>The "Sister Wives" Might As Well Live in Stepford

>When I found out that TLC was going to start airing a reality show about polygamists living in Utah, I set my Tivo to record and set my mind to “open”. After all, I’m all for gay marriage and allowing consenting adults to have whatever relationship they want. I figured I had to be open-minded about polygamy, as well, so I was all set to laugh along with the multiple spouses on “Sister Wives”.

But three episodes in, I’m not buying it.

The show follows a Utah man with three (soon to be four) wives and twelve (soon to be sixteen) children, all living under one enormous roof as an enormous family that simply couldn’t be happier.

And that’s just it. The people on this show try so hard to convince us that they are, indeed, happy, that the entire program just reeks of phoniness. When someone is constantly telling you every second of her life how happy she is, it isn’t long before you have to wonder if she’s trying to convince you of that…or convince herself. “Sister Wives” definitely has this trait, as each wife (and the mostly-avoided husband) bends over backwards with the non-stop “cheerful” testimonies. After a while it just reeks of being fake.

The show is supposed to be all about how polygamists are “just like every other married couple”, but it just winds up looking doctored to seem “normal”. In fact, much of the show is jaw-droppingly boring. Each episode supposedly has something going on, but winds up being nothing but people sitting on a couch telling you how much they like each other. At the end of each episode, I don’t know that I believe any of it…but I do know that I really don’t care. The producers have tried so hard to remove all the controversy from the show that they’ve made it about nothing.

It is possible to have quality “Reality TV” programming that doesn’t resort to acts of contrived controversy. There are plenty of reality shows on TV that don’t feel like they are just made up; “Little People, Big World” is one of them. Yeah, shows like “Jersey Shore” have fake controversy…but “Sister Wives” has none! They show us nearly nothing that doesn’t seem manipulated to be smiles and butterflies. It’s literally a half hour of these robots constantly having to remind us how content they are. Besides the see-through happiness, however, there’s no passion to be found anywhere else in that house.

And that’s what’s really missing from “Sister Wives”. There’s nothing about it that seems real, but the thing that seems the least real is the so-called “marriage” aspect of it all. If there are multiple marriages going on in that house, we have yet to be shown any. We’ve seen a man walk into different rooms and give a passionless kiss to random women who might as well be his sisters. Does he care for these women? Sure. But there’s nothing in the house that looks like married people enjoying being married. There’s talk about them having sex but, other than a clan of children, no proof that they remotely enjoy it or even have any attraction to each other. That would normally be interesting enough for Reality TV, but the producers of this show cut away the minute it seems we might really get a good look at how these people live. Instead, we watch a very dull guy barely spend time with three equally dull women in an attempt to convince us that nothing “weird” is going on.

Most annoying is how the show tries so hard to hide the religion (and religious boundaries) that these people live within every single day. The family on “Sister Wives” is Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, or FLDS). That seems pretty important, considering that their religion is the reason they follow this lifestyle in the first place. But you wouldn’t know that by watching the TV show. Every time the family kinda-sorta brings up religion, the show immediately cuts to something else. There’s a prayer and mention of a church, but we never see them attend a service. The husband once mentions “The Principle”, a part of FLDS life, but it is quickly glossed over and the subject is changed. Why? To avoid talking about their religion is stupid, especially when you consider that their religion is exactly why they are polygamists. It would be like doing a show about women who wear a burqa without mentioning that women who wear a burqa are Muslim. That simply wouldn’t happen on a “Reality TV Show”, so why does “Sister Wives” avoid all mention that the family is FLDS? Why hide the very thing you believe in the most?

On episode three, in a rare moment of actual honesty, one wife mentions that she didn’t even kiss the husband until they were married. That actually sounded interesting but was immediately dropped. Why the absence of intimacy? There is constant testimony about the husband “Courting” a new wife who lives three hundred miles away, but no mention of how he met another polygamist five hours from home. They seem to barely know each other and yet are married soon after, with almost as little passion as there is in all the other marriages. How did they meet? When did they decide to start dating? How do “mainstream polygamists” find each other in the first place? Was this arranged through the church, or is there a polygamist dating site online? We’ll never know because, like everything else on “Sister Wives”, the producers (and family) only show us what they want us to see. It’s almost as if they’ve decided in advance what the audience will accept…and that’s all we’re going to be shown.

In the end, they don’t really show us anything. All we get is women sitting in a room talking (over and over and over again) about how much they like each other and how happy they are and how great it is to be a polygamist. Not much else. The children go to a polygamist school that we never see. They live around other polygamists that are never shown. The children are shown laughing but are never really interviewed. We see a doctor who has birthed the kids…but he’s not even interviewed once. Oh, he’s more than happy to be filmed giving an ultrasound in his office, but heaven forbid that the producers actually talk to the guy on camera. Is he a polygamist? What does the doctor think of this family? We’ll never know, since the show is so busy trying to hide everything that’s really going on, it shows us that nothing is going on. Instead, each episode just shows a bunch of women and children saying things like “we’re best friends”. Sure, whatever you say when the camera is rolling I guess we’ll just have to believe.

