On the whole, Hollywood is an emperor's-new-clothes town. It's a town full of moronic people who can't really think for themselves, people who need reassurance from others, people who need to be told who is talented and who will be the next big star.
The worst of the naked emperors is the bloodsucking Hollywood agent, who has all the soul and integrity of, well, a bloodsucking Hollywood agent. That's why I contacted a few Hollywood insiders at the Montreal Comedy Festival to help me pull a grand ruse on some top Hollywood agencies.
With meetings set, I'm out to prove an absurd point about Hollywood buzz and hype by becoming a ridiculous, fake person with fabricated ... HEAT!
Ridiculous Persona: German comedian Dieter Lietershvantz. He hails from Struddelsburg, Germany. A German comedian is, of course, an oxymoron. I might as well say I'm a Quaker comedian.
Costume: All-black clothing, a stupid, oversize cowboy hat atop my dreads. A permanent scowl.
Fake Heat-Creating Back Story: When discovered at a comedy club in Struddelsburg, Dieter had a German sense of humor that blew the crowd away. He was asked to be a last-minute addition in the "New Faces" showcase at the Montreal Comedy Festival -- the show Hollywood sharks attend to sign the star of the next big Everybody Loves Raymond.
Ground Rules for Meetings:
1) I must be indignant.
2) I must speak in the worst conceivable foreign accent.
3) I must be devoid of any sense of humor.
4) I must often refer to myself in the third person.
5) I must get an agent to sign me on the spot!
Fake Heat-Creating Premise: Only in L.A. for one day, Dieter is meeting with every agency in Hollywood, the agents are told. No tape on him exists. (Like the Amish, Dieter feels videotaping "steals his soul.")
Yes, I'm taking vengeance for every comedian who's ever dealt with a sleazy agent! Besides, it's just plain fun to speak in a bad foreign accent. To protect the innocent and less so, all names have been cleverly changed.
I enter lobby of very-large-agency.
"Dieter is here!"
"Are you picking up a package?" asks the security guard.
How dare he! Doesn't he know I'm the biggest fictional comedy star in all of Deutschland?! I give him my icy-cold German stare.
"No! Why would Dieter be here to pick up a package?!"
"I'm very sorry," he profusely apologizes. "I just have to ask, it's my job."
People have been fired and replaced for less. The woman in the reception area is more attentive.
"Dieter's appointment is NOW!" I say.
The obligatory bottled water is brought to me as I sit in a large chair, posed like a rigid statue, glaring into the distance.
I meet large-agency-woman and enter her office. A bandaged, injured puppy limps around the couch area. Large-agency-woman explains how she rescued the bandaged, injured puppy from the streets, and about her volunteer service at a homeless animal shelter. The bandaged, injured puppy is taken to another room.
"We're a big agency with a small client list," explains large-agency-woman.
As I sit by a pile of dog toys, my look conveys the possibility that I'm a man who can't figure out 1+1=2.
"I don't know if you understand. I mean, your English seems fine," says large-agency-woman.
"Maybe if you speak much slower," I say.
I now have large-agency-woman speaking not only much slower, but also much louder. She's very animated, trying to break through our language barrier, mentioning their client list.
"Jim Carrey, do you know him?"
"Ja! He is the man who makes the funny faces," I say, quickly asking if the agency represents other German actors. Large-agency-woman thinks for a minute. I prompt her.
"How about famous German actress Helga Wasserstein?"
Large-agency-woman answers, "No, you would be the only one." Then she adds, "Oh, we represent Claudia Schiffer. You can ask her about our agency."
"Dieter shall do that."
Wanting to find out more about me, she says very slowly and loudly, "So you from German ...."
"I vork on German television, on a show with much fighting." I punch the air with my fists.
"Oh, like wrestling?" large-agency-woman says perkily.
"Noooo! Like ...Van Damme!" I make rapid kung fu motions.
Large-agency-woman asks if I have any ideas for American TV shows.
"Maybe like Chuck Norris. On a show with fighting; much fighting." Again, my fists move in the air.
A nondescript man in shirt and tie enters the office. Large-agency-woman asks if he knows the name of the kung fu show on CBS with Arsenio Hall, then makes introductions.
"This is Dieter; he is going to be in Montreal. He's a comedian from Germany," she says. "I'm getting the scoop, which is pretty fascinating, actually."
"I'm married to a German," the nondescript man says, asking where I'm from.
"Why am I blanking out on the name of the show?" ponders large-agency-woman.
"I can find out, though, and get back to you," the man in shirt and tie says, leaving.
"I can tell you the general process," she continues.
"Let's assume that your act is very different, which I assume that it is. Probably not what you usually see," she says. "Sometimes people love that, and sometimes people are scared of that."
"Am I frightening?!"
Suddenly, the bandaged, injured puppy comes bounding back into the room.
"How did you get back here?" exclaims large-agency-woman.
"Do you put little hats and clothes on the dogs?" I ask in a thick German accent.