To prove last week’s fiasco at the New York MET Opera can’t STOP ME, I’m thrilled to have a seasoned TV writer/producer with the BBC and ITV, turned novelist, as today’s Guest Star– a COMEDY writer, no less!! He’s written for shows such as the highly popular political satire Spitting Image, Smith and Jones, Hale and Pace, Jo Brand, et al. He’s also won a Best Author Microblog award, 2nd only to Neil Gaiman himself!
This must be his house. I brought my best jokes – they’re gonna kill him!
HDYGT: (rings bell, giggling already) Richard Jay Parker? Nice to meet you, I’m HDYGT.
Richard Jay Parker: (shakes HDYGT’s hand) OUCH! What the–!?
HDYGT: (bent over laughing) The old palmed buzzer trick! Works every time – a comedy classic, right? Am I right?
Richard Jay Parker: (considers slamming door, but HDYGT’s already walking in… now he seriously considers slamming door)
HDYGT: I just wanted to get off on the LEFT foot! (snort) Great stuff, I’m slaying you – right?
Richard Jay Parker: (blank stare) Only if you let me return the favour.
HDYGT: Good times, tossing jokes around like this. But seriously, I don’t want to steal your thunder. Please tell the readers how you became a writer?
Richard Jay Parker: OK… (looks askance at HDYGT) I started in TV by submitting comedy sketches on spec to BBC and anyone who would read them. I’d soon built up an impressively chubby folder of rejections.
HDYGT: (shoves Richard’s shoulder) Ooooh – that had to hurt!
Richard Jay Parker: (straightens up, eyes narrow) Finally I had something used by BBC when I was eighteen.
HDYGT: (stops laughing) Wait. You were paid for your work by the age of 18? Wow.
Richard Jay Parker: Yes. This led to small commissions, larger ones and inevitable gate crashing of studio recordings. I was offered a job as a script associate at LWT, writing for shows as well as picking out promising ideas from the massive non-commissioned pile. This led to becoming script editor on a number of series for ITV, BBC etc.
HDYGT: How exciting! What did you like most about it?
Richard Jay Parker: (shrugs) The legendary lunches. Sometimes I never knew what filling I’d have in my sandwich. For instance, one week it was pastrami slices coated with cheese. Have you ever heard of that before?
HDYGT: Never! So what do you think made you particularly suited to writing for television?
Richard Jay Parker: My adventurous approach to cured meat and cheese combinations. I’ve always enjoyed both, although mature cheddar is too glassy for me.
HDYGT: (note to self) Locate deli counter…no glassy cheddar…
Richard Jay Parker: I enjoyed script editing but didn’t enjoy being a TV producer. The actual writing process was always my favourite part of the deal.
Richard Jay Parker: When I was asked to become a producer there was less time to spend scribbling and going down the pub to blow hospitality budgets with the other writers. Wiping the noses of ‘personalities’ didn’t really pop my corn either.
HDYGT: (scribbles) …buy Kleenex…popcorn…
Richard Jay Parker: I didn’t learn, though, and did it a number of times – reminding myself why I was loathe to do it as I reached the end of each run.
HDYGT: And your first novel—what’s it called?
Richard Jay Parker: STOP ME
HDYGT: Well you are going on and on, but…
Richard Jay Parker: No… (breath intake) That’s the title. STOP ME.
HDYGT: Oh – ha! I get it – that sounds hilarious! What’s it about?
Richard Jay Parker: A global murderer called The Vacation Killer. He sends a spam email to a multitude of recipients describing a girl, tells them to forward it to 10 friends. If the e-mail ends up back in his inbox he won’t slit her throat.
HDYGT: (drops smile) So… it’s not a comedy.
Richard Jay Parker: (dead stare) Not in any sense of the word.
HDYGT: Right. Soooo, how does a comedy writer turn thriller?
Richard Jay Parker: A writer has all kinds of characters running loose in their head – good and bad. For instance, my readers have said they like my main character, Leo, whose wife has gone missing, and they’re repulsed by Bookwalter, the pseudo serial killer. Leo reacts to events in the way that I would and Bookwalter…well, he only comes out to play when I’m sitting at a keyboard.
HDYGT: I see. Where are you going?
Richard Jay Parker: (creepy smile) To my keyboard…to sit at it. You mind if I turn it on during your last questions?
HDYGT: (feels internet connectivity is a reason for living) Not at all – be my guest!
Richard Jay Parker: (boots up computer)
HDYGT: Did your TV career help with writing thrillers?
Richard Jay Parker: Nothing you write is a waste of time so I guess I wouldn’t have written STOP ME if I hadn’t written everything before.
HDYGT: (refers to stock questions) If so, how? If not, how did you end up where you are?
Richard Jay Parker: (pulls up e-mail) Honestly, it’s like you’re reading these questions off a list and not listening to my replies.
HDYGT: Well duh, I am. You can’t expect me to think of entirely new questions for like everyone? Geez!
Richard Jay Parker: (eyes glinting) Now what was your husband’s e-mail address?
HDYGT: (writes it on paper) Here you go. Why?
To: Richard Jay Parker
Did you ever hear back from my husband? It’s been days, and this gag is giving me awful cotton mouth. Not that I’m complaining…it’s a fun game…really…
Thank you for playing!!
Richard Jay Parker has also written SCARE ME, and STALK ME; STOP ME already has TV interest!
© HDYGT 2010