Comedian Stefanie Wilder-Taylor didn’t want to compromise her dreams of making it in Hollywood, despite the fact that she wasn’t entirely prepared for the process or the consequences. In “I’m Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy,” she recounts her hilarious efforts. Here's an excerpt.
Chapter Nine – The Big Date
“Tate, I need your help,” I said the next day sitting on his couch. “I have a great opportunity to possibly work on this dating show, but I have to have a resume.”
“Do you have one?” Tate wanted to know.
“Not for writing. I have an acting resume, but I can’t use that one. I don’t think anyone at the show is going to care that I can do accents — which I can’t but I’m banking on the fact that no one’s ever asked me to prove it. I figured if I ever booked a job I could always hire a dialect coach or —”
“So you need to make one,” Tate cut me off.
“Isn’t that kind of extreme?” I whined. I was sort of hoping he’d have a spare resume that I could just borrow. Having to actually create a resume from scratch seemed excessive. Shouldn’t creative people just be able to recognize other creative people on sight, and not feel the need to bring paperwork into it? People like that really should go with their instincts more and not get bogged down by specifics like “job history” and “prior arrests.” I was just ahead of my time. I guess you can’t force enlightenment.
“Have you worked on any television shows?” Tate asked, now looking intently at his computer screen.
“No, but I have watched a ton of television. I consider myself an expert in the field.”
“Yes but watching TV doesn’t really translate well on a resume. Do you have any professional writing experience?” And that’s when I pulled the ace out of my sleeve: Mr. Alan Thicke.
“It just so happens that I do. I used to work for Alan Thicke.”
“The guy from Growing Pains, Alan Thicke?”
More in books
“Exactamundo, Tate. I developed shows for him. That was my job. I was a development person. I’ve been to his house.”
“Wow. That’s crazy. Alan Thicke has a house?”
“Ha ha. Very funny. Alan Thicke is about to acquire some prime real estate on my resume, so pretend you’re impressed.” I was actually quite proud of the fact that I’d been handpicked out of a line-up of comedians one evening at the Improv on Melrose to possibly work for the guy I mostly knew as “Mike Seaver’s Dad.” I’d gone to his place in Toluca Lake with my friend Cynthia whom I’d recruited to be my writing partner and material witness on the off chance there was trouble, and we’d tossed around ideas for scenes. Cynthia and I would be doing this work “on spec” which meant, in layman’s terms, “for free” or to put it another way, Cynthia and I would provide jokes and dialog for scripts that had not been bought by any network, studio or production company in exchange for “expenses”, a line on our resumes and an answering message from Alan Thicke that I played for my parents and every other person in my life who ever doubted that I’d make it in this town! Mary Tyler Moore may have had her “throwing her hat in the air” moment, but I had “playing Alan’s message.” And now, those six weeks, years ago, of literally working for peanuts were finally paying off like I knew they would.
“So Alan Thicke. What else?”
“Aren’t we good? Alan Thicke, am I right? Once they see that don’t they almost have to give me the job?” I’d always known that with that experience, I’d only need to be in the right place at the right time to unleash the Thicke credit and things would automatically fall into place.
“I think you’re going to need something else.” Well, this was disappointing. I supposed that Tate might know something I didn’t, since he’d managed to get himself more than one job in the business. I wondered if it was at all possible to get a writing job based on life experience alone. Would grammar play an important role? It seemed that a lot of people in charge of hiring other people were sticklers for a diploma. In that moment I wished I hadn’t quit college just 120 credits short of a degree.
But I could write jokes.
“My stand-up is full of jokes I’ve written. That’s all I do is crank out jokes.”
“Writing on a show is different. You have to work a lot of hours a day at a desk writing consistently funny lines.” Huh. Granted, a lot of the jokes I wrote came at two in the morning in a Denny’s high on hash brown grease and the company of other funny people or in my favorite place to come up with a joke: my shower. I supposed a game show wouldn’t allow me to write part time from the shower even if I got a desk in there, but I figured I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. First I’d need to get the job.
I added what little else I could think to round that sucker out, and let Thad format it into some sort of “writer speak.” Next I wrote a little letter of introduction to the supervising producer, detailing the close personal friendship I’d formed with Jasmine, and her wish that I hold a job as a writer on his show. I sent it all off that very day and began the waiting game.
“Is this Stefanie? We’d like to offer you the job. How’s $850 a week?” It was the executive producer. I died.
In that moment, my world changed. It didn’t matter that I’d never gone to my senior prom, it didn’t matter that I outweighed my pitbull by ninety-five pounds. It didn’t matter that my last real boyfriend had abandoned me to move to Italy, and was most likely screwing a new girl, a European girl; what mattered was I’d secured my first real job. Now, I would have to do something I’d never done before, in any job or any relationship: keep it.
Excerpted from “I'm Kind of a Big Deal: And Other Delusions of Adequacy” by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. Copyright © 2011. Excerpted by permission of Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive