David Misch: Man or Myth? Or Man?
Highland Park, Illinois, is a simple backwoods hamlet of 45,000 people nestled ‘neath the Giggling Firs and Nauseous Maples of Chicago’s quasi-historic North Shore. Its principal industry is the manufacture of defective orthopedic shoes; its primary cultural activity is frozen food abuse.
And in a ritual that dates back to 612 years before the Dawn of Time, the babies still rise at daybreak to mine apples. At 5 A.M., the shoe-scented mist lifts to reveal long lines of tiny infants happily crawling off to the mines, hoping to strike a vein of that rich apple ore.
But look there… No, not there, idiot – there. Who is that young lad carelessly wiping the soot from his overalls into the mouth of his devoted mother? Who is this man whose grim features, angular lines, and third leg mark as the progen- itor of a race of demons, angels, or realtors?
I don’t know.
But standing next to him is Ignatz “Cabbagehead” Misch, father of young Davyd Misch. Ignatz is standing there, thinking…. thinking about the fate of his new-bore chile, won’drin’ ’bout whar his next meal is a-comin’ from, and tryin’ ta figger out why he’s a-thinkin’ in dialect.
He doesn’t know.
Around the cast-iron stoves on Main Street (a dirt path three miles from town), the old-timers talk of how Ignatz left his son out in the woods, where he was raised by wolves, pushed down by bears and swung side to side by antelopes.
They tell of how Jed Smarmley got lost in those woods and returned with tales of a wild boy-animal who told ethnic jokes. They speak of how folks on the outskirts of town, fearful of the boy-animal, left offerings in their backyards, like antique whoopee cushions and tape recordings of dirty limericks.
Thus, the beginnings of “David” (as we know him today) Misch are clouded in mystery and legend and stuff. No one currently alive knows exactly how (or why) Misch entered the world of writing, when he acquired the duelling scar that forced him to purchase those now-famous prosthetic eyebrows, or where he left his tennis socks.
Of course, we can speculate about those few highly-suspect pieces of informa- tion which have reached us: that he “probably” graduated from Pomona “Coll- ege” then performed as a comic fol“ksi”nger in Boston“.”
Legend has it that “Somerville”, a song supposedly written and performed by Mr. Misch, was released nationally by Fretless Records and that he was named “Best Comedian In Boston”. But since the only evidence to support this is a blood-stained note scrawled by a now-deceased gardener employed by a woman who claims to have once stood behind Mr. Misch in a dry cleaner’s, some historians are skeptical.
Indisputable evidence, though, leads us to guess that Mr. Misch moved to New York City in 1978 to become a starving standup comedian, which he did very successfully. Later that year, however, a momentous event may have, or may not have (or may have) occurred.
The tale is told that Mr. Misch read of a proposed television series entitled “MorkMindy”. Inspiration struck, and he sent a letter to the Emperor of ABC suggesting the imposition of an ampersand (“&”) between the words “Mork” and “Mindy”. The Emperor, impressed by Mr. Misch’s creativity and breeding and willingness to work for small beads and wood shavings, hired him as a writer for the program, which was nominated for two Emmys, including Out- standing Comedy Series.
A year later, Mr. Misch achieved the lofty title of Story Editor and, believing his life’s work complete, retired to a monastery in Samoa, where he became a Revered Master of “Tah lah”, a brutal form of religious discipline in which the devotee must view outtakes from “27 Dresses” while his body is pelted with squirrel dung.
Informed by a passing dung-trader of a proposed series called “Police Squad”, Mr. Misch wrote the Vice-Emperor of ABC suggesting the addition of an excla- mation point to the series’ title (to wit: “Police Squad!”). Mr. Misch was hired as Executive Story Editor, stayed with the program until it was cancelled, then quit.
Through a strange series of events involving a warehouse filled with industrial diamonds, a woman in an ocelot costume and the Prime Minister of England, Mr. Misch then co-wrote and produced a comedy-adventure pilot for ABC entitled “Callahan” (his proposed title, “Call & han!”, was rejected), later shown at the Los Angeles Museum of Art Television Festival.
After that, he wrote and/or produced pilots for NBC (David Letterman’s first talk-show), CBS, ABC, Fox, UPN, HBO, Showtime, PBS, ABC Family, Disney, Universal, and Lifetime. Among his credits: co-wrote and directed an episode of the syndicated series “Monsters” which was chosen for competition at the Banff International Television Festival; Executive Producer of “Duckman” (USA), nominated for multiple Emmys, winner of the CableACE (an award so prestigious it no longer exists) and Banff International Television awards for Best Animated Series (in the world, baby); guest writer on “Saturday Night Live”.
