Newlyweds Desmond and Molly Jones were dismayed to arrive at the Santa Monica vacation rental they booked on Airbnb only to discover it was just a discarded mattress abutting the shore.
“The amenities aren’t what we expected, but you really can’t beat this view,” said Desmond to his wife, desperately trying to put a positive spin on the situation, “Look how close we are to the pier!” “Don’t you dare, Des!” said Molly, who begged her husband to spend the extra money on the honeymoon suite at the Shore Hotel on Ocean Drive. As she began to loudly cry, she woke the homeless man already sleeping on the mattress. “Get the fuck out of my home!” yelled the man at the couple before falling back asleep.
Desperate to find alternative accommodations, the Columbus, Ohio couple ordered an Uber but were similarly disappointed to find that the 2015 Toyota Camry that they had expected to show up was actually an old white Econoline mini-van driven by an elderly Turkish man listening to Justin Bieber too loudly.
“Can you turn it down!” yelled Desmond to the driver who just ignored him. “I don’t think he speaks English,” he told his wife, who couldn’t even anymore.
After being turned away from several luxury hotels without vacancies, the couple was told by Xavier Hernandes, a valet at the Hotel Casa del Mar who overheard their fight, that his parents in Canoga Park rented their place and could accommodate. “The San Fernando Valley is beautiful, you’ll love it,” said the valet. “See honey, things are going to work out,” smiled Desmond to his wife who at this point just wanted to go home and rethink some things.
After waiting for Xavier to get off of his shift, the 20-year-old drove the couple an hour and forty-five minutes to his parent’s rental property, which unbeknownst to the Midwestern couple was actually just several discarded couches lining a street of row houses.
“What the fuck, Desmond! This isn’t the honeymoon I imagined!” said Molly, breaking down. “I’m not sleeping out here, it isn’t safe! And these couches are covered with cats!”
“Look, do you think this is what I wanted? I am trying my hardest to make this work.”
“Well, maybe this just isn’t…supposed to work.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I just…maybe this is a sign, Des. If we can’t even do a honeymoon right, maybe it’s stupid for us to think we can actually build a life together.”
“Are you serious?”
“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe we rushed into this.”
“Babe, it’s just, it’s just a mix-up. We’ll laugh about this one day,” said Desmond, tears forming in his eyes.
“I hope so, but I need to get back to Ohio to think about it,” said Molly as she ordered another Uber to take her back to the airport.
“Don’t do this, Molly,” said Desmond to his new wife as she got into what she was told would be a 2019 Prius but was actually a wooden rickshaw driven by a worldly Rastafarian type.
As Desmond watched his wife ride away Xavier returned from inside his house. “Hey man, your room is ready.”
“What do you mean? You said we had to sleep on these discarded couches,” said Desmond.
“Dude, I was just fuckin’ with you. We got a queen bed for you inside and in the morning my Grandma will make you breakfast. Hey, where’d your girl go?”
How was I supposed to know that Billie Eilish is a 17-year-old female pop singer and not a 40-year-old gay comedian?
The first thing you should know is this mishap was not entirely my fault. My wife, Christine, asked me to see about booking Billie Eilish to perform at our daughter Emma’s Bat Mitzvah. Truth be told, I wasn’t paying full attention when she asked me to do this. I was in the middle of closing a large deal at work and had also just learned via a text message from my son Greg that his mother, my first wife, had gotten engaged to her boyfriend Dr. Marvin Westover, DDS. To say I was distracted is an understatement. Despite all that was on my mind, I told Christine that “I said I would fucking do it, now can you please leave me alone so I can finish my work!” and wrote down “Book Billy singer for Bat Mitzvah” in my Newton. I then turned back to my work until I became so mentally distracted by the news of my ex-wife’s engagement that I started looking through photo albums from before our divorce. God, life was so much simpler back then.
The next day I asked my assistant to contact the booking agent for “the singer, Billy E-something, the one the kids are into.” I am a 52-year-old bankruptcy attorney who has almost no time to spend with his children, so I am not up to date with the latest pop singers or any of my children’s interests for that matter. When my assistant came back and said “Billy Eichner?” I questioned her, “Is that who the children are into?” She told me that he was in the new Lion King movie, so I assumed it had to be him because I remember how Greg and his sister Elizabeth, also from my first marriage, loved the Lion King when it came out. I also remembered that I had forgotten to invite Elizabeth to Emma’s Bat Mitzvah on account that she refuses to talk to me or Christine, but I was feeling nostalgic after looking through the photo albums last night and asked my assistant to call Elizabeth, tell her it was her fault the invitation didn’t get sent, and invite her to attend. I’m sure Christine won’t mind.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why I would think I could get one of the world’s hottest pop stars to perform at my child’s Simcha? Well, like you, I want to do everything I can for my children. But unlike you, I have the millions of dollars necessary to do it. You see, I am a Skirball, and us Skirballs are no strangers to hiring A-list performers for our family events. When Elizabeth got married I was on an extended honeymoon in Saint Tropez with Christine and could not attend, but still arranged for Michael Bublé to perform at her reception. Even though Elizabeth never thanked us for arranging it, I’m sure she loved having Michael Bublé perform at her wedding. Christine had told me Elizabeth was a huge fan, a fact learned from her days as Elizabeth’s college roommate.
