What is panel envy? WC Fields once said they he would never act with children or animals. I wonder what he would say about author panels? This Sunday at four, I'm on an author panel at Congregation Albert. In late September I'm on a panel at the Southwest Festival of the Written Word in Silver City NM. Everybody on both panels is a great person and a great writer. Is that a good thing? Or should we have someone on the panel that is really famous that we all envy and secretly hate?
I remember a show called Meeting of the Minds, where the late Steve Allen would interview the very, very late celebrities of all time. If memory served, Genghis Khan and Galileo were on. Galileo was plugging his book on astronomy, Genghis Khan was pitching his conquest of China.Marie Antonette gave cooking tips. Needless to say, I would get a bad case of panel envy if I was the guy sitting between Genghis Khan and Galileo.
I don't think Genghis Khan is available for Congregation Albert's panel and I don't know if Marie Antoinette's cake recipe would be kosher.
There was an episode of the Simpsons where Comic Book Guy asked Homer questions of a panel regarding Itchy and Scratchy. There are times when I feel like Homer up there.
You probably have your own ideas on the ultimate panel, author or not. You also have ideas of the questions you'd want to ask them. I've been on panels before where one person where one person was a best selling author and the other was self-published. Ironically, the self-published author had relatives in the crowd who were asking questions on whether some character was based on them. The best selling author and I looked on with bemusement.
Invariably in every panel, someone will ask all of us if they can be sued for writing about someone. I always give the same answer. "If you sell less than ten copies, you won't be selled. If you sell a million copies, you will be sued. My goal is to be sued."
I always get the biggest laugh of the night with that line. Perhaps, Genghis Khan, Galileo and Marie Antoinette should be wary about being on a panel with me!