11:50 PM, Friday, November 6th, 2009:
The bit that Facebook built...
So awesome, and such a story. And seriously, it's all thanks to Facebook. Without a hint of exagerration, this website has changed my life. I can't help but think of the certain someone that went apeshit on me earlier this year for "adding people I didn't know", because the one year of my life I spent networking on Facebook has changed my career forever. It was the last piece I felt was missing from the push to "make it", and every single opportunity has been touched by this site.
So you all must be wondering, how the hell did I get Isaac from The Love Boat? I added Ted Lange on Facebook several months ago and as I think I've mentioned several times within these entries - if you were a famous TV actor in the 80s? I know you, I love you, and I am excited to meet you. Something about being 7-12 years old, and the impact television had on my childhood. So it was cool to see what he was doing. I also learned from the time I spent with Michelle Greene (LA Law) several years ago that only idiots consider people whose careers may have peaked in decades past "has-beens". If you ever get to that level of fame, it can never be taken away from you... and you continue to work, you continue to do great shit -- whether or not the stars align and it becomes "mainstream". We're all artists, we do our thang -- and the mainstream "blow-up" is in all honesty out of your control. Ted made it, made it fucking big - and I respect the hell out of it.
One of the goals for my Comedy Central show was to get a well-known black actor for Gary to play off of. I really want to show that my characters are the OPPOSITE of "Borat". I really don't like the type of comedy where you make OTHER people look like fools. It's just limiting in the long run, and the shock factor wears thin really quickly for me. No, in my case - Gary is absolutely the fool, and those in a bit with him? Will always come off smarter, funnier -- and everyone wins. You can't help but think "Wow Ted seems like a great guy!". It's the "Muppet Show" mentality of television where the characters are there to prop up the "star". Or in Adam's case, get knocked down a few notches. :-)
I didn't have a script for the bit, I wanted it to be ad-libbed "Curb Your Enthusiasm" style with specific comedy goals to reach within. So I honestly didn't know how to approach Ted. However, once I had "Who's Your President?" finished, I believed I had the ammo I needed. And then, wouldn't you know it? Ann Walker knew Ted!! Her late husband was friends with him and she mentioned it during one of my infamous phone calls to friends last month: "Do you know any famous black actors?". What a hilarious couple of phone calls THAT was. Never have I felt whiter, or that I had whiter friends than when I was sitting in a conversation counting the black people I knew. LMAO. THAT was a bit in itself. So armed with the bit and Ann's connection I contacted Ted...
...and he loved the bit. He gave me his number on the spot we talked and set-up a meeting for the following Monday. We met and man, it was just so cool. Talking to him about his career and all he had been through -- nothin' but respect for that. It was sooooooooo helpful to talk to him about where I was and how isolating it could be going through all this industry bullshit, yet having no one around me that really knew what it felt like. The waiting, the guessing, the scheming, the breakthroughs on your fingertips... it's so overwhelming -- and here was a guy that had lived it for 30+ years. And, he was pumped to work with me! How cool is that! He really liked the tone and feel of "Who's Your President?" and he knew we'd put something good together.
So it was up to me to find some gangsta types - and through talking with a friend of Remo's, the idea of an anger management class came up -- and the thought of Gary being around REAL gangstas? Loved it. How perfect. I put a status update on Facebook asking if anyone could play "hard" and the first 2 people that responded? Were the 2 guys in the bit. I mean seriously, how cool is that site? How cool is it that I worked so hard to get 3500 friends so when I needed to pull shit together, voila. So let this be a lesson to anyone out there who, like me, felt all sick to their stomach about adding people they didn't know -- or who also had "friends" that gave you shit for who you add... it's a two-way street people, they don't have to accept the add. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who stressed that much.
Now I actually had 5 gangstas lined up, but one guy had to leave too early to be in it - and two were coming from a basketball game that ran late, and they were too tired. In all honesty though - it was the perfet "3-part" set-up to have just 2 guys; Marshall Givens and Tim Camarillo. There was no script, I just knew that I wanted the guys to be angry about shit that would specifically make Gary uncomfortable.

