Some mornings, when I’m holding my sign and walking in a circle, I realize this is the second time I’ve lost my job because of the Internet. And if you count the giant day of the dot com bust where my 401K was smashed to pennies, I find that while I only have so much control over my career and my destiny, the Internet seems to be what really drives almost all the major decisions in my life. It’s very strange.
Oh, that’s not a flattering picture of my face. But I wanted to talk about Andy.
This is Andy Gordon. He’s very funny. He’s one of the sweetest, funniest guys I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with. He’s a prankster and he’s kind. Everybody loves Andy. But because he has such respect for writers, he’s also not interested in coddling. Therefore, Andy Gordon is the person who taught me what a “clam” is. He taught me by pointing out that I’d written one in my first script that was to be produced for television. He pointed it out by shouting it to everyone in the room.
You see, a clam is not a good thing.
It’s had other names on other shows I’ve worked on. At Mencia I think it started as a “Strawberry,” and ended up becoming a “Glover,” shortened from “Danny Glover.” A “Glover” is really a double clam. Because not only is the catchphrase “I’m too old for this shit” a clam, a clam is a catchphrase that is “too old for this shit.”
I hadn’t meant to put a clam in my first script…an Oprah joke during an Oprah-themed episode of television. That’s a lot of Oprah jokes! And some of them got pretty clammy. I’d shorthanded a “What happens with Oprah stays with Oprah” joke that I meant to replace and somehow I forgot, and we’re at the first table read in the writers’ room, and Andy — who is normally quite jovial and jokey with me, is all squirming and frowning and making these faces like I’m kicking him in the stomach. And we get to this joke and he shouts out as if he can’t contain anything anymore, “Jesus Christ, can we do something about this CLAM on page thirty? It makes me want to KILL MYSELF.”
Hours and hours into working on the script, Suzanne’s finally called away to answer a costuming question (See my future post “Why Showrunners Would Really Like to Go Back to Work, and How it’s Mighty Misleading for The Other Guys to Tell You We’ve Got ‘Eight Episodes in the Can.’”), so I slide over to Andy’s position at the table (Usually near me, this time, not so much. See what I did there? YES! DOUBLE CLAM! I’M A MASTER!)
We’d been joking earlier that when someone asks, “Are you okay?, it’s usually just a nicer way of asking, “Why are you being such a dick today?” So I scribbled on his notepad, “Are you okay?”
He chuckled, scribbled, “Yes.”
It’s easily ten at night at this point. Past dinner. No new food coming in. At least if there was more food coming it, I’d have a chance to let something else cheer Andy up. I knew I was responsible for his mood.
“What’d I do?” I wrote.
He wrote back, “I’ve seen this scene a million times. We can do better. You can do better. I know you can beat it, and I’m worried it’s so late it’ll just stay because we’re tired.”
And I wrote back, “Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
I wrote the word “HACK,” and drew an arrow toward me.
He laughed, wrote “LAZY,” and drew one toward him.
“You should have said something to me earlier. I wrote this script weeks ago.”
“I’m sorry. Did you say something? I was too busy thinking about going home.”
“So… No more are you okay?”
“Yes. Thanks. Sorry to have been a dick.”
“Thanks for teaching me what a clam is.”
And we rewrote the scene, minus the clam, and it went much better. Ironically, I fought to remove a clam that they wanted to put in — an “if something-something happens, the terrorists win” joke, but it was on the clam line at the time, and it stayed in. By the time the episode aired, just as I knew it would happen, some poster on TWoP’s, all, “Pamie wrote a ‘terrorists win’ joke! What a loser!”
You can’t win them all.
Anyway, the other day, while rallying at the rally, a few of us started thinking of clams to write on our signs, to show our solidarity with other hack writers. Alex, Jessi, Rafael, Laura, and later Sara, all contributed to these gems.
“Could I BE any more on strike?”
“Note to self: Striking sucks.”
“Strike is the new Job.”
“WE WERE ON A STRIKE!”
“What happens on strike, stays on strike.”
“And by ‘strike,’ I mean asking-for-four-more-cents-on-DVD-residuals and by ‘Picket’ I mean wanting-a-cut-of-the-revenue-on-Internet-downloads-and-new-media.” (our demands are a bit wordy.)
“So we’re striking? ….Awkward.”
“We’re literally on strike.”
Just a few I remember before we depressed ourselves.
Today on the line, I was talking with someone about how to get more of the public to understand what we’re doing. I wish I could credit who said this to me, but I don’t remember. He said, “Why not make an ad that says, ‘Hey, have you ever felt fucked by Time Warner Cable? Us, too.”
Jim talked about how he was wearing shorts on the line yesterday. “I thought I’d bring out the picket poles,” he said, angling his legs in the sunlight.
“Your strike stems?” I asked.
“Yes, Pam. Thanks for the punch-up.”
And thanks to all of you who have been writing in with letters of support and questions of what you can do to help. I will try to do a round-up post about it later tonight.
Continuing the continued irony of life these days, Samantha Who? has been nominated for a People’s Choice award. Hey, you get to vote once a day as they decide the finalists!