Monday night was the first writers’ meeting for the new season of the TMI Hollywood, the show I write for at Second City. The new cast members came and mingled with the writers over the one thing that brings all walks of LA life together: free food. After a recap of last year and the expectations of this year, the cast made their way out and the writers got down to what they do best.
Coming up with stuff to write about.
In a sketch comedy writers room (at least in this one), the writers have their own special brand of currency. I know, I know. The initial thing to yell out is “Words! Writers deal in words!” and in some cases, that’s true.
But words are the currency of the novelist.
The comedy sketch writer deals in trivia.
We huddle around a table, pitching ideas and trading knowledge like baseball cards. Bill O’Reilly said this, Justin Bieber did that. But, pop culture is only the surface.
We have a politics guy. Now, I’m not saying we have a politics guy in terms of a guy who’s job is to keep an eye on the political atmosphere. That’s small town. Our politics guy can name all the United States presidents, vice presidents, and failed candidates in order, not to mention dropping campaign slogans like they’re party favors. It’s not like he has fast fingers on Google. These are just things that he’s learned and retained over his history of education.
This leads to doors and pathways of humor that one person alone has a hard time seeing by themselves.
Sometimes, it feels like an episode of Big Bang Theory. I expect someone to drop something like “Oppenheimer was notoriously hard to work with,” or “a gathering of cats is called a clouder.” And, it’s not ironic. It’s the difference between data and knowledge.
Nowadays, we can look up anything on the Internet. It seems as though “knowledge” is at our very fingertips, but what is really at our fingertips is data. Data, without a brain behind it, is pretty useless. It’s interesting, though, what’s revealed in the knowledge we retain. You can never really lie about what intrigues you. When someone has a piece of knowledge they can’t wait to share, it practically bursts out of them.
Perhaps not everyone who thirsts for knowledge is a writer, but it seems that a lot of writers thirst for knowledge. Knowledge fuels their power cells and they’re ready to share the fuel.
I miss school like a heartache.
I started Second City classes a week ago and I was assigned homework. Granted, it was fun homework (Watch Late Night television, write jokes), but it was still homework. And, as I struggled with why Diet Pepsi, with added ingredients to increase shelf life, deserves the time slot after Larry King, I remembered what it was like to have to do something because a professor told you to.
I love school. I love education. Learning new things energizes me. I can only compare it to the feeling when you finish writing a book. I want to run around and strike ballet poses while expressing my joy to inanimate objects. Leap through doorways. Dance with a mop. Just remember that moment when, after struggling over something for hours, your brain finally makes that last connection and it’s like a whole new world is illuminated.
And, it doesn’t matter the topic. Granted, I struggle more with certain subjects, but learning is fascinating. Perhaps I’m intrigued by the impetus of learning that school forces on me. Learn or fail. There’s no other option.
I love homework.
I love hauling out that ten pound textbook and pulling out the highlighter. Poring over that dense writing with no white space. Maybe a diagram every twenty pages…
My roommate, Randy, has gone back to school to become a nurse. Which makes me question whether or not I need to have a direction in mind. What are things that I would like to learn?
Physics is an option. But, I never took to calculus. I need a refresher in that. I could always try to finish out my psych major. In college, I pretended that I didn’t want to conduct social experiments, but I totally do. Human behavior is quite interesting (or maybe I’m just annoyed by all the political posts on my Facebook feed).
On a whole different level, perhaps education is my calling. Not necessarily the perpetual student on the level of Buster Bluth, but maybe my destiny is in education. Could I cut it as an associate professor somewhere?
I’m not about to abandon my dream of writing for television yet. All writers are captivated by knowledge. They’re seekers of truth, after all. This doesn’t change the fact that I really want to go listen to a professor.
If you could go back to school, what classes would you take? Answer in the comments to make me feel happy.