In Hindsight, I Should Have Gotten a Haircut and Pitched My Show to HBO

When I was working on Game On for Actors Theatre of Louisville‘s 2008 Humana Festival, the theatre asked me to send them my bio and headshot photo for promotional purposes.

It was my first time working with a reputable regional theatre.  It was a great opportunity to promote my work, network, and expand my list of contacts within the entertainment industry.

It was also around the time that I decided I was pretty much over working in the entertainment industry.  In a few months, I was going to be living in Peru, drinking ayahuasca, and learning how to become a shaman.  I was glad to see my work in the festival, but I didn’t think it mattered what people thought of that work, what contacts I made, or even if I looked presentable.

So instead of getting a haircut, getting my dreadlocks re-twisted, or even shaping up my beard, I sent them a photo of me sporting a more “natural” look – the look God gave me.


Thus sayeth the LORD, “Take no shears to thy head nor to thy beard, for it pleases the LORD of Hosts to have you look like a homeless vagrant.”

What’s great is that if you google my name, this photo always comes up because it’s posted on the website of the The Inexplicably Dumb Show (they interviewed all the playwrights who worked on Game On).  I keep thinking about writing them and asking them to take it down, but I don’t have the nerve.

Let’s see…how else did I fuck up that weekend?

Oh yeah.

The theatre hosted a party at a bar on the second-to-last night of the festival.  A lot of industry folks from all around the country – actors, writers, producers, agents, managers, development execs – were there, getting drunk.  I was in the middle of ordering a drink when I struck up a conversation with a woman standing by herself at the bar.

“What brings you to the festival?” she asked.
“I’m a playwright,” I said.  “One of the pieces I wrote is in it.  What about you?”
“I work in development at HBO.”
“Oh.  That’s cool.  Do you like it?”
“Yes, I do.  It keeps me busy, but I love it.”

At this point, I probably should have said something like, “How does someone like me get a meeting with someone like you?” or even something as simple as “Can I have your card?”  In fact, I had a television show idea that I’d been wanting to pitch to HBO.

But remember:  I’m getting ready to travel to the Amazon rainforest to become a shaman.

So I say nothing.  At all.

She realized that I wasn’t going to take any initiative to promote myself, so she – maybe thinking I was a typical, shy, socially-awkward writer (and she would have been right) – decided to throw me a bone.

“So is there something you’re working on that I should know about?” she asked.

“Not at the moment,” I said.

She nodded.  We talked a bit longer and eventually parted ways.

I never got her card.

And I never became an Amazonian shaman either.


4 thoughts on “In Hindsight, I Should Have Gotten a Haircut and Pitched My Show to HBO

  1. As much as I love HBO shows like Flight of the Conchords, Mr. Show, and Girls I would kill to see a show about one person’s search for meaning, who takes risks in order to find out more about who he is by, say traveling to the Amazon to study shamanism, or attempting to walk across the country in the name of peace, all done with an open, contemplative, spiritual perspective and a killer sense of humor. It amazes me that you see this account with the HBO woman as a fuck up, and your walk as, in your words, “a colossal failure”. These are the kinds of fuck ups we need now more than ever! You’ve convinced yourself you’d be somehow happier now if you had pitched an HBO show, but I think you did the right thing at the time. But you don’t necessarily have to travel to the amazon to become a shaman, all you have to do is tell the truth and not live in regret. Humor is a great vehicle for shamanism. We have this idea in our heads of what a shaman is but there are unrecognized shamans all around us. I would consider Jon Stewart to be one of our great modern day shamans. In addition, you are about a gazzillion times hotter with the beard and dreads.


  2. Ask and ye shall receive…or something like that, ha! Picture has been removed and replaced with doggie door pic. Sorry to have caused any misgivings.

    The Inexplicable Dumb Show


    • Ha! Thanks, man. Definitely wasn’t necessary on your part, but I’d be lying if I said my ego didn’t appreciate it.


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