by Joseph DeRepentigny
Life would be so much easier if I were a cartoon character. Then the pain of injury would be passing at best. My recovery time could vary from instant to momentary. On top of that, I would not have to work ever again. Yeah, right!
Look people, I am a cartoon. Now like most of my kind I do heal quickly and the pain is short lived but I do have to make a living. I am not one of the big names with a show or even a main character I am a supporting figure or a background fixture. My time is spent going from show to show, appearing in the backdrop. Sometimes I have a line or two, but mostly I get beat up by the villain without ever saying a word. Doesn’t that sound glamorous? Well let me show you my typical day.
I live in a decent show. It is not like the old ones from the ’50s or such but the housing is cheap. Just like the drawings. In the old days, every door led somewhere. In this show, you’re lucky if the door opens at all. Now the old places did have their drawbacks. For instance, you never pushed the red button. You also had to put up with those pinheaded robots. They would scurry around at breakneck speeds and build or tear things down at random. “We are the future!” They would chant. Thankfully, that never happened.
Anyway, early in the morning, I along with a thousand other “Supporting Characters” make our way to the casting call. Now you may have guessed that I’m not a morning person, but hey you gotta do what you gotta do. Here they pick the characters they need for the next episode. Now you have to understand even if you live there, you might not be in the show. Budgets are tight, the stars need the extra money to pay for their new mansions, and keep the swimming pool filled with champagne. Luckily, for the rest of us, housing is provided according to union rules but work is by the whim of the directors and the main characters. In addition, if you’re not in an episode you run the risk of finding your house squashed by a monster or such. Mind you it takes only a minute to fix it but it is a nuisance.
“All right,” the director shouts, “we need humans only today. All non-human characters can go now.”
This is good for me. In the old days, the animals had priority. The big studios did lavish features with animals as the main characters. Heck even the shorts were dominated by rabbits and ducks. Back then I had to make ends meet doing advertisements or comic strips. You might have seen me. I was the model for that shirt company. The guy with an eye patch. No? Oh well, anyway there was even a time I did some comic books. The grown up kind if you know what I mean. Hey, I am not ashamed of that, after all I had to eat. Nowadays as a human looking cartoon, I get regular work. I guess it’s what you call karma or such.
Now picture this, inside the studio are the writers and the chairs the main characters sit in lined up on a stage. I say chairs because a big time character does not need to show up this early. In fact, some don’t show up until after 1:00 p.m. The director nods his head and his lackeys start sorting out what they want or do not want based on appearance. For reasons unknown to me, fat people do better than skinny guys. Another advantage for me, middle age has given me an edge over the competition. After they are done I am one of the dozen or so they are keeping.
“OK, today we are doing a different type of show.” The Director says to us. “We are going to do a comedy based on the lyrics of a 1960s rock band. Every line of dialog will be either the title or line from one of their songs. Now if you get any lines, they will have to be said with a straight face. Anyone chuckles and you won’t work for a month!”
“Sounds like someone didn’t want to do any writing!” I said louder than I planned. A couple of the guys around me chuckled. The director frowned in my direction. Not a good sign. I might have blown my chance to get the big money. Still, I am working.
Once the main characters showed up, we began shooting. My scene was simple and of course wordless. I stood with my hands in the air being robbed by one villain while one of the other villains climbed a ladder. Ten seconds and I get enough money to keep me in food and drink for a week. Unfortunately, one of the characters playing a villain could not get his lines straight. The so-called professional needed his motivation. I got your motivation. How about not having to eat dog food, huh? Therefore, ten seconds of airtime took two hours to shoot. Finally when everything was finished, they paid us and sent us home.
Unfortunately after that gig, I did not work again for a month. Apparently, my outburst annoyed the director and some of the more important people. Some of these big guys take delight in seeing us nobodies suffering. They must have had a field day with me. I looked around for a season or two and had to move several times. As I said before if you are not working, the monsters have a tendency to step on your house. Try being there when Gargantua steps on your bathroom. Anyway, I was about to go back to the comic books when a remake of a classic came up.
So now, I live in Gotham. There is more work and I get lines to say. The writers love my sarcastic tone. Am I sarcastic? Anyway, this is drama not comedy so the scenes are dark. That means working after sunset and I hate working the night shift. I mean, what’s life if you can’t have a few with your buds after work? Therefore, I say life would be so much easier if I were not a cartoon character.