German Heat!

Dieter is here. Fawn, Hollywood agents. Fawn, Dieter says.

"I can tell you the general process," she continues.

"Slower please."

"Let's assume that your act is very different, which I assume that it is. Probably not what you usually see," she says. "Sometimes people love that, and sometimes people are scared of that."

"Am I frightening?!"

Suddenly, the bandaged, injured puppy comes bounding back into the room.

"How did you get back here?" exclaims large-agency-woman.

"Do you put little hats and clothes on the dogs?" I ask in a thick German accent.

After answering "no," large-agency-woman concludes by giving the hard sell.

"I think you're very interesting, and I can't wait to see your act!"

"Ja! You will enjoy it."

"Look, if you meet someone and you love them, and they want to sign you now -- then, that's what you have to do. I recommend waiting; I certainly would like the opportunity to see you. I risk losing you by saying that, but they should definitely see your work."

We make plans to meet in Montreal, along with my fake German manager, "Heinred."

"Hymen?" she attempts.

"No, Heinred," I correct.

"Heinwren?" she attempts again.

"No, HEINRED!"

As my parking is validated, large-agency-woman shows curiosity and competitiveness, asking how many other meetings I have set. Stroking the heat, I tell her five. She lists agencies. I randomly tell her "yes" or "no."

"Let me guess, CAA?"

"Ja!"

"William Morris?"

"Ja!"

"ITO?"

"No!"

"Girsh?"

"Maybe."

As I break for the elevator, she restates, "Now don't sign with anybody yet!"

"Ja! Bye-bye."

In the elevator, as if I were rushing a sorority, someone's assistant advises, "You should really sign with [large-Hollywood-agency]."

Stop No. 2 -- Medium-Size Hollywood Agency With Great View ofCentury City

A well-groomed man in white shirt with tie comes into the reception area.

"Dieter?" he inquires to the five of us waiting. Enjoying how that sounds, I wait for him to say the name one more time.

"Dieter?"

"Ja!" I say. All eyes turn to my stony, cold stare. I demand more obligatory bottled water.

I soon find myself sitting in a large conference room with a nice view of Century City. Two similarly well-dressed men come in. Then another. Then one more. It was hard enough fooling one person; now I have to fool four! And for 45 minutes! The key, I decide, is to be as monosyllabic as possible. Monosyllabic and very morose.

"Dieter! I heard you're very, very funny," says the one I assume is the leader.

"Ja! This is true."

He continues, "We know nothing about you except what we were told."

"Vhat is that?"

"That you're very, very funny. That they made an extra-special opening for you at the festival, and that you made them laugh ... a lot!"

I don't respond.

"What did you do to make them laugh?" asks the one who might be second in command. I explain slowly.

"I talk about the things in my life. [Pause.]The problems with the police. [Pause.]The problems with the parents. [Pause.]The problems with the drugs."

"OK," he says after an awkward silence.

"And the stories about them," I clarify. Then I abruptly stop, giving no further information. Four identically dressed men give four identical blank stares. I rest my hand on my chin and scowl.

The leader goes into his song and dance.

"What makes us different, we help create something different, comedywise," he states. "We treat you as an actor, and the comedy is separate. The comics we have are all known and respected."

I move my eyes back and forth as if I only partially understand and comprehend. He then explains that my career will be handled as they handle their other clients' careers. He mentions a few names; I act like I don't know them.

"Howard Stern?"

"Dieter is not familiar!"

The one I assume is the leader explains as if he were talking to a child: "Howard Stern is a disc jockey in this country who went on to do other things."

"Ja!"

"All these different things, we help create that!"

"Do you have tape of your act at all?" says the one farthest from me.

"It is best to see Dieter live!" I state.

"Yeah, good answer!" quips one of the four.

It's time to turn up the heat.

"What if one signs me before the festival?" I ask.

"If you sign, what we'd offer before -- we let people know who you are and what makes you special," the leader says.

"We'll sit down with your manager," the second in command adds, saying that I shouldn't sign with anybody until he's seen me perform.

"Then if they really love you, you still have to sign with us, because we gave you the best advice!"

I restate his premise. "Sign with you, but not sign before."

"Navigate those waters very carefully," advises the leader.

"Ja! Good."

Four identical cards are put in my German hands.

"You're going to blow up, man," proclaims one of the four. "It's going to be great!"

"We'll grab a drink up there, we'll meet your manager and have a good time," says another.

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