If you missed my column last Friday it’s because it ran on Tuesday. Grr.
(To see it click here: http://smdp.com/and-a-child-shall-inspire-us/159154) Actually, in my ten years at SMDP there have been remarkably few such mix-ups.
One sticks out, however, because it was called to my attention by someone whose comedic talent I admire thoroughly. And worse, he was rude about it. But I think I’m finally over it now. (I’m being facetious but what follows is 100% true.)
At two in the morning. I was on the phone with a writing partner. (Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be writers.) Suddenly, I got a Facebook message from comedian and voice over actor, Phil Hendrie, who is a genius or crazy, or drunk, or a combination of the three.
I first noticed Phil twenty years ago on KFI radio, 640 A.M. I remember because it was just after Princess Di’s tragic death. Phil had a call-in radio talk-show but not exactly a run-of-mill version. It was a very clever spoof.
Extremely dark humor, Phil’s guest was a matronly British expert on child rearing. Given Lady Di’s passing, she was quite worried the two boys would grow up gay. (Because their father was prone to wearing kilts.)
While I was merely dumbfounded, Phil’s callers were irate. They were real but the matronly guest, I would later discover, was Phil! He was hilarious as he both egged on the callers and feigned chastising the “guest,” which was him!
That very weekend the L.A. Times Calendar section ran a piece on Phil. I learned he’d been doing this type of spoof for decades, often sustaining conversations between five of his characters at once. You’d swear there had to be a group of people but it was just Phil’s genius. (Or madness?)
For friends whom I thought had the right sense of humor, I recommended Phil. As he moved to different stations I would follow him. So, when I started doing these columns in 2006, I thought I’d interview Phil. I sent him an email but I never heard back. That is, until that night with the following Facebook message.
“Hi Jack,wondering if I could read your latest column,” Phil wrote. Excited, I exclaimed to my writing partner, “You’re not going to believe who just messaged me!” I hung up and sent Phil a link to my most recent column. And here’s where the “mix-up” came into play, much to my chagrin.
A few minutes later, Phil messaged, “Very funny stuff.” I was thrilled! But then he asked, “Who’s Daniel Archuletta? It says HE wrote the column, not you?” Daniel was our Managing Editor who proofed columns and in so doing transferred it to his name before posting it online under the author’s name. This one time, he forgot. My luck.
Phil, who made his living fooling listeners, accused me of trying to fool him. I desperately explained what I thought had happened. I even sent him a link to ALL my columns and asked him to see for himself. I added that if I was going to fake being a newspaper columnist wouldn’t I pick a slightly larger paper than the Daily Press? The NY Times for example?
But Phil insisted I was con artist and threatened to “expose” me on his show. Dejected, I messaged back, “Just spell my name right.”
I should have just dropped it there but I couldn’t. It wasn’t fair. (I sound about ten right now.) So I decided to post my columns every week on Phil’s Facebook Page hoping that he’d see it had really been me.
Months later Phil messaged me again. “Do I have to contact the FBI?” Oh brother. I stopped posting. I also stopped listening to Phil.
About two years later, out of nowhere, I get another FB message from Phil complimenting me on one of my serious columns and how moving it was. I messaged back “Thank you,” and didn’t bother to explain I was the guy he thought was a fraud way back when.
Phil’s podcasts now and many of his bits are on YouTube, which makes them even more brilliant. You get to see Phil at the microphone and with phones on his desk, and just how, remarkably, he juggles the conversation of callers, phone-in guests and regular characters (male and female) on his show, ALL of whom sound different and all of whom are Phil! It’s amazing.
Phil also does stand-up and appears on TV shows. In “This is Forty,” a hysterical Judd Apatow movie, starring Paul Rudd as an obscure record label owner turning 40. Phil had a small part as a rude guy who punches Rudd. I guess my Facebook “meeting” with Phil could have been worse. At least he didn’t threaten to punch me.
Go to YouTube and type “Phil Hendrie,” you have to see him at work. His website is: www.PhilHendrieshow.com. Jack is at firstname.lastname@example.org.