In Hysterics with Ted Pillow
By O. Michele Giacomini
July 5, 2016
Ever stumble across a writer that makes you laugh...OUT LOUD? I know, I know, of course you have! I mean what can I say, I’m sure I immediately came to mind when you read that question, (HA!), but believe it or not, I’m really not here to chat about myself. No, really...I’m not. Instead I want to introduce you to someone I recently discovered. I have to warn you, when I did, he took me aback with his hysterical writing! OMGawd! Talk about talent. Ted Pillow is our spotlight guest this week, and let me tell you, when you get a chance to read his material, you will then understand why he is such a treat! (PS: If you are one of my former students reading this, well, let it serve as an “I told you so” that there is hope in learning to write)!
OMG: Welcome to our site Ted. So let’s get started. Tell us when you first discovered you were a writer? Did you think this was something you would pursue as a professional?
TP: “I've liked writing since I learned how to do it, but lost touch with it at some point in my teen years. I think I began to see it as more of a chore and less of a fun creative outlet. I picked it up again about five years ago, with the the intention of pursuing it as a hobby that could pay for beer. And that's pretty much how it's worked out.”
OMG: Now THAT is a good reason to write...maybe I should add that to my resume: “Will write for beer.”
Do you remember the first writing piece you wrote? What was is about?
TP: “The first piece I had run on a website was a very dark one about the plots of late 90s sitcoms reimagined by someone in the throes of an existential crisis. Doesn't exactly make my writing sound like a ‘fun creative outlet,’ I know.”
An example of Ted’s thought process
OMG: Holy crap! That isn’t EVEN close to what I thought you’d say...and so opposite of the material I’ve read of yours! I mean you're an extremely funny writer, and from one humorist to another, I believe we can agree that is the most difficult genre of writing out there. Why do you write humor?
TP: “Thanks! I just love humor writing. I try and write with humor because I basically can't imagine why someone would want to read what I have to say unless it was funny. I'm not exactly James Joyce, you know. Any time you ask someone to read something, you're making a request on their time and attention. If I can give them a few laughs in return, hopefully that justifies it.”
OMG: WOW! It’s like you got into my head and spewed my thoughts. I completely agree…(besides I’d rather read something funny than...well, er...anything else).
So, what is your most favorite piece you've written?
TP: “That's a good question. My favorite humor piece I've ever written is probably If You Aren’t Sure If They’re Flirting With You, They’re Flirting With You (Unless They Aren’t) and my favorite non-humor piece is The Unofficial Roger Ebert Reader on Addiction.”
Graph from If you aren’t Sure they’re Flirting with you, they’re Flirting with you (Unless they aren’t)
OMG: Oh my gawd, I absolutely love that article (the flirting one). Your pace is perfect and it’s just filled with humor from start to finish. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’ve raised two sons to adulthood, and survived their boy humor, but I love it...and your graphs!!! I’m trying to remember which article of your I stumbled across first...I don’t think it was “How to get a Girlfriend in 26 easy Steps” but I read that one too, and I laughed so hard! So have you tried out those steps and do they work?
Ted’s chart for Sexy Halloween Costumes
TP: “No, those are definitely not intended for real-life use. (He laughs) Basically I really don't like self-help/advice writing, so I just enjoy giving really awful advice to people.”
OMG: Oh that explains how you DO have girlfriend. Thank gawd you didn’t follow your advice! *winks*
On a serious note, I did just recently read your piece on Roger Ebert. Holy cow, I had zero idea about the demons he was battling. He just always seemed like the “together” guy on the show giving us his thumbs up or down on movies we might see. It’s interesting, we may both consider ourselves humorists, but a lot of time we get commissioned to do the straight reporting pieces. How did this article come about for you?
TP: “I'm a huge movie fan and I love reading film criticism. I used to read the Ebert review for every movie I watched, to the point where I could usually predict his rating beforehand. After reading him for years, I started to pick up on the fact that he wrote very eloquently about addiction, specifically alcoholism. It's in the background of a lot of his reviews, but it's amazing how he was able to write so insightfully about human struggle within the context of a film review. Then I looked into it a little and found out that he was a recovering alcoholic and had also done some writing specifically around his experiences with that. So I decided to pick out some of his best excerpts, which were basically spread throughout thousands of reviews, and turned them into a kind of tapestry. It was a lot of work, but also really fun.”
OMG: Putting you on the spot Ted: Who are your top 5 writers ever, and why?
TP: “My favorite humor writers are Daniel Pinkwater (writer of bizarre young adult fiction that really blew my mind as a kid), George Saunders, Woody Allen, and Tom Oatmeal. I love everything at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. I also read a lot of Dave Barry as a kid. But my favorite all-time writer is David Foster Wallace. I could go on, but I'm embarrassed at how many white guys I've already named.”
OMG: Ummm...I noticed you forgot a certain up and coming female humorist, uh hem...I’m sure you just figured that goes without saying, right? *laughing*
What do you have coming up next?
TP: “I'm not sure! (But people can) follow me @TedPillow. I usually post one stupid Tweet a day, retweet people far wittier than me, and link to new writing when it comes out.”
Ted’s thoughts on writers’ thoughts
I’m sure all our readers and followers will want to keep close tabs on your work. So be sure to catch Ted on Twitter @tedpillow or here: http://thoughtcatalog.com/ted-pillow/
If you have any questions for Ted, please leave them below in the comments.
Join me next Tuesday when baseball’s Andrew Pomeroy from the Reno Aces is our guest!