Michael Phelps walked into the writers’ room at 30 Rock and sat down in a swiveling office chair. He opened up his backpack and took out 700 pancakes, three dozen egg and bacon sandwiches, a gallon of heavy whipping cream, and a cow. He ate quickly and grilled the cow to perfection and ate the cow and when he was done he wiped his mouth on the back of his long sleeved Beijing 2008 track jacket. “OK, you guys,” he said. “Let’s start making some comedy.”
The writers tossed out a bunch of ideas, including a parody of Barack Obama’s nomination speech at the Democratic National Convention and a sketch about a substitute teacher who keeps falling into a coma. Michael Phelps shook his head. “The only way this is going to work, you guys, is if I’m just myself up there. You’ve got to give me something where I can just use my natural talents.”
“Like what?” a young writer asked.
“OK, take that sketch you just told me about, right, the one where I’m a bartender at this rough looking dive bar and another bartender from a competing dive bar comes in and challenges me to a Mix Off, and then we both make the most elaborate fruit cocktails?”
The writers nodded, waiting to hear how Michael Phelps might tweak it. The sketch had gone through a few drafts already and there was something there but it needed an extra push.
“Well what if instead of that, we were both Olympic swimmers about to compete in the 100 meter men’s freestyle and we didn’t talk because we were both listening to our iPods getting ready for the race? Hilarious!”
None of the writers said anything.
“Or-or-or, you know the other sketch y’all were talking about where I’m a bus driver and a maniac has wired a bomb to the bus that will go off if I don’t carefully follow all of the driving laws? What if instead of a bus it was, like, an airplane to Beijing, and I was just sitting in first class listening to my iPod, thinking about all of the races I was going to have to win and how it would be such an epic and historic accomplishment if I could pull it off?”
The writers looked at each other.
“Now this Barack Obama guy, is he a swimmer?”
One of the older writers who’d been on staff for decades and dealt with plenty of different celebrities spoke up. “No, Michael Phelps. Barack Obama is not a swimmer.”
Michael Phelps shook his head and put down the 7 pound glazed ham he was chewing on. “No, see, I think that these really need to allow my style of comedy to come through.”
The older writer looked sad. “We were never considering you for the part of Barack Obama, Michael Phelps,” he said.
Michael Phelps swallowed 19 foot-long subs with double meet and washed it down with 45 root beer floats and a box of protein bars. “What are you guys thinking for my opening monologue?”
Another writer looked around to see if anyone else was going to field it, but everyone was looking down at their notepads, so he stood up.
“We had this one idea where you would start to give the monologue and then Bill Hader would come out dressed like Mark Spitz and–“
“Mark Spitz is a forgotten man,” Michael Phelps said, grabbing at the eight gold medals that he wore around his neck and holding them forward for everyone to admire. “He’s done. Here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to come out, I’m going to be wearing my medals, I’m not going to say anything, I’m just going to pump my fist in the air, and then I’m going back to my dressing room where I’ll keep my metabolism up with a quick snack of 47,000 White Castle Crave Cases and a truck full of Pop’Ems while you guys get the Water Cube set ready for an hour and a half sketch where I sit in a fold out chair listening to my iPod thinking about who knows what while I mentally prepare myself to make history.”
There was a heavy silence in the room.
“You know, comedy.”