Rejection, Remembered.

celebrityboxing A few years ago, I applied for a writing fellowship with a major TV network and, *shocker*, did not get accepted. Everyone likes to laugh, but no one loves a comedian.

I just unearthed the essays I submitted. Here is one I still find amusing:

B) What television show most inspired you to become a television writer and why?

I fully enjoy my TV time, and am constantly inspired by brilliant shows I watch
until they’re canceled; Freaks & Geeks, Veronica Mars, Arrested Development.
They are smart and clever, funny and irreverent, poignant and sophisticated and
seen by me and my three closest friends. But if I have to pick one show that has
provided me with the highest measurable amount of inspiration, it’s Fox’s
Celebrity Boxing. C.B. only made it to air twice (2x!) and I’m not even sure I saw
it, but if there ever was a good reason for a clever funny lady to write for
television, this abomination is it. Even my worst, most ill-conceived, un-thought-
through idea would be more enjoyable to see enacted on-screen than watching
two of America’s least favorite celebrities get aggro while wearing shiny shorts
inside a cage. And even though the show was a huge ratings success the first
time, and M/L-sized the second, there was no third, so it didn’t even last half as
long as Wonderfalls! While it’s depressing that 5.8 percent of Nielsen Families
voluntarily sat through Screech fisticuffing with Horshack until West Wing came
on, it ultimately gives me hope that my best writing can arrive at a cross section
of smart and appealing…and still get canceled.

Glamour, Embodied.

picture-3 Band Geeks. Drama Nerds. Jocks. Pretty People. Stoners. There are really only two types of people in this world: those who actually enjoyed high school, best-years-of-my-life style (appx. 7 people), and the rest of us, for whom the experience is a lot like one of Dante’s rungs of Hell (4th? 9th?). Ten years after graduation this drama nerd took matters into my own hands. To tell my story I sat down for an interview with me. No softballs.

AW: Unlike people who suffer from PHSSD (Post High School Stress Disorder), you hadn’t actually thought about or kept in contact with anyone from your hometown for years. And you weren’t even that unpopular. I’d say you were whole body horrified by the invitation to attend your 10-year reunion: “Oh God, no! Ew ew ew!” Followed immediately by confusion and dismay: “How old am I? How’d they get my address?” Is there anything you’d less like to do than be shut inside a Marriott hotel ballroom with a bunch of people you haven’t seen or spoken to since you were at your most nascent, their SOs (significant others), one (1!) bartender, and a DJ playing the 90s Preservation Society’s Greatest Hits Collection?

AW: Nope. Well, maybe read Dante again.

AW: So why do more than three people actually show up to high school reunions? Do you remember that lady you met who told you she’d had plastic surgery, went on a crash diet, and bought a designer dress the price of rent just to go back and dazzle her classmates? Was she crazy or normal? Or is crazy normal now? Why bother trying to impress people you don’t care about?

AW: Exactly. Do ex-cons go to prison reunions? No.

AW: Not enjoying high school seems like a pretty universal notion, regardless of the details, sort of like hair removal. But it is pretty amusing that your high school bought it’s own Breathalyzer and had “random” breathalyzing after lunch because of the “let’s go home, break into our parents’ liquor cabinet and drink as much as we can in 42 minutes” epidemic.

AW: If getting sick all over yourself in fifth period is what it takes to be cool, I’ll take geek, thanks. I draw my line at throwing up, so I wasn’t very good at the eating disorder craze, either.

AW: Walking to the beat of your own personal inner-ear drum?! Dangerous for a place where different = ridicule. But you grew up with two older brothers who beat the fear of ridicule out of you (literally) at a very early age and left you with an incredibly strong defense mechanism; a sarcastic tongue that has gotten you out of and into a lot of trouble.

AW: Mostly just into.

AW: True, remember that time in grade 10 when you-

AW: I told you that subject was off-limits, next question.

AW: Ok… So the invitation resurfaced a few days later and you thought; this is going to be a room full of people who don’t know each other at all, but should — all vying for the “I turned out the best” honor. How ridiculous! And then that cartoonish idea light bulb appeared over your head: What if you proudly put your worst foot forward? What if you hired someone else to go and pretend to be you? What if Andrea Wachner grew up to be…

AW: A stripper.

