I wrote this piece for Roxane’s LA book party at the Last Bookstore on August 18th. It was an incredible night — people were packed deep into the store, on every floor, sitting in corners, hidden between stacks of shelves — so many men and women who stayed the entire time, despite the intense heat from all those bodies waiting to hear Roxane speak. It was a blast. Thank you again to Roxane for inviting me. Roxane’s books are making all kinds of year-end lists, and it reminded me that I meant to post this here.
I just wanted to thank everyone who was a part of this crazy week.
As someone who spent years in the tech world before becoming a comedy writer, I’ve worked in two industries that openly debate gender when it comes to capability. I wanted to write “Barbie Fucks It Up Again” after finding a book aimed toward the youngest minds as they’re just starting to define self-worth. I’m thrilled the Internet seized the spirit of that essay and took up the fight. I’m proud to watch this worldwide discussion. (Not to mention this kickass piece of business.)
I wish Mattel had chosen to adjust the title instead of shelving it. I think we all would have appreciated that kind of reboot, even if it did take two girls (and Brian AND Steven) to get the job done correctly.
Thank you for sharing, for talking, and for making a difference. Thanks for reminding me why I love writing at pamie.com.
I’m sitting here with a fractured nose realizing I haven’t even told you yet that my mom called yesterday to let me know that my dead dad stopped a robbery in her storage unit. But that’s a story for another time. I promise to come back here more often.
…Especially since I had to upgrade my shit after we crashed this site five hundred times this week.
I need you to know that I have been working on keeping my Fan Face in check. The other day, Nick from Project Runway/Under the Gunn passed me on the street and said hello to the baby and I acted like he was a face I didn’t recognize. An elevator door opened to reveal Maya Rudolph standing right in front of me and — you guys — the fact that I did not immediately launch into an impression of her impression of Oprah shows you how much I’ve grown as a person who periodically goes outside.
But this is a story from before I had labelled my Fan Face. Back when it was so obvious my husband would just look away and go, “Damn, Ribon. You look like you’re taking a photograph of Marcia Gay Harden with your retinas. Either work on that, or go talk to her before we get on the plane. It’s getting creepy. …oh, you’re going to go talk to her? I’m going to go over here and not know you, then.”
Marcia was very sweet, even though she had an understandably protective lean decidedly away from me. I normally never go up to someone, but Marcia had talked to my acting class back when I was in college, and I wanted to thank her because it really stuck with me, and many of my friends from that year. Plus I was pregnant at the time, and that state of being apparently turned my “give a shit” meter all the way off.
That missing self-check mode made for all kinds of new experiences during the months I was pregnant. One that immediately comes to mind, one I just can’t seem to let go, involves another airport encounter.
Being pregnant makes you have to pee. All the time, a lot. This is probably not news to you. But it can make something as mundane as getting through airport security turn into a stakes-are-very-high situation inside your body. One time I was struggling through security check before a red-eye flight to New York, keeping my mind focused on the first finish line: the ladies room inside the United Lounge. There had been some delays, some traffic, some longer-than-expected lines, and by the time I reached the bathroom door, I was hunched over, inching my way to the stall.
I peed with great relief. I remember this. I remember a feeling of accomplishment that almost made me sleepy.
Afterward, while I was washing my hands, a woman stepped out of another stall. After a quick glance in the mirror, I thought, “That looks like Retta. But, Retta if she were not in makeup and wanting to sleep during this upcoming redeye.”
I tried not to Fan Face. After all, we were in a bathroom. Let the lady have her time.
Just after take-off I rushed to the airplane bathroom, as it had been almost a full forty-five minutes since I’d been allowed to pee. On the way back I saw that the woman I thought was Retta was sitting in the aisle in front of me. But now she was tucked in all cozy and asleep. Couldn’t be one hundred percent sure, sure as hell wasn’t going to ask her, nor inspect further.
After the flight, maybe-Retta was sitting near us, waiting on a taxi or shuttle or something. This is when I realized I knew the best way to find out if that was, in fact, Retta on my flight. Twitter. If she was on a plane to New York, surely she would have mentioned it.
Turns out Retta had tweeted just before her flight.
“Damn, lady in the United stall next to me. Why the orgasmic experience? #personaltime #keepmeoutofit”
So, you know, it’s not always just my face that ruins things.
