Smoking With Christian Bell

Read the Story March 15, 2005

From where did such a riotous, wild story originate? Where’d you get this idea? You got the coveted ROTFLMAO comment—rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.

There are several ideas converging here. One involves a particular Hollywood actor/director (KC. You can figure out who I’m talking about) who keeps getting the opportunity to produce big budget epics despite a record of critical and financial failure. The other is Japanese cuisine, which can be—particularly sushi—rightfully considered an art form, full of its own rituals, equipment and terminology. Then, it’s sort of a standard clash of cultures—ugly American (vacuous self-important celebrity) vs. sophisticated foreigner (overly intense artist-chef). To make it more interesting, I throw in a momentous event like the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and speculate upon latent hostility towards America. Fun stuff! Often, when I have an idea that goes nowhere, like each of these did, I combine it with others that are languishing and see what happens. Getting a ROTFLMAO is exactly what I want to achieve!

The recap of the star’s recent slew of films is classic. Any plans to produce any of these? Goat Boy seems especially promising.

Goat Boy could be great—perhaps Sean Penn in the title role. I’d like to see a 15-minute sequence of a pan flute being carved from wood. The Curling Richardsons would be a great excuse to travel to Canada. And maybe, just maybe, it would shed some light on just what the hell’s happening in a curling match. Prohibition would require a sequel, Repeal, which should, you would hope, end in a big drunken party. I’m no filmmaker, but I do see the potential for two short stories and two ridiculously long novels.

What’s the key to writing good satire?

Having fun, being willing to rip anything apart. For me, satire comes from things that I would make fun of in my daily life (bad movies, for one). People that take themselves too seriously (celebrities, politicians) are particularly ripe for the picking. Our everyday lives are ripe for satire, because we all take ourselves way too seriously.

Humor’s very risky. If people don’t get it, well, you might end up looking pretty foolish. What’s required to take the risk and write humor?

It is very risky. One obvious key is to have a decent sense of humor yourself. Another is to be fearless about it and just do it. The more you do it, the better you?ll get. And it’s good to read these things aloud to see how they sound—if you’re laughing at your own writing, you’re on to something. Often, it’s hard to know if you’ve done too little or too much. For me, I generally follow a rule of three (like the three examples in the stars recent slew of films) and then move on.

When you go to a sushi bar, what might we find on your plate?

When I go, I order up eel (unagi), which is my favorite. Eel sounds scary but it’s delicious. Yellowtail, tuna, crab, shrimp, and scallop are great too; go with friends, order a bunch, and sample each. I tend to stay away from the chewy (squid, octopus), the fishy (mackerel, herring), and the seafood-less. What’s the point?

About the Author:

Christian Bell's work has appeared in rumble, Pindeldyboz, flashquake, Skive Magazine, JMWW Quarterly and Prose Ax, among others. He lives near Baltimore, Maryland.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.