Another big question I kept thinking was about how they afford to live when only the husband and one of the wives works. He works in “ad sales”, yet they’ve got four SUVs and a luxury sports car. Ad salesmen make good money…but enough to pay for thirteen (soon to be twenty) people and that many nice cars? One of the wives has a job, yet we’re never even told what that job is. FLDS polygamists are often accused of committing Welfare Fraud, but this show doesn’t even address that, or any money issues whatsoever. Jon and Kate struggled to raise eight. Can two people really feed seventeen?

After each episode of “Sister Wives”, it feels as if the show is dancing around what really goes on in that house. So a couple of the wives admit that they are sometimes jealous. Big deal. No matter how “out of the ordinary” these people may seem, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that they are human. That’s not showing us anything special. The problem with the show is that all of what we do get to see seems phony. It might as well be Stepford, where we’re peeking in at what they want us to see, rather than how they really live. I want to see some reality with my Reality TV, not a 30-minute commercial for Utah.

>Five Bands Who Replaced Their Singers With Sound-Alikes

>There was a time when a band lost its lead singer and it was pretty much assumed the band was finished. Sure, sometimes they were able to change directions or, in the case of Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship, simply change names. Groups like The Temptations switched singers and entered a whole new era with their music, and Van Halen pretty much set the bar for success after losing a front man. Often times, however, the band simply ceased to exist and its members went on to other projects.

Then, sometime in the late 90s, bands started to realize they didn’t have to quit entirely when their singer left the group or (Gasp!) died, nor did they have to change directions with a new vocalist attempting a completely different sound. They could instead find a singer who sounded almost exactly like the last guy and continue on unscathed and, sometimes, be even more successful. Well, faster than you can say “Judas Priest”, there was some other dude onstage in the center spot. Below is a list of five bands who replaced their singers with guys who sounded pretty close to the original.

5, Yes. Yes was probably the most successful Progressive Rock Group of all time, with a career that spans over thirty years. The band has always been known for symphonic rock and amazing live shows. At the center of this ever-changing band has primarily been Jon Anderson. Anderson has left the band on more than one occasion, and Yes has changed its sound numerous times over the years. In 2008, due to respiratory illness apparently caused by owning a lonely heart for twenty years, Anderson left the group in need of a permanent replacement. Enter Benoit David, a Canadian singer from the Yes tribute band Close To The Edge. Found on youtube, David took over in 2008 for some tour dates and since has been chosen to record the vocals for the band’s next album.

4. Foreigner. As front man of the immensely popular band Foreigner, Lou Gramm has always been known for his amazing vocal range and onstage charisma. Able to croon to classic ballads such as “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and belt out rocking tunes like “Head Games”, Gramm had a voice that was instantly recognizable. In 2003. Gramm left the band permanently to pursue his solo career and work more with members of his family. Foreigner replaced him with Kelly Hansen, a singer from several other bands who was also a professional session singer. Hansen’s voice was similar enough to Gramm’s to work on all the classic hits, but also unique enough to represent the band on new tracks. The Hansen-fronted album Can’t Slow Down hit #29 on the Billboard Charts, proving Foreigner fans seemed okay with the change.

3. Boston. Where would touring rock bands be without The Internet? Not only do they find fans online, they sometimes find their singers that way. Yes found their new frontman from online clips with a tribute band, and Boston found one in similar fashion. Tragically, Boston’s lead singer, Brad Delp, committed suicide in 2007. The band has toured with several singers since then but, thank to Myspace.com, found the guy currently singing lead vocals. An employee of Home Depot in North Carolina, Tommy DeCarlo was a lifelong Boston fan who posted online recordings of himself singing some of the band’s hits. Asked to join the band onstage for a tribute concert for Delp, DeCarlo, having never fronted a professional band before, is currently on tour with Boston as lead singer.

2. INXS. When singer Michael Hutchence died tragically in 1997, INXS seemed finished. The band toured with random singers for a while, but seemed to be history by 2001. In 2005, however, the reality show Rock Star: INXS brought them back into the spotlight during their televised search for a new singer. A former Elvis impersonator, JD Fortune won the contest, thanks in no part to his ability to sound strikingly like Hutchence and recreate much of the singer’s inflections. Fortune toured with the band and recorded the Switch in 2005, the first hit album for the band in years. Since 2008, however, Fortune has only been in the band on occasion, most notably during performances at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and the band is “officially” without a frontman.

1. Journey. Youtube to the rescue! Journey is a multi-platinum-selling band with legions of fans, thirty years of hits, and even a video game based on them. At the front of this cash cow was Steve Perry who, not even the original lead singer himself, had the distinction of helping push the band to the top of the charts and making everyone hate him at the same time. After years of in-fighting, Perry left the group for good in 1998 in a split that was not remotely amicable. For a while, Journey was fronted by, oddly enough, a guy also named Steve. Then, in 2007, the band saw clips of Filipino singer Arnel Pineda on youtube.com. Pineda’s voice was amazingly similar to Steve Perry’s and he had the pipes to hit all of the famous high notes on hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin'”. How did fans take to the new front man? They apparently loved it, as the band’s 2008 tour was the top seller of the year, raking in over 35 million bucks. The album Revelation was certified platinum, and the band went right to work on a second album with Pineda on lead.

