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Interview: Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller of "What We're Not Writing" by Rob Baedeker

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Jonathan Green and Gabe Miller are Emmy-nominated writers whose credits include CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” Comedy Central’s “The Showbiz Show With David Spade,” and MTV’s “The Andy Dick Show.” When the Writers Guild went on strike in November, they launched a new website, “What We’re Not Writing." Rob Baedeker interviewed the pair this week.

Describe your site, “What We’re Not Writing,” and tell me how it got started.

GM: Every day we’ve been posting a description of the show or movie we’re not working on because we’re on strike. The idea was to bring the studios to their knees by letting them know the brilliance they’re missing out on.

JG: We know there are important issues at stake, but we felt like a lot of writers were starting to take themselves too seriously, as far as the contribution they’re making to society with “One Tree Hill” or whatever. So we decided to make fun of that a little.

These unwritten scripts are jokes, but have you come up with any that actually seem viable? For example, I would watch "Small Plates, Big Problems", a feature screenplay about a petty thief on the run from the mob who hides out by opening a tapas bar.

GM: Really? Do you want to buy it? 35 bucks.

JG: Most of the time, we try to play on some recognizable genre or premise or character, but we try to make the idea a little bit worse in some way. But it’s a fine line. We don’t want to get too wacky. We’d rather err on the side of “I could imagine them making that.”

GM: Sometimes we come up with the title first, usually a bad pun, and then figure out what the show or movie would be.

JG: In general, we’ve realized that it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas not to write than ideas to write.

Do you each have personal-favorite entries?

JG: Asking us to choose between these horrible ideas is like asking us to choose between our children. In that having children was also a horrible idea.

GM: I like anything where the story is set in motion by someone getting struck by lightning. So that’s been a recurring theme.

JG: But we do have a place on the site where other writers can post what they’re not writing, and some of those have been really funny. Like “Keepin’ It Zipped!”, a teen sex comedy about a bunch of guys trying not to lose their virginity.

GM: And I also liked the one-stop TV drama called “Detective Law, M.D.”

What’s the worst idea you’ve actually pitched (as non-striking writers)?

GM: We pitched a movie called “Mathletes,” which played all the conventions of a sports movie in the world of high school math. But we were told that for some reason audiences wouldn’t want to watch kids do math for an hour and a half.

JG: And we once put together a pitch for an idea a production company had, which was basically that a kid wakes up to find he has an alien penis. That was before we realized we were allowed to say no to things.

Is that true?

GM: Yes, unfortunately. The idea was something about how when you go through puberty, you feel like you’re an alien, and making that literal. But it pretty much boiled down to “alien penis.”

Has it been cathartic to step out of the industry and parody it?

JG: A lot of the writing we’ve done, especially on late-night shows, even though it’s done within the industry, has sort of a critical point of view, making fun of all the crap that’s out there. So it’s not new to us, but it’s definitely fun.

GM: Also, since back on The Andy Dick Show, we’ve loved writing characters who are overly confident idiots, and in a way, we get to be those guys on the blog.

JG: So, yes, it’s been nice to “step out of the industry” for a while, but we can’t wait to step in it again. We want to step in it so good that we can’t wipe it off, and it starts stinking up the place, and you try to take an old toothbrush to it, but at some point you realize you’re just going to have to throw out the shoes. Wait, what are we talking about?

There are rumors that the strike may be ending soon. Are you going to continue to do the blog? Has it been fun enough to keep it going, or was it just a way to kill time? Have you been getting a lot of good response to it?

JG: We’d like to keep some kind of Miller & Green website going. We don’t know exactly what it’ll be, but this has been fun to do, and a good way to make sure we write at least one joke every day. And it seems to be getting a good response, and even some press. Which is fun, too.

GM: I guess the first thing we’ll do on the blog is take a lot of credit for ending the strike. It took over 60 unwritten projects, but it worked. You’re welcome, America.

You can find What We're Not Writing online here. Rob Baedeker is a member of the comedy group Kasper Hauser and freelance writer.

Kasper Hauser at SF Sketchfest

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Tuesday, Jan. 22, Mill Valley (shorter set)

Seriously, just go. On the 18th if you can, when they'll be stretching out and performing with another favorite of mine, the acerbic "Oh, You & Your Bone Spurs." On the other hand, you shouldn't miss them on the 24th, either, with mad genius Will Franken and the very charming Apple Sisters. Buy the ticket now, and get your ass out to the show. It will be amazing. There is no better sketch group in the country than Kasper Hauser, and there is no better place to see Kasper Hauser than at the SF Sketchfest.

Kasper Hauser in NYC: "An event of magnitude."

