Idols, Inspiration and More Nonsense - June 13th 2003

If you ask a comic how he/she chose the career path that they did you’ll hear a lot of different answers. Most have this answer down pact and ready to go as if they’re rehearsing for their RollingStone interview: “So and so changed my life… blah, blah, blah… I was memorizing Bill Hicks routines when I was four… blah, blah, blah… I’m hilarious!” Others are like “I want to change the world,” and then when you see them live they rant about people who read over their shoulder or chewing gum. Really powerful stuff.

Well, I’m here to say that I never wanted to be a comic. Nope. Not me. When I was in junior high I obsessed about becoming a Saturday Night Live writer, and must have written a couple hundred really bad sketches, which I actually sent to NBC. Needless to say, I never got a response and was shocked that they didn’t a want a 12 year-old to serve as head writer. In fact, two years later I actually trekked to New York, camped in the NBC lobby for 8 hours, and met television writer Fred Wolf (I recognized him from my SNL fan book.) I think he thought I was a stalker, and he quickly escaped in the elevators.

That’s who I idolized, the writers: Warren Huthcherson, Adam Sandler, Dave Attell. All comedy writers who did stand-up. That’s the path I wanted to follow. Let’s focus on the first guy, Warren Hutcherson, for a sec. The only man I’ve ever seen do Def Jam with skilled performance and well-written jokes, has filmed an HBO’ ½ special, and is currently a much-respected TV writer in LA. Well in early April I met Warren Hutcherson. I didn’t feel comfortable writing about it when it happened, but since we’re all such good friends. This is my story.

It all began in Washington Square park when yours truly was on the way to the gym. As mentioned in previous entries, I wear a baseball cap, walk with my head down and listen to my cd player. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Warren Hutcherson strolling towards me. Those who have actually met a childhood hero will understand. I will elaborate for the rest of you. For starters, it’s weird. It is. To see someone transform from a figment of your imagination to a real person with a 3-dimensional shape, occupying space, matter and time is really freaky. “Nah, it couldn’t be.” I thought. After all, he wasn’t even dressed well, and doesn’t this guy live in LA? I kept on walking, but just in case… “Warren!”

I yelled out as loud as I could, which must have been much louder because I had rap music blasting out of my headphones. (See May 8th entry.) The man turns around. Jackpot. From that moment on, I was real conscious about my thoughts, and the words coming out of my mouth. I learned an important lesson from Fred Wolf. Don’t come across too strong or they might think you want to kill them. Still, I managed to get across that I was a fan, and we talked for a good ten minutes. Check this out. At the end of the conversation, the guy gives me his e-mail. It’s not huge but whatever. The fact that he thought I was worthy enough to have his e-mail made my day.

I got home that night and wrote him a thank-you letter for the advice and included a series of questions. This was going to be great. Me and Warren Hutcherson. Best buds. I remember having a pen pal in elementary school. It never amounted to anything but this was going to be different. I could feel it. This is what I wrote. Yeah, it’s a bit gushy but the guy was an idol of mine so cut me some slack.

Hi Warren,

It was great to meet you earlier today in Washington Square Park. I hope you found Bleecker Street. It's very inspiring for me to write/perform at another level whenever I hear your stuff. Funny, when you're in NY, I always find out the day after. (Luna Lounge/Boston Comedy.) I really thought I was delusional when I walked by you and must have seemed like a psycho shouting your name out like that.

Anyways, any words of advice you can pass along? Do you perform regularly in LA? What do you prefer: stand-up or tv writing? Sorry for the mess of questions. Your insight is much appreciated, and I've already told like five of my friends what a great guy Warren Hutcherson is.

Please keep me updated on your next NY visit. I'll definitely come out and support.

thxs again,


Pretty good, right? Wrong. The next day I checked my e-mail… nothing. “Ok. I just sent it, he’s probably in NY still. He probably doesn’t even have a computer with him, and God knows how slow those internet cafes are. I’ll just check it tomorrow.” So I checked it the next day… nothing. And the day after… nothing. And the day after that, and the day after that, and the day after that. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. It was like a ritual. I think it got to the point where I expected nothing and would have been blown out of my seat if the guy actually did write to me. I also went through the denial phase. I double checked the address, and even yelled at my webmaster and blamed his server for not delivering my message. I have the man’s e-mail. He asked me for directions. How can he not respond?! Then I had a flashback to three years ago. The last man to give me his e-mail address and not respond was the exec producer of Spin City after I spent a full year changing the coffee filter and collating his stupid scripts. I was starting to believe that getting someone’s e-mail address was Hollywood code to get lost.

Let’s stop one more time just to clarify things. I wasn’t depressed. Seriously. I’m not trying to cover up my manhood, but as a comic, I’ve gone through the most insane things that sometimes I feel that my pain threshold is abnormal, and I’m desensitized to human emotion. But it did hurt. The part about telling my friends was true, and I was officially blown off. There was only one thing left to do.

I wrote the following letter May 8th. About three and a half weeks after our first encounter.

hi warren,

I’m the guy you met in the park in ny a while ago. I was having trouble with my server and may have missed your e-mail. Anyway, please keep me updated on any shows you do in the area. Will bring my friends to support.


I clicked the send button and waited.

On May 14th at 12:25 pm, L.A. time, Warren Hutcherson wrote me back. It’s a bit private, and can’t disclose what he wrote, but he answered all my questions and gave me sound advice. He even apologized for not replying sooner, and explained that he was traveling, which makes sense, considering that he is a tv writer and summer is vacation time. Most importantly, he took the time to reply, when he easily could have chosen not to.

I think a lot sometimes about what I’m going to say to him when I outgrow New York, and have to move to LA. Honestly, I’m not sure, but there's no rush. I have his e-mail address. 
Tarun ShettyComment