Dude’s a one-off, friends. Which makes him right on for us.
Yeah, we know that only people too old to read this blog will understand that terrible pun. But sometimes a crazy, zany, old writer’s just gotta do what a writer’s gotta do. Anyway:
by Cynthia Littleton
Shalom Auslander has none of the standard qualifications for being a showrunner. He doesn’t like to be around a lot of people. He doesn’t like working in a big city. He has no intention of collaborating with other scribes in a writer’s room. And before he was handed the reins by Showtime to the dark comedy “Happyish,” he’d never worked in series television before.
What he does have is a razor-sharp perspective on the excesses of contemporary culture. It’s a POV shaped by two distinct experiences: his upbringing in a strict Orthodox Jewish community outside New York City, and his work in creative advertising at McCann-Erickson and other firms.
On a break from a location shoot in Manhattan, Auslander was counting down the days until he could return home to Woodstock, his wife and two boys. After weeks of intense work, he’d had enough of New York City. Even the clanking sound of a waiter hastily clearing away cups and cutlery seemed “purposely angry” to him.
“I can’t hear myself when I’m here,” he said of the city, sounding much like the frustrated advertising exec, Thom Payne, that Steve Coogan plays on “Happyish,” which premieres Sunday.
When he’s at the home he describes as being “out in the woods,” Auslander lives by a strict rule to keep most of the modern world at bay. He’s happy living in a “bubble” with his family and his work. His wife is an artist who concocts out-there creations much like the Lee Payne character played by Kathryn Hahn in “Happyish.”
“Don’t f—- with my bubble,” he says, noting that this snappy mantra is reinforced as the signature line of his emails. “I don’t watch the news. Don’t send me links. Don’t send me funny YouTube videos. I don’t want to know — it doesn’t help me. Don’t f—- with my bubble.”