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Austin Actors
Dan Murphy

The Total Man Package
by Dan Murphy

December 2001

I am sure most of you are aware of John Kelso's award-winning humor column that he writes for the Austin American-Statesman. If you are not familiar with his column, I suggest you check it out. He always seems to come up with something entertaining to read as well as informative.

For example, in a November column Kelso talks about a door prize of 10 units of Botox mentioned in the press literature of the Texas Conference for Women held at the Austin Convention Center. Hell, I work at the Convention Center and I worked overnight security for this women's conference. I was right there guarding the Botox and wasn't even aware of it. Botox is a substance that when injected into your skin helps to cure wrinkles. If I had known there was Botox in the room I was working, I would have been shooting that stuff up like Heroin. Yeah, I'm only 33, but we all know it's over after 25. Don't take my word for it. Just watch about 6 hours of TV a day like I do and you'll be convinced. If it wasn't for Kelso's inside info, none of us would ever know about this kind of stuff. Okay, I could have just read the press literature.

Kelso's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays in the Metro Section. Or, check him out online at:
http://www.austin360.com/aas/metro/kelso/1001/102301.html

I thought an interview with Kelso would be interesting and informative. Mr. Kelso was kind enough to respond promptly to my request for an interview and put up with my questions. I limited my banter this time because it was as a phone interview. I didn't want to go too far off the deep end with questions too destitute of reason and risk his hanging up on me. Don't worry. I still managed to rip off a few outlandish questions. I also ran into Kelso at a WWF event that I think deserves mention. Therefore, I am going to mention my run-in with Kelso at the WWF event and I'll highlight some important things he mentioned in the phone interview.

I met Kelso before at a WWF show. It was at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas in February of 2000. I work at the Frank Erwin Center part-time as Usher and Security. For this show I was working as a floor usher. I noticed this guy roaming around the floor scribbling on a big notepad. I eventually ended up talking to him on the floor throughout most of the show. We stood there spouting off sarcastic remarks about the show for most of the evening. At this point I still had no idea who he was, but I was having a great time enjoying his comments. Toward the end of the evening Kelso told me who he was and handed me a business card. All in all, it was a great evening until I read his column the next day.

His column was entertaining as usual, but I wasn't expecting to be mentioned in the article. The WWF show was being taped for Thursday night "Smackdown." The WWF broke for a commercial. When they got ready to come back someone made the announcement to the crowd, "We are getting ready to come back from commercial and we are going to swing the cameras around through the audience, so try and look your best." I told Kelso, "They better tell these people to go home and brush their teeth and comb their hair if they want that." That's the comment Kelso ran. Fortunately, he didn't mention me by name.

I was relatively new at the Erwin Center and didn't know what the official policy was for talking to the press. Yeah, I know it's a free country and you are supposed to be able to say whatever you want, but as we are all aware, some organizations frown on this type of behavior (you know - freedom of speech). I had to work the next evening after the WWF show at the Erwin Center and lots of people were talking about the comment. One guy said something like, "Man, did you read what some usher here said in Kelso's column? What an idiot." I said, "Yeah, that guy is a real Putz!" I did confess to making the comment to a few people. The general reaction was something like, "That was YOU?!" This only strengthened my lingering paranoia that commenting to the press was probably not a good idea. Eventually, I worked up the courage to find out what the actual policy was. I went into the Center Manager, Buzz Huber, to find out. I said, "I was just curious what our official policy is for talking to the press." Buzz gives the standard response: "That was YOU?!" Of course, I wormed around admitting it until I found out there was no penalty. I said, "I can neither confirm nor deny whether the statement was mine or not." Buzz has a good sense of humor and said, "Hey, there is nothing wrong with commenting to the press as long as it is true." Since it was true and the wrestling fans did need to go home and brush their hair and teeth my comment was totally appropriate. Buzz did say he got a few calls from some higher-ups at UT wondering who made the comment, so maybe there was some sort of concern at higher UT levels. Anyhow, Buzz had put me at ease. The only thing left for me to do was to bask in my 15 minutes of fame and brag excessively about it. I spent the next couple of hours telling everyone I could how I was the guy that made the comments.

I'll now move on to my interview with Kelso. I emailed Mr. Kelso and told him I would like to interview him for my column on AustinActors.net. What I hadn't expected was how quickly he responded. I emailed him on a Sunday and he emailed me back early Monday morning and said, "Sure. Just give me a holler. Probably can't do it today because today is a deadline day. Maybe Tuesday, though. Hang in there and have a good one." I called him Tuesday morning on the phone number listed with his articles in the Statesman. To my surprise, he picked up the phone. I explained who I was and why I was calling. I didn't want to rush him, so I suggested we do the interview this week or next week. I told him to just name a convenient time for him. I was surprised again when he suggested that we do it that afternoon. I would have done the interview in the afternoon if I wasn't so unprepared. I hadn't formatted any questions. I suggested we do it on Wednesday and he agreed.

I had a good conversation with Mr. Kelso that lasted about 20 minutes. I asked questions about his background, a typical day, the writing process, wacky off-the-cuff questions, etc. Once again, I had such a good time talking to him that I rambled on longer than I should have. Hence, I'll just mention a few important things he said. One question I asked was, "What are the positives and negatives of the job?" He said seeing someone laughing in a restaurant while reading his column is a positive. He said, "The negatives can be that there is a lot of pressure to come up with topics and keep people interested. People's attention span can be short." Therefore he has to be timely with his topics. He has to come up with three columns a week. This isn't an easy task, but he does an excellent job. I suggested that he may want to start riding the bus as a source for material. He laughed and said, "Oh God, I hope it doesn't come to that." If he only knew my torment. Another thing I like about Kelso's column is his ability to cover the subject and be entertaining without getting too long-winded. Something I am trying to get better at.

After the legitimate questions, it was now time for me to move on to a few totally off-the-cuff questions. I said, "Who do you prefer: Stone Cold or The Rock?" He just laughed at this one. I also asked him what's the deal with him in these commercials with former Governor of Texas Ann Richards and now I can't remember what he said. Damn It!!! Then I got to my final question. Here it is. I asked him, "Why are you nuts? Congenital? Chemical Imbalance? Bump on the head? Or all of the above?" There was a slight silence and he said, "What?" I thought he might hang up if I read it again. Then, I just said what the hell and read the same question aloud again. This time he was kind enough to laugh and said he was probably nuts because he grew up in Winslow, Maine.

By the way, Kelso also wrote a book called "Texas Curiosities." The book is your round-trip ticket to more than 225 of the wildest, wackiest, most outrageous people, places and things the Lone Star State has to offer.

Yeah, I know. I forgot to ask Kelso the most important question of all. I should have asked him how to write a decent, professional column each month. I'll figure it out someday. Damn it, I've got to go!!! WWF Smackdown is on and I'm still in the 18-34 year old demographic. Talk to you later. Take Care!!!


Dan Murphy
The Total Man Package!!!! Woooooooooo!!!!!!

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