Right now, in some basement, a kid is practicing his vocals to karaoke tracks of Chad Kroeger, in the hopes of one day fronting Nickelback on their 25th Anniversary Tour. When bands like Styx and Kool and the Gang are touring with completely different frontmen than the guy who sang most of their biggest hits, anything is possible. Just the right youtube video can get it done these days, so you never know. Rumor has it that even INXS once almost used a comedian as their new singer…although I hear that was just a hoax.

>Buy "Publish This Book"

>My quest to find representation and publication rages on, and yet I’m taking a brief moment to inform anyone who will listen about Stephen Markley.

“Who is Stephen Markley?” you ask. Well, slow down and let me finish typing, Mr. Impatient. I’ll get to that.

The road to becoming a published author is paved with the tears of emotional teenagers and people who own bunny rabbits. It is a long road, filled with potholes, that yours truly is currently wandering down and, along the way, running into other writers who share the journey. That’s a poetic way of saying that there are tons of struggling writers out there trying to get noticed, I’m one of them, and I’ve been meeting others.

Well, Stephen Markley is one such author and, as it turns out, his story is a great one. Markley is a very funny author and blogger, and I stumbled upon his book just last week. Actually, I literally “stumbled upon it”, as I bumped into a table at a bookstore and knocked the thing to the floor. Well, as it turns out, Markley’s funny memoir is all about the difficulties getting noticed in the publishing world and obviously hits close to home.

As luck would have it, the book is also hilarious. If you like smartass humor thrown at you (and I know you do), you’ll enjoy Publish This Book. Hell, even if you don’t care about the publishing world at all and just want to laugh at the jackass exploits of a young writer, read the book.

As any good blogger does, I’m more than happy to give you a link to where you can learn more about the book and even order it. So go here and check it out.

Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be a famous enough comedian and Markley will wind up using my quote on the cover of the second edition. Or, better yet, maybe one day I’ll be a famous comedian, period. Or, even better, maybe one day I’ll be able to pay all my bills on time and order pizza without having to beat up the delivery guy when he gets here.

By the way, I see that they’re giving another book deal to a cast member of The Hills, proving that, if God does exist, He hates us.

>It’s (Not) All About Talent

>As my research into books and agents and publishers rages on, I’ve broadened it a bit to now include not just comedians who have written books. Sure, I’m a comedian who writes books and it makes sense that I would therefore seek to work on my book proposal by comparing myself to other comedians who write books. Along the way, however, I was struck by something that threw a bit of a curve ball my way.

On amazon.com, where more books are sold than anywhere else on the planet, there is a neato little feature called “Customers Also Bought”. It tracks the kind of things people buy and their buying trends. For instance, if you check out Twilight, it will show that customers who bought that book also bought Eclipse. It also shows that they are middle-aged women who want to re-live prom night forever. Nah, just kidding. It actually says nothing about Eclipse.

You get the point.

For instance, if you look up my previous book, The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide, you will see that readers bought other books about bachelors. It also shows a trend toward buying books on art and life as a southern woman in her 60s, proving once and for all that most copies of my book were bought by my mom.

Well, if you look up certain authors, Amazon will recommend other authors and books to you it thinks you might just like based on what others before you have already purchased. If you look up, say, JK Rowling, it will recommend Stephenie Meyer. If you look up Jon Stewart, it will recommend Stephen Colbert. And if you look up Sean Hannity, it will recommend Everybody Poops.

The following is a list of untalented authors who managed to get book deals, as recommended to me by Amazon.com while I was browsing popular humor books and memoirs. Yes, these are people with little to no discernible talent whatsoever that managed to not only get a book deal, but have the thing released too bookstores and then actually bought and recommended by other people. My apologies in advance to anyone who bought any of the following books, as well as my sincere request you walk off into the desert, never to be heard from again.