AW: I still like my idea of sending a 500-pound lady and a dozen kids, or a dude but the idea of someone stripping at a reunion does make me laugh. You describe it as being “the hardest sell.” That if someone knew you at all, they’d never believe it. Why?

AW: Sure, people can change, but two downbeats on the dance floor and you’d know those are things I can’t do with my person.

AW: And if they knew you, they’d know this prank is straight out of your brain. Out of a class of about 800, you bet that your former friends wouldn’t go, for all the same reasons you didn’t want to, and were right. That left 788 pseudo-strangers, so you were already afforded a certain anonymity.

AW: Most of who didn’t come, either. I wonder if more or less people will show up to our 20-year reunion.

AW: You found your better half, Cricket, at a bar called Jumbo’s Clown Room in Hollywood. There are black velvet paintings of clowns, I’m pretty sure one of the other dancers was in her 70s, and Courtney Love got her start there, if that’s any indication. The second Cricket took the stage your tour guide turned to you and said, “That’s it, we’re done. She’s the one.” After her laws of physics defying turn on the pole, Cricket came over to talk to you. You were in mid-explanation when she said, “I’m in!” Having never been to either before, which was more b-a-n-a-n-a-s, the reunion or going Stripper shopping?

AW: Technically, I’ve still never been to a reunion or a real strip club.

AW: Describe Cricket. If she were an animal, what animal would she be?

AW: Head Unicorn. That’s also her professional aspiration.

AW: After talking with her for eleven and a half seconds you agreed she had everything necessary to pull this off: she’s smart– so smart she graduated from high school early in order to get away from angry Christians. She’s funny—that requires no explanation. She’s not afraid– of anything, so far as I can tell, but especially not of people. And mostly, she’s always up for shenanigans like this…and has the wardrobe. So movie-length story short, and for spoiler’s sake, (here’s to hoping you’ll have a chance to see the movie on a screen near you) Cricket attended the Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Reunion as Andrea Wachner. She had a tiny earpiece in her ear, a microphone in her cleavage and two cameras following her around all night (replete with backstory). Meanwhile, you were holed up in a hotel room on the third floor, watching the live-feed on a monitor and feeding her crucial bits of information. The evening begins with a cocktail reception in the hallway. Everyone is so awkward and nervous they pound drinks and just don’t know what to make of Cricket, “you look so…different!” We hadn’t had any practice with the earpiece, and surprise! They aren’t easy to use AND appear sane. I had to remind Cricket at least twice not to talk to me lest she look like a psychopath (I also had to correct her pronunciation of my name a couple times…oops!). I saw these people on the screen I recognized and the hermetically sealed floodgates of my memory were opened and I found myself struggling to keep my “voice of god” (as Cricket called me) information succinct. I wanted to tell her, “oh my god that’s so and so, we’ve known each other since kindergarten and he did this and that and the other thing.” But I knew she couldn’t listen to me and talk to him so out came, “He had puppets.” And Cricket, ever the pro, translated that into, “Hey, whatever happened to your puppets, those were so sexy!” Everyone goes inside for dinner and it’s like high school cafeteria all over again; “this table’s full” says someone surrounded by empty chairs. She finds a spot with the band geeks, one of whom proclaims he’s, “still a band geek.” After the awards ceremony (Cricket takes home the award for Most Tattoos, revealing those in her bathing suit area) people get drunk enough to overcome the social anxiety disorder they never knew they had and get aggro. They start “The Andrea Challenge” – Easy: One lady covered her name badge and tested us, “What’s my name? If you’re Andrea, you’d know.” This might’ve been more challenging had she not been the only African American girl in my class. Medium: “What song did you sing at the 8th grade talent show?” I gave Cricket the answer, Cricket repeated it, but that wasn’t enough. I had re-written the chorus lyrics, apparently a memorable number,“No, no, but how did YOU sing it? Hard: “If you are really Andrea then whose Bat Mitzvah did we kiss at?” Um, I never kissed that guy, A. B, I was in Mitzvah jail every weekend of 7th grade. I insisted that Cricket not back down on this one, and it nearly devolved into a fistfight; me wanting to smash my fist through the screen. How very strange to be told that if “I was Andrea, I would know.” But I am Andrea, and I did not know! Finally, we agreed that he would give the first name and I would have to supply the last. Holly. … I felt the clock ticking. There were multiple Hollys, and I couldn’t remember any of their surnames. My gut said Snyder, and you know what they say about your gut. I blurted it out after what felt like an eternity, but Cricket made a convincing, “I’m scouring my brain for the answer” face. She said ‘Snyder’ and the look on the guys face was priceless. Yes! Cricket asks if he’s going to refresh her memory with another kiss, when his wife joins them! She asks him if she/I was a good kisser, and his wife says, “must’ve been if he’s still hung up on it after all these years!” After dinner, Cricket mingles in some laps, causing a particular classmate to decide he didn’t care where I was, he liked her better, livens up the dance floor to what I thought would be the funniest song from our high school years to strip to: Lisa Loeb’s Stay, and some classmates who had found Jesus since graduating (why does that guy hide?) give hotel security something to do. The range of reactions is huge but it was pretty convincing. Nobody ever knew for sure, one way or the other whether that was you or not. Was your favorite moment when Cricket unsuspectingly, and unprovoked by you, kissed your first kiss on the mouth, “for old time’s sake.”?

