By ANDREW BRIEDIS
Today, July 13th, 2016, marks the fourth anniversary of when I created Annoying Actor Friend. I was bored out of my mind and had nothing better to do on an extremely hot day. Nothing has changed! Hence this blog post.
Yesterday, I asked a friend, “How should I celebrate my parody Twitter account’s birthday tomorrow?” Upon hearing those words come out of my mouth un-ironically, I promptly asked the universe to send an asteroid to my GROWN ASS ADULT’S house because that is some serious Millennial bullshit. But, hey, look around, look around… Pokemon GO is still a thing after an ENTIRE WEEK. We get to be children forever now!
Publicly celebrating the birthday of a parody Twitter account is probably the most #ShamelessSelfPromoting thing ever, which is certainly “on brand” for Annoying Actor Friend, and when it comes to brands that define myself, Jurassic Park is pretty much the only thing I’ve got going on right now. So, for this blog post that I am 100% certain that nobody will read, I’d like to list and annotate all of the times I shoehorned Jurassic Park references into the voice of a character that was created to satirize the life of a Broadway actor. Think of this as my version of the #Hamiltome, except without the insightful stuff and more Jeff Goldblum.
1.) Spielberg Don’t Give a Shit
In the Smash blog, “Spielberg Don’t Give a Shit” (Mar. 2013) I gave Mr. Spielberg a few GREAT suggestions for how to up Smash‘s rating by using elements from some of his most famous films. I’ve spoken greatly about how of the 20+ Smash recaps/blogs I wrote in the winter/spring of 2013, this one marks as my favorite. It was the first time I made a series of memes, and I am still proud of this one:
While I was actually giving myself an excuse to devote an entire section of a blog to my favorite Spielberg film, I was too paranoid that one of my friends would pick up on it, so Jurassic Park only gets a tiny mention at the end, urging Smash to “add dinosaurs” to the show.
2.) Mr. DNA Deciphers the Tiered Production Contract
In #SOBLESSED: The Annoying Actor Friend’s Guide to Werking in Show Business (Oct. 2013) — ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY! — there is a passage in Chapter 4: “On the Road,” where the Old Annoying Actor Friend explains how the Equity national touring contracts devolved over time. In that section, I gave a nod to Mr. DNA, the cartoon exposition extraordinaire who explains to the audience exactly how Dr. Henry Wu (played by Broadway’s B.D. Wong) was able to clone dinosaurs out of DNA found in fossilized amber by filling in the genome sequencing gaps with the DNA of frogs…
The highlighted line is verbatim what Mr. DNA says in the film, except it’s said in a labored and exhausted manner because that’s how tedious it is to connect millions of strands of DNA to create one dinosaur. I chose this reference in particular, because upon doing my research, I was equally as exhausted by the confusing manner in which many of the more profitable Equity touring contracts seemed to disappear. It felt about as easy to explain in this book as it would be to revive an extinct animal.
(NOTE: There is also a reference to Game of Thrones within the same sentence. I use many Game of Thrones references in my AAF writing, depending on what time of the year it is. I believe most of my Tonys drinking games have some mention of the show because the season finales are in June).
3.) JURAAF Productions
In the summer of 2014, ten incredible and generous actors (Alan Cumming, Lesli Margherita, Megan Hilty, Julia Murney, Will Swenson, Keala Settle, Tituss Burgess, Krysta Rodriguez, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, and Brian Dennehy), along with two equally incredible and generous audiobook producers/directors (Piper Goodeve and Jayme Mattler) donated their time and talents to the audiobook version of #SOBLESSED, where all proceeds and royalties benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Due to scheduling, the recording of this audiobook began in June 0f 2014, but didn’t wrap until the end of September. So, I had a lot of time to come up with the only piece of new writing this project needed: a production/publisher name. That name wouldn’t need to be established until we had locked down the voice we were looking for to read the opening and closing sections–which included the credits. Naturally, I procrastinated until that time.
In July, we were fortunate enough to grab a few hours of Alan Cumming’s time, so that morning I frantically tried to come up with some sort of title that would live on this project forever…and I still couldn’t use my own name. Borrowing from Jujamcyn Theaters (which derives from the first handful of letters of the names of the original chairman’s grandchildren), I took the first three letters of JURassic Park and the initials of Annoying Actor Friend, to come up with JURAAF PRODUCTIONS. My nickname is also “baby giraffe” because that’s what I look like when I run, so the entire thing worked for me.
At the end, Alan Cumming reads my full name as executive producer, followed by “JURAAF PRODUCTIONS,” and that is probably the most “hiding in plain sight” moment from when I was anonymous.
