So the other night I get a call from The Greg Behrendt Show (author of “He’s Just Not that Into You”)
asking if I’d be interested in being on a panel to talk about parenting. Apparently, Greg mentioned me to the producers (probably because they were scrambling to find someone for the next day) and just like that I was in. Figuring on a possible nice set up in the dressing room – mini bar, finger sandwiches, a massage perhaps – I brought my brother along to share in the festivities.
The accommodations turned out to be slightly deluxe-challenged. First off, no dressing rooms were open at all so we were led to the kitchen to hang out and scarf down some day old salami. The production folk in headsets stood around eyeing us suspiciously prompting me to say, “Hey, hi, I’m on the show. There just weren’t any dressing rooms. Yeah, hi. I’ll be out of your way as soon as someone finds us a room. I’m on the next show…”
Our next stop was the “viewing room.” This is a room set up with a coffee table and a few couches with a monitor showing what’s happening on the stage. My brother and I immediately began making fun of the people on the show that was being taped. Luckily we hadn’t gotten around to making jokes about the actual celebrities – and I use that phrase extremely loosely – Kennedy, some guy from a sitcom I’ve never heard of and another guy I’d never heard of who’s on According To Jim – because the room was full of their twenty-two-year-old publicists. Of course it immediately occurred to me that, wait a minute – while I’m busy thinking “who the hell is that guy,” not one person here would have any clue who the hell I am. I was just lucky to be there. I guess it’s all in your perspective. Which reminded me of a friend’s joke. “The other day I’m driving down the street and I see this guy sitting on the curb shooting up. Of course he’d probably say, the other day I was sitting on the curb shooting up and Greg Otto drove by.”
Finally, we were led to a dressing room where the only food to speak of was a tray of mini candy bars that seemed to have been from a left over supply of last year’s Halloween treats. Think Smarties, mini Kit Kats etc. Two hours and one sugar high later I was told my show was ready to start.
Before we went out on stage we had to do this thing where you “freestyle” for the camera while an announcer reads your credits. This is seriously horrifying for someone as self conscious as I am. I would need about four bottles of wine to do anything resembling improv and I was sober and slightly nervous. Needless to say I looked like an asshole. But as it turned out that was the least of my problems.
The show was about extreme parenting but the production had already taped a show on the topic and it was too heavy. So they wanted to bring some people with a lighter take on the subject. That’s where I came in. It was me, Shondrella (very funny woman from Napoleon Dynamite and Girls Behaving Badly), the According To Jim guy, someone from the sitcom, Girlfriends and then there was an “expert.” She was a psychotherapist who does family counseling.
The show went without incident until they asked the question, “do you think it’s okay to snoop on your kids?” I was asked the question first and I said, “I don’t think it’s cool. I would possibly do it if I suspected my kid was doing something that would put them in danger. Other than that, no. I went on to say that when I was a kid my dad read my diary for no reason and I’ve never gotten over that breach of trust. Not so funny but true. Then According To Jim gets the question and he immediately tells everyone that if his kid committed suicide and he later read about it in their diary he would be horrified that he didn’t read their diary earlier and possibly prevent a tragedy. He went on to say that he’d never ever get over something like that. I mean, sure, but can you say downer?
Why the suicide talk? We were having a pleasant discussion about invading privacy and we had to take it there? It just went downhill after that. But, luckily, I’d gotten off one joke earlier which will probably be cut. Then the “expert” reported that she didn’t give her kids any privacy at all. She doesn’t knock and let’s her kids know that she can look in their personal belonging any time she pleases and that includes journals. She said if they want to keep a journal I don’t see they can do it after they move out of the house. Apparently I’m the only one who believes in privacy. Hey, that’s why diaries have a lock!
All in all it was a no good, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Australia. On the other hand, do they have talk shows in Australia?