AW: Today, yes. Tomorrow it might be when one of a set of identical twins (Peter? Jaime? I could never tell those guys apart) invited her home with him.

AW: The low point must’ve been when you got distracted for one single minute, talking to a crew member. You didn’t notice that your 7th grade boyfriend of two weeks (7th grade boyfriend is defined by never speaking other than to say, “will you go out with me,” and then never going out) was lying to her in order to trick and expose her. You felt horrible for leaving Cricket hanging, and missed out on an opportunity to discuss your failed relationship through a medium.

AW: But how interesting that a guy I never shared more than three words with, and none since middle school, was The Doubter.

AW: So much has happened because of I Remember Andrea. Three to seven standouts include:

1) Knowing Cricket. She has had a profound affect on you. You’ll forever be in awe of how Cricket interacts with people. This woman walked into a lion’s den and not only held her own, but had a genuine interest in each and every lion.

*) Further Thickening Of Your Skin, from XL to Prescription Strength. Please to note: if you are going to make a movie, put yourself in it, and upload any portion of it onto the Internet you better be dang secure because you are inviting criticism and scrutiny of the unconstructive kind. I’m not talking “this video sucks,” I’m talking “this girl is an ugly sad stupid scumbag pathetic ass douche loser Jew.” (Sampling of adjectives from I Remember Andrea’s youtube comments). Whether people are connecting to it for positive or negative reasons just begs the question that there’s something there they are connecting to, and that thing is you!

C) The Never Ending Reunion. This has been an ah-mazing personal and professional journey. You set out to make a funny short film to help get comedy writing work someplace other than the Cartoon Sweatshop where you had been employed (lookin’ at you BBC, heeeey!). You never dreamt you’d be tapping into something so universal and relatable as to land your face on my CNN. The irony is that this whole journey began with you thinking, “I don’t want to reunite” and that’s pretty much all you’ve been doing ever since. Your reunion experience was much more grueling than if you had just gone, it wasn’t over once you left the hotel…it was just getting started, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Lastly) Fan Fic. Letters you’ve received are amongst your most prized possessions; soon-to-be framed and hung on your bathroom wall. Here’s a fav not written in the language of Lawsuit:

I thought having a stripper posing as a former student at our reunion was entirely inappropriate. I also thought the manner in which consent to be filmed was obtained was coercive and unprofessional. I felt the filming was completely disruptive, and I probably wouldn’t have gone if I had known about it ahead of time. I think it was an exceedingly poor choice by the reunion committee to allow it. I live in Colorado so unless you’re going to fly out here, you’re not going to get any more of me in your ‘documentary’. And I don’t remember authorizing you to have my email address.

[Name Redacted]


AW: You’d think I recreated the prom scene from Carrie and poured pig’s blood all over their reunion!

