Recently, after admitting to myself that yes, I was burned out, and no, it wasn't going to get any better, I quit my job at a talent agency to pursue my writing career. "Tyro Scribe Deep-Sixes Ten-Percentery", might have been the headline in the trades in an alternate universe.
Yeah, I was a little nervous about entering a job market about as vigorous as a septuagenarian whose Viagra prescription has fallen in the donut hole at the center of Bush's new prescription "benefits" package. But I looked in the mirror one day and saw one of those deeply unhappy, permanently embittered agent types
who came to L.A. with a dream and sold it out for 10% of other people's dreams. Not good.
Besides, C had just about had it with the stress head I had become, and I can't blame her. It's no fun to be around someone who is no fun.
So I quit and, like many other "creative" types who don't make a living off their "art", I went on the dole
. Yep, I became a ward of the state
. However, I soon realized that I needed a way to supplement my meager handout. Luckily, the woman I love is an actress, and therefore well-schooled in legitimate ways to make money (short of actually getting a full time job). She suggested that I sign up for focus groups
. $100 and free food just to watch TV and talk about it afterwards? Um, okay.
Right off the bat, I get a call from a squirmy sounding guy in the 818 who wants to know if I watch The Man Show
. I wasn't sure how to answer, not wanting to queer the deal, but no worries - he walked me through the correct answers. Seems they mainly want to fill up the group. If one or two of the participants actually have viewing habits somehow germane to the group's, er, focus, then bonus.
Squirrel guy gave me an address in Beverly Hills. I was in! However, when it came time to talk turkey, he informed me that I would only receive $75. Normally, that would not entice me to spend 2 hours of my life watching The Man Show, but at the end of the economic spectrum that I had recently descended to, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Soon I found myself in a waiting room with a rube who, after spotting the sandwich layout, said, utterly without irony,"Dude, the food fucking rocks here." Great.
The room soon took on the air of a soup kitchen as wandering unfortunates sat and wolfed down sandwiches and potato salad, eyes firmly focused on the table. I found my own appetite waning as I choked down bites of Smart and Final turkey sandwiches between tubercular sounding hacks from the aformentioned rube, who, as he happily volunteered to the group at large, was from Indiana
After our repast, we were led into a room with a mirror at one end. The rube asked "Are there people behind there?". Well, yes. And those people sat and listened to us as we watched and reacted to The Man Show. Personally, I didn't find it very entertaining, as comedy (which it claims to be) or erotica (which it is, of a cheap, demeaning sort). I have little hope that the criticisms I levied against it will result in a better show. How could my comments about poor writing compete with the rube who opined that "the girls with big tits rocked"?
On the other hand, $75 is $75.