The below is one of the many hilarious stories from our new book, Great Tastes. It’s one of our personal favorites, and if you love it, you should buy the book for 19 more that are just as fun as this one!
Cameos are by far the most enjoyable and most nerve-racking part of the videos we produce on The New Potato. We get talent for ten minutes at a time, and more often than not, the oh-so-organized script we’ve put together has not, and will not, be looked at. And why should it?
When you’re asking Katie Couric (a woman who had to move her meeting time twice because she was interviewing Gloria Steinem and then the president of Planned Parenthood) to appear in a video playing an Uber driver, you should be grateful she even shows up.
But let’s back up: We had interviewed Katie Couric over tea at Sarabeth’s on the Upper East Side a week before we were to shoot our video spoofing Uber. We had secured video guest cameos, like blogger Bryanboy and Linda Rodin, but felt we needed one more big name to really get it out there.
On our way to the interview, we mused on possibly asking Katie. Serendipitously, we completely hit it off with her. Two hours of shooting, interviewing, and chatting seemed to speed by in five minutes. By the end of the tea, Katie said something like “I love what you girls are doing. If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to let me know.”
Laura’s eyes widened: Like play an Uber driver? We were having one of our telepathic conversations.
Danielle squinted: I’m just not sure we can ask that now…
Laura’s head slightly tilted: Come on . . . why not?
Danielle shrugged: I mean if you really think it’s appropriate, go for it.
Laura’s eyebrows raised: Right, of course it has to be me. As usual.
Danielle’s head moved forward: What’s that supposed to mean?
Laura leaned back: You know exactly what it means.
Danielle squinted again: Have it your way, then.
“Actually,” Danielle said, with all the aggressiveness she could muster (i.e., not a lot), “we’re shooting this spoof video about Uber…”
The rest, as they say, is history. Katie was scheduled to appear in the video the very next week. We were to meet her in the lobby of Yahoo, go downtown, and shoot the scene in a car we’d park right outside her next appointment. She only had five to ten minutes to shoot, but we’d have time to go over things in the car ride, so we felt okay about it. Plus, we were shooting on Laura’s birthday, which we considered a good omen.
While Laura had spent the week obsessing over the script, shots, locations, timing, and where the guys would park for Katie, Danielle had spent the time working on quite a different task: homemade peanut butter.
Katie had told us in her interview that her new obsession was grind-your-own honey peanut butter from Whole Foods, so we thought it would be a cute idea to bring her a jar or two as a thank-you. While most people would average around twenty-seven minutes on a task such as this, including travel time, Danielle averaged around five and a half business days.
You see, despite her typically laid-back personality, Danielle was that kid in school with perfect penmanship, whose arts and crafts projects were always frustratingly perfect, who will throw out a brand-new journal if a doodle on just one of its pages isn’t up to snuff. Artistic? OCD? Potato, potahto.
Since Katie’s preferred peanut butter wasn’t jarred, but rather a serve-yourself situation, Danielle took to the kitchen. She spent hours soaking two preexisting jars so she could scrape their labels off entirely and make her own labels, then picked out the most fanciful ribbon to finish them. Whether or not the video went up in smoke, it was safe to say we were set on the peanut-butter front.
Our video guys were ready to go at the parking spot an hour before we showed up, and we waited in the lobby of Yahoo—printed scripts in hand (in case Katiehadn’t read the digital version yet)—all set to go downtown.
The moment Katie entered the lobby we knew something was wrong. She talked hurriedly on her phone, and her assistant asked us to get in the car so we weren’t “forgotten” when she got in.
Laura clutched the scripts in her hand nervously, reading through Katie’s lines. Danielle clutched the peanut butter.
When Katie got in the car, her assistant explained to us she was having a bit of a media crisis concerning a tweet. As we got closer and closer to downtown, Laura took to her phone, to a group text with Danielle and our dad. The thread looked something like this:
LAURA: Dad, help! Katie’s having some sort of media situation, no time to look over the script; not sure how to pull it off.
DAD: What about going over lines when you get there?
LAURA: We have five minutes once we get there, and that’s to shoot!
DAD: Did you give her the peanut butter??
LAURA: That’s really not the priority right now.
DANIELLE: I will once she’s off the phone.
LAURA: Guys, forget the peanut butter.
DAD: Does she know it’s your birthday?
This was going no place.
Laura and Danielle eyed each other nervously. It sounded like Katie was wrapping up her call.
Danielle’s eyes widened: Finally. Looks to peanut butter. She’ll love it.
Laura shook her head: Script first, then peanut butter.
Danielle skeptically shrugged: If you really think so.
Laura’s eyes narrowed: I really really think so.
When Katie got off the phone, we were a block away from our destination. She was still voicing concerns to her assistant, but once realizing how close we were she turned to us and said something like “Okay, so sorry, girls, so I have five minutes—what are we doing?”
“Well, so you’re going to be the Uber driver—” Laura nervously pulled out the script.
“No, no,” Katie said. “Just tell me what I’m saying.”
When someone says “Just tell me what I’m saying” and what he or she is saying is ten different lines of back-and-forth dialogue, there’s no good way to answer that.
“Here!” Danielle practically shouted, handing over the bag of peanut butter jars.
“Thank you,” Katie said, putting it next to her. “So I’m the Uber driver and I just act like I’m doing it for extra pocket money, I tell Laura she has a bad rating, et cetera?”
“Exactly,” Laura said. Katie urgently turned back to her assistant in the front. Danielle looked ruefully at the peanut butter.
Danielle glanced at Laura: Perhaps I pulled the trigger too early.
Laura took a deep breath: Stop. As soon as the car stopped, we were out in a flash. Laura was yelling, “This way, Katie, they’re right here. Sorry, this way!” We were running frantically on either side of her, feeling the need to surround her with our arms as if we were playing London Bridge Is Falling Down. We were doing everything short of carrying Katie Couric.
The sound guy came up, about to say something about Katie’s microphone, but before he could even speak she whisked it out of his hand and had mic’d herself up by the time she got to the driver’s seat.
We don’t really know what happened next, because we’re pretty sure we blacked out. But we got a hysterical cameo part with Katie Couric as an Uber driver, and we somehow did it in four minutes.
As for the peanut butter, well, much to Danielle’s dismay, we never found out what happened to it.