AW: Are you the Anti-Christ of your cohort?

AW: You’re not doing comedy right if someone somewhere isn’t offended by it, so I wear this as a badge of honor. I earned my comedy stripes, if you will. They’re horizontal, so you better have the bod’ to pull them off. I love the angry overreactions, especially the ones from my classmates—they don’t realize they are just helping prove my point of why I didn’t want to go.

AW: Are you suuuure you’re not just so insecure about who you are that you couldn’t face them yourself?

AW: Yes? I don’t know, are YOU sure?

AW: Are you suuuure you’re sure?

AW: Oh my god I don’t know anymore…SOB.

AW: To be fair, I’ve– I mean you’ve– gotten way more letters like these:

I have been dying to know what the story was behind “Andrea” at our reunion!!! Nice plastic surgery from the “Accident” :) Great job….really made the reunion one to remember! It was the talk for a long time. Not sure I will want to go to the 2oth…..unless you have something up your sleeve for that one. Your stripper was the highlight of the night. Honestly, we said that it is the only thing that made that night worth the $90!!!


PS I love PSes

Here’s the second installment containing the third video in the I Remember Andrea Angry Letter Reading Series.

My apologies in advance to the person who wrote and sent this letter.

Please don’t sue me.

Merry Glamorous

leighton Just in time for in-between holidays, my very highly incredibly edited story is in the current issue of UK Glamour Magazine! At classy newstands almost nowhere! It’s the one with that lady from that show I don’t watch on the cover.

Iffn you’re looking for it, it can be found on pages 187  uk-glamour-pg1v2 & 8

Though I have to admit, after m’peepers caught the last sentence that my fingers are not responsible for ever having typed (“So there.”), I can’t bring them to read the rest. I think (this is total hearsay since I haven’t read it) someone with a fabulous British accent printed out my article on their weird size paper, took a pair of shears, cut up all the words like a refrigerator magnet poetry kit, and reassembled them in a less poetic fashion (pun, ew). It’s a Frankenarticle. In further admittery, this doesn’t come as a total and complete surprise because what I turned in was me interviewing me, Q & A style. A little, “out there” as Mama Wach would say. Should I post the original, embodied version here?

Oh so angry.

In 2008, my post production house slash co-producers and I sent out about 50 interview request letters to my former classmastes. We wanted to be fair and let them share their side of the I Remember Andrea story, no matter how brutal. Instead, we got a lot of angry angry letters. I took this as a sure-fire sign that I was doing something right, cause in comedy, it’s probably not funny if you’re not offending someone. I thought it would be funny to dress up my friend Jenn Marie Jones as Queen Elizabeth and have her do dramatic readings of the letters. We snuck into UCLA’s Royce Hall, I rented a teleprompter, and the footage came out great, but for a variety of reasons, none of it made it into the film. Lest I be called wasteful, here are some of these angry missives for you to enjoy!

GMA Expose

Because it seems unlikely that my second GMA segment will ever transmit me through airwaves and beam me into your TV boxes, I’ve decided to give those interested and disappointed what I can; a first-hand account of what happened.

On Monday, I had my publicist ask GMA if Cricket and I could dress up like Diane Sawyer as an homage of love– we would wear blond bob wigs, black turtlenecks and fancy lady necklaces.   diane-sawyer

On Wednesday, GMA said, “Naaah.”

Cricket and I were flown to NYC on Thursday and because of some rare and lucky foresight on my part, (the GMA studios are in Times Square, aren’t they…oh dear lord, please please please don’t put us in a hotel there.) we stayed at the brand new and already described on this blog Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District (vegan irony not lost on me).

On Friday, GMA called me to ask if Cricket and I could dress alike for the interview. This is not to say that they were willing to buy us matching outfits. “Um, we’re already here…we didn’t pack for twinsies.” Not that that would even be possible. Cricket and I both rock pretty unique senses of fashion– and I’m not so sure there’s a lot of overlap, which is the point, and why I love her so! Beyond that, I had absolutely zero desire to be on international television dressed up like someone else if that someone isn’t Diane, and they said no to that– so I said no to this.