  • Hooking up with Tila Tequila: A Guide To Love, Fame, Happiness, Success, and Being The Life of The Party by Tila Tequila and Sarah Tomlinson. Tila Tequila became famous in the first place because she managed to get a million friends on something called Myspace.com, back when there were more than a thousand people still using Myspace.com. She’s a nude model who claimed to be bisexual (read: attention whore) who somehow got a reality show. Someone was willing to cash-in and give her a book deal and, believe it or not, it sold stupidly well…and I’d call it “stupidly well” if it sold, say, more than 12 copies. But it sold better than that, proving my time-tested theory that people love Asian girls with big, fake tits. Tila is so full of talent (read: looks great naked) that she needed a co-author to help put together what was mostly a 176 book of pictures. The “advice” dispensed on how to achieve fame and success could have been summed up with: Take off clothes, spam the shit out of everyone, make out with other chicks. That’s how Tila did it. And people bought a book about it. So the publishing industry deserves a middle finger for putting the book out and Tila’s readers deserve to have it shoved up their collective ass.
  • Confessions of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind The Pose by Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton has been in movies, on TV, had an album, and managed to milk her fame for years. Every time someone scoffs that she is milking her “15 minutes of fame”, I laugh myself silly, because Hilton has been around for over ten years. Think about that. Ten years. With all of the other credits she has, it’s no surprise that she got a book deal. What’s surprising is that it was a bestseller, which is surprising because the media is always reporting how much people can’t stand her. Apparently, I’m going about this whole book deal thing the wrong way, and need to be punching small children in the face on live TV. Hilton also had a co-author for her book, which essentially sums up that, in order to be a millionaire, you should have someone give you millions of dollars when you’re just a fetus.
  • The Truth About Diamonds: A Novel by Nicole Richie. If you bought Hilton’s book, you probably bought this one. So says Amazon. In this book, Richie talks about her own life and friends, changes the names, and then calls it a “novel”. She gets points for being clever about being vapid.
  • How To Be Famous by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt. Because apparently the title There is No God and This is Proof was already taken. Here’s another example of people telling you that, in order to be famous, all you need to do is be rich and famous. It’s like Megan Fox writing a book called How to Get Laid. “Chapter One: Be Megan Fox. The End”.
  • I Just Want You To Know: Letters To My Kids On Love, Faith, And Family by Kate Gosselin. “Dear Kids, Mommy is famous for essentially making many bad decisions. She literally went from being talentless and pregnant and evil to talentless with eight kids and a TV show and still pretty evil. Now she has to keep pimping herself out to every single outlet she possibly can so that she can afford to support herself and her eight offspring she had with that jackass that she divorced and kind of always hated. You know, that guy you call ‘Daddy’. There’s a lesson to be learned, kids: Take fertility drugs, have lots of kids, and you can become famous despite being mean and despised by anyone with a soul. At the very least, you can get a book deal offering advice that you obviously never took yourself…just like I did. Love, Mommy.”

There you have it. And this was just a small list that I had to cut short simply because my eyes were starting to bleed from all of the angry crying I’ve been doing. There are many, many more books out there being written (and published) by people who have no business holding a crayon, let alone putting pen to paper and getting paid to do it. Want a book deal? It helps to have a sex tape first.

In conclusion, the world is empty and my soul feels like mashed potatoes.

>Bedtime for Boozey

>

While putting together my book proposal to prospective agents and publishers, I did a little research by examining the success of bestselling books written by other comedians and popular humorists. Several of the most popular books of this nature are essentially comedians’ stage acts translated onto the page (Seinlanguage by Jerry Seinfeld) and others are collections of stories and essays (Denis Leary’s Why We Suck).

One of the most popular comedians/authors today is Chelsea Handler. Yes, she’s the host of her own popular talk show, but she’s also the author of several books. Each one has appeared on The New York Times bestseller list, and were praised by critics and readers even before she became a TV star. I spent some time looking over her popular books:

Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.
My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands.
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang

See a recurring theme at all?

Handler does not simply collect jokes from her stand-up routine, nor does she collect a bunch of unrelated essays into one book. No, each book has its own theme, which is usually stories about drinking or stories of sex…or stories of drunken sex.

Handler is very funny. And each of these books are bestsellers that made (and are still making) a boatload of money. With that in mind, I’ve come to realize that I’ve gone about this whole thing entirely wrong. I wrote an honest book about my early struggles and failures in the comedy business, many of which were humorous and many of which were kinda sad. That’s fine, but the title is all wrong. So, instead of Four Wheels and a Microphone, my book is now going to be titled one of the following:

I Get Drunk and Sleep With Strange Women
Drunken Sex With Me and Other Fine Stories
I’m Too Busy Having Sex To Have Another Drink
I’m Too Busy Drinking To Have Sex Right Now
Whores and Booze and Sometimes Other Stuff

I’m optimistic that one of these titles will be exactly what I need to push my book right into the hands of every major publisher out there and immediately onto every bestseller list you can imagine. Look for it at your favorite bookstore, right next to anything written by Tucker Max.

>A Surprise Twist in Chapter One

>It’s always interesting when a book catches your attention right from the beginning and jumps right into the action on page one. As luck would turn out, the first chapter in this new part of my life did just that yesterday.

(Nice opening paragraph, eh?)

After I got finished informing the world (or, at the very least, the random people who follow me on Facebook) that I was confused about where to go with my newest book, Four Wheels and a Microphone, I immediately found myself feeling a brief moment of optimism. Of course, optimism in my industry is often brief, which is why comedians/writers are often raging alcoholics and neurotics. As luck would have it, I’m not an alcoholic.

I’ve been annoyed for quite some time that I’ve essentially been ignored by every literary agent and publisher I’ve approached in regards to publishing the book, and have been considering putting it out myself, as I’ve done successfully in the past. Just yesterday, I wondered if that was going to be my best option. Although I’m able to accept this possibility, it still gets me a bit pissed to feel ignored. I’ve always been a bit of a baby that way. Ask any of my ex-girlfriends.

Not an hour after deciding to document (via this blog) my experiences with trying to get the book published did I receive an email from a literary agent I queried. My first, actually, since I started contacting people months ago. The agent in question asked me to come up with a complete book proposal and to re-submit my idea once it was complete.

WOO HOO! Wait..what? Write a proposal?

