I decided that I’m going to do something purely in the interest of cultural edification. And not solely for the tax-deductibility reasons either! You may be asking yourself if I have completely gone whacko or if I’ve finally decided to grow up and do something for the good of humanity. You’re thinking I could do something like donate my savings to charity, become a volunteer coach at a boys’ club, or join Green Peace. If you guessed any of those options, you don’t know me at all. Those of you who know me a little better are probably hoping that I’ve decided it would be in the public’s best interest if I took a rocket to Mars. I’m sorry to dash your dreams, but I’ll be staying on this planet until they figure out how to transport us to Saturn. I’ve always wanted to get a close look at those rings; plus, I’m dying to ask someone there how they mastered the art of low pressure car sales!
Instead of giving my time and money to a cause that merely helps people, I’m going to do something that will impact this world on an even larger scale. I’m going to write a television show! Don’t go all negative on my idea yet; just because you’ve read my writing doesn’t prove that I’m a horrible writer. Besides, thanks to the wondrous invention that is reality TV, creativity and the art of writing are no longer necessary! I have a wonderful idea, too, and it’s a ton better than any show Fox (Any Show You Can Do, We Can Copy) can put out. Most people are beginning to think that ideas for reality shows are being quickly exhausted and are becoming wary of shows that pay people to eat bugs, pay people to make fun of them, and pay brides to let people watch them get dumped while standing on an Alaskan shoreline. At least those shows are better than the ones that follow a neurotic cosmetics owner whose lesbian daughter just got dumped by the man of her dreams while at the same time finding out that she got pregnant by her girlfriend’s husband. The woman later finds out that her daughter isn’t really her daughter; but her long lost half-sister who is out to avenge the murder of their estranged father. I apologize to any All My Children fans for giving away the story.
Despite the gruesomeness of many reality television shows, it is currently a very popular genre; thus it is a very profitable genre. Consider some of the reality shows on TV this season: So You Think You Can Dance (which Fox stole from a Saturday Night Live skit starring Chris Farley), The Gauntlet (MTV may have created the original reality series—but they killed it with this one), and Fear Factor (poor Joe Rogan must have become afraid of acting). After careful consideration, I have developed my idea into a stunning presentation for any of the major networks, except for Fox. They’ll just steal it a year later anyway.
My idea came from a very simple revelation. I was in a meeting with my new boss and all of a sudden I thought it would be funny to dare him to sniff paint fumes. I thought he might go for it, considering he had recently moved to Iowa. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any paint in the office, because he was actually interested! Since then, he’s encouraged me to be creative in the ways that I make fun of him. One time I asked him for payment if he wanted to hear my latest crack; he pulled out his wallet. This got me to thinking, what if there was a show where people come on it and pay money to get made fun of? You may not think that will work, because who would want to pay to go on television to get made fun of? You probably wouldn’t come on my show, but you probably also wouldn’t go on the Jenny Jones show and tell the world about your compulsive shoplifting addiction either. I’ll tell you who will come on my show: Canadians. There are nearly thirty-three million people living in that country and each one of them would pay handsomely to come on my show. We’ll tell them there is a prize for whoever is the butt of the funniest joke. That’ll work, and they’ll take up at least a few seasons. Minnesota will be right behind them.
In order to prepare for the creation of my show, I am going to have to perform many hours of pain-staking, tax-deductible research doing grueling tasks such as going to comedy clubs, reading books by funny authors and watching hour after hour of The Weakest Link. I’ll make sure to keep those pesky IRS agents busy by keeping meticulous accounting records with the help of my administrative assistant and pet fish, Cash. I’ll also receive countless applications from my readers in hopes they will get to take part in my show. The application consists of three questions:
•Have you ever paid anyone to make fun of you before?
•Are you able to count all the way to ten?
•On average, how many beers do you drink in a five minute span?
If you would like to be considered for the show, please mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with your name, your answers to these questions, and a cashier’s check for five hundred dollars to Phil Stalnaker, P.O. Box 3862, Omaha, NE 68105. Anyone who laughed at my column need not reply. And rest assured that all profits I receive from the success of this show will be donated to the charity of my choosing: it’s called the “Phil Fund”.