Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Morning September 8, 2007

Well, last night Mulan had her best friend sleep over and they are still asleep. I am up, I actually got up at 5:30 and couldn’t sleep another wink. I have coffee made, and NPR on, and the dishwasher is filled and the kitchen counters wiped down. This is my favorite time of the day. I often think that after about noon, it’s all just downhill for me. This has been difficult as I often work in a late night world: SNL, comedy clubs, nightclubs, theatre. It’s all against my natural inclinations. Even when I was on SNL I still got up early in the morning, even when I’d gone to bed early in the morning. Then I would take a nap later. Oh… a nap. I might be able to take a nap today. Sweet.

The highlight of this week was on Wednesday night when I attended a small dinner party in honor of Phyllis Diller and her recent 90th birthday milestone. It was at an opulent house is Beverly Hills and I would say there were about 25 to 30 people there for dinner. She was delightful: funny and articulate. Of course I love that she seems to love me so much, because I am a big fan of hers. She has been an outspoken atheist for…EVER. She was an outspoken atheist when you could have your name put on lists for it and you could be watched by the CIA for it. When I got to the party, she immediately sat me beside her and held my hand and told me how much bunk religion is and how could anyone for even one second take it seriously? Of course I agree and disagree. It’s true, that once I looked into the myths that religion is based on, and looked objectively at the architecture of religion, it was obvious that it was bunk. But I also understand that if you are raised to rely on religion, and it’s worked for you to reduce stress or make sense of the world, and the rituals have some positive associations, and don’t look into it deeply, it’s easy to see why people believe. In any case, I was flattered and thrilled to be with Phyllis and her friends. She was bawdy and funny and loved being the center of all the attention and love.

Bernie Brillstein was there and we had a nice conversation about SNL and Lorne Michaels. He was so sweet and gracious to me and I really appreciated it. Tommy Smothers was there as well as Betty White. It was wild to be with them. I have met the Smothers brothers many times, and last summer did a show at the Hollywood Bowl with them. I think a lot of people think of the Smothers Bros. and maybe even Phyllis Diller as kind of hokey, but to me they are heroes. When I was a kid, the Smothers Brothers were doing really edgy counter-culture stuff and it eventually led to their show’s cancellation. The Smothers Brothers Show was the first time I was aware of artists in conflict with a network, and particularly over political material. Tommy got up and toasted Phyllis and told stories about being backstage at the Purple Onion, a club they performed at in San Francisco. He had a funny bit about Phyllis being inadvertently naked backstage and it reminded me of Kathy Griffin being naked backstage at the Groundlings.

Other than that highlight, this week has been relatively calm. I am on a new writing schedule where, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I turn off the phone, refuse to answer the call of the Internet connection, and I write. I am writing a pilot for Sony and I have to deliver an outline by next Friday. So far this method has proved successful. It might not seem like much time, three hours, but it is a Herculean effort to stay focused for that amount of time for me. If I can keep this up and keep those hours sacred, I think I can accomplish a lot. My aim is to write this pilot and then finish my “Beautiful Loss Of Faith Story” book which has been dogging me for years.

Wow, now it’s almost seven and the girls are still asleep. Do I organize my bathroom or my closet? It may seem silly, but I am giddy at the thought that I have that autonomy at this moment.


Debs said...

I have kids and I soooo understand!

Anonymous said...

What a swell party, wish I was there! As a kid I always LOVED Phyllis Diller and the Smothers Brothers, particularly Tommy (now I feel a bit guilty that I didn't give Dick more credit for playing the straight man). Didn't recognize how deliciously subversive Betty White could be until much later in life.

For those who are Smothers Brothers deficient, I saw an interesting documentary about their censorship battles called "Smothered" -- it's available as DVD and the Internet Movie Database listing is

Anonymous said...

I have no idea who these characters are, neither am I a parent nor an American! However Julia, you have an ability to express your fabulous sense of life with whatever you write and it is a wonderful thing.

Regardless of your reasons for making these thoughts available to us I just want to say thank you :)

Donita Curioso said...

My husband and I saw Phyllis Diller perform at Knott's Berry Farm about 30 years ago. Friggin' Knott's Berry Farm and there were FIVE of us in the audience. She played that show like there were a thousand people there. What a delightful privilege it was to be sitting in the front row.

Anonymous said...

Oh, to be a morning person. I just found your website and am enjoying your commentary. What a hoot that Phyllis is 90. I have some nonagenarian friends and their emotional lives are completely pared down -- they all seem so well-adjusted. They live with the elegance and spareness of Chinese scroll paintings versus the messy baroque life of anyone with a small child.

MJ said...

The Smothers Brothers and Phyllis Diller have always been amazing to me...a product of a TV generation I guess. The "Smothered" documentary mentioned by another commenter was a real eye-opener to me, as I had previously been content to think of them as the funny "Marching to Pretoria" guys. Heh.