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Our very good friends The Kasper Hauser Comedy Group are bringing their brilliant, off-kilter eye to New York City tonight and tommorow night. Kasper Hauser coming to NYC is a big enough deal for Time Out New York to have declared it "an event of magnitude."

Tonight (Thursday), they're performing their show SkyMaul. See SkyMaul CEO Jerry Ponda detail the decline of the SkyMaul company, and meet the mis-matched characters who are hoping to bring it back to the top. Features original sketches specific to the show, plus material drawn from SkyMaul the book. The show's at 10 at Ars Nova.

Tommorow (Friday), they're co-headlining The Longest Sketch Show Ever at the UCB in NY. The show starts at 10 and runs for 24 straight hours. It's part of the New York Comedy Festival. They'll be performing lots of classic Kasper Hauser sketches in a show that's completely different from SkyMaul.

Be there or be square!

Kasper Hauser return to LA with SkyMaul Wednesday Night

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While I'm busy cavorting in New York City Wednesday night (or more accurately, riding an airplane somewhere over Ohio), Kasper Hauser will be making their triumphant return to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater with SkyMaul!

The show is Wednesday night at 8PM. Tickets are only five bucks, so make your reservations now for an amazing night of comedy.

The show is a two headed beast -- material drawn from SkyMaul and brand new sketches. I've seen it three times, and I love it every time. Just wait until you see SkyMaul CEO Jerry Ponda in his trademark black turtleneck.

PS to NYCers: KH will be performing in NY at the UCB there on November 9th. Some MaxFunsters are planning a meetup. You should go.

Kasper Hauser's Rob Baedeker on Cheapskates

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Rob Baedeker of Kasper Hauser wrote this wonderful piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about cheapskates -- and about one cheapskate in particular, named Dan. It may be that Rob knows man people named Dan, and I am speaking out of school when I suggest that this Dan might be Kasper Hauser's Dan Klein, but the presence in the piece of two corroborating witnesses named James and John (the names of Kasper Hauser's other two members) seems like a bit of a smoking gun.

Dan is also a cheapskate. He's certainly treated me to meals on occasion, but the payment has always been accompanied by a certain body language -- a flicker of profound, existential pain at the prospect of parting with his cash. It's the look of a Depression-era mother putting her infant on a freight train so that it might chance into a better life elsewhere.

Dan has also given me gifts, but they tend to be bush-league gifts. On his recent trip to Germany he brought me and a couple of other friends some kind of canned meats.

Sure, he didn't have to bring us gifts, but canned meat? The gesture was half joke, half symptom of what I see as a larger tension in the cheapskate's soul.

Link

And by the by (and this is completely unsolicited), Rob is an exceptional writer who recently went freelance, so if you've got a gig, you might think of him. I can put you in touch.

Kasper Hauser Live Redux

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The Coming just posted some wonderful pictures of Kasper Hauser at the UCB in LA. Great, great stuff. Much respect to the photog, Mike Carano. Above, left to right: John Reichmuth, Dan Klein (ducking), Rob Baedeker, James Reichmuth.

It's here! The Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast!

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It's here, folks. I predict rip-roaring success for the newest production of maximumfun.org: The Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast. Subscribe now!

Here's what you get:

A five-minute-or-so weekly audio sketch or comedy bit.

A weekly sample page from Kasper Hauser's new book, "SkyMaul: Happy Crap You Can Buy From a Plane." (as endorsed by George Saunders, Patton Oswalt, Fred Willard, John Hodgman, Dave Barry, David Foster Wallace and more!)

Plus videos every couple weeks...

iTunes tells us they're going to feature the show in their "New Releases" section starting Wednesday... let's get a head start! Subscribe, then review the show!3

For those who don't use iTunes, here's the feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/kasperhauser

This week's show features a favorite, originally heard on The Sound of Young America: Phone Call to the 14th Century. We'll have never-before-heard stuff in the coming weeks.
OK: ready... steady...
GO!

Hear Episode One


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Kasper Hauser in LA Wednesday Night!

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If you live in the Southland, you owe it to yourself to catch the Kasper Hauser show tonight (Wednesday night) at the UCB Theater. They'll be presenting their epic "SkyMaul" show, adapted in part from the book of the same name, which you MAY have heard of if you spend any time reading this here blog.

KH will be performing with red-hot up and comers Hendershaw.

Show's at 8PM, tickets are only five bucks, reservations are available right here. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE.

Podcast: Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast Ep. 15: Fake-a-Wish

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This week: The California Youth Authority presents Fake-a-Wish Camp, for children who have faked illnesses in order to receive... "last time fun things."

Please continue to subscribe and review the show! You can also check out KH's videos on YouTube.

Download This Episode (MP3)
Subscribe in iTunes
Review in iTunes
Buy Kasper Hauser's new book: "Skymaul"

Hear Episode Fifteen


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