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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Usually, I’m horrible in interviews. I can’t believe I manage to land any jobs at all based on my interviewing skills (or lack thereof). Despite being able to perform on stage in front of hundreds with ease, being social with strangers, especially in a situation where I have to “sell myself” gives me terrible anxiety. I have to consciously think about speaking clearly and not mumbling. If it were up to me, I’d have a representative, perhaps someone from a former job, go to an interview with me and just pitch me as a worker. I don’t doubt my abilities to learn almost anything, and I pride myself as a hard worker and no former employer would ever contest that. But interviewing sucks.
This interview was for a basic assistant position for a property management company. Having worked in property management before, I know I’m not only a good candidate going in, but overqualified. I also don’t care that much if I get it. I should care. Because even though at the moment I was doing fine financially with freelance writing and comedy gigs, that type of work is unsteady, so I would need another job to sustain survival because New York is expensive as fuck.
The office is pristine white decorated with beautiful art work all around. There’s no theme to it. Some of it is modern. Others of landscape and seas. Some of them portraits. But they’re all really, really great. It’s the first thing I notice and compliment. This property management company is different from the one I worked in because the owner of the company owns the buildings. Which means he’s rich as fuck.
The woman who interviews me is a middle aged Asian Woman. The interview is standard. I’m not particularly anxious because I don’t really give a shit if I get this job at this point. Stand-up comedy is on my resume. I find that in interviews people are more interested in my comedy than my actual qualifications. This, however, is not why it is on my resume. It’s on my resume because it is why I am on the hunt for a part time job, not a full time job. Also, even in the corporate world, people highly respect someone who has enough balls to chase their dreams— especially if that dream is stand-up. And since I’m young, I think, employers are not only encouraging of my dream, but happy to hire someone like me. They also always assume I’ll be hilarious in the office, which I never am. Actually, I’m the opposite. People become perturbed by the fact that I am so quiet but also a comic. I think having stand-up comedy on my resume has helped me get jobs, but that’s not why it’s there. I want employers to know that they are not the priority. Comedy is my priority. Which may or may not be stupid to reveal on an interview. But it’s honest. Being honest has had more benefits for me than drawbacks. Honesty, however, always comes with some drawbacks.
The initial interview goes so well, she asks if it would be possible for me to come back in an hour to meet The Boss. This kind of annoys me because I had a phone interview that afternoon and wanted to be home for it. But I figure, that’s a good sign if she wants to squeeze in a second interview on the same day. I oblige. Time killing for a writer and a reader like myself is never an annoyance, it’s a gift.
So, I park myself in a Starbucks (the same Starbucks I was in before the interview, as I was there almost 40 minutes early). At the time I was reading “Devil in the White City,” a nonfiction novel about the Chicago’s Worlds Fair and serial killer H.H. Holmes who makes all other serial killers look like Disney characters.
An hour goes by fast. I return. The Boss is running late. I’m annoyed by this, but I smile and say, “no problem.” The artwork provides entertainment for me, as I stare at them and zone out. It’s pretty easy for me to disappear into an alternative dimension in my head.
Finally, after about 20 minutes of waiting, The Boss comes in. He’s in his 60’s. He’s tall, lanky and has wild grey hair that sticks up like Albert Einstein. He takes his jacket off and gives it to the Asian Woman. He’s wearing, I shit you not, a dark blue velvet vest, that the bottom two buttons are unbuttoned because he has a little bit of a gut. His pants are little short on him. He’s dressed like an aged Mad Hatter.
“Lori!!!!” He exclaims. “Sorry to keep you waiting!!!!! Come in!!!!!”
I use excess exclamation points because he is excited to the point of mania. I enter his office which is a huge corner office. It is precisely how you would picture an eccentric millionaires office would look like. More amazing artwork. An entire wall of artifact type trinkets that are evidence of his travels around the world.
“Please, sit!!!!! Tell me about yourself!!!!!!”
So, I go into my planned soliloquy about my qualifications having previously worked in this industry when he cuts me off…
“Lori,” he says my name a lot, “I don’t want to hear about any of that. I want to hear about stand-up comedy!!!!!!”
I chuckle a little. I tell him about comedy, and how it’s my passion, and ultimate career goal, and it’s why I’m looking for part time work, yada, yada, yada.
“That’s amazing!!!!! I’m funny!!!! I mean, I say funny things all the time, but I couldn’t do stand-up comedy!!!!! I wrote a funny book!!!!! Do you want to see it!!!!.”
