A Man and His Pants
Before Charlie Kaufman became famous for writing the screenplays for Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, he was a TV comedy writer. He wrote for Get a Life, Ned and Stacey, and The Dana Carvey Show. Dino Stamatopoulos -- another writer on the Carvey show who's also written for The Ben Stiller Show, Conan O'Brien, Mr. Show, and David Letterman -- said the following about working with Kaufman. (From here.)
Charlie's a great sketch writer, unfortunately, very few of his sketches got on Carvey. The show was misrepresented to the writers and ended up being more of a primetime SNL, with long character pieces, rather than conceptual sketches. Charlie had a great idea that would have been perfect for Dana though. It was Weird Al Yankovich's brother, Weirder Al Yankovich. He would take Weird's parody of "Beat It": "Eat it" and make it even crazier: "Schmeat It." Then, another brother would be introduced in the scene, Normal Al Yankovich. He would take "Eat It" and turn it back into "Beat It."
Charlie is a very mild-mannered guy, and kind of a depressive. I had fun going into his office and trying to cheer him up. He ended up spending most of his time writing his pilot, "Depressed Roomies" which was hilarious, but too funny for TV.
He wasn't at all happy with what "what's his name?" did with "Confessions of A Dangerous Mind" though and contemplated taking his name off the film. The script is great.
Basically, Charlie's a really sweet guy, but the world seems a little too much for him sometimes.
Here's a PDF file of the Depressed Roomies script.
(sighing) Okay. Make a list. I get to shop. I have a new plan how to make Rosa [a checkout girl] like me.
I buy tampons, like they're for my girlfriend, see. Women love a man who's willing to buy tampons for his girlfriend. I learned that watching Sinbad.
The comedian or the sailor.
Kaufman wrote another pilot called Rambling Pants, which is also available as a PDF file, here. Here's Kaufman's own description of Rambling Pants (from here):
I also wrote something called Rambling Pants, which was a pilot about a poet, a traveling poet whose name is Pants. He was a very bad poet, but he doesn't know that. He travels the country and gets into different kinds of adventures -- again, pretty silly. And that one has a lot of singing in it. People break into song way too much in that one -- like every fourth or fifth line. He has a sidekick who was actually a newspaper reporter who kind of went astray and looks to Pants as a hero -- this very naïve, sort of dumb Jimmy Olsen kind of guy.
Here's an excerpt from Rambling Pants:
(LAUGHS HEARTILY, HOLDS OUT HIS HAND) They call me Mike.
(SHAKING MIKE'S HAND) They call me Pants.
Pants? Interesting moniker. Care to elaborate?
I once wore a pair of girl's pants to school by mistake.
Why didn't they call you "Girl's Pants"? That would've been more to the point.
Kids are cruel. But they're not that cruel. It's a fine line.
They call me Mike because I once killed a man.
You know... Mike. Short for "Mike who once killed a man."
Oh, now I get it. (BEAT) Say, Mike? If I may be so bold, why'd you kill this fellow, anyway?
Boy, you don't beat around the bush, do you? If you must know, why I killed him is a secret.
Well, then, so is why I wore girl's pants. I lied before when I said it was a mistake.
The following is from the introduction Kaufman wrote for the published version of his Being John Malkovich screenplay. You can read the entire introduction here.
They asked me to write an introduction to this screenplay. I told them I didn't know what to say. They told me it didn't matter, just something. They said people studying screenwriting often purchase these books and they'll be looking for a word from the writer. They told me I owed the readers something. I said I would try. I prefer not to owe people. So I am sitting here tonight trying. It's three in the morning. I haven't been able to sleep for several weeks now. Things are falling apart. I have personal problems. Perhaps I've been drinking too much. This was suggested to me by someone I once considered a friend. The point is, things are confused. For a while I was living out of my car. I was in transition. The place I had been living was no longer an option. People are funny. Don't trust them. So I was in my car, which was parked in the driveway of an acquaintance, an out-of-work actor, who was helping me out. I could've stayed in a hotel. That is, I could've afforded to stay in a hotel, but I didn't. I needed someplace familiar or I would have lost what was left of my mind. My car is familiar. It's had the same fast food wrappers on the floor for the past five months. They're sort of like friends. How's it goin' today, McDonald's? What's up, Starbucks cups?
Here's the Being John Malkovich screenplay as Kaufman originally wrote it. (Available in PDF here.) The first six pages and the entire second half are different from the film.
Here's how the screenplay opens:
INT. CHEERLESS ROOM - DAY
The room is bare, dusty. A ceiling fan turns. The wall clock ticks. Craig, 30 years old and small, sits at a collapsible card table. The only item on the table is a book. Craig picks it up, looks at the jacket. It's entitled "Sit." Craig opens the book. It reads: "sit sit sit sit sit..." over and over, page after page. Craig closes the book. He begins to stand, but thinks better of it, sighs. He looks at the book again. It is now entitled "Die." He opens it up. "die die die die die..." A rooster crows.
Here are Kaufman's Get a Life scripts:
"Prisoner of Love"