Ever since I was child I have played a game every time I watch a movie or TV show. It's "which character am I?" I can remember playing this game watching Sleeping Beauty with my little sister when we were probably 5 and 6. It would go something like this: Every time a new character is introduced you get to pick if that is the character you want to play. Obviously, being the older child, I immediately chose to be Aurora. I imagined I was a beautiful princess growing up in the woods while the townspeople were drunk/asleep back at the Kingdom. (All time favorite Disney scene is when the King's servants are drunk singing "shromps" as they clinked their cups together and passed out under the table. What the...?!) I was content being Aurora and singing with a strange prince in the woods, until the scene with the 3 Fairies trying to bake the cake. It was imperative to claim which Fairy you wanted to be before the other sister could claim one. I was quick to shout "I'm the PINK Fairy!" (Let's review the movie real quick. They are 3 frumpy OLD ladies. Why would I want to be any of them?) It was important to pick the Pink Fairy, because she was obviously the prettiest. You know, cuz Pink is synonymous with Pretty. Every time this happened my little sister would cry and I would comfort her by saying "You can be the Blue Fairy". This was decades before Elsa came along and made blue a pretty princess color. In my little sister's ears I was telling her she was the little fat, ugly (because you know, Blue was synonymous with Ugly) Fairy. She is still hurt to this day. Maybe one day, for her birthday or something, I will let her be the Pink Fairy.... nah.
This tradition, of picking the character, continued and evolved over the years. In my late teens I watched "Friends" and thought "I would be Rachel, of course". At this point, the game wasn't just picking the prettiest character in a show and pretend to be her. I began dreaming that I was actually cast for the part. Like, I go into an audition and they say "Look at you! You are adorable, and likable, and soooo cute! We have this part 'Rachel' that we think you would be perfect for!" This stemmed from a lifetime of wishing I was an actress. And not just an actress, I wanted to be the beautiful lead heroine.
In High School (I hate it when people reference who they were in HS, it implies that you haven't had any experiences since then. But in this case, I haven't.) I took theater. My Senior year we did a modern version of the Shakespeare play "Two Men of Verona". At the auditions I desperately wanted the role of Julia, the leading lady. She was lovely, and the audience would adore her of course. But I got cast as some small, seemingly random, role. Which I think was suppose to be someone's father in the original play, but the Director changed it to a mom, and a friend and I played the roles of the mothers together. I was infuriated! The Director was basically saying "Don't worry Kate, you aren't Julia, but you can still be the Ugly Blue Fairy!" I hated him. After we had struggled through weeks of rehearsals he pulled me and the other "mother" aside and tried to explain to us the parts we would be playing. He described the ladies as being a total hoot. Crazy old ladies. He then sent us with homework to watch an old British TV show called "Absolutely Fabulous" or "Ab Fab" about two crazy ladies who are always drunk and hysterically funny. He tried to explain to me how these characters are brilliantly funny. They will have the audience cracking up. "You will steal the show!" he claimed. Long story short... we were lazy seniors. We all somehow ticked off the Director to the point that he cancelled the show, and I was never a drunk, crazy Blue Fairy in Two Gentlemen of Verona. And I hated him again. Why would I ever want to be the Ugly Blue Fairy? People might think I was actually ugly! Or that I was weird and not the pretty damsel in distress. At that point, I realized I probably don't actually have the "look" of the pretty damsel in distress, and I didn't want to be cast as an Ab Fab again, so I was done with theater. (While I have still secretly dreamt of winning an Oscar to this day... even though I am not an actor.)
Back to the game of picking the character. I would watch SNL and laugh my head off, but I would always think "don't cast me as Mary Catherine Gallagher! Someone might think I am actually a weirdo freak". I still watched every movie and every show, dreaming of being the beautiful lead character. It wasn't until years later that I saw a supporting actor steal the show.
It was Les Mis, and the Master of the House was dancing around the stage being creepy, and really funny. At the end of the show when the cast came out for the curtain call, guess who got the first standing ovation of the night? The Maser of the House. Sure, we all adored Jean Valjean. He was the hero. But we loved the Master of the House. He made us laugh, and somehow stole the show. I suddenly heard what my theater teacher was trying to say. You don't need to be a beautiful lead to steal the show. Basically, I think he was saying "Katie, you are no Jennifer Aniston or Cameron Diaz. Forget being the beautiful hero. Embrace your Funny. And just be Phoebe." (If he was saying this now he would say "Don't try to be Anna Kendrick. Just enjoy being Rebel Wilson!")
I began looking at shows differently. I began imagining I was the quirky side kick. I would often sit next to JT and whine about how I missed my calling in life. I should have been "Dr Elliot Reed" on Scrubs. "I would laugh so hard working with that cast!" Could I have played the awkward, depressed, monotoned Phyllis on "The Office"? Maybe I should have had tiny hands and been Doonise on SNL. Or what about Arrested Development?! "They cast Portia de Rossi as Lindsey Bluth? Come on. I would have killed that! And laughed myself to sleep at night after filming each episode." I love watching these shows and picturing myself laughing on set with everyone as we film the most hilarious sitcoms of all time.
Slowly, I have let go of the desire to be the leading lady. (You are thinking, oh good, because I hate to break it to you, ... but that ship has sailed!!) And recently things began to shift again. I was binge watching 30 Rock on Netflix. Fighting off the desire to be the beautiful, narcissistic Jenna Maroney (who coincidentally is pretty and funny!) and loving quirky Liz Lemon. Suddenly I didn't care if anyone thought I was weird, quirky, or say things like "Blurg!" (One great thing about playing "which character are you" as an adult, is that I never have to fight over a character! Mostly because JT doesn't know I am playing that game, and my sister isn't there to cry.) Again, I found myself dreaming of spending the day on set with Alec Baldwin and Jack McBrayer. We would crack each other up! (At some point my therapist and I should explore the fact that I actually think I am as funny as Jack McBrayer or Alec Baldwin.) And as I tried to imagine which character I should play, (because, you know, they might call me any day to cast me for a show that is off the air...hey, I can't help my day dreaming!) something hit me.
I don't actually think I should be stealing the show (because, remember, I am not actually an actor). Maybe I should be writing the show! I should be sitting with Frank and Lutz cracking ourselves up as we write together. Forget day dreaming about getting "Best Actress". In this case, I can get the award for "Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series" from the Writer's Guild Awards. (And I can still dress up all fancy, and walk down the red carpet, and take home a shiny statue to go next to Riley's soccer trophies on the fireplace mantle.) I have an all new day dream!
Screw "Best Actress" and playing the role of the Pink Fairy (who would have actually just been a supporting role anyway). I am taking home the Award for "Best Writer!"
Never mind the fact that I have never taken a writing class, or written a script, or even a rough draft... of anything.
First things first, I think I will start by writing my Acceptance Speech.