And by “watching the news”, I mean getting my daily dose of what’s going on in the world from the late night monologues of Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers.
I have never been good with converting measurements, but by my calculations, if it takes a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down, it’s going to take a hell of a dose of humor, wit, and sarcasm to digest the news these days.
That’s why I can’t take it straight from traditional news outlets. I need to cut it with some late night magic, and then let it sit overnight on my DVR so that all the toxicity bleeds out and won’t harm my delicate system.
I don’t remember a lot of the details (because I’ve realized it’s better for my overall mental health if I forget things), but there has been a running theme of some guy claiming to have made a perfect phone call in the news (monologue jokes) lately.
I’ve never been one to brag, but since when does talking on the phone merit boasting? And what are the criteria for perfection in a phone call? Who are the judges? Do perfect phone calls happen all the time, or are they a rare occurance?
I have too many questions about the topic, which means the news is sticking with me, and that can’t be good. Stress levels rising. Must adjust system!
So I thought I’d exorcise the subject from my mind, and clear space for some new Deep Thoughts, by writing a story about it and shooting it out into the internet.
You know, that place where all the crazy stuff goes to fester and infect helpless minds…
I’m not going to do a deep dive into the details of that story, but it was all inspired by a perfect phone call.
Back when I still lived in New York, before Hollywood sank its fangs into me and sent me fleeing to the snow ravaged streets of Maine, I had a cushy, yet very boring job that came with a nice paycheck and a big office.
On my lunch breaks, I’d close the door to my office and do some writing. I was getting married soon, and I knew we were going to move to California at some point to pursue my screenwriting career. I was eager to get a great writing sample under my belt to open doors in Hollywood, and lead me down the path to my Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
Even back then, ideas would bounce around my head all the time, and I’d pick the best one and just start writing without an outline or any clue as to where the story was headed.
I somehow settled on writing a scene about a student who makes a prank phone call to his teacher. Of course, this could go in so many directions. Are we rooting for the caller or the teacher? Does the teacher realize it’s a prank? Is the caller trying to scare the teacher or embarrass him? You get the gist.
Maybe, and I’m not admitting to anything, so don’t try to narc on me to my old boss, I’d work on the scene when I got bored. The challenge of perfecting that phone call was much more exciting than whatever mundane task I was being paid to do.
I mean, they shouldn’t have given me my own office if they didn’t want me to goof off and get some writing done. They knew full well it was only a matter of time before I left for the West Coast to pursue my screenwriting dream.
Over time, the scene evolved into something more than a prank call from a student to his teacher. Even though it was only a few pages, I’d come up with a backstory for the teacher, and realized that he was the protagonist of a much longer story that needed to be told.
That perfect phone call between my hero and an unknown caller became the backbone of the screenplay that would get me “discovered”, lead to my signing with an up and going management company, and earn me a huge option check.
The movie never got made, but a director was attached to the project, and we forged a friendship that led to many paying screenwriting gigs for me. One of those projects made it to the big screen as “A Perfect Life”. The trailer for that flick is on the About page of this blog if you’d like to take a peek.
I’m not sure of the details of this so called “perfect phone call” Stephen and Seth keep joking about (and truth be told, I don’t want to know!), but I wonder if the dude who made the call will get a screenwriting deal.
All I know is that writing a perfect phone call can be done and has its rewards. I wish the best of luck to the guy in the news…