When my good pal, Peter, was a kid, his parents didn’t let him watch PG-13 movies. That is, they didn’t let him watch PG-13 movies unless he’d read the book first—assuming there was a book. Unfortunately for Peter, there wasn’t any accompanying literature for such highbrow comedies like Happy Gilmore or Rat Race. He mostly read Lord of the Rings.
So, after a childhood largely deprived of cinematic crudeness, Peter celebrated his 13th birthday in style, inviting his closest friends over to watch 13 consecutive PG-13 movies. I didn’t know Peter until we were 19, but this is still something he would do today. (An anonymous partygoer claims they watched all three Austin Powers movies in rapid succession before moving on to a James Bond marathon).
Despite (or maybe because of) his limited Dude Humor consumption as a kid, Peter’s now writing comedy scripts. He recently wrote a script for a TV pilot he’s hoping to shoot later this summer called Minimum Wage, based on his time working at Old Navy. I’ve had the awesome privilege of reading through it and providing some fart joke consulting. It’s very funny and very raunchy. It’s Office Space meets Silicon Valley.
Peter’s a man-child—physically and emotionally. He’s a 6 foot 3 boulder who plays professional Ultimate Frisbee and shatters 9-foot basketball backboards. He’s also irrationally optimistic and infectiously curious. You can’t not feel playful around him. He’s Creative Caffeine for the whimsically sleepy. He’s as inhibited as Chris Rock after three drinks. He has two fake, front teeth that he sometimes takes out to mess with people. He wept when Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson (Patriots fan. Happy tears).
Peter’s reminded me of something so fundamental and yet so underemphasized: we’re at our best creatively when we’re loose (in speech, body, and mind); when we blindly give in to the moment, hand the keys over to our inner 4-year-old, and (gratefully) see that little guy drive us towards joy and away from fear.
The artist’s block is a literary convention. If you think you encounter it, you do. If you don’t think you encounter it, you don’t. I think that model of the struggling artist, if it’s in your brain, that’s what you become. This is not a struggle. This is a joyful, wonderful activity. If it takes a long time, so what? It’s play. It’s a great trip.—Milton Glaser
Being curious and compassionate will take you out of your ego and edge your soul towards wonder.—Mary Karr