Monday, March 2, 2009

Oh crap!

So, I was sitting in the reception area of the Late Night With Conan O'Brien offices, taking a break from my grueling post-last show schedule of sitting in the conference room of the Late Night With Conan O'Brien offices, when I came upon this delightful little book. It's called Ant Farm, and it's by an author named Simon Rich, a former president of The Harvard Lampoon, as it happened. Intrigued by the cover blurb from none other than Jon Stewart, who raves, "Hilarious" (There's a longer version of it on the back cover, but I can't remember it).

The book is a collection of short sketches and monologues--most don't even top two pages--and they are indeed hilarious, with the most inspired recalling the singular wit of The Kids in The Hall (who are the best sketch comedy group in history, an assertion I will defend to my death). I read through the entire book in about half an hour, laughing quietly to myself. Then I got to the back page and saw this:

Simon Rich is a former president of The Harvard Lampoon and will graduate from Harvard in June 2007

Dude wasn't even out of college yet when he published this. I need to step up my game!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stomping on the little guy

So today at around four, I was called down by Joe, the music intern, because the guest band had ordered sushi and they needed a few interns to go down to the visitors center and pick it up from the delivery guy. He handed me a big wad of 20 dollar bills and said "There should be about $300 there. Enough for a good tip." So I rode the elevator downstairs and met up with the other interns and the delivery guy.

As I was counting up the money to pay, I realized that I only had $280 there. This was a problem, as the bill for the sushi was $271.05. Oops. I handed the guy the money and apologized, and he realized he was being severely shortchanged on the tip.

In heavily accented English, he inquired, "I only... I only get eight dollars?"

The tone in which he said this was very much akin to that of a child whose puppy you had just kicked. What made this worse was that he appeared to be in his late sixties, at the very youngest, with a pronounced stoop, and had almost surely made the journey on foot all the way from the restaurant. My heart sank, and I began to stammer out an apology.

"I'm sorry, they didn't give me enough money!"

Looking down at the floor, he silently handed us the bags of sushi and shuffled away without so much as an irritated sigh. He looked dejected, and I immediately felt awful for passing the buck instead of going back upstairs to the studio floor and seeing if I could get the extra $20 from Joe. Alas, the sushi was in our hands already, so there was little we could do.

I talked to Chris (intern coordinator) about it a little while later, and he said it sucked, but there was really nothing they could do, as it was the guest band's money and they had already received their food.

Sorry, elderly Aoki Sushi delivery guy whom I inadvertently ripped off. I totally didn't mean to.

And intern lesson #143 learned: Always make sure you are actually given the amount that people tell you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Conan today...

Pretty uneventful. A bunch of interns were stand-ins for one bit. After the first run-through, one of the writers came up and told us to not mug for the camera. I didn't think I was.

Also, looking over Evergreen's catalog, trying to pick something for my last quarter, I get the distinct feeling that I wasted most of my collegiate career.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hey, so I started a blog.

Friends, associates, confidants-

I'm sure the very few of you who care about what happens in my life or what I think about things will be happy to know that I'm becoming a proper internet-age grown-up and starting a blog. The one big reason for this is because I'm currently doing an internship at Late Night With Conan O'Brien and I want to forget as little as I can about it. I'm pretty bad at keeping a journal, so I feel like if I took the plunge of actually getting a blog and just putting SOMETHING in it once a day, whatever it is, it might get me into the habit more and more, and eventually when I think about writing about what happened in my day it won't feel like such a chore.

The other reason I'm starting this blog is that I used to be pretty good at writing. I'm not anymore. With practice, hopefully this will change.

So, here are some noteworthy things that have happened in my three weeks so far at Conan:

The most active contribution to the show I've had so far was tracking down a copy of the 1978 movie Piranha, directed by Joe Dante. After obtaining a VHS copy for rental at World of Video in Greenwich Village, I was sent to find timestamps for as many piranha attacks as I could in the film, for use in a sketch. So, no, I haven't been on television, but two to three seconds of footage from a 1970's b movie that I was told to find were on television.


There's a television in the bathroom that, whenever we're not taping or rehearsing, is tuned to MSNBC. Once while I was in there, a voice came on that I assumed to be Chris Matthews. When I exited the stall, I looked up at the screen and realized they had cut to commercial, and it was Billy Mays.


People I've seen in/around the elevators in 30 Rock: Jorma Taccone, Will Forte, Fred Armisen, Rachel Maddow


One morning I was covering Conan O'Brien's assistant's desk, which means I was sitting there and taking phone messages in case anyone called. Usually what happens is that because Conan has two assistants, either the one you're covering for or the other one will show up and shoo you away. But occasionally--very occasionally--Conan will show up for work before either of his assistants do. This is what happened that morning.

He came in, said hi, then unlocked the door to his office and went inside. After a moment, he came out and asked me my name. I told him, and he introduced himself--a fairly unnecessary gesture, but courteous--and we shook hands. The conversation went like this:

"So, where you from?"

"Ah, Los Angeles, actually."

"Oh, yeah, nice place. I've lived there a couple times, when I was writing for The Simpsons, and back in the 80's."

I figured it would have been kind of weird to say, "I know", so I just kind of uttered a very noncommittal "Yeah, cool".

"Yeah, now I guess I'm gonna try and raise a family there now."

"Oh, yeah, it's nice. It's, it's... I like it there."

"So, do you go to school in L.A.?"

"No, actually, I go to The Evergreen State College. It's in Olympia, Washington."

"Oh, Washington. I like it there. My wife's from Seattle, so we go over there a lot."

"Cool, yeah, Seattle's awesome."

"All right, nice to meet you, Ryan. Have fun and don't take anything."

So, in all, about one to two minutes of small talk with Conan O'Brien. I'm sure I left him impressed by my natural charm, wit, and intellectual depth.