Billy Eichner was surprisingly easy to book and much cheaper than Michael Bublé. Christine and I decided to keep his performance a surprise from Emma, but she was being a real brat on the morning of her Bat Mitzvah, so I told her we had booked Billy and threatened to call and cancel the performance unless she got up in front of everyone and read from the fucking Torah. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have yelled at her in front of the entire congregation, but you should have seen how quickly her attitude changed and she was up there sing-talking in Hebrew. She must really love Billy Eichner, I thought. I am a great father.
Emma never treated me better than those few hours between the service at Young Israel and the party at the ballroom at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. As she got ready that afternoon she sang what I assumed was Billy Eichner’s music. It wasn’t for me but was kind of catchy in an unmelodic sort of way. I prefer the Eagles.
Billy Eichner arrived at the Four Seasons two hours before any of the guests. As per our contract, he was helping to set up the tables and taking care of odd tasks before the party. When I arrived I was startled by Billy Eichner’s appearance. I had been expecting someone that looked like a pop singer, not a 40-year-old man in a tuxedo shirt transparent with sweat screaming at my caterer for placing the bowl of cocktail sauce too far away from the shrimp.
“Why would you put the pigs in the blankets between the shrimp and the cocktail sauce?” he yelled. The caterer tried to explain that she always puts sauces at the end of the table, but Billy exploded: “No! These are thirteen-year-olds, you can’t put cocktail sauce next to ketchup, they aren’t going to know what to do!” When the caterer finally agreed to move the cocktail sauce closer to the shrimp, Billy yelled “You wouldn’t be so haphazard with the food placement if this was Jeffrey Katzenberg’s daughter’s Simcha Bat!” before muttering both loudly and under his breath, “Then again, Jeffrey Katzenberg wouldn’t serve shrimp at a fucking Bat Mitzvah!”
As I watched Billy Eichner rearrange the hors d’oeuvres, I asked our event planner Janet if she had ever heard of the man yelling at the caterer. “Yeah, that’s Billy Eichner,” she sighed. “He was in Parks and Recreation.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I assumed it was one of those song-and-dance shows. I later found out it was not and also that Billy had berated Janet earlier after being told he could not “call” a centerpiece to take home after the party. “I get a centerpiece of my choice! That is the one thing that is in my rider! These are contractually my succulents!”
I approached. “Um, excuse me, are you Billy?”
“Yes, of course I’m Billy!” He yelled and then smiled at me in a way that made me unsure whether he was being threatening or felt threatened.
“Oh okay, great. You’re the famous singer?” I asked, to which Billy informed me that he had a song with Beyoncé in Spotify’s Top-10. When I gave him an encouraging “great” he flew into a rage. “Yes! I’m very famous! I have Judy Greer’s phone number! We text!” he said. I told him I didn’t know who Judy Greer is and he screamed “You would know her if you saw her!” and then exasperatedly walked away so he could write his initials on the underside of a centerpiece while Janet comforted our still crying caterer.
As I watched Billy write his name on a second, and then a third, centerpiece of succulents, Christine approached. “Honey, do you know when Billie Eilish will be here? The guests are starting to arrive.”
“Yeah, he’s over there,” I pointed and called over Billy to meet Christine.
“Who is that?
“That’s Billy Eichner. The singer,” I said.
“But where is Billie Eilish?” Christine asked as Eichner walked over.
“Holy shit, Billie Eilish is coming? I hear Jeffrey Katzenberg couldn’t even book her for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah,” Billy yelled. I felt like such an idiot.
Christine and I knew Emma was going to be upset that Billie Eilish would not be performing. We called her booking agent to see if she was available at the last minute, but was told of course she wasn’t and that the best we could hope for was NSYNC’s JC Chasez who would not only perform but also mop up at the end of the night. Christine and I decided that our best option was to let Billy Eichner perform. For his part, Billy didn’t seem to mind that he was not our first choice. “I recently got second place behind Chris O’Donnell in a People Magazine poll of who wore a pair of Mossimo khakis best,” he told us, “so I know what it’s like to be disappointed.”