On Sunday, GMA called to ask if it’d be ok if we didn’t do the segment live anymore. “What?! Why?” This was their very convincing argument: If we do the segment live, it will only be three and a half minutes long. Diane loves this story so much, she wants to do a full fifteen minute sit-down interview. So we’ll bring you in later, which means you can sleep longer, and we’ll tape the segment right after the live show ends. This way, you can re-do answers if you mess up or anything, too.

Fifteen minutes on the couch with DS? Who would say no to that? No one. Nobody would say no to that.

With our new plan, GMA tells me to expect a call from a writer to be pre-interviewed. He’s going to ask me the same questions Diane will be asking me, to get a feel for my answers.

The guy calls, he is nice enough, but asks me the same 10 questions everybody has asked me and that I have to keep pretending are brand new to my ears. I can act! These are the same questions that they asked me in the first GMA segment…but in my more typical and not full of luck or foresight fashion, I didn’t really think about it.

My friend Lola, who does PR for up & coming fashion designers came over to the hotel with a bag full of clothes for me to borrow, if I wanted to wear any of them on air. With Cricket and Lola as my jury of peers I tried on Lola’s clothes, I tried on the things I had brought, and with overwhelming response, the verdict was that I needed to NOT dress like me, which the outfits I had brought were classic examples of, and take this opportunity to show off m’bod and dress sexier. More irony, not lost on me, seeing as I plainly stated above that I didn’t want to dress like someone else. Lola left me with a beautiful dress, a decision to make, and the bra off her body as I don’t own a strapless one and the dress required it. That is friendship, people.

Very little sleep was had that night for a whole host of reasons not worth wording out. At the butt-crack of dawn I showered in my open-air, view of the statue of liberty, glossy black tiled shower and then dressed m’self. Two or ten times. Could I be comfortable and still be “me” in Lola’s sexy dress? Yes, yes I could. This is dress up! A game I highly enjoyed as a child and clearly still do. It would be better on all accounts, to present a body-secure, hottest possible version of me to the world.

Cricket and I arrived at GMA and were put in separate make-up rooms. My artist yelled at me for having dark puffy circles under my eyes and not moisturizing. Ahh, I love NY. I told her I specifically DIDN’T moisturize that morning because a previous make-up artist yelled at me FOR moisturizing, saying that it created a sauna like effect under my glasses, causing eye make-up to instantly raccoon-ify. She “hrmpf’d” and then suggested I buy a $100 per 4 oz bottle of eye cream for people with “serious dark circles.” not funny ones. Cricket’s artist, meanwhile, was so inspired by her face-canvas that she created a masterpiece of eye-shadowry that I am truly sorry you won’t get to see. She looked Ah Mazing.

Left to our own devices, Cricket and I wandered down the hall to the green room, where we saw Sam Champion (!) and smelled old breakfast foods that were stomach turning. Our guy quickly found us and escorted us into another abandoned make-up room, told us it’d just be a couple minutes, and then shut the door. This should’ve been tip off number 13 that all was not right, but again, we were too pre-occupied to notice the red flag. Guys came in to mic us, I felt myself up for the gajillionth time, and they left us in there some more. They left us in there for a long time.

Finally, we were collected. It was go time! We were led down the hallway like Dead Men Walking. We walked into the studio and there was the radiant, glowing, blurry Diane, sitting on the couch waiting for us. There were also cameras. A LOT of cameras. Why is there more than one hand-held in addition to the 3 studio floor cameras? I wondered this (red flag! red flag!) and then quickly shoved all thought of cameras down inside so deep that I forgot that they were there at all, on purpose, so as to be able to get words out of my mouth. I shook hands with Diane and told her that it was the most surreal moment ever to have her talk directly to me, ME, through the TV at the end of the first segment, and with that we started the interview.

I was the meat in the GMA couch sandwich, sitting in the middle with Cricket to my left and Diane to my right. She asked us five or six questions that I can remember none of. They weren’t, however, the questions from the pre-interview, and they weren’t particularly good ones. At one point, Cricket struggled to answer one, not seeing the point of it, and it seemed like Diane wasn’t really listening or caring about our answers. It felt really weird, and then it got weirder. Diane turned to me and said, “Okay Andrea, now let’s get personal.”