You can download the audiobook for FREE, and BC/EFA will still get their donation if you follow these directions: How to Get “#SOBLESSED: the Audiobook” for FREE!
4.) Where’s the goat!?
It wasn’t until June, 2015 that I stopped caring about being found out. I had planned my reveal for December, and Jurassic World was a huge thing at the time, so I thought it was appropriate to bring some truly niche and forced jokes to Twitter.
This is pretty terrible. Edward Albee has a play called The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) says the famous line, “Where’s the goat?!” before a goat leg drops on their windshield. The word “goat” is about all the two have in common, although I’m sure Edward Albee has at least seen Jurassic Park.
This is my most favorite tweet I have ever done, or will ever do…
I was on a red-eye coming back from Kauai (where most of Jurassic Park was filmed) and I had left my entire playlist on shuffle as I fell asleep. At some point in the middle of the night, “Gimme Gimme” popped on, I didn’t skip it, and when Sutton Foster got to the lyrics, “clever girl,” my hazy mind went to those two famous words Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) utters to the velociraptor just before she devours him.
6.) Dennis Nedry is #GRATEFUL
#GRATEFUL: Everything Happens for a Reason (Nov. 2015) — ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY — is the “choose-your-own-show-business-destiny” sequel to #SOBLESSED. It is four times as large as its predecessor, and thus has four times as many references to Jurassic Park.
There are four main stories that break down into close to a hundred smaller stories, depending on which avenues you choose. One in particular, is semi-autobiographical–wherein you quit being an actor, become a personal trainer, and then create a version of Annoying Actor Friend, which in the universe of #GRATEFUL, is called Irritating Performer Pal.
There is a fairly simple exchange your character has with your manager, that I pulled from when John Hammond (Sir Richard Attenborough) bemoans to Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight): “I’m sorry about your financial problems, Dennis, I really am, but they are your problems.”
It’s kind of a throw-away, but my goal was to get as many in as possible.
7.) Creativity Finds A Way
If you follow the career transition track in #GRATEFUL, then you reach a point where your character is trying to suppress the creative instincts inside–which goes completely against the nature of an actor, and that isn’t always a good thing. Similarly, Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) has a speech near the beginning of the film where he tries to break down how attempting to control nature will always end negatively:
“The kind of control you’re attempting simply is… it’s not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh… well, there it is.” – Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
I adapted that passage for the narrator to recite to the reader at the moment they are trying to battle against their own instincts:
8.) Discipline. Discipline. Discipline.
There was a moment in the very beginning of Annoying Actor Friend (around fall, 2012) when I wasn’t sure how to make the next step. I considered an Instagram account that posted screen caps of “social media offenders” with their names blurred out. I eventually decided against that because it wasn’t providing new content. It just felt like trolling and unnecessary shaming. However, there is a part in the semi-autobiographical section of #GRATEFUL where you can choose that option, and when it backfires, I borrow from the following words so eloquently spoken by the great Jeff Goldblum:
“If I may… Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it.” – Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
From #GRATEFUL (2015):
NOTE: There was one final nod to Jurassic Park in #GRATEFUL where I noted that the Times Square Chicago Flyer Girls “do move in herds,” but it was cut because it was the only reference that lived outside of the section that is semi-autobiographical.
9.) The Reveal
When John Hammond and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are left alone to eat melting ice cream after the power outage, Ellie urges that the animals will defend themselves, “violently if necessary.”
When it came time to write “@AndrewBriedis”, the essay that would reveal my identity, I knew that Jurassic Park would play a small part in it. I made sure to explain how the film inspired me to write Steven Spielberg and ask him to be in the sequel, which ultimately led to me starting youth theatre. I was certain to make a joke about the meme of Sutton Foster with a raptor. And I made sure to include at least one phrase of dialogue in the final sentence. Whether it made sense or not, it was for me, and exactly how I wanted to end that chapter of Annoying Actor Friend…
“Above all, it taught me that you can have an epic passion for something and then one day you might wake up and it’s gone—and that’s OK. Because if you really love it…if it is absolutely a world you’re supposed to be involved with in some way, it will drag you—violently if necessary—back into its arms.”
CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU for reading all of that masturbatory crap! Or for at least scrolling to the bottom! These were just the nine times I referenced Jurassic Park that I could remember. Who knows how many were lost after a happy hour.
TUNE IN on Annoying Actor Friend’s 5th birthday, when I list and annotate all of the times I shoehorned in references to Animaniacs.