Dear Wet Hot American Summer:
Can you believe it? You’ve been in my life for ten years. I guess when things are so good, so meant-to-be, the years just fly by.
I remember the day I first met you. It feels like it was yesterday. It was in the early, pioneering days of Netflix. I’d seen you around before – you were playing in the art-house theater downtown – but I never took the time to see you there. Based on my love for Little Darlings, Netflix recommended I watch you.
I popped you in my DVD player on a particularly unspectacular Saturday afternoon. Immediately I was charmed by the use of the Jefferson Starship song “Jane.” What a great song choice! What energy! The opening credits declared you “A David Wain” film, and I suddenly realized that the alumni of ingenious and nearly forgotten sketch group The State were responsible for you.
I had no idea that was you! It was like being reunited with a long lost love. I mean, Michael Showalter! Michael Ian Black! Ken Marino! Joe LaTruglio! Man, I missed you guys! This was pre-Wikipedia and blogs, mind you, so it was kind of hard to find out what you all had been up to.
From the moment I saw Coop awkwardly talk to Katie, I was infatuated. This was about inflection, tone, irony, and character – not the set-ups and delivery of mainstream comedies. By the time Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper made their announcement about the music theater auditions, I was unequivocally, undeniably, and unabashedly in love.
And, oh the characters! And their timing! I almost wore out the reverse function on my DVD remote replaying the scene where an annoyed Paul Rudd throws himself around the mess hall begrudgingly picking up his utensils. I get all tingly just thinking about it.
Your breaks from reality – from “going into town for an afternoon” to the absurd Alan Kemper’s uproariously hilarious stand-up routine – were so new and exciting to me. Your humor spoke to me. Not Adam Sandler yelling at a gopher, but true absurdity, satire, and character work.
You made me a better person. I decided to take a more critical look at my surroundings, my situations, my conversations. I allowed my true humor to come out. Instead of delivering punchlines, I began giving commentary, pointing out the bizarre, even acting out the bizarre. I felt freer to dole out my dry and clever wit to my friends. Finally, I was known as the funny one!
Wet Hot, you made me smarter and more refined. I began to pay attention to quirky, indie comedies instead of seeing Titanic in the theater three times. I developed a true appreciation for film, not just “going to the movies.” I watched film after film and provided many recommendations to friends. I bonded with people over our love for cult comedies. I was known among people as the person to talk about movies with, to learn about new films, to identify an actor. And this is because of how you sparked my love of independent comedy. WHAS, you gave me the best gift of all… a personality!
You are a veritable litmus test for friendship. If someone has watched you and enjoyed it, I know they’re worth pursuing as a friend. If someone works lines from you into dialogue frequently, I know I’ve found a soul mate. I can’t even count how many times my friend John and I have proclaimed (in unison), “She doesn’t want to french, she wants to get BANGED.”
Sometimes people don’t get you. Someone will tell me they watched you and… I don’t even know how this is possible… say they didn’t like it. Or worse, didn’t get it. Or say it was “stupid” or “didn’t make sense.” It’s okay though, because this allows me to see that maybe I shouldn’t waste my time with them. We will never truly understand each other. If they couldn’t understand that the nerdy kid in Assistant Professor Newman’s gang was dressed as Mork, then they are not worth knowing.
The other thing I love about you is that you are not perfect. You do have flaws. I mean, where was the scene with the talking can of vegetables really going? And the guy with the weird hand/wind powers? What was that about? It’s cool though, it just means you are real. For every talking vegetable can, there is an “I want you inside me” moment, and for that? I am grateful.
Now, ten years later, I know our relationship is as strong as the day we met. I can still put you in my DVD player (or stream you on Netflix Instant – how times have changed!) and watch you the entire way through and still feel so much love for you. Every time Amy Poehler utters “How DARE you usurp my authority,” my heart fills with love. We’ll never be that boring old couple. I’ll never let your DVD case get dusty or sell it back to Rasputin Records.
You’ve brought the gift of comedy into my life. True comedy, the kind you can use as a lens to see the world through, the kind you can use to connect with people. It’s taken many years for me to take the plunge and go into creating comedy myself. But you give me strength!
So, here’s to another ten years, and heck, forever. Even though I have a Trapper Keeper full of appointments, I’ll always make time for you. And, make sure you tell JJ to save me a waffle.
I gotta go fondle my sweaters,