Stuff Harold Ramis Said to ME
Harold Ramis was an amazing writer and director of some of the best movie comedies ever. His film Groundhog Day is in a big battle with Ernst Lubitsch's To Be Or Not To Be for my all-time favorite slot. I got to meet him one time, maybe seven years ago. I was thrilled. This is some of the stuff he said to me.
- •Harold Ramis was excited that I worked in animation. He really wanted to make cartoons and said he enjoyed Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
- •He asked me what kind of things I wanted to do in my career.
- •After listening to me talk about my goals, Harold Ramis explained that he spent a long time in the entertainment industry not being able to get what he wanted. Finally, he STOPPED wanting it. And that's when everything opened up to him, and all those things he wanted were suddenly available.
- •But now he didn't particularly want them.
- •Harold Ramis told me this was how the entertainment industry worked.
- •Hearing this, it resonated as true. But I couldn't fully wrap my head around it.
- •For one thing, there was the nagging thought: "Oh, sure. That's easy for YOU to say, Mr. Big-Time Director, with your fabulous house and huge career."
- •And his career was SO spectacular, so fast - by age 32 he's helping to create SCTV, one of the greatest and most influential TV comedies. Where is this period when he's "not getting what he wants?"
- •But as the years have passed, I've seen he was absolutely correct.
- •Whenever I've desperately wanted some opportunity, it never comes through.
- •When an opportunity arises and I've thought to myself, "Well, that's cool... but there are pluses and minuses to it..." That's when I'm told, "The choice is yours! Want to do this?!"
- •Why is that?
- •I think it's because everything changes. Nothing is certain. Nothing is permanent.
- •And something - whether it's a part of myself, or something outside of me - wants the best for me.
- •This "something" looks at me and says: "Yeesh, this guy DESPERATELY wants this opportunity. Like, his whole life depends on it. And if the opportunity goes away, he'll be devastated."
- •"But the opportunity WILL go away eventually - because nothing is permanent. And then Aaron will be fucked. Because he based his entire well-being on having this one opportunity."
- •"Therefore, we'd better not give it to him. We'd better wait until it's an opportunity that inevitably changes or goes away, but he's OK with that. He feels like his life is still worth living. Because we want him to keep going and experiencing all the other amazing things life has to offer."
- •I am so grateful I had that one, brief interaction with a brilliant guy who knew the most helpful thing he could possibly say to me in that moment!