After the Billy Eichner mishap and the resulting fight with Christine over my “complete and utter lack of attention” or something, I was not feeling very festive. Nevertheless, I put on a smile and greeted our guests. Christine had gone to the dressing room to tell Emma that Billie Eilish wasnt coming, a conversation I was very happy to avoid.
“How you doing, dad?” my son Greg greeted me with a hug. It’s been over a year since I last saw him.
“Oh, you wouldn’t want to know,” I said, telling him about the Billy Eichner mishap.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Billy Eichner can’t be worse received than Michael Bublé,” he laughed. I didn’t understand his comment but hadn’t the time to ask about it when I saw my daughter Elizabeth walk up with her husband and two children.
“Lizzie!” I yelped. I didn’t think she would actually come, it’s been so many years. She gave me a hug and introduced me to my grandkids, Jakob and Eva, whom she named after my parents. “I’m so sorry, it’s been so many–”
“Dad, stop. Let’s not talk about the past.”
I spent a few minutes catching up with Elizabeth and Greg. We laughed about that time we went to Medieval Times and Greg slipped in horse poop and for a moment I swear to god it felt like I had gone back in time.
“How’s your mother?” I asked.
“She’s doing well,” Greg told me. “Her and Marvin were supposed to see The Eagles at Dodger Stadium tonight, but he got called into surgery at the last minute.”
“Your mother always loved The Eagles,” I chuckled. “You know, we went to an Eagles show on our first date?” He knew.
“Yeah, she was looking forward to it. She couldn’t find anyone to go with her,” Greg told me.
I don’t know what had gotten into me at this point, but the nostalgia of having my first two children around me caused me to blurt out “Call her up and ask her if she wants to come to the Bat Mitzvah.”
“Are you sure?” Elizabeth asked.
“Of course! She’s probably already dressed up, knowing your mother.” Did I even know her anymore, I wondered?
I excused myself from my family to say hello to some of the out-of-town Skirballs that arrived.
“Where the fuck have you been?” Christine ran up to me. “This is an absolute disaster, Billy Eichner has sung “Wind Beneath My Wing” three times in a row and keeps accosting Emma’s overweight male classmates and telling them that it gets better. “Look at me now, I’m friends with Beyoncé,” I could hear Billy Eichner scream at Jonah, one of Emma’s more portly friends. “Do you really know Beyoncé?” Jonah asked to which Billy screamed “We met at the Lion King premier!” before pulling out his phone and showing him Judy Greer’s phone number.
“I’m sorry, I was talking to Lizzie and Greg. It was so nice—“
“What the fuck is Elizabeth doing here?”
“What do you mean? I invited her.”
“How could you invite her without telling me?”
“Why would I need to tell you I was inviting my daughter to her sister’s Bat Mitzvah?”
“Step-sister, and maybe because she has tried to undermine our relationship since the moment we got together.”
“Christine, her dad divorced her mom for her college roommate. You have to see it from her perspec–”
“Oh, so I’m a homewrecker now? Like you were so happy when you decided to fuck your daughter’s roommate!” Christine screamed as she walked away, saying the last part loud enough that a group of cousins from Scarsdale gave me a look of utter disgust. “She’s talking about Elizabeth’s roommate. Not Emma’s,” I said, feeling that while this explanation may have confirmed I was a scumbag, it at least let them know I was not also a pedophile.
I went back into the banquet hall to see how Emma was doing. To my surprise, she seemed to be having a great time. By this point in the night all of the kids knew the lyrics to From A Distance and were singing along with Billy. I had not seen Emma look so happy in years. Then again, I hadn’t really seen much of Emma through the years. I had thought I was done having kids when Christine got pregnant. She wanted to keep it, which was her choice, but rather than fully embrace fatherhood I decided to focus on my work rather than be at home. In some ways, as horrible as it is to say, Emma is the manifestation of the biggest mistake I ever made. I wouldn’t have married Christine if she weren’t pregnant, and certainly I wouldn’t have missed Lizzie’s wedding and all of those years with her and getting to know my grandchildren if Christine and I didn’t have to ourselves get married so quickly. As I watched Emma cheer Billy as he started into From A Distance again–he really did have a nice voice–and watched as she laughed with her friends, I felt grateful she had turned out so great despite having me as a father. But I guess that is true of all of my kids.
It had been twelve years since I saw Diane, but as soon as I placed my eyes on her it felt like no time had passed.
“Hey stranger,” she said as she walked up to me. “You’ve gotten old, Dave.”