To which I replied, “Okay, well, I’m single…” with a smile. The bevvy of camera mens laughed, but Diane was not listening. In fact, I could hear a man’s voice talking to her through her earpiece, (red flag! red flag!) but I figured it was the director, in the control room, directing her. She asked, “SO. You were in Othello in high school?”

“Uh…(me trying to remember) yeah, I was.”

“And you kissed Justin Blatnick in that play. How was that?”

“Geez Diane, this is like ‘Andrea Wachner This Is Your Life.’ I did kiss him, and I guess it was good because we won first place in the California Drama Competition.”

“You went to Hebrew School…what was that like?”

“Um, horrible?! Have you ever been to Hebrew School? It’s not fun–”

“But Aaron Rudin, you went to Hebrew School with Aaron Rudin?”

“Yes, and actually, he was at the reunion. He was the first person that Cricket talked to that I knew quite well and it was really different, for me, sitting up in the hotel room, than when she talked to other people–

“I can’t understand what you’re saying!”

Wha?! Diane grabs my hand.

“Come with me, quickly!”

We start running through the studio. Cameras following us. I am terrified that I am going to trip and fall. I am terrified that they have set up a stripper pole somewhere and are going to make me learn some moves with cameras rolling.

We run into the control room and two people stand up– a guy and a lady. Right away I recognize him as one of the twins I went to high school with. One of the identical twins that Cricket was propositioned by at the reunion and who she gave and received an in-lap dance. Which twin? I don’t know.

I have been Punk’d. I touched his shoulder and smiled, “Hey! It’s so nice to see you!” or some such thing. But the point being, I was just nice and friendly and smiley, and totally okay with it. Diane asks them what they thought of my stunt during the reunion. Peter or was it Jamie says he thought it was funny. The lady, whose name I still don’t know, says she was offended. Very offended at the reunion. She used the word ‘offended’ two or three times before I cut in-

“Do I know you? Were we friends in High School? Do we even know each other?”

“No.” pause “But now I think it’s funny, and thank you for bringing me to New York!” or something to that effect. Now I realize that this is the same lady that is in the trailer. She’s the one at the end who accosts Cricket in the hallway and says, “EXCUSE ME, STRIPPER CHICK! You don’t have us fooled, the eyes aren’t the same.” Now she thinks it’s funny cause she’s on TV and got a free trip to NY for her and her husband and kid.

And that was it.

There was no follow-up interview.

She didn’t bring us all back to the couch to talk about it, that was just it.

It wans’t funny. I knew this right away. Nobody laughed. There were no good reactions, I certainly didn’t give them one, or what they wanted, which, I’m not sure what, exactly, that was. They picked two people who barely, if at all, knew me, so the information they provided Diane through her earpiece (which, apparently she had trouble even understanding) just came across as anti-semetic. Hah! I did a better job with my reunion “prank” than Diane Sawyer and all of GMA and its resources. If anything, I thought this will just prove I am a highly capable person, and once again, helps prove what my classmates were like and why I wouldn’t want to reunite.  Apparently the lady from my class was the one who demanded the piece not be live-to-air because she became “afraid how I might react.” I love that she was afraid of me. How ridiculous!

Oh well. I got a free trip, and got to show Cricket NY for the first time. GMA’s still denying that it didn’t turn out, are still saying it will air, and that we’ve just been bumped for breaking news and because it was sweeps, but the same gut that told me to do the Today Show instead knows it won’t. We got bumped for a segment on Doggie Doors. Diane doesn’t look good in it. A segment they won’t even let me see, for “ethical reasons” cause it’s “news.” A segment that could have been good; they could have asked Ashton Kutcher for help and I’m sure he would’ve said yes cause NOBODY SAYS NO TO DIANE SAWYER (who btw, this was apparently all her idea, so clearly sometimes people SHOULD say no to her). Did they even think this through? Clearly not, as they BOOKED US ALL ON THE SAME FLIGHT BACK TO LA that was leaving in three hours. Sigh. And what hotel were they staying at all weekend? ONE IN TIMES SQUARE.

Lesson learned, sexy dress, lesson learned.    hylexin