I get lots of goofy ideas. I don’t know where they come from. Nothing spurs them—they just appear. Like just a couple minutes ago when my poor, overworked managing editor, Lee Lovell, kindly asked if there was anything he could do to help with the last remaining stories I was working for this issue. My reply was, “Come to the office wearing a horned Viking helmet and every 13 minutes stand up and just below the threshold of a scream announce, ‘The mice are approaching.’ Then blow a battle call from a ram’s horn trumpet, sit back down, and resume your normal workflow.” If a coworker replied like that to such an innocuous query I think I’d probably have HR drag them away to the funny farm. Maybe I belong there, but until HR finds me (that’s why I work out of my home office), my coworkers are kinda stuck with my somewhat eccentric proclivities.
I used to keep a journal to jot down some of these ideas I thought would make good skits for SNL or even YouTube. I just never did anything with ’em. Some of it was topical. Like when the Croc Hunter dangled his baby in front of a crocodile and caused a huge media uproar. It happened around the same time that Michael Jackson hung his kid over a balcony. Naturally, I outlined a skit in which Croc Hunter and Michael Jackson going out on the town dangling their infants in a variety of dangerous scenarios to Haddaway’s “What is Love.” (Don’t worry, OSHA. I’d use a rubber baby for most of the skit.)
Some were more timeless, like “Welcome Back Potter,” where Harry Potter has to become the Sweathogs’ teacher after getting expelled from Hogwarts. I had the whole banter down between him and each character—Washington, Horshack, Epstein’s mother’s note, and Vinnie Barbarino. “Who knows what a patronus charm does?” and then hilarity ensues...or at least in my head it does.
Or Top Gun: Instead of Maverick and Goose, it’s Maverick and Rainman. “Rainman, what’s on our six o’clock?” “Six-o’clock…that’s 3-minutes to Wapner. Definitely time for Wapner.” Naturally, it ends with them shot down and parachuting to Earth as the banter continues.
Other ideas I get aren’t quite as fully formed. One day I just thought, “Welcome to Monkey Burger. Would you like to Gorilla-Size that?” Aside from the fact that monkeys and gorillas are two entirely different species of primate, I think a burger made of monkey is something you can actually buy on a street corner in some parts of the world, so worldwide franchising would probably pose some challenges.
Anyhoo, here’s where I have to tie this into off-roading: Long before my buddy, Fred Williams, had his Dirt Every Day show on Motor Trend’s YouTube channel, I dabbled in our company’s off-road–themed shows of the time, like Four Wheeler TV. The photo is from a show we taped back in March 2004. My ideas never really seemed to make it past the planning stages, however. In fact, most of the time I’d give my pitch and then, after an awkward silence, somebody would just say, “OK, moving on then.” I wanted to take a Toyota Prius and hook it between two M35A2 military trucks and use their PTO winches to rip it apart. Why? Because it would be cool! Or pit a remote-controlled hippy wagon against a shooter with an M249 SAW and a 200-round magazine and see how many rounds it takes to disable the vehicle before it reaches the drum circle of safety. Why? Because it would be cool and I don’t like hippy vehicles. Or get a pink and white Surrey Jeep to go 200 mph. Why? You know why.
Unfortunately, I think my ideas required a rather unlimited and unrealistic budget. But I’m curious: What’s the wackiest idea you’ve ever had?