Temporary Employment Agency Guy (TEAGUE): Thanks for coming on such short notice, Will. We’ll have to make this fast. Dia Schnellenberger is coming in for lunch in just a bit and I can’t keep her waiting. She’s one of my new hip hop clients.
Will Cantrell (WC): Dia Schnellenberger? Who?
TEAGUE: You may have heard of her by her stage name, “Ice Water.”
TEAGUE: The names “Ice-T “and “Ice Cube” were already taken. Do you know that Fia’s a classically trained concert pianist? Went to Julliard. The girl plays the piano beautifully—she’s got these long fingers, ya know. Thing is … she can make a lot more money as a rapper. She is about to hit it big…REAL big!
WC: About the job…I remember you saying something about an opportunity in the media. I’ve been laid off a long time ago. It’s been a very long time between paychecks for me …I need a job…
TEAGUE: Don’t we all? Things are slow all over…even for my hip-hop clients. For you writers and humorists…well….things are tough. For one thing Cantrell, everybody calls themselves a writer these days. It’s once of the first things that you unemployed people do…
WC: What do you mean? Do what?
TEAGUE: Fancy themselves as a writer. The second thing that they do is fancy themselves to be a humorist. Everybody.
WC: Well my being here in your office must mean that you like my resume…my clips….my…my articles, my body of work. Right?
TEAGUE: Haven’t seen any of it. The agency likes your screen name.
WC: My screen name?
TEAGUE: Hell, you picked it Cantrell. But we like “JustPlainWill” and all of the potential that it carries for the agency…and er…for you too, of course. Oh, by the way, I need you to sign this Confidentiality Agreement. You’re going to hear some things confirmed today that you probably already suspected but never really knew. I just need for whatever you hear here to remain here.
WC: Huh? …er, oh I get it, sort of like what happens in Vegas, I guess? Let me read the agreement….
TEAGUE: There’s no time for you to read it. Gia is going to be here in a minute.
TEAGUE: Sign right here. Just your initials will be fine. (Pause) That’s it. OK, Great. Now that you’ve signed the CA, the agency wanted me to see if you might have any interest in being on a new television show.
WC: Television!? Me? You’re kidding? Right?
TEAGUE: It’s a new Sunday morning news show very similar to the ones that are already on like Face the Music on CBS, Cheat the Press on NBC and the show For the Weak on ABC. This one will be called “Jumping to Conclusions”. Clever huh?
WC: What would I be doing?
TEAGUE: You’ll be a ‘pundit’. You know, one of those talking head guys that sits around a table with other pundit-type people and pretends to know everything about what’s going on in Washington D.C. Then after they tell everybody how smart they are, they tell all of the TV viewers what they should be thinking. You’ve seen ‘em a million times, Cantrell. This will be the perfect job for you. It’s a temp-to-perm position but if you do well, ya never know what might happen. The pay is good…$17.00 per hour plus your deal will be just like the guys who are already on. A couple of those TV pundit guys make more money selling T- shirts and baseball caps over the web than they ever make from their network salaries. Ever. We envisioned you being called “J.P. Will”. People will think that you’re George Will’s long-lost brother. Clever, huh? That’s why we like the screen name of ‘JustPlainWill’. Do you own a bow tie?
WC: I don’t have any experience being a pundit, Mr. Teague. I mean, I need a job and all, but I don’t want to look foolish. And besides, it’s only one hour a week.
TEAGUE: Listen, if you are concerned about looking foolish, we’ll send you to pundit class. Pundit University. If you insist, we’ll even send you for the entire week. The school is located downtown, next to the Ajax School of Professional Wrestling. PU is in the same building, run by the same guys–a coupla ex-wrestlers. A tag team, the Assassins or something. It’ll cost you $250 to go to PU but in a week’s time, you’ll be saying things like “….the rate of the rate of the rate of the rate of unemployment fell three percentage points in the numbers that were released this past week.” Or “the end of the recession is in sight.” The folks at PU will also rehearse you in saying things like “…the administration is spending way too much money on pork barrel projects” or “the administration is not spending enough money on pork barrel projects.” Just like the rest of the pundits you will have absolutely no clue as to which statement is correct. It’s better that way. More on-screen drama…know what I’m sayin, Cantrell? After a week at PU though, you’ll just know that in all likelihood, one of the statements is correct. More’n likely, anyway.
WC: But its only seventeen dollars a week! Who can live on that…?
TEAGUE: Will, this is how all of the pundits start out. If “Jumping to Conclusions” does well, they will be repeating it every night and then again about 3 o’clock in the morning when hardly anybody will see it. That’s how these cable channels cope with having to fill all of the time with no real news. Now do you want to be considered for this gig or not? Trust me, if you don’t want it, there are plenty of other people who jump at the chance to do this.
WC: I need a job very badly and I wanna do it, but I just don’t have a lot of experience at punditry.