If there were a kind of porn site where I just watched people who had time on their hands do all the things I wish I still had time to do, I would… well, I wouldn’t have time to watch it. These days I hear about people binge-watching entire seasons of a tv series over their weekends and I’m drooling, it sounds so luxurious. I get jealous every night when the baby has her bath, because sometimes there are bubbles, and I miss just deciding to take a long, hot bath and then taking one while reading an entire book. I used to have so much time! Time I wasted thinking I needed to be doing something with all that time! I never appreciated it and now it’s gone and you guys, I have regrets.
The other day I couldn’t find my library card. “It’s on Qwerty’s keys,” I said to Jason and Kristen. “Do you guys know where she keeps her keys?”
“Did you check her pink purse?” asked Jason.
“I did. No keys.”
Kristen said, “I know they aren’t in her owl purse. I found that earlier and all it has is her phone.”
This keys-having, phone-toting, two-purse-and-a-library-card owning child is seventeen-months old.
From LA Weekly:
The Working Poet Radio Show
7:00 p.m. June 4
Los Angeles Central Library
Mark Taper Auditorium
Whether it’s Twitter, YouTube or Instagram, digital media are changing the business world, one click at a time. The whole concept of sharing has swiftly become more than social, and if you’ve seen Jon Favreau’s latest film, Chef, you’ll understand how quickly your Twitter game can change your career. Enter The Working Poet Radio Show, a new monthly radio and television talk show sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library, which seeks to explore the lives of creative people. The June 4 show, “Working With Humor,” will focus on comedians and how digital media are changing their professional lives. Sit with the live audience and listen as L.A. success stories Flula Borg, a German techno DJ; Key & Peele director Jay Martel; and best-selling author Pamela Ribon discuss how humor has changed because of social media. “It’s such a struggle for people to get to where they want to be,” says show host (and L.A. Weekly contributor) Joseph Lapin on the struggle to be successful while maintaining creativity. “This show appeals to those who want to be creative.” Mark Taper Auditorium, Central Library, 630 W. Fifth St.; Wed., June 4, 7 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7338, theworkingpoetradioshow.com.
— By Kellyn Kawaguchi
Created by: Carlos Romero
Music by: Adam Blau
This has been sitting in the inbox for a while. My apologies.
I attended your Chicks with Bics panel and we met briefly during the BBQ at the Austin Film Festival. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak on the panels and share your experiences, and also for taking the time to talk with me personally. I am a novelist and an aspiring TV comedy writer so everything you spoke about has direct relevance to what I’m trying to do/achieve/be. Therefore, I am writing to express my thanks.
Your advice solidified my plans to start a blog and take an improv class, the latter of which frightens me to my very core (it was the only time I purchased something where I hoped my credit card would be declined).
With the hope that I’m not overstaying my email welcome, I do have a question for you – if you have the time. I wrote a half-hour comedy with the following logline: An orthodox Jewish family, desperate to have a child, tries to adopt a little Jewish girl but through a mixup at the agency, ends up with an African American one. (it’s sort of a Modern Family meets Different Strokes) I know it’s not necessarily a marketable idea but I hope it’s unique enough to get read and, in an ideal world, help me get staffed.
I received notes from a (film) producer friend who said it was basically too Jewish to sell and has too narrow of an appeal to use as a writing sample. So, my question: Is he right in that IF it doesn’t have broad appeal, could that be a problem? Should I be writing something that’s safe and appeals to the broadest audience possible so that agents, producers etc. know that I can, or is it ok to have an idea that may be a bit niche without them thinking I can only write to that niche?
Thank you again so very much for your time and assistance. It really is invaluable to receive advice from someone with your accomplishments.
Hi, Megan! It’s good to hear from you, and YAY on the improv class! I know it’s scary, but that’s the point. You’ll have more sympathy for the actors in the roles you create, and all actors want is love, attention, sympathy and everything else you have and then more than that and actors can be needy, is what I’m saying.
So, someone told you that your idea wasn’t that great. The next question to ask yourself is, “Do I want that person to be right?” Because if this is the story that showcases your voice, your point of view, your unique place in this huge world of writers and storytellers, then you have to stick with it. If you’re looking to get staffed, showrunners aren’t looking for writers with “broad appeal.” They’re looking for something new, something different, something funny with heart and talent. Did this story happen to you or someone you know? Even better. And even more reason to tell the haters to suck it.