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Is There a Show in That?

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For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

People often ask me how you come up with a television show. But they don-t really want to know. When they find out what I do for a living, they say, "hey, how do you come up with an idea for a TV show?" but that-s just a prelude to saying, "You know what would be a good sit-com? My life, I-m telling you!" and then they tell me, in exhaustive detail, just how exactly their life and workplace, and children, and recent experiences are just so funny and basically a total sitcom, which is why these days, when people ask me what I do for a living, I say, "I-m a merchant banker." As so far, no one has ever followed that up by saying, "hey, do you know what would be a good merchant banking 'thing.'"

But for the record, here-s what we do: my partner and I sit in our office and stare out the window in silence. Each one of us silently hopes that the other will either throw out a brilliant idea for a show, or better still, begin an off-topic conversation. Then, we can chat aimlessly for a little bit, until the one who started the off-topic conversation says something like "I-m bought a new shirt this weekend," or "There-s a new Italian restaurant in Santa Monica," or "I-m getting another cup of coffee," at which point the one who didn-t start the off-topic conversation can say, bitterly, "Is there a show in that?"

Every now and then, our agent calls to find out what we-ve got. MY AGENT (V.O.)
So? Anything?

ME
We-re thinking. We-re noodling.

MY AGENT
No you-re not! You-re staring out the window brooding silently and wondering why everyone else has a show on the air and you don-t.

ME
We-re just trying to come up with something that people will respond to. It-s not easy trying to figure out what people want.

MY AGENT (V.O.)
Oh God. Whatever you do, don-t do that.

ME
Why?

MY AGENT (V.O.)
Just do a show that you want to watch. Just do a show the you think is interesting. That-s hard enough.

ME
I-m not sure my tastes match most of America-s.

MY AGENT (VO)
Want to hear something sad? I-m sure that they do.

ME
Really?

MY AGENT (V.O.)
Oh please. I-m so sick of people out here thinking they-re so sophisticated and different.

ME
What?

MY AGENT (V.O.)
People are the same all over. You think you-re the only one in America staring out the window thinking to himself, -I hate my job?-

ME
Oh.

MY AGENT (VO)
Hey, is there a show in that?

The next day, while we-re eating lunch, our agent calls again. MY AGENT (VO)
So. Anything?

ME
Not yet.

MY AGENT (VO)
Well, don-t panic. Just have a nice lunch and keep loose.

ME
Okay.

MY AGENT (VO)
Have a salad. You need the roughage.

ME
Excuse me?

MY AGENT (VO)
Physicalize the process. Relax. Eat some fiber. Don-t strain. Then, gradually...

ME
Hey, I-m eating, here.

MY AGENT (VO)
I-m just saying don-t push. I-m just saying let it come naturally.

ME
And then when it does, we-ll point to it and say, -Is there a show in that?- At which point, we hang up and keep staring out the window. Which leads me to this question: What, exactly, is a merchant banker? And is it difficult to become one? If there are any merchant bankers listening, give me a call. I-d like to email you my resume. Although I guess it might be kind of weird for a sit-com writer to become a merchant banker. Hey, is there a show in that?

That-s it for this week. Next week, we-ll close a deal.

For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

Credits

Host:
Rob Long