Darrell Vickers – The First Visit: Part One – The Naked and the Red

Preface:

While I shall be highlighting some mildly unflattering aspects of Alan Thicke’s character in the peerlessly eloquent pages before you, I wish to take great pains to note that Alan recognized our talent more than any living soul in Canada. He thought enough of what Andrew and I had to offer to invite us down to L.A. and billet us in his guest house. Was he a tough boss to work for? PHEW! Read on. But he opened up vast new worlds for us and forever changed our lives and for that I will always be deeply grateful.

Back to Our Story:

When the rank and wretched vestiges of Nicholls and Vickers put shoe to perron at Alan’s sprawling ranch-style domicile on windy, windy Mulholland Drive, Andrew became convinced the house in question was a semi-detached (Americans would dub it a duplex) and we might be knocking on the wrong front door. The idea that Alan would put up with listening to his neighbors fucking and blasting Julio Iglesias records at 2 o’clock in the morning sounded a tad far-fetched to me and, beyond all conceivable odds, Mr. Thicke did indeed own the entire building. Andrew didn’t quite glean that in these larger, swankier abodes, it requires additional time for the ritzy resident to travel from where he is well-to-doing to where you are rank and wretchedly knocking.

These four walls and a floor were definitely a step up from our own unpretentious living accommodations. The dining area and living room were an open plan so you could peer out over the entire San Fernando Valley while you crunched on your breakfast flakes each morning. Yes, this plucky Canuck from the gold mining capital of Ontario had done alright for himself.

Gloria. Not Pictured – The Potatoes

Although our new boss was indisputably tight with a buck he could also be quite welcoming. After being greeted at the correct front door by the maid, Andrew and I found ourselves sitting down to dinner with the entire Thicke clan. I’m sure Alan little suspected how Earth-shatteringly uncomfortable we were. People didn’t really want to dine with us in Oshawa and here we were asking Gloria Loring to pass the mashed potatoes.

After our perturbing prandial adventure, we were escorted over to Alan’s guest house. Man, if that place could fucking talk! It was a nice one-bedroom cottage, with a tiny kitchen and living room. This was good!

This wasn’t:

On the way out of the main house, a family member asked to borrow 20 bucks. It was all the money I had in the world but I was too intimidated to say no. Andrew and I now claimed sovereignty over a measly Canadian 10-spot and it would have to be stretched out until we got paid. What with Alan’s well-deserved reputation for nipcheesery, an actual wage dispersal was mighty dicey “until!”

The very next a.m., Andrew and I found ourselves hungry and broke in Hollywood. We had accomplished in 12 hours what it took most people weeks or even months to do! Neither Nicholls nor Vickers owned a credit card – to get one of those weird little plasticky things you needed some sort of verifiable income. Did those idiotic slubbergullions at the bank not realize who we were working for??? Sigh.

So Andrew and I motored down to Ventura Blvd. in a rental car that some massive pothead had inexplicably rented to us.

Note: Be far more discerning about whom you hire to man your counters, Enterprise!

Upon reaching that fabled and frequently crooned about boulevard, we sought out an establishment in which to exchange our singular Canadian bill. Perhaps it was because that wrinkled piece of paper had the now-disgraced John A. MacDonald’s face on it, or perhaps because Mr. Nicholls had his face on him, but the suspicious teller wanted Andrew to show her picture ID. For cash!

Our first breakfast in the land of milk and money was a couple of the lower rung burgers on the Carl’s Jr. wall menu. Oh, if only the folks back in Oshawa could see us now!

Back to Work:

Andrew and I would spend most of each day churning out reams of risibles. Then, in the evening, Alan and his other writers would pile into our diminutive cabin to separate whimsical wheat from chaff. There were three other scribes on hand. Rick Ducommun, Mr. F, and a guy who used to play in Captain Beefheart’s band but had undergone some major brain operation which had turned him decidedly odd.

We had never worked in a “writers’ room” before. It was definitely a culture shock. The slightest weakness in a joke pitched brought out the verbal baseball bats from our highly competitive compatriots, all vying to gain favor. We also found it peculiar that pitching bons mots out of joke books was allowed. Rick was genuinely quick on his feet and funny. Mr. F had this persona that Alan found amusing. I’m sure Andrew and I were being paid less than everyone else in that cutthroat room but we more than held our ground. Especially against Mr. F who would hand in two or three pages of widely spaced spectacularly mild jokes in a plastic binder with a colored title sheet.