David was Executive Consultant on “She Spies” (chosen as one of “5 TV Spies To Love On DVD” by Time Magazine) and wrote the TV movie “Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Mork and Mindy’“ (NBC), which won the coveted Piersall Award for “Longest Title for A TV Movie Nobody Watched”.
In features, he was Special Consultant on “The Muppets Take Manhattan” (Tri-Star). His screenplays include “Summer House” (MGM); “Convention” and “Defrosted” (Touchstone); “Girl-Grabbers From Venues”, “Fast Forward” and “Disturbing The Peace” (Warner Brothers).
Theatuh: David’s TV pilot “The Hole” was part of the Whitefire Theatre‘s “Dead Pilots Society”, his play “Occupied” is in development at the Skylight Theatre, and his full-length comedy “Pretty Naked People” is, well, not. He wrote the book for “Hip Pocket Musicals”, presented at Pepsico Summerfare (Purchase, NY), and he’s had one-act plays produced at the Bur- bage Theater Ensemble, HBO Workspace (Los Angeles) and Manhattan Punch Line’s Festival of One-Act Comedies.
David’s the author of “A Beginner’s Guide To Corruption” and his “Funny: The Book” (Applause) has been hailed as “the most authoritative book ever written about comedy” by comedy authority David Misch. David’s prose has been feat- ured in the Sherman Oaks Review of Books, NationalLampoon.com, collected in “Horrific Humor and the Moment of Droll Grimness In Cinema: Sidesplitting sLaughter” (Lexington), “Robin Williams: Essays on the Films” (McFarland; spring), “May Contain Nuts” (HarperPerennial), “Faith: Believers, Agnostics, and Atheists Confront the Big Questions” (Beyond Words), and he blogs for The Huffington Post.
David’s taught and lectured at many gullible institutions, including Yale, The Smithsonian Institute, Oxford, University of Sydney, Columbia, University of Southern California, University of California Los Angeles, the American Film Institute, the Grammy Museum, KPCC‘s Crawford Family Forum, the California Women’s Conference, the Marian Miner Cook Atheneaum (California); Cooper Union, the 92nd St. Y, The Actors Studio (NYC); LucasFilm, Electronic Arts, Adobe Inc., the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston Libraries; the Aus- tin and Ojai Film Festivals, Burbank and North Carolina Comedy Festival; Sec- ond City Training Center (Hollywood); and has been a featured speaker at the SATE Themed Entsertainment, Midwest Popular Culture Association, “The Eth- ics and Aesthetics of Comedy (Bucknell University) and VIEW Cinema (Torino, Italy) conferences.
One fateful day, Mr. Misch left his heavily-guarded Santa Monica estate to pur- chase a box of chocolate-covered raisins and disappeared from the face of the earth. The only trace of him yet found is a business card uncovered at the bot- tom of a sulfur pit in the Australian outback, made out to “Dayvd Misch”, Sales Manager of a Mazda franchise in Passaic, New Jersey.
Facts? No one knows. (Fewer care.) It is said that a man is not the sum of the facts about him, but the sum of his facts divided by three and subtracted from your brother’s age.
Poet, prophet, rambler, gambler, holla-back guy, chick-magnet. In the curious case of Davyd/Dayvd/David “Misch”, perhaps the truth can be found only in the memories of those who knew him: his neighbors, who attest to his scorn for conventional standards of hygiene; his friends, who remember an idealistic dreamer who spoke of a time when “a man could drive from Sherman Oaks to Burbank within a week”; but, most of all, his publicity agent, who he owes $212 and who won’t write any more of this soporific drivel till he pays up.
DAVID MISCH: A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Lyle Brackish, Misch: Legend Or Myth? (New York: Tangential Publications, 2010).
Avery Garpwing, Misch: Myth Or Legend? (Cambridge: Loverboy Press, 2012).
Thomas “Bunny” Melons, Legend: Myth Or Misch? (Peoria: Big Golden Books, 2006)
David Misch, Me!!! (Bora Bora; Umgawa Associates, 2014)
Franklin J. Slab, “The Use of Props In Newscast Parodies”, Conceptual Humor Review (June, 2013), pp. 48-57.
Casper F. Ghost, “Merps, Misch, and Dunballs: Three Moustachioed Humorists Discuss Their Craft and Make Strange Rumbling Noises”, Journal of American Japery (March, 2007), pp. 1012-1108.
Dr. Elbow Farnsworth and Hyman Whoops, “A Possible Treatment For Recur- rent Punning In Wit Transplant Patients”, Modern Comedic Medicine (Novem- ber, 2015), pp. 866-721.