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September 30, 2014

TV 101: Dear Jay - Eight e-mails answered

by Jay Black, posted Apr 15th 2009 2:32PM
From what I've seen in direct to video comedies, it's a good idea NOT to get your tie caught in one of these.As a member of the media elite, I tend to run in some pretty impressive circles. Some days it's a Yankees game with Lorne Michaels, Fergie, and Jason Hervey. Others, it's World of Warcraft with Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer (hint for dealing with those two: do NOT wonder aloud who the best Batman of the '90s was).

Obviously, writing a bi-weekly column that has readership literally in the hundreds carries with it a lot of perks. But it's not all fun and games. My place as America's foremost pop culture commentator ("It's like Chuck Klosterman and Andy Warhol had a baby!" reads the blurb I'll ask my editor to put on my book should I ever write one) means that my inbox is constantly being spammed by other members of the media asking for advice.

Instead of answering those emails privately, like good manners and the explicit instructions of many of the emails demand, I figured I'd share both the emails and their answers with you, my loyal readers...

1. Dear Jay,


Do you ever wake up late at night worried that perhaps you've sold the soul of your network just to make a couple of bucks? Also, do you have any idea how hard it is to light a "cougar" so that you can actually view her in HD? Seriously, it would have been cheaper to film a dating show on the moon.

-- L. W. Jones, President TV Land

Dear LW,

Listen, we're all in this game to make money. So what if the shows you put on the air have nothing to do with the original purpose of your network? Sometimes taking a risk, even if that risk is a calculated money grab with no artistic merit whatsoever, can do the whole world a favor. Think about this: if A&E had held firmly to their original vision, the world would have been denied Gene Simmons Family Jewels and Growing up Gotti. Is that the kind of world you want your kids to grow up in? I didn't think so.

(PS Maybe instead of trying to light the cougar so she's attractive, it'd be cheaper just to give everyone in your viewing audience a coupon good for six shots of tequila? Just an idea.)

2. Dear Jay,

I've got a secret shame, and I don't know where else to turn. Lately, I've only been able to "get off" one way, and I'm worried that it makes me a weirdo. For me, there's no bigger turn-on than allowing super-awesome science fiction shows on the air for, like, half a season, getting all the fanboys excited about the prospect of seeing this show on a regular basis, then canceling them with no warning or regret. Does this make me a bad person?

-- Sentient Embodiment of the Fox Television Network

Dear SEFTN,

Yes.

3. Dear Jay,

I am writing to inform you that all attempts to contact my client, Yvonne Strahovski, is in violation of court order #31310, dated March 12, 2009. You are to maintain a distance of 100 feet from Ms. Strahovski at all times and you are NOT to attempt to mail her anything through either her agent or at her home.

At the request of Ms. Strahovski, I will be sending back to you via Fed Ex what appears to be your thumb. Ms. Strahovski hopes that you'll be getting the help you need.

Regards,
-- Harvey J. Eisenburg, esq.

Dear Harvey,

That Yvonne is such a kidder! That's part of the reason I love her so, so much.

(PS: That wasn't MY thumb!)

4. Dear Jay,

Settling in at the new job, really enjoying myself. Seriously, all the people here are really nice! The only bad thing is my paycheck: Washington pays a little less than Hollywood!

On an unrelated side note: as a writer, do you think there'd be an easy way to write someone who died of an apparent self-infliced gunshot wound to the head back into a TV show? Not that I'm unhappy here, we were just talking about this at the water cooler the other day (no water in it because we're over budget for the month and won't get a new shipment till May- ha ha), trying to decide if it would be possible. Just, like, you know, maybe the gun missed all the vital parts of the brain? Or maybe it was his twin brother? Or a dream? Something like that?

Well, back to the grindstone! I love serving my fellow man!

--K. Penn

Dear K,

Gee, that's a tough one buddy. I know that if I asked for my character to be written off a top-rated TV show like, say, House, and then I wanted to get back on it, I'd try to frame it this way to the House producers: my coming back will somehow force House to re-assess his cynical view of the world and that, in turn, would make it seem like he was actually changing (but not really). It seems like any pitch that involves that will eventually get bought by them.

5. Dear Jay,

What do you do if you have feelings for someone even if he's mean to you? Should you tell him? Or just go on living a painful lie?

-- R. Seacrest

Dear R,

Sometime people are mean to you precisely BECAUSE they like you. Try expressing your feelings to this person. What's the worst he could do? Criticize you?

6. Dear Jay,

You suck.

-- 1 in 5 commenters on TV Squad

Dear OiFCoTVS,

Believe it or not, 20% actually improves on my percentage from High School.

7. Dear Jay,

Talk about jokes backfiring. A few years ago, on April Fools Day, I decided to just act crazy all day on my radio show. You know, just say whatever lunatic thought popped in my head. I figured it'd be good for a laugh.

Well, the phones just lit up and my station manager said, "do it again tomorrow." So I did. And then the next day. And then the day after that. Next thing you know, I have my own show on Fox News. Now, no matter HOW crazy I act, my ratings keep going up.

I feel like a fraud and damned if I know how to back out of this gracefully. Should I tell my fans that this is all a joke? That the only reason I'm able to fake my "character" so well is that as a dance major at Vassar, I was required to take three semesters of improv acting? Please give me your advice.


-- G. Beck

(PS Love the Office Reviews. I'm such a JAM fan!)

Dear G,

Don't worry about it! The people watching your show are smart enough to know that it's a comedy show first. And, believe me, they appreciate all the time you put in to developing your crazy on-air persona. Further, I've seen the show, and I can't imagine any harm coming of you encouraging gun hoarding at the same time you hint that a kind of "final showdown" might be coming. People love that kind of thing!

(PS did you see Knowing? I think you should tell your viewers it's a documentary! That'll be a hoot!)

8. Dear Jay,

Just wanted to write and thank you again for the great advice about how to end the series. I know that a lot of the writers were upset (because they had that surprise ending planned that explained perfectly just what was going on with Starbuck!), but I think I made the right choice. It was so simple: "Just make God the answer to all of the hard questions! People love religious mumbo jumbo!" I wished that I had thought of it myself. Seriously man, you did me a solid. Any more thoughts about joining the Caprica production team?

-- R Moore

Dear R,

Thanks again for the offer, my friend, but there's no chance I'm leaving TV Squad. TV money might be good, but we're talking about blogger money here. Blogger money.

Just keep my advice in the back of your head: whenever you write yourself into a corner, just have something "unexplained" happen to get you out of it. When people ask you what the "unexplained" thing means, just nod your head solemnly and say, "God works in mysterious ways." This is how I get away with not doing any housework.

(Jay Black is a writer and comedian best known for once finding a half-eaten tuna salad sandwich emblazoned with the visage of St. Jerome. For more information about Jay or to catch one of his live shows, check out his website: www.jayblackcomedy.com)

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8 Comments

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ac

You suck.

Also do you know where I can pick up that coupon for 6 free shots of tequila?

April 15 2009 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim McCleese

Jay.... You are going to be the next Johnny Carson.

Now....Will that get you to get me an autograph from Grace Park?

April 15 2009 at 5:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Jay, you suck.

(good answer to the prick from FOX on the sci-fi)

April 15 2009 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jordancda

You suck.

April 15 2009 at 4:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
StillBash

You suck.

(financed by the "JayBlackSucks2009" campaign).

If you want to support our campaign, simply leave a "You suck" comment as a reply to this message. Thank You!

April 15 2009 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to StillBash's comment

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