“It’s good to see you Diane,” I kissed her cheek. Her hair smelled like I remembered and I couldn’t help but think of how different our lives could have been.
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to be here? Christine won’t mind?”
“Of course it’s fine,” I lied. We took each other in for a moment.
“Who’s the singer? she asked as we both took a minute to watch Billy Eichner really lean into the crescendo of The Rose. “Oh, that’s Billy Eichner. He’s great,” I said as Billy dabbed sweat from his forehead and then screamed at Janet for a cup of honey tea and paprika. “Shakira swears by it!” he yelled.
“I was worried you were going to have Michael Bublé show up again.”
“You know, Greg made a comment about Michael Bublé too. What does that mean? Does Lizzie not like Michael Bublé anymore?” I asked.
“Are you serious?
“She’s always hated Michael Bublé.”
“What, no? Christine told me it was her favorite.”
“Look, Dave, I’m not one to come between a man and his wife,” she basked in the irony of the statement, “but from what I was told Michael Bublé was Christine’s favorite and she would go out of her way to play his music in the dorm when they were mad at each other.” This was all very shocking.
“So, when Michael Bublé showed up at her wedding,” I said.
“She was devastated. Elizabeth just wanted her dad at her wedding. Instead she got Michael Bublé as a reminder that her roommate took her dad away from her.”
“I had no idea,” I said, which was true. “But it was wrong for me not to be at the wedding anyway. Everything about the situation, the affair, it was all wrong. You didn’t deserve it. None of you did.”
“But we weren’t happy, right?” I asked.
“I was happy.”
Diane excused herself to go find Greg and Lizzie and I perched up against the bar. Emma was laughing with her friends and Christine, who had evidently seen me and Diane talk, was giving me a death stare and on her way over. How could she have gone out of her way to ruin Lizzie’s wedding day?
“You invited your ex-wife too?” Christine asked.
“I did. You knew Lizzie hated Michael Bublé?”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“At Lizzie’s wedding. You told me that she loved Michael Bublé, but that was a lie. She hated him and you, what? Made me book him as what some nasty act of revenge?
“Oh, so this is what your ex-wife does? She crashes my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and brings up drama from 13 years ago?”
By this point, Christine had become aware that people were watching us fight. “We’ll talk about this later. Try not to forget this is about Emma today. Not your old family.”
As I stood at the bar I found myself standing next to Billy Eichner, who was halfway through his tea.
“You ever look back at your life and wonder how you got here?” I asked.
“I was a gay, overweight theater kid from Forrest Hills that would go on to share several on-screen kisses with Fred Savage. I think I know a thing or two about life being unpredictable.”
“You’re a great performer,” I said and at that moment our eyes connected and, as I think he realized how emotionally vulnerable and confused I felt, his façade softened.
“Tell Billy what’s wrong,” he said, and I did. I explained to him all of the complicated family dynamics, the revelation that Michael Bublé ruined my daughter’s wedding, and the overwhelming feeling of longing I had for my old life. “Don’t I deserve happiness?” I asked him.
Billy took a final sip of his tea and gave me a long look over. The serene, comforting spirit I felt from him as I opened up about my familial inadequacies was instantly replaced by the sort of blind sexual rage that I would come to find out is the very essence of his public persona.
“No! Of course you don’t deserve happiness! Malala deserves happiness and she was shot by the fucking Taliban! You made a bad decision and are living with the consequences of it,” Billy yelled. “But you aren’t in prison, like those S.O.B.s who shot Malala deserves to be. So if you aren’t happy then make different decisions and live with those consequences!”
Billy had worked himself up and was heavily panting. “Uch, I got to get back on stage, I promised Jonah we’d sing You Don’t Own Me again when I get back.” I thanked Billy for his advice and made my own song request. He objected at first, but agreed after I told him he could take another succulent centerpiece if he sang an Eagles song.
As Billy grabbed the microphone I started walking toward Diane’s table.
“Can I have this dance?”
She gave me a bemused look as the band started playing Take It To The Limit. It was the song we first kissed to on our first date and also the song to which she started giving me an inside the pants hand job that was interrupted by an usher, also on our first date. Diane took my hand and for the first time in thirteen years, since before Christine, since before Emma, since before all of my selfish horrible decisions, we held each other again, as if no time had passed. As we danced Billy sang.
All alone at the end of the evening And the bright lights have faded to blue
“You still can dance, Dave–
I was thinking ’bout a woman who might have loved me I never knew
“Let’s give it another chance, Diane.” I couldn’t resist.
“What are you talking about?”