Being used to writing humor and fiction, I’ve never written a book proposal. This is done by authors of non-fiction books and often submitted to potential publishers before the book in question has even been written. Fiction and humor writers (articles, essays, etc.) normally just submit the manuscript after it’s complete. I’ve never written a full proposal but, technically, Four Wheels is a non-fiction book, so I apparently need to do so. The fact that I haven’t might very well be one of the things tripping me up in the first place. You’d think I would’ve known better. Perhaps I should spend more time reading and less time ranting, hmm?

With that in mind, I’m jumping head-first into putting together a book proposal and trying to get this agent as excited about Four Wheels as I am. That means that my immediate future is going to be spent researching how to put a proposal together and writing the best damned one I can come up with. Then, I have to submit it to the agent in question and hope it turns out to be up to snuff. Fingers firmly crossed that I pull it off.

Keep in mind that still no one has actually read the book. Writing a kick-ass proposal doesn’t even guarantee that anyone I submit it to will, so this is still obviously just a tiny little step on a very long staircase. I have to hope that others find me as clever and witty as I find myself. And, of course, as clever and witty as you find me, which is why you’re reading my blog in the first place, right? Right?

So, there you have it. For the time being, I’m feeling at least slightly optimistic and eager to see just where things will go from here. After all, one shaky, tentative response is certainly better than no response…which is exactly what I had this time two days ago. But that’s par for the course for me, isn’t it? I’m no stranger for pulling last-minute changes out of my ass. Ask any of my ex-girlfriends.

See you in the next chapter.

>A New Chapter Begins

>Did you ever hear the old joke that goes something like this:

“Knock, Knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Banana.”
“Banana Who?”
“Knock, Knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Banana.”
“Banana Who?”
“Knock, Knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Orange.”
“Orange Who?”
“Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana’?”

Pretty stupid, right? Well, that’s what it feels like to be a professional “Creative”. By that term I mean a person who makes his living, in some form or another, as a creative mind, or in some form of art or entertainment. Every Creative Mind has hit some version of this joke numerous times in his career.

  • As a comedian, it’s not uncommon for a comedy club to tell me that I can’t get work without getting more TV credits under my belt. At the same time, TV producers aren’t interested in comedians without significant experience.
  • As an actor it’s hard to get an audition for a big movie without being The Screen Actor’s Guild, but you can’t become a member of The Screen Actor’s Guild unless you have a speaking part in a major motion picture.
  • As a writer, it’s almost impossible to get a publishing deal without a literary agent, yet literary agents often don’t want to represent an author who is unpublished.

After a while of going around in circles, the Creative involved in each of these scenarios either gives up and walks away or simply gives in and accepts whatever you have to offer. In effect, he is willing to take The Orange.

I’m both a comedian and a writer, and I’m constantly juggling to work more doing both. It seems that I need both of these creative outlets to work in order for me to be truly successful at either. Being noticed as a comedian helps me find an audience for my writing and, being a popular writer sets me apart from the average comedian. One hand washes the other.

And yet I still don’t have The Banana.

What’s the point of this, you ask? The point is, of course, my long journey towards fame, fortune, success, and publication. But mostly just publication.

Several years ago I began touring as a stand-up comedian. That’s a long journey itself, my friends, and the road was not always paved with gold. In fact, even now, it’s paved with, well, asphalt. Just like any job, stand-up comedy is a job, with its share of ups and downs, good days and bad. But it’s an industry that would surprise most people if they knew what really goes on when you live your life on the road.

A couple of years ago, I wrote down many of the stories from my early years in this business, and all of the insane mishaps I had to endure along the way, and collected them into a book called Four Wheels and a Microphone. Tales of being an unknown comic, Four Wheels is essentially a book about life on the bottom rung of the showbiz ladder, and how sometimes comedians aren’t struggling for fame or fortune, but simply to stay afloat.

Some of the stories are quite funny (if I do say so myself), some are heartbreaking, and some are just plain odd. The point was never to write a hilarious book about wacky shenanigans or the false life of silliness people often think comedians live; the point was to show that sometimes life as a comedian is hilarious, but sometimes it’s quite the opposite.

A year later, after much editing and much re-writing, I finally finished Four Wheels and stepped away from it. After deciding that I simply couldn’t edit it anymore, I had to walk away. Want a cure for narcissism? Read your own book six or seven times.

With two more book ideas in my head and my creative juices eager to move on to something different, I spent a little while preparing a query letter (a “pitch” letter to agents and publishers about the book), and started sending Four Wheels off to literary agents and publishers who I thought might be interested in it.

Then…nothing.

I did not receive the deluge of Form Rejection Letters that every author tells you he receives, nor did I get tons of letters from literary agents who told me that my book was a steaming pile of dog shit. Instead, I received absolutely no response from anyone. I’ve got an empty email box and haven’t so much as gotten a “Thanks, but no thanks”. This isn’t people telling me they didn’t like my book, this is people essentially telling me (by ignoring me) that they weren’t even interested in the idea of the book.

I’m not new to the publishing world. Years ago, I wrote a popular humor book called The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide and got a few rejections during that time, as well. That’s another story, which I’ll get to later, but the key point here is that, when pitching TUBG (as I like to call it) people at least responded to me.

