Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why Did You Even Go to Chicago Anyway?! Part 4

This is the conclusion of our epic 24 hour adventure where we went to Chicago to do some sort of project with Totino's Pizza Stuffers and Second City Communications except once we got there we had no idea what it was. Parts One, Two, and Three can be found right here.


For sure, observing the actors was the best part of the whole experience. We got to eavesdrop on them in between takes and listen to their conversations. OF COURSE, Kate wrote down things she heard with a sharpie. Like the following conversation:

ACTOR 1: They don’t even cast actors anymore.
ACTOR 2: I know. They cast cartoon bears who rub their asses on trees.
ACTOR 1: They should actually have a tree with like a—
ACTOR 2: [interrupting] A poo stain?
ACTOR 1: No. A bump. A rub bump. For their asses.

Can I just say? I want a tree with rub bump for MY ass. And as we were giggling over that, we got run over by a truck carrying a metric f-ton of funny named Robyn Scott.

Her character was a pageant mom from Texas. Kate is from Texas (that’s why she has so much hair) and she is willing to testify to the veracity of this woman’s performance. I can’t even describe it except to say that they filmed her in character improv’ing for an hour and Kate had to leave, because even behind closed doors she was scared they would hear her (and the sounds of her choking, muffled shrieking) and it would ruin the take. One of the advertising guys was actually bent over. Like he was in pain. I cried off three coats of mascara because I was laughing so hard. My nose was running. By the end of it, I looked like I had just watched Steel Magnolias while drunk on wine coolers.

Then I interviewed her. Looking like I just escaped from the nervous hospital. And honestly? It was maybe the most fun ten minutes I have ever had with another woman. I haven’t seen the edited video yet – or the interview I did with her. I can only hope that they are half as funny as I remember them.

Then, I interviewed Katie Rich (the casting director). But I didn’t realize that I was going to do it. So I had nothing prepared. So I had to improv. I was apologizing to her the whole time and she was like – “Don’t worry about it, it’s easy!”

Easy for you to say, mofo.

I think the interview speaks for itself. Me flailing around and searching for words, awkward pauses, Katie carrying the whole thing. Sigh… I haven’t seen the video of this either but I hope I’m only half as bad as I remember.

Then came Sue Salvi – the woman rumored to be the brains behind the whole concept for the videos. Also? A mother of two who admitted that she had recently fed her toddler lunch with a plastic knife in the back of her car. I was like “OH YESSER. YOU ARE OF MY TRIBE.”

She was super cute and funny and her segment was great and painfully realistic (as she is a real mom). But the weirdest thing was going on in my brain. Maybe it was because I was exhausted (I’d been awake and running for close to 16 hours at this point). Maybe it was because she had such a mom vibe. Or maybe it's because of the following reason.

Completely Imaginary Conversation between Sue and Lydia

SUE: Hi. It’s nice to meet you! Tell me about your blog.
LYDIA: Hi. You look exactly like my dead step-mother.
SUE: [Starts to slowly back away]
LYDIA: Do not be afraid. She was awesome – not evil. Will you hold me and tell me everything will be ok? And then maybe make some chicken cacciatore?
SUE: [Looks worried]
LYDIA: This is awkward for you, isn’t it? I think we should just be best friends. No? That’s ok –I understand. Why is security here?

I kept not paying attention to her filming because my mind was trying to wrap itself around the right way to tell someone you just met that they look exactly like your dead step-mother who was awesome. I decided there was no good way to do that and so I just looked at her face and didn’t say anything. You know how when you talk to a dog and they cock their head to one side to let you know they’re really paying attention?

That’s how I looked at her face. That’s how I watched the whole filming of her video segment and then her interview with Kate. It was sort embarrassing. Maybe at this point I should bring up the whole “I am socially awkward” issue again. Also, the “I do not belong here among the hipsters” thing. But as I said, they were very kind to me. Maybe they thought I was part of an outreach program.

Then it was all over.

And we said good-bye to them and we went to our hotel. And later that night, we saw a performance on the Second City main stage called "South Side of Heaven” that was amazing. And I started doing some thinking about the whole experience.

Even though we were flown out to Chicago by Totino’s Pizza Stuffers – the experience for me wasn’t really about working with a national brand. They were very cool about the fact that neither Kate nor I have ever actually eaten their product. And they said we could write whatever we wanted on our blog. They were really very cool to work with and we’re extremely grateful for the opportunity they gave us. I mean really.  I submitted a post to Huffington about their ad campaign that included a joke about giving hand jobs and they were like - you're idiots, but fine because we said we wouldn't censor you.  So in my book, they're pretty darn cool. 

No thanks! We're good right here in the dork section of the cafeteria.
But this branding thing seems to have become the Holy Grail of blogging. Building a Brand. Working with a Brand. Branding yourself. GO BRAND YOURSELF.
But that’s not why we do this. Kate & I will always be bad at blogging and we’ve given up even trying to make money off this website. We do it because we love it. But we are dabblers. We aren’t even real writers, for Maude’s sake. WE ARE BLOGGERS.

We are not committed to writing or growing MommyLand into something big the way that those actors are committed to what they’re doing. We always aim for 100% honesty. But we hold things back. Sometimes to protect other people and sometimes to protect ourselves. In our real lives, we are constantly holding things back. Always editing. Don't say that. Don't eat that. There's no time for that. Hurry up! Wait. Wait some more.

So what was remarkable to me about hanging out with these actors all day – and especially about seeing the show "South Side of Heaven" – was the degree to which they were not holding anything back. They were putting it all out there and looking like assholes and offending people and not giving a shit and it was brilliant. And brave.

And a little inspiring. We're going to try really hard in the future to suck less.

So I wrote a post about the videos for The Huffington Post, as I'd promised.  And then I sat down and wrote this 4,000 word ridiculously long blog post trying to share with you guys what it was like to be there.  And for the first time in ages, I feel sort of inspired to write more.

Right after a snack. Pizza stuffers, anyone?

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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