And it’s so hard to change Can’t seem to settle down
“You and me. It was a mistake, all of, all of the last thirteen years. It was a mistake. You and I should—“
“Dave, stop. This is your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Your wife is watching us and doesn’t look happy. And I’m engaged.”
But the dreams I’ve seen lately keep on turning out And burning out and turning out the same
“Yes, but are you in love with him? The dentist?” I asked.
“Yes, Dave. And more importantly I’ve put this, I’ve put us in the past.”
So put me on a highway and show me a sign
“But it was a mistake,” I told her.
“There are no mistakes.”
And take it to the limit one more time
Diane let go of my hand and told me she had to go. “It was nice seeing you, Dave. Take care,” she said. Billy Eichner was still singing and I just stood there swaying on the dance floor, surrounded by teenagers who did not seem to appreciate the Eagles as much as Billy’s Midler showcase.
“How was your dance?” Christine came up to me. She was angry but let me take her hand.
“It was a mistake to invite her here, I’m sorry for that.”
“It wasn’t a mistake to invite her. Look, I haven’t been fair to you or Emma. I haven’t been there for you like I should.”
“Thanks. But let’s not, let’s not have a whole thing right now. Look at our daughter, isn’t she beautiful?”
“Yeah,” I said. “They grow up real fast.”
Christine placed her head on my shoulder and we swayed with each other as Billy sang the song me and my ex-wife fell in love to. Maybe this was where I was meant to be all along, and fetishizing my old life and my old marriage had just gotten in the way of my ability to appreciate all I have now. And I have a lot. Maybe Billy Eichner was right, I had made a decision, and now I have to live with the consequences of that decision. And it seems, at this moment, that the best decision I could make is to live with the consequences of that decision.
As Billy Eichner repeated the coda with his surprisingly angelic voice, Christine and I kissed. As we did I could see Diane gather her things to leave. Our eyes connected one last time. It was the last time we saw each other, and I was okay with that.
So put me on a highway and show me a sign And take it to the limit one more time…
Non-union screenwriter Darren Forsyth is offering script consultation and coverage services to aspiring writers. The cost is $500 per script review, which he insists is “industry standard” and “a small price to pay if you are serious about getting better at your craft.”
Mr. Forsyth, who has never “sold” a screenplay in the traditional sense, is a frequent, unpaid contributor to the Huffington Post and the /r/screenwriting group on Reddit and sees his services as an important part in your growth as an artist.
“Having a neutral reader give feedback on your work is an essential step toward getting better at your craft,” said Mr. Forsyth, who has applied to many prestigious writing competitions that wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them in the ass. “I’ve been a screenwriter for twelve years and have myself paid tens-of-thousands of dollars for script consultants and writing workshops, so I know firsthand how valuable something like this can be.”
When asked sheepishly by a prospective client that just moved to L.A. to pursue her own screenwriting career what made him qualified to charge money considering his lack of professional success, the 37-year-old scoffed and muttered something about “paying your dues” before telling the young girl that he has watched several YouTube videos reviewing Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass and that he was once in an improv class with Damien Chazelle in 2007 and “still has his number somewhere.”
“It’s a lot of money, I don’t know…” said the prospective student to which Mr. Forsyth responded “If you’re not serious about your craft then don’t waste my time!” before immediately offering to lower his rate to “well what can you pay?” since he really needs the money.
Jeremy Ireland has been a vegan for going on two years. “I feel better, I’ve lost weight, and I am no longer contributing to the environmental harm caused by the cattle industry,” said the 27-year-old process server who will still eat a double-double or two when coming home from the bar with his dudes.
The Avocado met up with Ireland at a Hollywood In-N-Out where he explained that, despite being a vegan, there is “nothing better than a couple of burgers after leaving a bar.” When asked why he didn’t opt for a meatless burger option, a very drunk Ireland justified his decision as mostly an economic one. “Bro, I just spent $18 a drink at a bar. Impossible Burgers are like $15 minimum at every restaurant and low key make my burps taste like dog food. I’m not a Kardashian, sometimes you just need a $3 In-N-Out burger, so fucking sue me.”
Ireland, whom I just met that evening, immediately apologized for lashing out and then sloppily told me how much he loved me before biting into a double-double and moaning so loudly at how good it tastes that every former film student in the restaurant replied “I’ll have what he’s having!” in unison, all thinking they were being so goddamn clever.
The Avocado spoke with Ireland the next morning about whether he still identifies as a vegan after his late-night In-N-Out indulgence. “Oh for sure, veganism is the only diet that makes sense from both an ethical and biological standpoint, I mean, have you seen Forks Over Knives?” When questioned about the hypocrisy of eating burgers while professing to be a vegan, Ireland was unphased, arguing “I was drunk, so it didn’t count,” a response so logically problematic that we decided it was best we leave.
