Letters from My Readers


Dear Michelle,

Last week you were talking about straight jobs that you were able to obtain over the years that helped you to pursue your acting, screenwriting & filmmaking career.   What about substitute teaching?  I came here to LA right after high school and do not have a college degree.  Do you think I could or should get a gig substitute teaching?  Or maybe artist-in-residence kind of thing?

Sincerely,

Your Reader

 

Dear Reader,

Yes, I know who you are, Myra.  You can’t hide behind that “your reader” anonymity.  I’m sure you are underhandedly trying to get me to spill the beans on why I got fired from teaching comedy traffic school.  To embarrass me.  But, it’s not going to work.  I am wise to your tricks.  No way would I talk about how ridiculous and unfair it is to be fired from the perfect day job for actors because of…well…it couldn’t be MY fault, could it?

Basically, I got fired from comedy traffic school for making jokes about comedy traffic school.

Here's how it works in California.  Let's say you are a minor scofflaw, a habitually sloppy driver.  If you get more than two tickets in a three-year period (this only works for relatively small moving violations such as not signaling) you get a ding on your driving record.  Your insurance company finds out about it and the bastards raise your rates.  Even if you pay the tickets on time…and I know not all of you do.

So, to extract more money from your already eczematic hide, the State of California offers you a solution.  If you not only pay the ticket; but also a penalty for getting too many tickets; and also a hefty re-training fee; plus a wiping-it-off-your-record-fee and…and…if you pay for and attend an eight-hour (there goes your weekend) class to remind you how to be a good driver, then they will wipe the points off your rap sheet.  It shall be as if you had never squiggled through that stop sign.  But, don't forget: you also have to pay for the class.  So, you end up about $400 poorer, but your insurance doesn't go up.  It's magically as if you had not committed the crime, other than the large hole in your wallet. And your weekend, shot to hell and gone forever.

But, wait…there's more.

They actually think that sitting through a cram course of the same stuff you learned way back in high school will make you a safer driver, so they have not updated any of the driver “safety” training materials since you first sat through this at age 15 ½.  Only, they omitted the behind-the-wheel portion.  Somehow they think you don't need to re-learn how long it actually takes to stop on a rainy, oil-slicked road…you only need to re-watch gory flicks about people being chopped in half while sliding into a ravine off Highway 1.

Back to comedy traffic school.

There's more ridiculosity.  The State of California contracts the operation of traffic schools to private parties.  Not like we actually NEED the money in the State budget, naw.  Why not give it to some private party who can then screw up the whole thing, rip off the money, do a shitty job, etc. etc.  Graft.  Stealing.

Never Mind.

So, one of these contractors (I am sure the guy was a cousin of the head of the DMV) decides he will be better able to compete for students if he offers comedians as teachers instead of traffic cops or professional driving instructors, or something sensible like that.

So, he hires a butt-load of actors and comedians and gives them minimal training and sets them loose on the unsuspecting populace as comedy traffic instructors.

snorting

Here's a section from the Comedy Traffic School training manual:

Do not make jokes about the following:

  • drunk driving

  • the court system

  • cops

  • road rage

  • elderly drivers

  • women drivers

  • teenage drivers

  • Chinese drivers

  • Car insurance

  • Politics

  • Sex

  • Religion

  • Traffic laws

  • The stupidity of traffic laws

  • Road workers

  • The Department of Transportation

  • Gruesome car accidents

  • Not taking responsibility for your own driving errors

  • Having your guts chopped in half in an airline crash

Wait, a minute, during our training, you guys TOLD us this statistic and SHOWED us the medical videotapes about how these airline seatbelts are not safe.

Many, many people die in minor airplane incidents because those lap belts chop into their vital organs?  Think about it…we use shoulder restraints in autos because they are safer.  Why do we still use lap belts in airplanes?  It actually is SAFER not to wear your airline lap belt in many circumstances.

plane fender bender

And now we can’t make jokes about it?

The first day I followed these rules, I got back student evaluations which complained, “She was NOT funny.”  Uh, yeah.  So, the next weekend I made jokes about the owners of the traffic school.

And got fired.

Hope this helps you, dear Reader.

Sincerely,

Michelle

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