This time around? Nothing.

A fellow author I know went through a similar experience not too long ago where his novel wasn’t rejected by publishers and agents so much as it was ignored altogether. No one rejected him; they simply acted as if he didn’t exist in the first place.

Every author guide or “How To Get Published” book I’ve ever read told me to prepare for rejection, but none ever told me to prepare to simply be ignored as if I didn’t get in touch in the first place. One such book I read about getting published was actually written by an agent who later completely ignored me and never responded to the very proposal I learned to write by reading her book.

So, months later, I find myself trying to figure out what to do with this book I’ve written (and have been promising people I’m going to put out) and is just sitting on my shelf, collecting dust. Okay, it’s sitting on my hard drive, taking up space. Same thing. Whatever.

When I wrote The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide, I never expected it to be picked up by a mainstream publisher. I never even tried to get it seen by one. I wrote it in less than two months and always intended it to be a quirky “bathroom reader” that I could sell at comedy clubs after my show. That’s exactly what I did and, with no help from the publishing world, any agents, or even a publicist, I managed to promote the hell out of it. I got myself on TV, radio, and in newspapers, and I pushed the book hard. As it turns out, the PR worked, people liked the book and, for a brief moment in 2009, it was a bestseller. It hit #2 on amazon.com’s humor chart and contemporary chart and it remained one of the bestselling humor books that spring. Some bookstores even picked it up and I did a few signings along the way. It was all done without taking the traditional route, and was ten times more successful than I ever dreamed it would be…especially when you consider that it was a niche book about single guys with a rather limited audience.

With that success in mind, I still have yet to get a response from anyone. It doesn’t make sense when you consider that a traveling comedian is a one-man book tour waiting to happen. The fact that Four Wheels is not a “niche book” like my last one was, I think there’s an audience out there who would like to read about life as a touring comic. But agents and publishers aren’t even responding to my proposal, much less rejecting the book itself, which none of them has even read.

My favorite advice recently given to me was from a friend who said “Get famous as a comedian first and then everyone will want to publish your book”. This is hilarious to me simply because it assumes that becoming famous as a comedian is somehow easier than getting published as a writer. It’d be like saying that, if I want to get on The Tonight Show, all I have to do is hit The New York Times Bestseller List.

This all leads me to this blog. I’m now dedicating this blog for the foreseeable future to my quest to find a life for Four Wheels and a Microphone. Do I want to put it out myself, as I did with TUBG? No. I’d honestly rather go the traditional route and see it find its way into more bookstores than I can do on my own…

But I’m willing to do that if that’s what it takes to get it into reader’s hands. I succeeded the last time around, I am hopeful that I could do it again if I tried it that way a second time. I learned so much with the last book, I’d like to think I could do even better knowing now what I didn’t know then. I’m certainly willing to give it a try if it comes to that. But I’d like to see if I can find a home for it with a traditional publisher first.

So, I’m going to showcase my efforts to get the book seen by anyone and everyone, and I’m going to keep track of the results for all to see. If I decide to put the book out myself, I’m going to let YOU, my faithful fans and friends and readers, make the decisions with me along the way. From the cover art to the release date to the PR campaign, I’m going to let you in on everything that is going into my trying to make this book a success.

And, of course, I think the book is good. Send me an email, and I’ll gladly email you back a chapter from the book. That’s how important it is to me and how eager I am to get people behind it. I’ve got no problem showing you all the man behind the curtain and dropping the fourth wall.

With your support, I’ll make something happen. I just don’t know what yet. But I know that, in the end, whatever I choose to do, I’ll have a book that I know each and every one of you will enjoy reading. I’m certain of that.

I’ll take The Orange, but I want The Banana.

>Model Spokesperson

>Yes, there is a new Right-Wing TV network launching this summer. The Right Network, officially the most originally-named network on TV, has been announced as a channel for people like those in the Tea Party Movement. It’s touted as an entire channel for people in “Middle America” who feel that they need more programming that caters to their “Conservative Values”. In keeping with those very values that Conservatives find so dear, the Right Network has chosen as its spokesperson:

Kelsey Grammer.

Yes, that’s right, Dr. Frasier Crane himself is appearing in a series of commercials for The Right Network, proclaiming that there is finally a network for people who need conservative-value programming. After all, who better to be the spokesperson for Conservative values than a recovering alcoholic, former drug addict who has been divorced twice, is married to a former nude model, has houses in Malibu and New York City, and was most recently seen on Broadway playing a gay drag club owner in La Cage aux Folles?

Sounds perfect!

In other news, Kirk Cameron has signed on to be the spokesperson for BET.

>Right-On, Righties on the Right

>It was announced today that there’s a new cable network coming to your TV dial. That’s right! No, literally, that’s “right”. The new network, oh-so-cleverly called “The Right Network” will cater to Right-Wing viewers all over America. Touted as a TV channel for the “Tea Party Movement”, The Right Network will focus on shows aimed at people of the conservative mindset. Needless to say, the network will offer none of the programming seen on BET and quite possibly will be located even further down the dial.