We reached out to In-N-Out’s corporate office and learned that a large part of their revenue stems from intoxicated vegans and vegetarians going against their belief systems. When asked whether In-N-Out would consider providing meatless alternatives to its customers, the representative informed us that there is a 40-minute wait at every Los Angeles drive-through no matter what time of day and that the company didn’t feel it needed to accommodate what it viewed as “fringe lifestyle choices” before asking me whether I had chosen Jesus as my personal Lord and savor.
With rents and housing prices soaring ever higher across Los
Angeles County, how do local millionaires afford to live here? The Avocado set
out to find out by talking to Angelinos with absurd income levels about how
they make life in L.A. work for them.
Johnathan Schwartzbaum, 31.
Job: Johnathan (or “Jono”) doesn’t have a
“job” per se,
but he does hold an advisory position for his family’s real estate development
firm that allows him to draw a modest annual salary and holds some profit-making
passive interests in a few businesses that his financial adviser Gerald
suggested. He is also the “CFO” and seeking funding for an app called “Ball
Harder” that allows people to purchase courtside tickets.
Salary: $4,200,000 ($252,000 salary from his family’s business, around $180,000 yearly from investments, and $3,750,000 from a trust account started by his grandfather Ezekial Schwartzbaum).
What brought you to L.A. I was raised here. My grandfather Ezekial came to Los Angeles in the 1940’s from Syracuse and began buying property with a small business loan of $10 million dollars from his father around Sunset and Laurel Canyon and by the La Brea tar pits. It was a pretty modest operation, only netting a few million dollars a year until the 1980’s when they helped a few mid-size drug trafficking rings embezzle their profits through some of our properties.
What makes you want to stay? L.A. is an exciting place, but it can also sometimes be sort of a drag. I usually spend the summers here, but prefer N.Y. or Paris in the spring. I love Miami during the winter. Except when I go skiing. Then it’s Breckenridge.
Which neighborhood do you live in? Do you rent or own? In LA only? I guess I live primarily in Santa Monica. I also have a small 2-bedroom apartment downtown, but I am hardly there. My parents have a, I guess you would call it a “compound,” on the water in Malibu, which I sometimes stay at. I also technically own an apartment complex in Silverlake and a few in the ghetto part of the Valley, but those are only investment properties and I try not to go to those neighborhoods too often.
What are you saving for right now? Right
now my brother and I are part-owners of a Gulfstream. I’d like to eventually
have my own since we sometimes run into scheduling conflicts and one of us is
forced to charter, which, you know, defeats the purpose of owning your own
Gulfstream in the first place and looks bad.
When you’re not working, what takes up most of your time? Normal stuff, you know. Collecting expensive wines, taking between 10 and 15 beautiful women and no men out on one of my boats. I’m also doing an improv class at UCB.
What is the biggest financial stress in your life? Just not overspending. You wouldn’t believe how many times my adviser Gerald calls me to question me about what I’m doing with my money. I recently bought, and then accidentally lost, a Patek Philippe and you would have thought that I ran over another child by his reaction. In retrospect, I get that I should have been more responsible, but some poor person probably found the watch and can, I don’t know, afford to feed their kids or something. I told him to treat it as a charitable tax-write off.
Do you think you make enough money? No. I
mean, I’m comfortable, I guess. But there are so many things I still don’t own
Is Los Angeles an expensive place to live? No, I mean, there are more expensive cities. I probably wouldn’t even be able to get a second or third apartment if I were in Monaco.
You just got paid, and you’re hitting the town for the night.
What’s your first stop? I’d probably call up Selena and
Jennifer and head to Burbank Airport to fly out to party at our place in
London, if my fucking brother isn’t hogging the jet.
What’s something you hate spending money on? Legal fees. I was just forced to settle a lawsuit over my app “Ball Harder” with the comedian Bill Hader, who claimed people were getting confused. It was bullshit.
What’s something you wish you had more money to spend on? I
guess it would be cool to own an island.
What’s something you consistently spend money on even though you
know you shouldn’t? Healthcare coverage for the crew taking
care of my boat.
What’s the point of living in LA if you’re not going to be friends with celebrities? In this series, The Avocado provides tips for approaching the sort of famous person standing in front of you at Coffee Bean without coming off like a total tourist.
Celebrity: Matt Besser
What You Know Him From? Matt Besser is one of the most influential American comedians of the last twenty years, he tells his wife when they argue. He is a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows.
