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Benjamin King on Benjamin King.

October 4, 2011 \pm\31 2:00 pm

A review of Benjamin King ’s Pangur Ban Party e-Book: Situational Comedy
by Benjamin King

Benjamin King: Is this self-review going to be in interview form?

Benjamin King: Yes. I find conversation, or “dialogue” as it is known in “the business,” to be infinitely more interesting to read than giant blocks of text.

BK: Okay. So how did you come to be involved in Pangur Ban Party?

BK: DJ Berndt has been a big supporter of my writing and one day he suggested I submit something to Pangur Ban Party. I was flattered and immediately said yes. Then, luckily, this idea came to me and that’s basically it. I’d much rather be a part of one of my Internet friend’s projects than be published in any lit mag … that’s good too but I’m just saying, being a part of PBP or Crispin Best’s For Every Year project or Ana C’s Expiring or New Wave Vomit serieses is where it’s at for me.

BK: Do you really think serieses is the plural of series?

BK: I don’t think so on account of the squiggly red line that has shown up underneath that word but I like the look and sound of it so it’s staying.

BK: What do you think of DJ’s hair?

BK: It’s totally hi-fi. I’ve never met him in real life and it’s hard to get a sense of what he really looks like because he looks different in each one of his Internet pictures. But in all of them his hair is on point.

BK: So tell us about the concept of Situational Comedy.

BK: The basic idea is that we follow a relationship through from beginning to end. How these two people meet. Some stuff that happens in the middle. And how it ends. I like thinking and writing about relationships. Or loneliness. Or death. But this one is about relationships.

BK: Are any of these stories autobiographical in any way?

BK: Great question.

BK: Thanks.

BK: No. It is extremely rare for me to write about myself. I much prefer to inhabit new characters and bring them to life with my words. Sure sometimes if I am feeling sad or happy or hungry or if I feel like doing karate on a trampoline I might write a story that has that kind of tone but other than that it is mostly made up. My writing may be somewhat tonagraphical I suppose.

BK: What’s up with the titles? Seems like each one is from a sitcom from the 80s?

BK: Yep. I was born in 1971 so these shows were my shows when I was a kid. I just thought it would be a fun angle.

BK: Okay, now Let’s get down to the individual stories. Tell us about Perfect Strangers.

BK: This one is about that first moment when you notice a girl or a guy. How there’s something that rips at your guts. I’m happy with how it came out. The Norway is a sandwich I used to order from a restaurant called Méli-Mélo in Connecticut. I remember good sandwiches like other people remember first kisses or inspirational teachers.

BK: So what about Just the Ten of Us?

BK: This is where the man first meets the woman. It’s an upbeat piece. Not too deep. The last line still makes me chuckle so that’s good.

BK: My Sister Sam kind of sucks don’t you think?

BK: Jeez, steady on. It’s about that stage where you just can’t stop thinking about this person and you tell your family and friends how there’s this girl you like and if there is someone who knows her then you want to hear all about how they know her and what they think and all that. And I wanted to get across that this guy is into smart women. It’s not my favourite but it has a good heart.

BK: Was It’s Your Move even a TV show? I don’t remember that one.

BK: You’ve got to be kidding. It’s Your Move was probably the greatest show that has ever been on TV. Or maybe second after The Wire. It’s where I first fell in love with Jason Bateman. Anyway, this story is about two things. Firstly, it’s about how a relationship can look one way from the outside, like wow, those two are so in love, but from within it is something completely different. More real. Grittier maybe. More intense. Beautiful in its own way. And this guy recognises that from the outset. And B, it is also about how one person has to make the first move, and then it is up to the other person to get on board. Or not.

BK: Charles in Charge is kind of raunchy.

BK: Yes. At some point the relationship moves into the bedroom. I’ve never written a serious sex scene before. I don’t think anyone is out there reading this story one-handed under the covers but it came out okay I think.

BK: It seems like Bosom Buddies is bringing us past that initial excitement … the relationship starts to get real.

BK: Exactly. It’s real love. Co-dependence. Intimacy. But there is also that aspect of suffocation. They’ve swallowed each other and now two people are one.

BK: I wasn’t expecting Cheers. What are you trying to say here?

BK: It’s really just about that point in a relationship where destructive behaviours or past demons are at risk of ruining things. You’ve both settled in to the relationship. You watch each other get dressed while talking about some shit that happened at work or on Survivor. It may not be as exciting; it’s a transition to the next stage of the relationship. And it’s about having the strength to stand up and do the right thing for yourself and for the other person.

BK: I used to love Delta Burke on Designing Women.

BK: Yeah, no shit. Who didn’t? This one is about how you might imagine your perfect woman one way but when you actually fall in love, that woman becomes the new perfect. Nothing on your checklist matters any more.

BK: Is that a real recipe in Family Ties?

BK: Yeah, give it a try. It’s Ambrosia salad.

BK: In Growing Pains, the couple is clearly having some problems.

BK: Yes, she is getting on his nerves. That can happen in a relationship.

BK: What the hell is going on in Gimme A Break? The guy’s moustache has a name now?

BK: It’s a metaphor. Also, you should go watch Little Darlings because it’s awesome. This one is about how sometimes shit can happen between two people but at the end of it all they realise they still love each other.

BK: The Golden Girls is a bit sappy.

BK: Whatever. Maybe when you have kids you’ll understand.

BK: Diff’rent Strokes is somewhat redundant. Like it’s just Growing Pains all over again.

BK: Oh yeah, that’s valid I suppose. But for me it is more like an extension of Growing Pains. Like those initial buds of unrest are blossoming into full on contempt. Plus it’s about getting older. Bodies change. Interests change. People grow apart.

BK: Is Head of the Class about getting blow jobs on your birthday?

BK: Yes. In grad school I had a couple of classes with an over-sharer. She told us all how she would give her husband blow jobs on his birthday. It sounds like a pretty good idea and since then I have noticed a few references to similar behaviour in various TV shows. So I guess it is something people do. In this story things have gotten to the point where the guy isn’t even getting his annual treat.

BK: My Secret Identity is sweet in its own way.

BK: Yes, even after everything, the guy still loves and wants the woman. He’s a good guy deep down and we feel like maybe the couple can get their shit together and rekindle the flame.

BK: I don’t even want to talk about Who’s the Boss?

BK: Yeah, I feel you.

BK: The Facts of Life … did she die or did she leave?

BK: I actually mean this to be somewhat ambiguous. “You are gone” could mean that she has left him or it could mean that she has died. Okay, to me it means that she died but if people want to read it the other way that’s cool too. We have skipped over a lot of life story to get to this point. I could have written another twenty stories that get us through the reconnection (or the separation) and the aging and other various transitions but I feel like this one implies all of that. These few lines sum it all up. There were happy times. There was love. But with life and with relationships there is always an end in one way or another.

BK: Great stuff. Thanks for your time.

BK: Sure thing.

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