In honor of Earth Day this Sunday, I'm re-posting this clip from Law & Order: SVU, in which I play an eco-friendly volunteer. I hope it inspires everyone to Go Green!
See Tim perform stand-up @ littlefield! WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Now that I’m a mature adult (married-filing-jointly) and do my returns online, I miss some of the old rituals of Tax Day -- that annual celebration of the art of procrastination. Until recently, I used to wait until April 15, then embark on a daylong reconnaissance mission -- finding forms, rounding up W-2s and 1099s, and unearthing receipts in exotic locations in my apartment. By 10:30 p.m., I would have calculated my salary, wages, and tips, itemized my deductions, checked "no" to a gift to wildlife, and I'd be ready to go -- to the main post office at 33rd Street and Eight Avenue in Manhattan, which is open all night.
One year when I arrived, the TV news was there on the steps, interviewing some of the procrastinators. People had set up Chinese massage chairs and were offering stress relief for a few bucks. A group showed up with banners and bullhorns to protest the war. The Lyndon LaRouche folks were there, promoting Lyndon LaRouche. (This was before the Tea Party existed.) Some old ladies were selling homemade cookies at a card table. There was a display with free samples of Knorr's instant cup-a-soup, and California Pizza Kitchen was giving away free pizza. You see, if I had done my taxes early, I would've missed out on this stuff.
There was even a show! A group of drag queens came prancing down the steps wearing huge wigs, sequined gowns, and feather boas. One of them was carrying a boom box blasting "You Gotta Work" by Ru Paul. I looked around at the carnival and thought, “These are my people -- misfits, thrill-seekers, low-level hucksters, master dilly-dalliers. God bless us, every one. This is probably the closest I'll ever get to Woodstock.” Then one of the drag queens nudged me and said, "Honey, you better get that postmarked."
He or she was right. It was 11:55, but I wasn’t ready. I wanted to go to the edge. I wandered over to the pizza table and tried a cold slice of the BBQ chicken pizza, which really hit the spot. I talked to someone about the Yankees' starting rotation. I made my way inside and approached one of the postal workers standing by a giant bin with her rubber stamp. It was 11:59. She gave me a look of "Come on, hurry up!" I presented my envelopes. She took them, but I still held on. I looked up at the clock, the second hand making its way uphill. This is it, I thought: the total edge of human lateness. The Eagles song "Take It to the Limit" played in my head. "Let go," she said. "It's time."
I'm pretty sure my returns were postmarked after midnight, but they still got in. I like to imagine I'm one of a few people alive who can say that. Outside, looking down on Madison Square Garden, I felt all the tension release from my body. I'd been to the mountaintop. I'd stolen fire from the gods, tempted their wrath, and returned to tell other mortals my tale.
Now I use TurboTax.
In honor of Major League Baseball’s opening day today, I thought I would post an early story of mine about Red Sox Hall-of-Famer Jim Rice. Below are the original manuscript pages, followed by the complete annotated text:
A Stranger, but a Friend at the Door
by Tim Ellis
(A script for a commercial parody that I’m too busy/lazy/technically inept to actually make.)
Shot of a young, cool-looking GUY on in front of a theater. He’s framed with eyes outside the shot -- to give him an “every guy” quality, and so that the actor playing him can be paid less. He speaks into his iPhone. Siri, the voice of the phone, answers him. Apple-y music swirls in background.
GUY: Where can I take an improv class?
SIRI: Do you mean long-form or short-form?
Cut to Guy at home.
GUY: Who was in Wet, Hot American Summer?
SIRI: I’ll look that up for you. Again.
A quick succession of shots…
GUY: How do I get on SNL?
GUY: What’s a Harold?
GUY: Is it too late to make a Shit People Say video?
Shot of Guy in coffee shop.
GUY: Add “Psychopathic Maniac” to my list of sketch group names.
SIRI: That’s not good.
SIRI: Nothing. I’ll do that for you.
Shot of Guy in bar.
GUY: How can I get a job on Fallon from my Twitter?
SIRI: If I knew, I wouldn’t be working here.
Shot of Guy in another bar.
GUY: Tell Phil and Ben I’ll be doing a set at the Laugh Hole tonight.
GUY: Oh, and tell them there’s a two-drink minimum.
SIRI: Is this a bringer? Oh, no.
Shot of Guy performing in a comedy club. He makes a joke (either about racial stereotypes, masturbation, porn, rape, AIDS, or online dating). He comments on the audience not liking the joke.
GUY: Too edgy for you?
Shot of Guy outside club.
GUY: From now on, call me “Comedy God.”
SIRI: No, I won’t. You obnoxious, unfunny human. OK?
Insert iPhone and Apple branding. Flash title in small type: “Does not reflect actual use of product.”
Lately, I’m not sure why, I’ve been getting into more and more conflicts with people I know. I’m aware of this, and I’ve decided to work on my communication skills. Fortunately, we live in a time when the latest technology can help us to be better communicators. I’ve resolved to use these tools more effectively in my life, to create more harmony in the world around me.
For starters, the next time I’m really mad at someone, I plan to write a long email, carefully explaining what he or she has done to offend me. I won’t just fire it off in anger. I’ll compose many drafts, each one more eloquent than the last. If I express my hurt feelings honestly and fully in writing, the person will surely listen to reason. Then they can respond directly, with a heartfelt apology, to each of my concerns. This can all be accomplished peacefully, through email, without all the yelling and blaming that come with a face-to-face confrontation.
Tim Ellis is a comedian, actor, writer, singer-songwriter, and, arguably, one of the most important and best-loved figures of his time. A veritable renaissance man, he has made contributions to entertainment, classic literature, modern dance, postmodern theory, and the culinary arts. Ellis is the author of nearly 10 plays, less than 50 books, and innumerable volumes of works-in-progress, as well as scores of projected works. His stand-up performances could be called “edgy yet stylish.” Critic(s) raved about Ellis’s one-man show An Inquiry into Human Understanding, unanimously hailing it as a work of the 21st century. He has appeared widely in the media on all manner of devices, and his groundbreaking videos are available on the World Wide Web for billions of viewers to download. He has also been seen on television more than once. Tim Ellis has touched countless people in indescribable ways, and the weight of his legacy is yet to be felt by future generations.