked, he asked me – because I told him I was a writer – if I knew how to write comedy.
“Of course,” I lied.
“Well,” he told me, “I know funny!” And he invited me to write for his show.
Jim became my audience. If he didn’t think that what I was writing was funny, who would?
Fast forward to now. The Funniest Comedy Ever Written remains unwritten. Like Michelangelo’s David unsculpted or Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus unpainted, like Disneyland unvisited, my masterpiece, a potential treasure that begs to be written, sits locked in the vaults of my mind.
Why? Well, one reason is that my funny meter has suffered. After being subjected to endless hours of The Cleveland Show and American Dad (my grandson is addicted), I can see that my sense of humor has become a relic. I remain frozen in time to shows like Friends, Frazier, M•A•S•H, and yes, I’ll bring it up again, The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Those shows – to me – were funny. Those shows were relatable. They blended well with my sense of humor. And so I wait. I wait for the tides of change to return to the things I think are funny. I may have to wait for the afterlife, but maybe my spirit will stick around and I will become the haunting muse for somebody else.