Me and Mr Bobo's booze
Special Report: American Networks Woo British Comics: Boothby Graffoe, stand-up comedian, went to Los Angeles to talk about making a TV show. Here is his diary
Tuesday 18 August 1998
I am on the tenth floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel in Los Angeles. They do not know I am here. I am hiding. I wonder whose room it is?
Tuesday 22 July
There is a man on the telly who killed his partner by drowning him in a vat of cheese. Americans are weird. I sat in a room today with about 15 of them. Only two of them spoke, five of them were taking notes. I think the rest were there for feng shui. One of them stared at me all the time. Maybe that was his job.
The one that talked the most looked a bit like Sid Caesar. I didn't say much. I tried a couple of funny jokes and they just stared. A woman did laugh. She had too much hair and every time I said anything she peed herself. One time she started laughing before I got to the punch line. Just before I said the very funny part she was rocking back and forth in her seat and slapping her leg as if she was trying to get a vein up. A few others sitting around her started to laugh so I pretended that was it and didn't say the end of the joke. I'd love to hear her try to tell it.
Anyhow, she likes me.
I met my manager after the meeting with Fox to find out how it went. Weird how I was actually in the meeting, and I have to ask someone who wasn't there how it went. The manager was his usual evasive self. "They hated you," he said. What about the woman with the hair? I said. She loves me. "Of course she does," he said. "She's your lawyer."
Turns out she's on 7.5 per cent of anything I earn. She wasn't laughing loud enough.
Wednesday 23 July
Wednesday has not been good, but it was Tuesday's fault.
Met NBC an hour after Fox. There were even more people in the meeting with NBC, at least 25, maybe even 30. It was like playing the Guilty Pea. They laughed at all my funny jokes and the hotel just moved. Jesus! What sort of country is this? They build high-rise hotels on wobbly ground.
Point four or something on the Richthoven scale. Hardly got a mention on the news. They were more concerned about the man who drowned his friend in cheese. I swear the newsreader just said the man's case was being processed. These people are way ahead of me.
So, Fox are fed up. They feel as though I have wasted their money and time. Then, an hour later I meet with NBC. NBC sit around on low, comfortable chairs. Fox sit around a big table. NBC have a bowl of sweeties. There are no sweeties in the Fox office. Well, there are, but they're not in a bowl. They're in an Armani suit, sitting opposite, staring.
As usual I have to wait until after the meeting to find out how it has gone. My manager is waiting outside. He has raised the flap of skin around his neck, so he is either happy, or suspects someone may be trying to steal his eggs. He is happy. The meeting with NBC went so well that Fox now love me. They heard about it before I did. It seems that Fox don't not want me as much as they do not want NBC to have me.
Saturday 26 July
My lawyer gave me a lift back to the hotel. I noticed she only laughs at my jokes when there are other people around. Both Fox and NBC have made offers. Fox felt they had first refusal because they paid for the trip over. I said I felt better about NBC because I wasn't over-keen on Rupert Murdoch's politics. She said I'd probably be happier with NBC then because they were part of General Electric, the biggest single arms manufacturer in the entire world. Who says Americans have no sense of irony?
Me. It was me. I say it all the time.
Monday 28 July
Both Fox and NBC have made offers and baskets of fruit and booze have begun to arrive at my hotel room, one of them addressed to Bobo Graffle. I like that. NBC are prepared to spend all that money, and they aren't really sure what my name is. I forgive them though, because their basket has the most booze in it. The one from Fox Studios is mostly wood shavings, a couple of bottles of Miller Lite, and a tin of Captain Treacle's New England Sweeties. They are obviously trying to make up for the lack of sweeties in their network office, but it is too late.
Whosoever sent the booze-laden hamper has won my hand in marriage. I have drinkled the very nice vodka stuff and the weirdy liquid in the blue bottle. Ooh, don't feel well...
Tuesday 29 July
I am beyond hangover. I have fallen off.
Today we start meeting networks. The difference between studios and networks is confusing. Studios send fruit and booze baskets, networks don't. That's the only way I can tell them apart so far. I don't feel well. NBC seem like the best deal to me. They're more relaxed, the people in the meetings don't seem as paranoid about losing their jobs as they do at Fox.
Jobs are delicate here. If you back a turkey you lose your job. If you pass up the turkey and someone else takes the turkey and turns it into Christmas dinner you lose your job even more. Fox had clearly finished playing with me and put me down. NBC toddled. over and picked me up. Fox saw this and came and snatched me back. Baby children.
I talked to the manager about what we should do. He was down by the swimming- pool, basking. I told him I was ready to sign with NBC. It had been a difficult decision to reach as Fox had been very kind and really looked after me, apart from the premium economy bit, but NBC had impressed me more with their commitment to produce a quality programme we could all be really proud of.
Signed with Fox.
Well, they offered more money. They say they're going to pay me thousands of dollars and all I have to do is not work for any American TV company, except them, for a whole year. I am considering asking them to backdate it as I've never worked for any American TV companies ever.
When I got back to the hotel there was a note from the concierge. The concierge wrote apologising because he had delivered a basket of fruit and booze intended for a Mr Bobo Graffle, the Indonesian champion wrestler, to my room by mistake. Mr Graffle was arriving later so could he have it back please?
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