The April Fool’s Day Kid: Part 2

Dear Michael,

So let me just offer this advice. Make the most of it. It’s a one-in-a-million gift, and you really should take advantage.

Write those wisecracks down, or else they’ll evaporate into the ether, forgotten and irretrievable. Written down, they may someday come in handy, ready to be organized, marshaled, deployed.

Consider it an obligation almost holy: if you can make people laugh, you should.
But let me also put this out there. Beware the wisecrack. It can get you into trouble. As much as I urge you to cut loose and feel free to improvise your ass off, exploiting your talent to the maximum extent allowable by law, it’s incumbent on me to deliver a word of caution.

Years ago, around 1994, my former boss Howard Rubenstein took me to meet with a new client, Anna Strasberg, the acting coach and Lee Strasberg’s widow. We watched some actors rehearse first and then Howard introduced me to her. I thought we hit it off pretty well, only to learn a day or two later that I was grossly mistaken. Howard called me into his office – he never came into yours – to let me know I was off the account.

“You’re too much of a wise guy,” he said, and then explained. Apparently Anna Strasberg had made a remark to me about all the actors being in costumes. I, feeling clever, then said something about how I was there in my PR costume. I know: a groaner, hardly clever. I had figured – wrongly, it turned out – that there in that theater, in the spirit of the setting, an attempt at impromptu humor, however pathetic, might be welcome.

Au contraire. Evidently Ms. Strasberg questioned my seriousness.

And that’s exactly the sort of misperception that you could risk encountering yourself. Wisecrack once too often, to the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place, and it could come back to bite you. You could find yourself accused of lacking seriousness.

The wisecrack can be either blessing or curse, escape or trap, and only you will be in a position to try to figure out which is which.

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