We sat around and talked shit through. Because the bit is so short, we couldn't do a lot of "free-flowing" improv. We would do that for a bit, and then - we had to stop and get it perfect. I actually loved this style. You are basically writing on the fly. I didn't know what type of "gangstas" these guys would be, never met them until the day of, and so I really had no choice but to write it ONCE I saw them in character. Then it all came together. Ooh - this guy is big and scary, he'll be angry about "wannabes".


The cholo dude was on his own planet man and the whole "calculus" thing was all him and funny as fuck. I even mentioned at one point (gotta have an outtake video) "why the hell are you taking calculus?". Totally bizarre and unique and I never would've thought of it. To make it work for the bit, I told him the guy's name that his girl was bangin' should be named Gary... and voila, seems like the whole thing was scripted. WHAT A FUN WAY TO CREATE!!!

And then of course there is Ted, who just "got it" from the get go. He's originally from Oakland, so even the sight of "Gary" probably made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. The coolest thing though? When I met him Wednesday night all dressed up? He rolled down the window in his car and said "Oh, are you here for the movie?" thinking I was one of the gangstas. Had no idea it was me. I said, "Ted, it's Adam.". He flipped it. Started laughing. Got out of his car and was just shaking his head "Oh my GOD, I had no idea. This is gonna be good!". He had seen me just after Spencer this past Monday and I had just 2 days of stubble, so it was quite a shock. That made me feel so good though. In the midst of all the details, you do forget:  "Oh yeah, I really do pull this character off".

Ted of course provides the button for the bit which was the COUNSELOR getting angry and I think he showed as ALL what actual anger is like. Usually just being loud is too "easy" but you could sense a command in his voice, that you just don't want to fuck with. And the two middle finger "Isaac point"? Holy shit that was brilliant. There was supposed to be some sort of dialogue there, but it was so funny, I just said "And there's the end". LOL. So good.

And can I just unabashedly say really quick: I love Gary. Love him. It isn't me, I don't even SEE me anymore when I look at the footage. The "GRAM? Yeah, you want 1 or 2? HAHA" line is so out-of-body for me I can barely express it.

I love how hard he "tries" and I just find him endearingly funny. He's not mean, he's just conflicted. And he's GREY! If he would just shut the fuck up, he could be HARD. I've said this a million times during the CBS Egos run, but it just always shocks me how much I truly care about these characters and how completely outside of myself that I go when I'm doing them. I just want to see more of these guys in different situations. I desperately hope I can.


The following day (yesterday), Ted came over to do the opening portion of the bit and again, no script - we just talked it out and had a blast. It was so funny, he walked into my house and said "Someone's a bachelor". LMAO. I literally have EVERY Egos/4tvs related piece of equipment in my living room 'cause I just don't have time to touch it now. But it was funny to hear someone just nail it so quickly. I replied with a very succinct:  "Yes. I. Am." :-)

And then it was done. I had one 1-hour tape of all these ad-libbed little moments and I somehow had to make it seem like one congruent scripted bit and wouldn't you know? It just fell into place. I must have watched the bit 30 times to edit for pacing and I still watch it now and giggle. I couldn't have asked for a better bit, and in many respects it's better than "Who's Your President?". However as I explained in that entry, that bit served a very specific purpose. Just as this bit did. It shows I have some "pull", some respect in the industry. It shows Gary as a viable and funny character. And most importantly? It seperates me from "Borat". People see Gary and assume "Ali-G". He isn't and never has been. As I said before I feel that comedy is kinda cheap and inevitably limiting. Cohen is brilliant at his ability to keep character throughout and supremely talented... but it's just not my thing. Good thing though...
...it's why these characters are going to have a loooooooooooooong run on TV.