Bought a ticket to see you in Chicago next month -- I'm almost giddy with anticipation. Your monologues have been a real joy for me.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I can appreciate your sharing about your writing schedule. I just recently quit my job (my partner makes good money) to write and to take care of my aging in-laws.

I am sorting out how best to organize my newly acquired writing time. It seems to be working so far, as I'm working on finishing my second book, tenatively titled, "Is There Life After Sobriety?"

I'm looking forward to your new pilot and to your book on your loss of faith. Even as we may respectfully disagree on matters of belief and spirituality, I love your writing as much as your acting. I respect you for the courage of your convictions and for your love of life and of those around you.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you Julia (and Phyllis Diller), religion is bunk! I don't believe in religion. True Christians don't believe in religion. I (we) believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a nutshell, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sacrificed himself so that you could be forgiven. It's really very simple - through faith in Christ and by His grace you are healed. When you read a whole lot more into it than that, it starts to become the nonsensical, mystical garbage you go on and on about. At any rate, I know that you will think this post is a waste of time, and will no doubt be subject to endless ridicule. I'm not worried about that. I am not ashamed of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, I am not here to "witness" to you, or attempt to "convert" you. You are entitled to your own beliefs (or lack thereof). I just wanted to set the record straight on what true, Gospel-centered Christians believe. Take care, and thanks for your time!

Anonymous said...

Phyllis Diller is the coolest!

Anonymous said...

tonight i was putting together a reference list of books written by people that have gone through cancer or have been a caregiver of someone going through it (you get the special prize of qualifying for both of those--yippee). i read your book so long ago and started wondering, whatever happened to julia sweeney? and to find you have a blog to answer that--sweet.

the atheism doesn't surprise me. i felt you did a lot of major questioning way back then. isn't it funny how some people turn towards religion in a crisis and how others turn against it?

well, i'm looking forward to stalking your blog to find out what all you've been doing (is it considered stalking if you admit to it?).

i'm completely jealous about the phyllis diller party--i've loved her and the smothers brothers since i was a child. oh, and you're getting married and you have a child--wow!

glad to see you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope your cancer returns, sooner rather than later. I'm no Xian but your "everybody look at me I'm an atheist" schtick is about as equally irritating and worn out as Jerry Falwell's act.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that poorly endowed little misogynists who are powerless in the real world have to troll the internet attacking the awesome, successful people who remind them of their own glaring inadequacies? So embarrassingly transparent they are, like the 4 year old who steals cookies and thinks he's doing a good job of hiding it while the parents giggle and play along. I don't think he even is aware of the underlying reasons he does what he does.

Anyway, I don't know how you multi-task all this work and parenting! I always wondered how writers knocked out material, so thanks for the glimpse inside! I've been curious about that for a long while.


Anonymous said...

Gee KA, maybe if you kiss enough ass she'll notice you. But really shouldn't you aim higher (metaphorically speaking) than a 'where is she now' former SNL player?

Anonymous said...

Get her to notice me? As opposed to commenting on a blog thats very intention is communicate with her fans?

I don't deal with self-loathing misogynist trolls except the first time I point out how obvious their cock-size issues are to everyone else but them. You're free to keep embarrassing yourself, but I'm not engaging with pathetic, powerless losers with compensation and mother issues. Bye.

Anonymous said...

*to communicate

Anonymous said...

One embarrassment that's apparent is your obsession with penises. The internet, where every community college drop-out like yourself turns into Freud at the drop of a syllable. ;-)

Shouldn't you be out on the street corner yelling at passing traffic?

Sheldon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheldon said...

Here's a bit of trivia for you all. Dick Smothers, Jr. (son of Dick Smothers, of course) is a porn star!

Well, okay...maybe "star" is too strong a word. But he [i]is[/i] in porn. For all his father's openmindedness and countercultural orientation as a youth, he got pretty conservative when little Dickie confessed this fact to dear old dad. The boy has been pretty much disowned by his father.

I don't advocate going into the porn industry, but I find it fascinating how quickly people retreat into conservative social norms when confronted with the NEXT generation's progressiveness. It leaves one with a sense that hypocrisy has entered the picture.

Anonymous said...

one of my fave jokes from Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints (remember paperback books by comics?) is Diller's hint:

If your children INSIST on writing their names in the dust on the coffee table...don't let them write the YEAR.

I love ya Julia!

I took my 50-yr-old galpal (who just lost both parents within 6 months) to your show at G&L Ctr and she loved it. She thought you were so brilliant and articulate and funny. (she already loved you from the "It's Pat" movie - she was quoting: "hey! get your own hotdog" to me.)

and 'Letting Go' has crept into her psyche over the last few months and she said to me recently:
"wow...I keep thinking of Julia Sweeney's really changed my thinking on so many things."

(for the better I'm sure)