A quick peak at some of the programming currently on the schedule for The Right Network’s launch this summer:

Everyone Else of Bel Air. This wacky sitcom will focus on how Will Smith’s neighbors cope when minorities move into their neighborhood and become extremely popular. Hilarity ensues when The Fresh Prince himself invites the neighbors over for dinner and they mistake him for his own butler.

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? This isn’t the game show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. This is simply an entire show devoted to trying to makes sense of the protest signs seen at Tea Party rallies. If it’s a success, expect a spin-off series, Are You More Racist Than a Klansman to appear on the schedule shortly after.

The Way We Think Things Should Still Be. This show is essentially like Mad Men, except that it takes the perspective that things should still be exactly the same as they were back in the late 50s.

Lost. Not to be confused with the ABC series of the same name, this show chronicles a typical day in the life of Sarah Palin. Expect this show to seem way more like science fiction than the one on ABC.

So You Think You Can Bitch. A new contest to see who is the angriest about actually having to pay taxes and how the government can’t do anything right.

American Idle. A reality show that tries to figure out where the Tea Party protesters were during the Bush administration.

Expect more amazing shows to debut as the season progresses. Oh, and lots and lots and lots of re-runs of Little House on the Prairie.

>Late-Night Love-O-Rama

>Well, although it seemed like it was behind us all, the Talk Show Host Drama continues. The “Late-Night Wars” seem to continue, and people are still taking sides in the debate and potshots at the TV hosts. Leno has returned to “The Tonight Show”, Letterman is still doing his gig, and Conan O’Brien is waiting in the wings, presumably ready to take over his own talk show on FOX later this year. Everyone really seems to be in a win-win scenario, really, since each host will soon have his own show; But the arguments rage on, and people are still tossing blame.

How about this: What if none of the hosts are really to blame?

It’s shocking, I know, to think that it couldn’t possibly be one of the three TV personalities who has so destroyed the reputation of late-night programming. Yet it’s possible, isn’t it?

To blame Leno is trendy. It’s what a majority of people seem to be doing. After all, he announced his retirement five years ago on “The Tonight Show” and extended the job offer to O’Brien at that time. Then, when 2009 came along, Leno balked at the idea of leaving. He stuck around and got his own show at 10pm. When that show failed, he managed to actually take back the very show he left in the first place. On the surface, it looks easy to blame Jay Leno for putting Conan O’Brien out of work.

But it’s just not that simple.

Everyone is acting as if Leno had some major clout he didn’t have. If he was so powerful, he wouldn’t have been strong-armed into retiring in the first place. Yes, as much as everyone likes to believe that Leno announced his retirement from “The Tonight Show” as a sweet gesture as he approached his golden years, the truth was that Leno didn’t want to leave when the idea came up years ago. If Leno is to blame in this mess, his biggest crime was simply not standing up to NBC years ago. But Leno is (and always has been) a Company Man.

Knowing that Conan’s contract would soon be up, and the popular late-night host had plenty of other opportunities he could explore, NBC did what they thought would keep him on the network: They offered him “The Tonight Show”. Great! Only problem: Jay Leno. Leno was #1 and had been for years. He’d managed to take something everyone associated with Johnny Carson and make it his own. But, if he could be persuaded out by being told he had no real choice, they might have a shot. So, NBC essentially bullied Leno out of the position. After all, what were the odds he’d be #1 in five more years?

Um…

Five years later, Leno was still on top and, believe it or not, was still planning to retire. That is, until NBC realized that “retire” didn’t mean he had to leave TV altogether. It just meant leaving “The Tonight Show”. Rumor has it that both FOX and ABC were courting Leno for a show that would go right up against Letterman…and Conan O’Brien’s new “Tonight Show”.

Imagine how NBC would’ve looked if Leno had been forced to retire, left the network, then shot to #1 on FOX? Imagine if Leno was BEATING HIS OLD SHOW! How would NBC look then? They’d look like the idiots that replaced the #1 host in order to put the #3 host in his place. It’d be a huge debacle.

So, they offered Leno his own show at 10pm. ALSO a bad idea. In fact, this was the worst idea in the entire list of bad ideas since this entire thing began. Yes, it was cheaper than 10pm programming usually is, but that’s not something viewers care about. They liked their “Law & Order” and crime shows at 10pm and their talk shows after 11pm. Some things never change.

Leno’s biggest mistake (besides simply not telling NBC where to go when they asked him to retire)? He made the 10pm show essentially “The Tonight Show” at 10pm. That wasn’t what it was proposed as. It was supposed to be a variety hour, akin to the old Variety Shows of the 60s and 70s. Instead, it was just the same show with a slightly different set. Had it been another type of show, it might have succeeded and gotten bigger numbers. But, since it was essentially the same show as before, it drew the same numbers. That’s great for 11:30…but sucks for 10pm. So, it was seen as a failure. And, yes, the local affiliates thought it killed their lead-in to the local news.

Now, a quick argument could be made here that The Local News has enough problems without a Leno lead-in, but that’s another argument for another time. Regardless, the local affiliates were pissed that their numbers were smaller. Many talked about dropping the Leno show, which was now quickly seen as a failure.