TEAGUE: Dammit Cantrell, no pundit had any effing experience. George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Juan Williams, that chick from England, and the one from the Philippines…the one who is bitter…none of them had any experience before they were pundits.
TEAGUE: You ever sold used cars, Will? There’s one pundit who’s on TV …I can’t tell you which network because of confidentiality and all… but he was a used car salesman just a week before he was a pundit. Hell, he’s been ‘pundit-ing’ for years. Doesn’t know ‘squat’, but you don’t have to know squat to be a pundit. That’s the beauty of the whole thing, Will. You don’t have to know a damn thing. There’s another one who shall also go unnamed, who had just gotten out of jail a week before he started at PU. And then there’s one woman, who’s been retired for a while now, who was a hooker before becoming a pundit.
WC: A hooker?! You’re kidding me?!
TEAGUE: A “straight up ‘ho’“. I kid you not, Cantrell. I think that she had just gotten her GED when she started.
WC: Being a hooker?
TEAGUE: No silly…being a pundit. Won some prestigious awards too.
WC: As a hooker?
TEAGUE: No dummy, as a pundit. Pundit-ing. So you can see that you don’t have to exactly be Harvard educated or even have any education at all to be a pundit. Believe me, nobody ever checks the credentials of these folks. By the way, do you have a tweed coat and tie?
WC: Yes I do, but…
TEAGUE: That’s all you need…and maybe a dress shirt. You won’t even have to wear pants if you don’t want to. There are several of those talking heads on Cheat the Press, who I know for an absolute fact who are not wearing pants. They are only shown from the waist up.
WC: Well, can I be a liberal pundit…you know, one who speaks up for the Obama Administration?
TEAGUE: Sure you can, Will. But I think that you’d be making a big mistake. The pundits who make the most money are the conservatives, the neo-cons. It’s just easier. You get to be belligerent and disrespectful to the President and all. You get to get really upset on the air…roll around on the floor and have conniptions, even.
WC: What’s a connip…?
TEAGUE: I don’t rightly know Will, but I am told that it’s a lot of fun. Trust me, you should really think about being a conservative pundit. Plus you’re a black guy and nobody really expects you people to be anything but liberals. You’ll be different. You will be remembered Will. By everybody. I may even be able to get you $17.50 per hour as a black conservative pundit. A black neo-con. Wow! The big thing among the conservatives these days is “socialism”. Saying that the President is a socialist. I suspect that most folks don’t really know what a socialist is. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that being a socialist was hanging out with Paris Hilton.
WC: Teague, she’s a “social-lite” not a “social-list.”
TEAGUE: Right. Right. That’s what I mean. That’s what a lot of folks think that a socialist is…a socialite.
WC: But if I become a liberal pundit that would mean that I’d get to hang out at the White House and have phone conversations with people in the Administration. Right?
TEAGUE: Nope. Definitely not. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. Most of the pundits don’t know ANYBODY in any administration. These liberal pundits have never even met the President. Most of them anyway. The conservative pundits are even worse. Do you really think that George Bush would have ever had ANY of those folks over to dinner? He and Laura would have had to count the silverware after any of those conservative pundits had ever shown up at a White House dinner. Gimme a break, man!
WC: Then how do they know what to say?
TEAGUE: Make it up mostly. Both sides.
WC: Teague, my integrity is important to me.
TEAGUE: Will, I need to disabuse you of that notion. Dammit man, you’re old enough to know better… OK. OK. OK….let me calm down. Let me ask you a question, Cantrell. You know that in order to stay on the air, “Jumping to Conclusions” has to have good ratings? Would you be willing to jump across the table and slap Charles Krauthammer? It would be good for ratings. Frankly, we’re surprised that nobody has done it already. God knows someone needs to do it. Or he needs to get laid, but I wouldn’t ask you to do that. I mean you wouldn’t …
TEAGUE: Just kidding Cantrell. Now what do you say about the job?
WC: I need a few minutes to think about all of this…
TEAGUE: Listen Cantrell, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. A lifetime! I can’t believe that you’re not begging me for this job. Tia will be here any minute. Do you know that you don’t have to have any qualifications to be a pundit. You need even less education to be a pundit than you do be an effing writer and you guys don’t even need an expired fishing license. Nobody checks the resume of a pundit, their educational credentials. Nuttin’. You know what? You know what, Mister? You’ve made me mad. You should be jumping’ at the chance to do this. I mean jumpin. You just don’t want it bad enough. Worried about your damn integrity and all. Integrity, my ass! Integrity. I tell you what…you just blew it, Cantrell. Get the hell out of my office. Now! GET OUT. RIGHT NOW. Mia is on her way. I mean Ice Water. Maybe I’ll just offer the job to her. It’s not much money, but it will be great exposure for her. Get out, Cantrell. Just get the hell out! SECURITY!…
©Copyright 2010 Will Cantrell