Funny on the page was not Mr. F’s major strength. Far from it. But he did periodically launch into these long multi-character soliloquies that would have Alan giggling like a cartoon chipmunk. One such schpiel concerned his mother’s anxiety over a sweater Mr. F had purchased for Alan as a gift.

“So, does Alan wear the sweater?
     “He wears the sweater.”

“But, does he like you?”

“Yeah. I think he likes me.”

“He’d have to like you, right, if he wears the sweater?”

“I’ll tell you what I know. He wears the sweater.”

Of course, Mr. Thicke’s fondness for a nightly doob might have had something to do with it.

The guest house was a three-ring circus. Besides our evening meetings, people dropped by all day long. Todd, Mr. Thicke’s younger brother would wander in to work on Alan’s music projects. Gary Owens was there one p.m. Super nice guy. A bonny and bodacious Canadian actress I’d seen in a national wine commercial knocked on our door one day to inquire whether we knew if Alan was about.

Gloria’s gun-toting assistant popped in periodically to express her withering distaste for our new boss. Many years later, she became the head of a major women’s organization but after a dustup with some of its members she became a spokesperson for an anti-women but “pro” carrying-a-roscoe-around-in-your-purse organization.

We also had Alan’s assistant breakdown in tears one night because our mutual employer had been putting off paying her for weeks and she had no money for gasoline to get to work. She also went into a long diatribe about this certain elite auto-correcting model of typewriter she required. Alan knew she simply couldn’t work with inferior models yet still she was forced to type things on completely unacceptable equipment! And also, recently, she’d gone two straight years without sleeping.

 I don’t know whether it was Hollywood in general or Mr. Thicke in particular, but Alan seemed to be an irresistible magnet for oddballs, nutters and misfits. Andrew and I must have seemed incomprehensively white bread in the swirling kaleidoscope of humanity that populated his kingdom.

And Then It Happened:   

My absolute Numero Uno guesthouse moment was the day I took a gander out of the kitchen window and espied a comely blonde goddess by the pool. She was sumptuously soaking up the sun aux siens nus, majestically thrusting her unattired angel pillows up to the heavens. Even at a distance, it was the unequivocal pinnacle of ultimateness to behold. I’m surprised a rubbernecking Apollo didn’t crash his chariot. I’m surprised I didn’t break my nose on the window pane. Now, anyone who knows me will affirm that I abhor the sun but I was a mere 24 years of age and this was the chesticle chance of a lifetime! I quickly donned my jean shorts and trotted out to the backyard for a casual light browning. At the outset, the situation did not take a promising turn. Upon catching sight of me, the demure young lass pulled up her one-piece to lamentably conceal her fabulous fiery biscuits. Undeterred, I seated myself in a nearby deckchair and after a few moments of polite conversation she popped the $164,000 question.

“Before you came out here, I was sunbathing without my top on. Would it be okay if I removed it?”

Houston, We Have Liftoff!

I paused a skosh to adequately perpend this intriguing entreaty and then calmly and graciously acceded to her request. Once her mammalian splendor was loosed from its infelicitous bondage, I suddenly realized that this was the life I was always meant to lead. Sitting by the pool of a Hollywood mansion, expertly applying soothing creams to a garmentless model’s oh-so-scrumptious back and awaiting a television crew to come interview me about my international comedy career. Major epiphany! This was precisely the Darrell Vickers that I – and dare I say it – civilization in general had been so unfairly denied.  

And there I sat ‘til my spine marrow began to turn crimson from the murderous UV rays.

Although time and tide may have dimmed her glory, she will e’er remain resplendent in the loving arms of my memory. A dewy, glistening diamond that dazzled a young man’s eyes in a world that had not yet lost its magic.   

We probably did some more writing later that day but I don’t really remember. And… er… Did I mention she was topless?

Next time – We meet someone, we almost kill someone famous and we are asked to wake someone up who might kill us.

=DV=

DBAWIS_Button

Darrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com

One Response to “Darrell Vickers – The First Visit: Part One – The Naked and the Red”

  1. Marc Lawrence Says:

    Good shit Maynard !- love the stories – I don’t care if they are true! Or not – lol –

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