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Catch a Falling Star


Every writer has dreams of hitting it big. Journalists strive to be recognized by the Pulitzer Prize committee, novelists hope for New York Times Best Seller List, script writers covet Oscars and Emmies. Political opinionators and comedy writers just want attention.

I put myself in that last category, and I fear my moment came and went and I didn’t even know it. What stings most about the situation is that my attention came from the Holy Grail of political comedy – The Daily Show. Worse, I’m not even certain what it was I wrote that piqued the show’s interest. So here I am, left to speculate as to exactly what item of comedio-political genius it is that almost made Mike Spinney a household name, while desperately trying to recapture that energy.

Here’s what I do know: whatever it was that prompted the Daily Show to inquire had something to do with the now dormant pop culture ‘zine 2Walls.

Last week, 2Walls’ own Michael Walls forwarded me an email from one of the Daily Show’s researchers, Jamie Wong, who was trying to track me down for some reason or other. I was in San Diego with a client at the time, and waiting for my ride to the airport; I had just enough time to fire off a quick reply with my schedule and contact information.

Then the wheels started turning. On the red eye, I let my imagination run wild. Clearly my wit, style, and keen political insight were just what Jon Stewart needed to infuse new energy into the show. Poke around on 2Walls – go ahead, nothing ever really dies on the Internet – and you will find some early examples of my evolving political thought, my contributions to the site’s arts and entertainment bedrock, and some bits that I thought were funny then and that I believe still stand up. But which example of my 2Walls residue captured the show’s fancy?

Perhaps it was my riff on the idiocy of the term Native American, in which I make mincemeat of “pantywaist white boy political correctness,” or maybe my rant on the lack of legroom on commercial airlines (a consistent winner when the site’s traffic metrics were tallied each month). With presidential politics building steam, it could have been my attack on the primary election system. Then again, it might have simply been my blog acknowledging the greatest afros of all time.

Whichever piece it was, I was ready to endure the pressure of bright lights, big city and put my talents to work to influence the nation through political humor. This country boy was willing, yet again, to serve his country by shipping out to the asphalt jungle of Manhattan and expose hypocrisy wherever it can be found. The pen, indeed, is mightier than the sword, and it was clear my nib had been ground to a fine edge, dipped in political venom, and was poised to strike at the ankles of Capitol Hill.

But Wong never responded to my note. He never called to say, “I got your email and Mr. Stewart is very anxious to meet with you.” To date my people have not been in contact with their people, and doing lunch is not on the horizon. Thankfully, I hadn’t yet gotten around to hiring an agent.

A few days ago I was elated to learn my star had risen. Now I’m crestfallen to find that I’m a has-been who never even was. Where did I go wrong? Is the Daily Show worried about being associated with a heartless killer? Are my Libertarian creds off-putting? Perhaps my piece on politically outspoken celebrities took aim at a personal friend of Stewart’s?

In the end, I’m happy where I am, and more than content to hone my opinions on the Spot-On whetstone. In fact, I never would have considered giving up this gig (unless the price happened to be right), but I did learn a valuable lesson: always do your best because you never know who might be watching. And if it’s you, again, Jon… call me!

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 7:32 PM | Permalink

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