100daysoff

Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 47

with one comment


When I’m home during the week and around for the kids’ bedtime (scheduled for: 7:30, actual:9:00), my wife and I will each sit with one kid until they go to sleep.  While this may seem excessive to some (ie: me), it is better than the system used to be which involved each of us having to be in bed with a different child until they fell asleep which evolved into each child listening to a different Fairy CD until they fell asleep which made our house sound like a mental ward (which it often does anyway around bedtime but at least doesn’t have the creep factor of listening to adults doing fairy voices).  Typically, my wife and I will alternate who stays with which child, with the children offering their preference.  For example, Caleb would say, “I want mommy”, whereas Sasha would say, “I want mommy”.  Of course they both want mommy.  I want mommy, too.  Which is why it no longer hurts my feelings.  Tonight, when my daughter realized that I would be her attending parent she said, “I want mommy.  You’re mean.”  I responded, “I know.  Go to bed.”

The moniker of “mean” doesn’t hurt my feelings from my kids because oftentimes kids mistake discipline for meanness.  That some of my peers refer to me as “mean” is a different story.  In fact, it’s today’s story.  To be fair, I don’t think I’m mean.  In fact, I know I’m not. I can be thoughtless and absentminded, but I promise you, my intention is never to be mean for mean’s sake.  I was reminded the other day of the time a couple of years ago when I ran into an acquaintance of mine whom I hadn’t seen in awhile.  On my way out of a party, I passed him and asked how he was doing and he proceeded to tell me that he had been diagnosed with a terrible disease and was fighting it with an aggressive regimen of treatments that were beating the hell out of him.  Now, in my defense, I was asking a polite question on my way out the door, and was expecting a cursory answer so I wasn’t really listening to him.  Without that context, my response of, “And how’s everything else?” could be construed as mean or uncaring.  But it wasn’t: it was absentminded.  And just so you know– STOP BOOING ME!– when I realized my gaffe I corrected it and told him I was pulling for him and asked him the appropriate questions.  (And thank God, he’s doing fine).

Okay, so I think we can agree that that one wasn’t my fault.  I will admit, however, that my sense of humor can sometimes be construed as mean because I think that being brutally honest or self-deprecating can be very funny and, in fact, refreshing.  Especially in a medium such as television where everyone is so uptight, self-conscious, insecure and usually lying either to themselves or others.  It actually hurts my feelings when people accuse me of being mean.  Today, when I walked into the room of the pilot I had been helping on, the writers who stayed late last night told me they were channeling me after I had left.  “How so?”  I asked, innocently.  They explained that whenever someone pitched a joke that didn’t work they would be brutal about it and let the other person know how bad it was without the usual filter associated with human interaction.  So, okay, yes, I will make fun of a bad pitch, but just to break the tension.  And true, as a joke I once emptied an entire can of air freshener directly onto a script that the person I’m now helping out had turned in on “Friends” to imply that it “stunk”  (if it had stunk I wouldn’t have done it, it was funny because the script didn’t stink.  It was not funny because we had to evacuate the room for an hour until the chemical smell dispersed).  And so you don’t think I’m a comedic bully, I will criticize my own bad jokes much more harshly: in fact, after pitching a joke that gets no reaction I will often repeat it as if no one had heard it.  And then repeat it again and again and ask the show-runner how come they’re not putting it in the script and if there’s something wrong with the acoustics in the room.   See?  That breaks the awkwardness.  Imagine if everyone was that free.

When I defended myself against the accusation of being mean today, one of my friends, the Prosecution, brought up several examples of  “classic mean Jeff” stories, which, when I explain them to you, you will take my side in understanding that they are not mean, but funny.  Example One was at the “Friends” wrap party when I went up to Matt Leblanc who had just agreed to do “Joey” and told him I thought it was nice that they were holding both the “Friends” and “Joey” wrap parties at the same time.  (BOOOOO).  Now hold on!  Matt and I were friends and it was funny because it was so outrageous to think that “Joey” would only go zero episodes.  As I remember it, Matt thought it was really funny and had a big laugh.  Or maybe it was me, but one of us did (and he’s doing fine, so don’t feel bad).

Example Two was similarly actor-related.  I was at a table read for a friend’s pilot where he had cast Heather Locklear as the lead in a comedy at the last second to play the head of an investment bank.   After the table read, everyone left except for the studio, my friend and me, and one of the studio executives said (trying to convince himself), “I think we all buy Heather as the head of an investment bank.”  My immediate response was, “Moreso than as the lead of a comedy.”  Did it get laughs?  No.  Was it what everyone was thinking?  Absolutely.  Did I ever get asked to help out that friend again.  No.  But the studio still kept in touch.  Through my lawyer, but still.  In thinking of Examples Six through Fifty, I’m not sure they translate well into written form and I don’t think I’ll come off great so I’m not going to put them down.  I will say, however, in my defense– since I see that no one is rooting for me here– that I will never pick on someone who is down to get a laugh or go with a joke just to be mean.  I promise you, I am kind at heart.  People accuse me of not having a filter, but the truth is that I edit roughly 60-70% of the things that come to my mind.  And yes, when I clean out that filter at the end of the day, some of the things are awful, but the point is, I don’t say them!

Anyway, despite coming under fire from these baseless accusations, I had a good day helping out my friend.  It was good to have an office to go to on a lot and have my food bought for me and I got to see Finn and Quinn from Glee!  While yesterday I was blocked, today for some reason I was more focused and the day went quickly and smoothly with some good laughs had by all.  In fact, you’ll like this: I told a joke to the guy who created the pilot about how he shouldn’t get so hung up about a line we had been struggling with for an hour since the network was probably going to make him throw out the whole scene anyway.  Funny, right?  Oh, shut up.

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Written by 100daysoff

March 31, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Quinn is hot.

    MikeP

    April 1, 2011 at 10:51 am


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