Eleven Herbs and Chuckles
I've never read Don Novello's Lazlo Letters, although I am aware of its existence and have, I think, paged through it in bookstores once or twice.
A very similar book was published in 1981 (four years after the original publication of The Lazlo Letters). This book was called Modest Proposals: The Official Correspondence of Randy Cohen. Randy Cohen writes the Ethicist column in the New York Times, used to be the editor of Slate's News Quiz, and was a writer for Late Night with David Letterman. He's a very funny guy, and some of his letters are hilarious.
Here, for example, is one he sent to the executive offices of Kentucky Fried Chicken:
April 2, 1979
To the Director:
I assume you've heard about the new Broadway musical, produced by Lee Guber and Shelly Gross, called Murder at Howard Johnsons. But, did you know that Mr. Johnson not only approves of this project but is going to aid in its promotion by opening a 28-flavor ice cream stand in the lobby of the Golden Theater?
Knowing that yours is a modern operation, I presume we both believe there is no such thing as bad publicity. Thus, I'd like to propose a theatrical venture for your franchise, to be called Grand Theft Auto at the Colonel's. It's a terrific romantic/suspense/comedy with music. I've not only prepared an outline of the script, but I've also written several songs, and I think they're hot. Get a load of these song titles: "The Colonel's Got Ribs, but I've Got the Girl," and "Coming in on a Wing and a Drumstick," and "Extra Crispy, Extra Love."
What do you think? It sounds like big B.O. to me! Where would you like me to send the outline and the lead sheets? Do you think Col. Sanders will love it as much as I do? Let me know because, while you're my first choice in dining as well as entertainment, I know I've got a hit on my hands. So, if you folks don't want to procede, I'd like to rewrite it as Grand Theft Auto at Burger King.
Remember: think Boffo and Socko and SRO! Picture this -- for the big Act One closing, a tremendous production number in front of a pair of crossed drumsticks! I'll say no more till I've heard from you.
Here's the reply Randy received:
April 18, 1979
Dear Mr. Cohen:
Thanks for thinking of KFC in conjunction with the musical comedy you're writing. Unfortunately it doesn't fit into our marketing plan and, in fact, conflicts with a musical comedy about the Colonel's life that he has authorized.
We appreciate the kind words about our chicken and your giving us first crack at your musical.
Vice President -- Public Affairs