He pulls from his book shelf a children’s book about Trump that he wrote, as he put it, “for fun.” He wrote some New Yorker type comics and hired an illustrator to draw pictures to it, got it self published and is going to give them away and/or sell them on Amazon.
“Trump is an easy target!!!!! I’m not really a writer or a comedian but it was fun!!!! I don’t care if I make any money!!!!! I thought it was a neat thing to do!!!!!”
I didn’t really read it, but thumbing through it, it was indeed neat. The cartoonist he hired did a really good job.
While I’m looking at his book, he is looking at my resume. The Asian Woman had me fill out a form with a couple references. He is looking at that too.
“Lori,” he says, “you have the handwriting of a child.”
At this, I laugh. This interview is getting strange, only to get stranger.
“Look,” he says, showing me my handwriting. “Your letters aren’t evenly on the line. That’s how a child writes.”
“Uh, yah,” I self depreciate, “My handwriting isn’t the greatest.”
“Let me show you,” he takes out his phone. Apparently, he hasn’t made his case. For what seemed like an eternity of two minutes, he thumbs through pictures on his phone. Then he shows me something his granddaughter wrote. “Do you see!!!! You write like a child!!!”
He has a point. My handwriting is slightly worse than his granddaughters. I’m not sure what to make of any of this. I just nod in agreement. I’m going to let him do most of the talking. I’m sure it won’t be hard for him.
“How did someone like you get into comedy?!!!!”
I tell him how I started in college, and once again, he cuts me off….
“Lori,” he says, “do you have a cold or is your voice just nasally like that?”
“Nope,” I say laughing, “this is my voice. It’s annoying.”
With concern, “I don’t think it’s annoying, Lori. I like your voice. But if you don’t like it, you know, maybe there’s something you can do about it. Like in the morning sniff ammonia or do some cocaine in the day.”
I’m stunned. I honestly have no idea if he’s kidding or not. I wouldn’t even be surprised at this point if he pulled out a glass mirror and asked me to do lines with him. I’m not sure I’d say no. I felt like I was being punked. Is this real life? I ask myself that question a lot. Sometimes my life is a Twilight Zone episode.
“Uh…” how the fuck do you respond to that? “I’m not so sure that would work.”
“Lori… Tell me, have you ever seen The Two Ronnies?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Oh my goodness, Lori!!!!! You have to watch them!!!! You know what? Let’s watch it now!!!!!”
He tries to login into his computer. He keeps failing with the password. He yells for the Asian Woman to come into the office. She enters.
“What’s my password?”
“I don’t know what your password is.”
He tries a few more times and gets it right. He goes to YouTube and pulls up a comedy sketch from The Two Ronnies, “Orthodox Jew Insurance Against Catholicism.” Do I even have to explain more about the sketch? It’s very much in the vain of Monty Python. But he is watching me watch the sketch which is THE WORST. I very uncomfortably force laughter. I’m not even really listening to the clip. I just laugh when the laugh track does. I’m thinking to myself, “what the actual fuck is happening on this interview.”
The clip ends. “Isn’t that great!!!!! I love the two Ronnies!!!!! Did you know I saw Rodney Dangerfield live!?”
“I did not,” why would I know this.
“Years ago, of course. He’s dead now!!!!!”
At this point it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he claimed to have seen the ghost of Rodney Dangerfield do a seven minute set in his bedroom.
“We could really use someone funny in this office!!!!! She’s not funny!!!!!” He points to the Asian Woman.
“I’m not funny,” she confirms.
He then starts talking about me to the Asian Woman as if I’m not sitting right there.
“I like her!!!!! She seems smart!!!! She seems funny!!!!! She has a good smile!!!!! We should hire her!!!!! Why not!!!!!”
I feel like I’m in a Two Ronnies sketch at this point. I would take this job for the material alone. This guy is clearly insane. Either we would get along swimmingly or I’ll hate him and quit in three weeks. I also had to consider the possibility that he’s a total creep and tries to make a pass at fucking me. It would be my guess he has three ex-wives.
“Well,” the Asian Woman says, “we ought to check her references and we have scheduled other interviews.”
“Why?!!!!! We should bring her in next week!!!!!!”
It may be shocking to you as it is for me that I never did hear back from them. Nor were my references contacted. I followed up and never heard a reply. I was disappointed, I must admit. Sure, it was a well paid position, but The Boss was a gold mine of material. He was my sitcom, dammit!!!!!!!!!! I mean, who knows what happened. A part of me even believes that he interviews people for fun and laughs his ass off after giving the most bizarre interviews. I would respect him for such lunacy.