That One Time I Played A Bed (Well, PART OF A Bed) On National Television

12/31/16

Some time ago, I was a staff writer on the television series TruTV Presents: World’s Dumbest. For those of you that don’t know, World’s Dumbest was a “clips show,” and that means that people would send us clips of themselves and their friends doing stupid things. And we (the writing staff) would write comedy sketches and jokes making fun of the clips.

Someone had sent us a clip of this moronic woman playing a prank on her boyfriend. She had bought a plastic mannequin’s head, got under the covers in bed and pretended to make out with it (no I’m not making this up). Her idea was that her boyfriend would come home and he’d be all like, “Oh no, my girlfriend’s cheating on me!”

I wrote a comedy sketch making fun of this clip, which featured cast member Amanda Landry. In the sketch, Amanda is in bed with the plastic head, and she’s ACTUALLY cheating on her boyfriend with it. So she keeps saying tender, sentimental things to the head. We keep cutting to the mannequin head who says nothing, then back to her, reacting as though the mannequin head has said something profound or romantic. It went like this:

AMANDA [moans happily]: That was A-MAZ-ING! [to mannequin head] Was it good for you?
CLOSE UP ON: mannequin head, completely still and silent.
AMANDA [to mannequin head]: We almost got caught last time. We have to be  more careful.
CLOSE-UP ON: mannequin head, completely still and silent.
AMANDA [to mannequin head]: You always know just what to say.

You get the idea. Anyway, when we actually went to shoot this comedic masterpiece, we got a prop bed for Amanda and the mannequin head to lay down in. BUT…

When the bed arrived on set, it was missing two of its legs. The legs that go below the headboard. Someone had to CROUCH DOWN BEHIND THE HEADBOARD and hold up that end of the bed and play the part of the missing legs. Since I wrote the sketch, and all the Production Assistants were busy, I got drafted.

This is the way it went down: they would shoot a take, then they’d yell cut, I’d stretch my (real) legs, then I’d crouch back down behind the headboard and hold up my end of the bed by the time they yelled “Action” again. This went on for HOURS. They even tweeted a few photos of me popping my head up from behind the headboard between takes.

Over the years, I’ve taught screenwriting and comedy writing courses at quite a few different schools. And I often tell this story to my students. The moral of the story is that the entertainment industry is WEIRD. If you are lucky enough to make a living in show business, at some point someone’s going to ask you to pretend to be the two missing legs of a bed in a nationally televised comedy sketch. Or they’re going to dress you up in a turkey costume, like Paul Simon in that “Still Crazy After All These Years” bit on SNL. Or they’ll ask you to hold a sandwich between your legs while Kenneth Branagh shoots a scene in a Woody Allen movie (that happened to a friend of mine once).

And you’ll do it, because that’s show business, and there’s a line a mile long of other people who would kill to have your job, even if that job involves being the missing legs of a bed. So there’s no room for divas, and you’ve kinda got to get used to all the weirdness inherent in the entertainment industry or you won’t last very long.

Like Lee Strasberg says in The Godfather: Part II, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”

Boy is it ever.

 


New Books & Upcoming Speaking Gigs

12/27/16

Happy Holidays! Happy Almost-New-Year’s-Eve! Okay, so there are a few new things that I want to announce:

Recently, I wrote two LEGO STAR WARS books for Scholastic. The first one, LEGO STAR WARS: FACE OFF (illustrated by Dave White), is out now. You can see some excerpts from the book HERE.

The second LEGO STAR WARS book that I wrote is called THE OFFICIAL STORMTROOPER TRAINING MANUAL, and it comes out next month. And guess what, you lucky people? You can see some excerpts from THAT book HERE.

I talked a little bit about what it was like writing those LEGO STAR WARS books when I was a guest on the COMICSVERSE podcast, and you can listen to that podcast interview here.

I’ve also been working on a few projects for Disney Book Group’s Marvel Press imprint. For example, I wrote three of the stories in the 5-MINUTE AVENGERS STORIES collection, which is out now from Marvel Press. I also wrote one of the stories in the SPIDER-MAN STORYBOOK COLLECTION, which is also currently available.  

