The Blog of Young America

Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you, our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you, and our lively forum community will connect you with others. About

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

| 0 comments

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.

Podcast: Merlin Mann Live in San Francisco

| 1 comment
Show: 
Bullseye

The first in our series of podcasts from our January live show at SF Sketchfest.

Merlin Mann is an internet guru. He's best known for his wildly popular lifehacking site 43folders, which offers simple solutions to make work and home life less complicated and stressful. He's also a new media personality, with his own series (That Phone Guy, The Merlin Show) and a regular co-host slot on the Mac Break Weekly podcast.

Discuss this episode on the forum!
Download This Show (MP3)

Subscribe in iTunes
Review the show in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show Online


Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Comedian and Wired Science host Chris Hardwick
Analog and Digital with John Vanderslice and Mark Frauenfelder and Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing.net
Chris Elliott

Podcast: Danny Hoch Live in San Francisco

| 2 comments
Show: 
Bullseye


The third in our series of podcasts from our January live show at SF Sketchfest.

Danny Hoch is a multiple Obie award-winning playwright and actor, and the founder of the Hip-Hop Theater Festival. His newest show, "Takin Over," is currently in its premiere run at Berkeley Rep in Berkeley, California. The show examines the gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, using character monologues from a variety of community members. It is way, way better than that lame description makes it sound. Hoch talked about being a native New Yorker, how he feels when he's looking at the organic produce in Whole Foods, and how all the women he meets in New York seem to have come to the city from somewhere else to "find themselves."

Discuss this episode on the forum!
Download This Show (MP3)

Subscribe in iTunes
Review the show in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show Online


Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Also from our Live in San Francisco show:
Merlin Mann
Bucky Sinister

Maps & Locations

| 0 comments

The ceremony will be held at St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, at

"Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop"

| 1 comment

I was lucky enough to have actor and writer Danny Hoch on my live show in San Francisco. It won't be podcast until tommorow, but it's in the top ten of all-time TSOYA interviews, at least for me. His newest show, "Takin' Over," deals with gentrification in Brooklyn, and is currently running at Berkeley Rep in the long-since gentrified Berkeley, California.

There's precious little of the new show available online, but his last major one man show, "Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop" was made into a film. The movie was financed by Rawkus Records, who were planning to use the film as promotion for an accompanying soundtrack album. Unfortunately, the label folded before the album could be released, and the film was thrown into limbo.

Eventually Danny and his associates managed to get the movie into DVD release, and thank goodness they did. Like Luis Valdez' "Zoot Suit," the film lives in the liminalities between staged performance and real life. Each character monologue is seen performed live in a theater, in public, in a prison and in the fictional world of the piece. The technique balances the needs of the show with the needs of the piece's inherent theatricality beautifully. It's one of my favorite films of all time. I cry several times every time I watch it. And laugh a lot, too.

Above, I've pasted a scene from the film, in which Hoch portrays a street vendor and hip-hop afficionado in Cuba. Unlike pretty much any other hip-hop art concerning Cuba I've ever seen, it's insightful, balanced and humane, not just Castroist agitprop. Of course, those qualities are typical of Hoch's work. Indeed, perhaps the most sympathetic character in "Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop" is a prison guard, the frontline soldier of the prison industrial complex.

Anyway, enjoy the above, check out the interview tommorow, make plans to see Danny's show if you're in the Yay Area, and cop that disc if you're elsewhere.

Podcast: Bucky Sinister Live in San Francisco

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye

The second in our series of podcasts from our January live show at SF Sketchfest.

Bucky Sinister is a San Francisco poet and comedian. He's been a leader in the Bay Area's performance poetry scene since moving to the Mission district of the City in the 1980s. He performed a poem from his book, "All Blacked Out and Nowhere to Go." He also recently released a spoken word CD, on Talent Moat records, titled "What Happens in Narnia, Stays in Narnia."

Discuss this episode on the forum!
Download This Show (MP3)

Subscribe in iTunes
Review the show in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show Online


Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Also from our Live in San Francisco show:
Merlin Mann

Human Giant & McSweeney's on Tour

| 0 comments


It's a good time to be an American, folks.

Tommorow our pal of long standing Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine and the editors of McSweeney's are kicking off a sweet east coast tour. Oh, and they're bringing a sword swallower / fire-eater. Who's 18, or so I'm told. Interesting way to ride out the awkward years. "Wanna come to the drive in? We're getting root beers, then making out." "No thanks, I'm spitting fire right now."

Here's the schedule for their little jaunt:
TONIGHT: BrickBat Books in South Philly
709 South 4th Street
with Starlee Kine (This American Life), Eli Horowitz & John Brandon (McSweeney's) 7 PM

February 06, 2008
Washington, DC » Olsson's Books, 7 pm, 1307 19th St. NW, 202-785-1133
[ with McSweeney's Eli Horowitz and John Brandon and Brett Loudermilk (fire eater/sword swallower) ]

February 07, 2008
Baltimore, MD » Atomic Pop, 7 pm, 3620 Falls Rd., 410-662-4444
[ with McSweeney's Eli Horowitz and John Brandon and Brett Loudermilk ]

February 08, 2008
Asheville, NC » Malaprops, 7 pm, 55 Haywood St., 828-254-6734
[ with McSweeney's Eli Horowitz and John Brandon and Brett Loudermilk ]

February 09, 2008
Atlanta, GA » Criminal Records, 7 pm, 466 Moreland Ave. NE, 404-215-9511
[ with McSweeney's Eli Horowitz and John Brandon and Brett Loudermilk ]

Later this month, our other long-standing pals The Human Giant are headed out on a tour of their own, which will take them through SF, LA, Seattle, Portland, DC, Philly, Boston, New York and Texas. You can find a schedule here. I was lucky enough to catch Paul Scheer at Assscat Saturday night here in LA, and it was tremendous, even with the special lady sniffling away beside me due to a rather severe cold.

Facebook user? Become a fan of TSOYA!

| 0 comments

If you're a Facebook user, I've finally set up a page for The Sound of Young America. Click through and become a fan!

California Gaming Propositions

| 0 comments

Maybe this won't mean anything to folks outside of California, where a bizarre variety of confusing Indian gaming propositions are on the ballot, and a similarly bizarre variety of television ads are promoting them... but it's probably funny anyway.

This from the new UCBComedy.com, starring the wonderful James Adomian.

RIP to Tony Silver

| 0 comments

Tony Silver, director of the best hip-hop film ever made, Style Wars, passed last night. Not only was Tony a gifted artist, he was also a close family friend, and he'll be missed both my my family and his. I'm thinking of his wonderful wife Lisa. Tony had been suffering from a degenerative brain condition for quite some time, so in some ways, it is a release.

When Tony made Style Wars, the seminal documentary about hip-hop and particularly graffiti in New York, he wasn't a part of hip-hop or graffiti culture. He and his partner Henry Chalfant made a film that is immensely intelligent and respectful of its subjects, a bunch of New York kids who were discovering something that would really and truly change the world. By allowing these kids to speak for themselves to a world that at the time was at best borderline contemptuous of them was really a watershed decision.

If you want to remember Tony, I can't imagine a better way than by buying or renting Style Wars. For many years, the film was only available in expensive educational VHS editions, sold to university libraries for hundreds of dollars. Graf heads made dubbed copies and passed them to friends. A few years ago, Tony spent quite a long time putting together a definitive DVD edition, which features not only the full film and outtakes, but also interviews with the subjects, some 25 years later.

I'm thinking of Tony today, a kind, intelligent man and a brilliant artist.

Syndicate content