The report on the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs among Major League Baseball players drives home how lucky I was that they weren’t passing out steroids and human growth hormone to those of us sit-com staff writers required to stay up late, night after night, rewriting scripts. Sleep deprivation, though not specified in our contracts, was understood to be part of the job. What they did provide was Chinese food, however illogical, as the soy-sauce induced MSG lethargy made it harder to sit around a large table and punch up material. Many nights we were there until 3AM without so much as a No-Doz.
Okay, so maybe “Growing Pains” would have been even more hilarious and “Mr. President” might have run long enough for viewers to have been aware of it, but there’s just so much I’ll do for my art. There are shows whose writers were rumored to be taking cocaine, and it’s conceivable that someone on staff with me may have been using illegal drugs, but I’ve always made frequent trips to the bathroom without ever coming across anything unusual.
Increased head size is said to be associated with substance abuse. There are plenty of comedy writers with large heads, but inflated egos aren't as immediately obvious as increased circumferences. Curiously comedy writers, the guys anyway, often wear baseball caps, but even the cockiest can fit into a normal-sized cap.
With the proven success of performance-enhancing drugs in sports, might other businesses encourage employees to take drugs? If workers at major chains -- Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, Toys R Us, Staples, Circuit City and pretty much every phone and technology store we're forced to patronize -- become alert and helpful and allow us to complete a transaction in a reasonable amount of time, we'll have reason to be suspicious.