Meanwhile, O’Brien wasn’t doing that great, either. Conan’s show was coming in second and, sometimes, third place, behind Letterman and Nightline. It was the fist time in 50 years that “The Tonight Show” was losing money for NBC.

In defense of Conan’s poor numbers, his supporters managed to blame everyone…except Conan. They blamed Leno as being a poor lead-in. They blamed NBC for not giving him more time to find an audience, as they allegedly did with Leno 17 years earlier. They blamed everyone except the very fans who didn’t tune in to watch Conan at 11:30pm. All that blame, however, can easily be tossed aside when you really stop to look at the reasons given:

1. The “Lead-In” Myth. People say that, because Leno was doing poorly at 10pm, the local NBC news was doing poorly at 11pm. Because of that, O’Brien was doing poorly at 11:30. So, it all goes back to the Evil Leno again. Problem here is that the “Lead In” argument is based on dated information and calculations. The theory is that people tune in to one station and watch it all night long. That made a lot of sense in 1965. In 2010, it doesn’t pass the mustard. In today’s age of remote controls and DVRs, does anyone stay on one station anymore? Does anyone really watch what’s on at 11:30pm because of what was on at 10pm?

If this myth is true, then Letterman would not have been #2 for 16 years. CBS has dominated the 10pm time-slot on most nights for the better part of a decade. Do the letters “CSI” sound familar? So, if people chose their late-night host based on 10pm programming, why was Letterman consistently losing to Leno? Better yet, ABC dominates the 10pm time-slot on occasion thanks to shows like “Lost”. If the “Lead-In” Myth is true, why isn’t Jimmy Kimmel the #1 host on Tuesday nights?

Isn’t it more likely that people choose the show they want and the host they want? When given the choice between Leno and Letterman, people chose Leno. When given the choice between O’Brien and Letterman, people chose Letterman. Despite its legacy, maybe the name of the show isn’t really the reason people watched “The Tonight Show” after Carson left. Whatever the case, to argue about “Lead-In” ratings is ridiculous, when you consider it’s not an argument ever made before in regards to late-night ratings. If no one argued it for 17 years, why did it suddenly become a factor in 2010?

2. The “Conan Didn’t Have Enough Time” Myth. People argue that seven months was not enough time for O’Brien to find his audience. When Leno first took over “The Tonight Show”, it took him a while to find his stride, they said. People even point to the false (yet passed around) legend that Leno only took over the ratings after a fresh-from-scandal Hugh Grant appeared on his show (Why THAT particular myth is just that is a completely different story altogether). Had Conan been given more time to find his audience, he might have succeeded.

This myth ignores the fact that O’Brien wasn’t new to TV. He was a hugely famous, successful TV star, who had a successful talk show, bestselling DVDs, primetime specials, and hosted everything from awards shows to an episode of “Saturday Night Live”. He is a household name. There was no one sitting around wondering who “That Conan feller is”. Again, this myth ignores the fact that many people don’t even watch the late-night shows until the next day.

Understand, I’m not “blaming” Conan O’Brien. I absolutely love the guy. Conan O’Brien is hilarious, and a wonderful talk show host. His comic timing is brilliant and his personality is perfectly affable. He’s great at what he does. He deserves to succeed.

That said, his audience simply didn’t follow him, and Leno’s audience didn’t care to watch. O’Brien’s fans want to blame everyone for why his show failed, yet none of them can explain why, if they’re such huge fans, so many of them weren’t watching his show. Was his “Tonight Show” such a departure from his “Late Night” show that they turned away? Did Leno’s fans simply not like him? Whatever the case, Leno’s fans went with him (or Letterman), and O’Brien’s fans didn’t really stick around.

So, Leno was offered to come back. Why on Earth wouldn’t he want that job? Who are we to think he owes any of us his retirement? Why should he quit doing something he’s so good at and, apparently, so many people want to see him doing? He shot right back to #1 and, although not as strong as before, his ratings are proof that people will follow the guy they like rather than listen to what the local weather guy tells them to do. To assume that Leno should walk away in order to appease a O’Brien’s fans is silly, especially when you consider that O’Brien’s fans didn’t come out of the woodwork until it was too late.

So, it’s great to see people line up to cheer on O’Brien now. It hopefully means that whatever show he hosts next will be a huge success. Many hope that, wherever that show winds up, it’s more like his “Late Night” show and less like his “Tonight Show” which, as many have said, seemed less suited for him than the edgy comedy he was doing before.

Hard to believe, but I like all four late-night hosts (including Kimmel), and tend to watch highlights of each show rather than entire episodes. I like to catch each of the monologues, and think they’re each hilarious. Why choose one? Just because I like “Lost” doesn’t mean I think “Law & Order” sucks. That’s why I’m not interested in thrashing anyone. Honestly, it’s not talk show hosts that make decisions like this, it’s network guys.

Take it from someone who has watched a network guy ruin a perfectly good idea: It’s not the fault of the TV Hosts. They’re just trying to make us laugh. In this case, they all succeed. Everyone wins. When O’Brien left “The Tonight Show”, he said “don’t be cynical”. Wise words, if you ask me. So, go have a chuckle and stop being pissed.