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I was unemployed for a good deal of the past year.  The first 6 months or so I was unemployed by choice.  I had worked in restaurants for years and years while I pursued acting and writing in New York City and so I took some time to only focus on my real career.

Then the economy went in the pooper.

I started writing the scripts for HARD TIMES after presenting the idea to my friend Shawn Patrick Murphy, whom I thought was one of the funniest people I know.  We had been wanting to work together on something for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  So we took off running…

Backing up though, during my unemployment last year I also held a big staged reading of my full-length play JERSEY SHORE HOUSE at Playwrights Horizons.  We had Tony Award winning actors, Broadway veterans, a great director, great producers, and still nothing happened with it…well not yet.

After the reading, I sent out a script to an agency, Harden-Curtis, via a recommendation from an awesome friend.  They read the script, and I don’t fault them for not showing up at my house with a contract, I understand how it works, but I got this rejection letter in the mail:

HardenCurtisRejection

Again, I understand the letter, I think it’s perfectly reasonable, and I totally appreciate the personal note.  But I guess something in the last sentence of the first paragraph sparked something in me.  My play, which is about a family who comes together to help someone cope with the death of his fiancee, is apparently too Neil Simon for today’s brutal society.  I mean, I know I don’t write the gritty urban dramas about all the gangsters that I hang around with on the street corners who have AIDS, but I didn’t think I was that irrelevant.

So I started to think about the “hard times” we were living in.  Yes, I was unemployed and I couldn’t find a job.  So there’s a start.  But the fact is, I live in a world where I can rely on people that love me to help me out if I am down and out.  I can still go to the store and buy the good hummus.  You know, the Sabra, with the spicy red stuff in the middle?

I totally feel the effects of the economic downturn we’ve had – but is it just cause we’re Americans that we can’t have trouble realizing that no matter how high gas prices rise, we are still very fortunate to live the kind of life we live?  I’m a wannabe professional actor for God’s sake, in the most expensive city in the country, if life is so fucking hard for me, I can always take responsibility for myself and move back to North Carolina and find some job to buy groceries.  But instead, even in these “hard times” I still have the incredible fortune, the unbelievable luck, to pursue something as impractical as being a movie star.

But still. I took it to heart and I wrote “Hard Times: An Out of Workplace Comedy” about what it’s like day-to-day to be a normally very privileged middle-class college graduate who cannot find a job, any job, in New York City.  Take it for what it is.  Maybe it’s a commentary on how our idea of a “depression” is silly in comparison to the “depression” of the 1920’s or how our lifestyle is all relative depending on our surroundings.

Or maybe it’s just a silly comedy web series with jokes about our testicles.

Every artist, writer, musician, painter, etc. has a unique perspective.  They take what they have seen in their life, what they continue to see, and they vomit it back out in whatever medium makes sense to them, creating, to borrow from a Sam Shepard play, their “own special music.”  So here is HARD TIMES, Michael Ferrell style.  Thanks for watching!

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