A few years ago, Rolling Stone kindly published a piece of mine about the funniest "studio notes" actors, writers, directors, and comedians have received from Hollywood producers and network execs. It was intended to be an oral history about receiving chortle-worthy criticism, a way to use these "notes" to tell some of comedy's best secret stories, and I hope we accomplished that goal, to some degree. (Note: the headline was not my first choice, but I am a team player, and I had a lot of fun working on the piece and eventual pride seeing it in RS.)
It was a dream assignment: I interviewed a score of hilarious celebs, producers and directors--from Mel Brooks and Garry Shandling to younger talents like David Wain ("Wet Hot American Summer"), Paul Scheer ("The League"), and Nick Stoller ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Five Year Engagement").
Everyone cracked me up, and the piece generated serious interest from one of the world's biggest book publishers. So I took some of the quotes from my many funny interviews that Rolling Stone had not picked for inclusion (page-space is limited at magazines), and my agent and I went out with a book proposal about how this could be a hilarious narrative project, especially given my access to so many people in the entertainment industry. Eventually, and ironically, the senior publishing exec didn't think the book would make money (I still disagree), and the project, which could now be a brilliant multimedia thing with video, great for iPads, was tabled.*
Alas, one of the many funny things Rolling Stone could not include--sadly rendering my collection of interview subjects 100% male--was my unforgettable, if short, interview with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who stars tonight in HBO's new series "Veep." I share this gem with you now. Word, for word, and I have this on tape, this is what one of the funniest actresses in comedy told me, on the record. Addendum: Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a lovely, generous woman, with guts of steel, and I don't doubt she will continue to be a hit with audiences everywhere -- and to reiterate, I would not have posted this if she had not given me the quote on the record.
FUNNIEST STUDIO NOTE: JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS
"I have only one story that comes to mind, and I leave out names because that's a better idea.
But when I was very young and had just started on “SNL”--I believe I was 20--I did a sketch in which I played John DeLorean's wife...
In that sketch, my hair was blown out straight -- because her hair is straight.
So, we did the show, and the following day, I was called into one of our producers' offices (as a side note, I should say that I have naturally curly hair), and he said to me, “Julia, I got a call from a bunch of NBC executives after last night’s show, and they said that after seeing your hair straight, they all wanna fuck you.”
This was apparently his way of trying to entice me into straightening my hair for the rest of season.
Needless to say: I was young and naïve, but I was so shocked that anyone would say anything like that, I just burst out laughing in a hysterical way. I didn't know what else to do.
Years later, when "Seinfeld" was becoming somewhat of a hit, I ran into the same producer at NBC again.
And he said to me, “Hey, Julia, I see they're letting you do your hair the way you want now."
That's apparently all he took away from my “Seinfeld” contribution.
The irony of it was that not only did I make my hair curly on "Seinfeld," which may have been a huge mistake now that I think about it, but I enhanced the curl and made it HUGE!
I wonder if that hair wasn't some kind of reaction.
I was saying: 'Not only is this hair going to be curly, it's going to be crazy curly. Take that, motherfucker!!'"
--as told to Adam Baer
*Tabled in this case means I stopped pursuing it. I'm open to pursuing it again, though, especially with a new class of today's funniest people.