What Your Mother Will Know Him From? Nothing. And if I were you I wouldn’t even try to explain who he is to her. Maybe you can elicit some type of recognition by mentioning that he started UCB with Amy Poehler, but do you really think that will impress her? I mean, your sister just got into medical school and you’re trying to drop Michael Belter or whatever his name is to your mom? Pathetic.
Who Cares What Your Mom Thinks? You Love Matt Besser. And You Need Help Getting Into a Sold Out UCB Course. How Should You Approach Him? The first thing to know about approaching Matt Besser is that he doesn’t want you to do it. You may think Matt Besser will be flattered by being recognized, but unlike Ian Roberts, he really doesn’t want to talk to you.
So I Should Ignore Him? Yes, do you know how many times people come up to Matt Besser and tell him how much they love him and how important he is to modern-day comedy, he asks his wife when they argue. The point is, every comedy nerd in Los Angeles goes up to him when he is trying to order his morning coffee and tries to talk to him about UCB. Unless he is wearing a hat. Then no one recognizes him at all.
I Insist On Speaking To Him! What Obscure Work Of His Should I Mention So He Knows I Am A Real Fan? Okay, start off by complimenting his podcast “Improv4Humans” then tell him that a dot-matrix printed picture of him wearing an eye patch from UCB’s first promotional VHS was an instigating event in your sexual awakening. He will tell you that Ian Roberts was actually the one wearing the eye patch in those promotional photos and that he was wearing the gear glasses. Good job fucking that up, you idiot.
You’ll apologize, letting him know that in the fog that is your adolescent sexual memories you remembered them all having eye-patches and that it’s a shame Ian Roberts isn’t more widely recognized for his contributions to the group and the etat du monde of 21st-century comedy. He’ll agree and will compliment you for your insight and incorrect French usage. At this point, you have successfully established rapport with Matt Besser. Congratulations.
It’s about now that you should casually mention that you were thinking about enrolling in a UCB Improv 101 course at the training center but can’t because your preferred time slot is sold out. He won’t respond, so just let the silence build for a few minutes. Eventually, because Matt Besser is a fucking gentleman, he’ll ask you your name and tell you he’ll see what he can do. He’ll also ask you for the $475 tuition upfront, which he prefers in cash “for tax reasons.” You panic because you don’t have that kind of money on you and lie that it’s in your car and ask him to wait a minute while you go get it. He reluctantly agrees because while he doesn’t need the money, he’s not at the point where he would just turn down $475 in cash.
So you go outside the Coffee Bean or wherever this meeting is happening and see a bank in the shopping center and think about robbing it, but you know you’ll probably just end up grabbing the dummy pack of money and getting blue ink all over your face which would make you look really bad in front of Matt Besser because what kind of nerf ball robs a bank without knowing how to differentiate between the real cash and the dummy stack? But then you remember there is a nail salon down the block your mom sometimes goes to called Nail Fever and figure that its probably a cash-heavy business given the mostly immigrant workforce, so you go there intent on robbing it, but when you get in there you see your mom getting her nails done and she lights up and says “Oh sweety, you came to surprise me on my birthday?”
Well, what are you going to do at this point but go with it and wish your mom a happy birthday and sit down next to her while a Vietnamese lady who wants you to believe her name is “Rebecca” gives you both manicures? So you and your mom have a really nice conversation and she tells you an amusing story about your father from when they were in college that you have heard before but still really like and you sigh after she is done with the story and tell her how much you miss him. She does too.
Then, during a quiet moment, you ask your mom for $475 and say you need it “no questions asked” because you don’t want to try to explain to her who Matt Besser is and in any event she won’t understand why you need money for improv classes when you have a perfectly good anthropology degree from Indiana University that you’re not doing anything with. So you tell her you just “need the fucking money mom” and she says okay, but says that this is the last time. You’ve heard that before. So she hands you her debit card and tells you her pin, which is your sister’s fucking birthdate. God, what a bitch.
You leave the nail salon, leaving your mom responsible for tipping Rebecca for both of your manicures and go to the Bank of America you thought about robbing and take out $500 from the ATM.
By the time you get the money it’s been like 45 minutes since you left Matt Besser and he is still waiting because truth be told he didn’t have anything better to do and enjoyed the time alone with his thoughts to think about comedy, his legacy, and why him and his wife have been arguing so much recently. You hand him $475 and he tells you to call up a woman named Lindsay and says she will get you set up with a class.
You and Matt Besser then part ways. True to his word, Lindsay was a sweetheart and enrolled you in a beginning improv class that you attended twice before quitting because it takes way too long to get from your apartment in NoHo to the UCB training center on Sunset on Tuesdays by 6PM, which, in retrospect, was a stupid timeslot for you to sign up for.