And I wrote two of the stories in the 5-MINUTE SPIDER-MAN STORIES anthology, which will be published by Marvel Press in June 2017. (I don’t have a cool link for that, but I should soon.) Interestingly enough, one of the stories that I wrote in each of those anthologies is a time travel story (and yes, there’s a reason for that).

And starting in January 2017, I’ll be doing a series of pop culture-oriented lectures at NYC performance space QED Astoria. The first one is a talk on the Golden Age of Universal horror movies (e.g. James Whale’s 1931 FRANKENSTEIN). It’s called “THE MONSTER MAKERS: UNIVERSAL PICTURES, CARL LAEMMLE JR., AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOLLYWOOD HORROR MOVIES,” and I’ll be giving that talk on January 7, 2017 at 2pm.

01/07/2017 <BR>2:00 - 3:00PM <BR>Monster Makers

I’ve also got quite a few other speaking engagements slotted for various dates in 2017, and I’ll be posting the specifics on THOSE lectures here soon too.


Jewish Comic Con 2016

11/21/16

jewishcomiccon-small-logoRecently, I was one of the programming consultants for the Jewish Comic Con, which was held on Sunday November 13, 2016, at Congregation Kol Israel in Brooklyn, NY. The event was the brainchild of Congregation Kol Israel president Fred Polaniecki and comic book writer Fabrice Sapolsky. I co-moderated most of the panels at Jewish Comic Con (alongside fellow co-moderator Danny Fingeroth), and there was quite a bit of press coverage for this event. Articles about Jewish Comic Con were written up in The Wall Street Journal, The Jewish Week, Bleeding Cool, and more. AJ Frost, a blogger for comics site The Beat, interviewed me about Jewish Comic Con, my work as a guest lecturer and public speaker, and my recent projects as an author/comic book writer.

 


Where You Can See, Hear, Read About (Or Otherwise Experience) Me

4/9/16

Hello and welcome to the newest installment of “Arie’s Self-Promote-y Goodness” (until I can actually come up with, you know, a REAL title). Want proof that I’m an actual living, breathing human being you can interact with IRL? Well, you’re in luck…

On Sunday, April 10th, 2016, I’ll be lecturing on the history of Jews in comic books as part of the 5th Annual Jewish University For A Day event. This event is a joint program of the Jewish Theological Seminary and Stony Brook University Hillel. From 11:45am to 12:15pm on Sunday, I’ll be signing copies of my award-winning nonfiction book FROM KRAKOW TO KRYPTON: JEWS AND COMIC BOOKS. And I’ll be lecturing twice, first from 2:45pm to 4:00pm, and then from 4:15pm to 5:30pm. I believe that on the event schedule, both lectures are titled “From Krakow to Krypton: A History of Jews, Superheroes and Comics.”

Also, I’ve been doing a few new press interviews to promote my new (and upcoming) projects. Here are three of those interviews:

  1. I was a guest on the latest episode of the COMICSVERSE podcast: http://comicsverse.com/arie-kaplan-podcast/
  2. I was also a guest on COMICS BULLETIN’s “Reboot Comic Book Club” podcast: http://comicsbulletin.com/podcast-arie-kaplan-reads-howard-duck-rcbc/
  3. And I was interviewed by the geek culture site SCI FI PULSE: http://scifipulse.net/interview-arie-kaplan/

In all three of those interviews, I talk about the two LEGO STAR WARS books I’m currently writing for Scholastic (one of which, FACE OFF, is available for pre-order on Amazon). I also talk about the three stories I wrote for the 5-MINUTE AVENGERS STORIES collection (which is out now from Disney Book Group’s Marvel Press imprint) and the story I wrote for the SPIDER-MAN STORYBOOK COLLECTION (which will be published by Marvel Press in May of 2016). Pirates are a recurring theme in these interviews, since they were all conducted shortly after my latest nonfiction book, SWASHBUCKLING SCOUNDRELS: PIRATES IN FACT AND FICTION, was published by Lerner Publishing Group. And in all three interviews, I discuss some of the recent projects I’ve worked on for TruTV, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Legacy Games, and more.


Please contact me if you want to use this for any reason. arie@ariekaplan.com