This is not how I pictured your offices. I always imagine you guys sitting around a big wooden table having tea, and there’s a lake outside. That doesn’t matter. What matters is: I have a show you’re going to love. Antiques Roadhow, but with a twist.
I’m the host. We open on a black screen. We hear nothing. Suddenly, in voiceover, I say: “We are all alone. We are tired of feeling like islands or hunted animals. Come along as we unlock something bigger together.”
Picture’s up, and I’m seated behind a portable table skirted with linen. I’m wearing a black T-shirt that says: SOONER OR LATER, THERE’S A DESOLATE MOMENT OF TRYING TO REDISCOVER WHO WE ARE. LIVE CONSTANTLY IN THAT MOMENT.
These two get it! [Point to any two executives who appear to have the power to green-light a pilot.]
Okay, so a man approaches me with some goddamn antique thing. I’m like, “Good day, sir, go ahead and put that weird metal bullshit on my table.” I then whisper to him: “By doing so, you consent to me rolling up on you with a dark and gorgeous flurry of mixed martial arts moves.”
So that’s the first twist: I bum rush these doodad mongers with cunning, exotic physical savagery. Maybe you give me a name like Le Mamba or El Scorpio—whatever, that’s up to you.
I don’t know any actual martial arts moves. But I had a friend in Colorado who made his living stealing mountain bikes and then helping people recover their stolen mountain bikes. Smaller fella, cagey and nimble, showed me how to get out of a jam with a few tricks, so I have a foundation to go from.
I’m imagining a move where I softly, violently cradle folks. Kind of a weird cuddle that could pull their groin ligament. Brainstorm a name for it. Nut Hutch? Nap Squat? The Iron Spoon? You guys are the creative people; it’s your call.
So now the guy’s realizing this is the part in life where shit’s not what it seems; that this is no ordinary stodgy antiques show. He tries to run. But I’m back on him with my moves. The Angry Fiddler! Fire Ant Sleeper! Hip Noodler! I launch into Mean Spooner Part II: The Cradle Saga Continues. So many sequels to my moves, folks. And your viewers will want a front-row seat to every one of my painful grunting dazzlers.
You know what? There’s our show title: Painful Grunting Dazzlers with Dan Kennedy. Or Dan Kennedy’s Painful Grunting Dazzlers. Dealer’s choice, totally your call.
Okay, hold onto your seats, PBS. Because here comes the crowd participation segment: While I’m doing my moves on the man, the audience chants: “Item is a fake!” or “Contains no Pueblo gold!” They’ll also scream phrases that have nothing to do with the show, like, “Podcasts eventually let us down!”
See, that’s the thing: Our studio audience will be made up entirely of angry people with good hearts. People who tried their best in life. But now they just need a room to scream in, and a phrase to scream.
You’re looking at me like, “Every item can’t be worth nothing and lead to a mixed martial arts battle. Some people need to win.” And you are correct.
Let’s say someone approaches my table. Lays a book down on it. A copy of Life in Code by Ellen Ullman. Now we have a whole new twist: I see this person as someone who has experienced, in the late-night or pre-dawn hours, the insanely keen eye Ullman has for hindsight that’s not sick with nostalgia. This person understands how our collective innocence is being eroded by a poison cocktail of curiosity, intellectual wanderlust, and greed. There will be no battle.
Instead, I look into their eyes and say, “This book you brought is worth a million dollars.” I’ll signal our producer, and they’ll come over with a check for $1 million. I tell the person they can even keep their copy of the book.
The person’s like, “Thank you. You’re creating a show that’s healing people.”
I just go, “Time’s a monster. I just want to keep our hearts and curiosity alive.”
The whole fucking audience is looking at each other like, “Best goddamn taping I’ve ever been to. Best show on PBS. Period.”
Thank you for your time, you can reach me through my reps, and let’s make an amazing antiques show while I’m still young and flexible enough to fight.