So, maybe don’t go up to Matt Besser next time you see him at a Coffee Bean because you will just end up wasting $475 and will further strain your relationship with your widowed mother who really doesn’t understand how on earth you could turn out so selfish. It’s not how she and your father raised you and he would be so ashamed to see you like this if he were still around.
Makenzie Daly (born Malka Finkelstein) learned Friday afternoon that her best friend and roommate, Rivka Hershelberg (born Sadie Lynn Jennings), booked that network pilot she went in for last week.
“Oh my god, this could be life-changing,” Makenzie said to her roommate, trying her best not to sound devastated.
Makenzie received the news while in line at a Studio City FedEx. The 28-year-old actress was there sending a package of used undergarments to an online admirer that paid handsomely for her delicates. She had also been up for the part, described as a “Jennifer Aniston” type, but was told by the casting director that she was a little “too bookish” for the role, whatever that means.
“I mean, I guess this really could be a big deal,” feigned Rivka on the phone.
“Oh yeah, this is totally a big deal! Even if the show never gets picked up, which is like, totally common. Most pilots never get–“
“That’s the best part! The network already ordered–“
“Oh, they ordered six episodes?”
“No…” said Rivka, waiting for Makenzie to continue.
“Right, it’s super rare for a network to order a series before the pilot is even–“
“They ordered 22 episodes! Isn’t that weird?” Rivka interrupted, knowing exactly what she was doing.
“Oh fuck. That’s. Fuck. You’re going to be a star, Rivka,” said Makenzie, still holding the box of soiled negligees she was sending to Ohio to help cover rent. As Rivka went on for several minutes about what the showrunner told her about her character arc, Makenzie cried quietly to herself. It was after learning that the network was going to send Rivka and her costars, which included fucking Mischa Barton, Scott Eastwood, and the guy that played Abed in Community, on a three-week team-building retreat to Fiji that Makenzie decided she needed to get off the phone.
“Well, listen girl, I am just so, so happy for you and we’re going to need to celebrate big,” wept Makenzie. As the Oklahoma City native handed the FedEx clerk the box of underwear she felt like a total asshole. Rivka had been her best friend for years and worked really hard waitressing and selling her own panties online to pay for acting classes. Plus, it was probably a good thing for her own career that her roommate became a star. She would probably get to meet all types of industry people and maybe could even get a guest-starring role on her show. “Yeah, this is actually great news,” she thought to herself before getting a text from Rivka informing her that the studio just told her that they had an apartment she could use and she would be moving out that evening.
“My shooting schedule is just going to be really intense and I’m going to need privacy at the end of the day as part of my process,” Rivka texted, adding “I knew you’d understand.”
“Oh, of course, girl. So happy for you! Can’t wait to celebrate,” Makenzie texted back, marking the last time the two ever spoke.
“What’s with all of this quinoa, Maritza?” Jeffrey Katzenberg asked his new assistant. His desk covered with close to a dozen sample-size cups of quinoa from the Sweet Greens across the street.
“You texted me that you wanted the newest quinoa samples. These are them,” said Maritza, who wants to eventually be an agent.
“I said I wanted the newest Quibi samples,” replied Katzenberg, pulling out his iPhone to show her his text, only to see that it had autocorrected the name of his company to the popular grain without him noticing again.
“Well, why would I ask for the newest quinoa samples?” asked a frustrated Katzenberg. “What wouldn that even mean?”
“I don’t know, I thought maybe you weren’t hungry enough for a full meal and wanted some samples for a quick bite before your dinner with Meg.”
“Yes, I wanted quick bite samples!” gloated Katzenberg.
“Oh, great. So, enjoy the samples.”
“No, quick bite as in Quibi. Not as in quinoa.”
“I don’t understand what you’re telling me.”
“’Quibi’ means ‘quick bite,’” Katzenberg explained.
“You want a quick bite of Quibi?”
“No! Why are we having so much trouble communicating? Quibi is short for “quick bite.”
“Why would the name of your media company be short for “quick bite?”
“It’s like the phrase “a quick bite of content.”
“Is ‘a quick bite of content’ a phrase?”
“Well, I said it, so it’s a phrase now!”
“So, you made it up?”
“Look, Maritza, Quibi is a very clever name if you think about it and also the domain name was available.”
“But it’s not a real word.”
“Well ‘Google’ wasn’t a real word either until Google started.”
“A google is a number that is 10 to the 100th power.”
“Please get out.”
“Sure. Do you want me to take the quinoa samples away?”