Sunday, August 02, 2015

No one dresses better than comedy writers

I once related the story of my partner and I attending an awards ceremony looking like idiots in matching brown tuxedos and peach ruffled shirts. But that is not to suggest that I don't normally dress extremely well. In fact, I was in GQ.

No. Really.

Honest.

I’m serious.

Somehow GQ magazine got wind of my going off to Syracuse in 1988 to announce minor league baseball. They decided to do an article about me. My wife is still laughing. “You in GQ?”

I did the phone interview with Ron Powers who wrote the piece. Then I got a call from their photographer. They wanted to take pictures of me that Friday at a local baseball stadium. I said fine. The photographer then wanted to know what I’d be wearing. I said I didn’t know. This was only Monday and my mom usually doesn’t pick out my clothes until the night before. He asked my measurements and said he would bring something. Now I was a little pissed off. Just because I was a writer did he automatically assume I was a schlump? I can't believe he saw me on DON KIRSCHNER'S ROCK AWARDS. I told him I would bring my own wardrobe. Obviously his concern was not assuaged. He asked if I’d bring a selection.

I’m the same height and size as Ted Danson. The next day I went to the CHEERS wardrobe guy and asked if I could borrow some Sam Malone shirts and slacks.

Friday afternoon I hooked up with the photographer. I think I was wearing a torn t-shirt. There was already a lump in his throat. I opened my trunk and let him examine my selection. The accompanying picture is a well...an approximation. His eyes almost popped out. “Jesus, this is great stuff!” he said, astonished. “Any one of these would be perfect.” “Well YEAH,” I said as if it couldn't be more obvious. “It might surprise you to learn that most television writers are total fashion hounds. Much of the time in writers rooms is spent discussing men’s haberdashery.”

I accepted his apology and hoped that he had a new respect for how writers really felt about wardrobe.

He went off to set up his camera while I put one of the shirts on, glad that he didn’t see the “Property of Paramount Pictures” tag that was still on the sleeve.

The article came out August 1988. I see my shirt all the time in reruns.

This is a repost from over four years ago.  

20 comments:

Barry Traylor said...

Now this is funny.

Oat Willie said...

"Much of the time in writers rooms is spent discussing men’s haberdashery." Send that line to The Simpsons. Your throwaway quips are better than what's currently on that show.

Igor said...

"I see my shirt all the time in reruns." Love that.

I don't even get that much from my somewhat similar story.

I was in Playboy 10 years ago. I don't recall the shirt I wore, but I do remember the fine grey-flannel wool slacks. I remember the slacks because when the issue came out, the photo they used showed me seated - that is, showed me seated and all you could see of me was my legs from the waist down. I felt so objectified.


Carmen Finestra said...

Ken, I was at the Writers Guild Award ceremony some years ago, when you and David Isaacs won the award for outstanding comedy script.

Everyone there was wearing tuxedos, but you and David were only wearing regular suits. David stepped to the podium and said, "We were only dressed for a nomination". It got a huge laugh.

Ken Levine said...

Yes, Carmen, that was one of David's great lines. I wrote about that incident many years ago. http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2005/12/and-winner-is.html

James said...

Does the shirt maker get residuals?

Justice said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
YEKIMI said...

Haven't been able to buy a pair of pants off rack that will fit me length wise since the 80s. Was in a friend's wedding in the 90s and had to get measured for the suit. Sent the measurements off to the store he was using in NYC and they didn't believe them; wanted me to get re-measured...[three times!], still didn't believe them. They said they'd wait till I got into town and take the measurements themselves. I walked in the store, they did the measurements and said "Guess we should have believed them!" Bought a suit from a well known men's store and they had me come back three times to make adjustments to it. The old Italian tailor they had on staff....well, by the second and third time I was back I had learned a few Italian curse words. I envy people that can just walk into a store and just buy stuff right then and there and walk out the door.

Breadbaker said...

I'll bet you were grateful you were the same size as Ted Danson rather than John Ratzenberger. I don't think GQ goes for the full postal look.

Cap'n Bob said...

What, no photo of you doing your Mayday Malone impersonation?

Corey said...


What, no link to the article photo ... oh man!

Donald Benson said...

Recalling an old interview with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Roy, well up there in years, still fit his old cowboy shirts from Republic days. He explained he had all of them. They were never discarded because they'd recycle stunt and chase footage whenever they could, and he had to match the costume.

Sort of a Friday question: How extensive ARE wardrobes for major characters? I guess MASH would be pretty limited given the setting, but how often did Sam Malone wear the same outfit? How many suits to get Frasier and Niles through a season? Did Cliff and Norm wear the same costumes (or copies of same) for all the bar scenes, or am I forgetting nuanced variations?

I know female leads would have clothing beyond what their real-life counterparts would own (just as they had bigger apartments). Was there much re-wearing there?

Pat Reeder said...

As a professional radio comedy writer, I spend most of my time in the official uniform: Hawaiian shirt and khakis. My particular fashion statement is that I look for shirts with parrot designs (harder to find than you'd think) because I have a houseful of rescued homeless and handicapped parrots and cockatoos. I search for these shirts at a trendy little boutique known as "Goodwill."

Despite this, a few months ago, I suddenly started getting GQ magazine in the mail. I have no idea why: God knows I didn't subscribe to it, and anyone who knows me would fall down laughing at the very suggestion of giving it to me. It just showed up in my mailbox unannounced, and according to the mailing label, I now have a one-year subscription. Is this what magazines have been reduced to: so desperate for subscribers that they now force themselves on you like Bill Cosby? Has this happened to anyone else, being forcibly GQ-ed?

bj said...

And you look a lot like Ted! Here is the cover of GQ from August 1988. http://magazines.famousfix.com/tpx_2868459/gq-magazine-united-states-august-1988/

mmryan314 said...

I have loved this post from early morning on. Who wouldn't want to wake up to see the top picture? I may be old(er)but I still only drool over certain things. Apologies to Ted Danson for talking behind his back but he was smokin`.

Greg Ehrbar said...

"Daytime Dresses by Pat Perkins"

Cat said...

Ken, can we please get a photo of Mr. Danson with every post?

Roseann said...

Having been a Wardrobe Supervisor on a NYC Soap Opera as well as Episodics AND Feature films I have many a time let actors take clothes for a interview or photo shoot or whatever. None of us/them dress as well as their characters.
You certainly brought back the good old days.

Tom Quigley said...

I once got thrown into a scene in MAD ABOUT YOU where I was playing an office worker in a business that Helen's character Jamie was doing publicity for. I went over to wardrobe and they gave me a sweater vest to put on over a white business shirt I was already wearing and told me where to go sit down. I did so, played around with the phone on the desk in front of me for a couple of moments, then reached underneath my arm to relieve an itch -- and discovered the wardrobe tag still hanging from the sweater. as Rick Perry would say, "Oops"...

Deyan Simeonov said...

THe problem that many women face is the fact that they don't seem to find the perfect balance between what type of clothing they will wear and their makeup. This leads to some serious wardrobe malfunctions that can really make a woman ashamed of herself. If you want to avoid this, make sure that when you are preparing your white corset dress for instance, you are also getting the right makeup.