As an entertainer I am always fraught with worry about whether or not
my work is any good, despite any successes I've enjoyed along the way.
Being a writer is not much different in that regard. Success as an
entertainer can be judged upon a few things. Money and fame certainly
help locate ones place in the scheme of things. However I tend to look
towards a different set of criteria to determine if or when Ive made
it. Being satirized in Mad magazine is a good start. Getting on
Letterman would be fine as well. I'd even settle for finding Andy
Martello memorabilia on ebay to be a suitable feather in my cap. But
what about notoriety as a writer?

Ive given this much thought
and I've decided that among the ways I'll know if my work is any good,
if not acceptable for eventual greatness, is if somebody already
prominent in the media or show business makes a public reference to
something of mine that they have read. If I am quoted, listed as an
expert, or simply talked about on a talk radio program then surely I
must be on the right path. Of course having a best-selling book or an
award winning column seems likely to be proof of accomplishment.
However, I have one brass ring that I must reach before I am considered
a success as a writer. I MUST receive praise or acknowledgement from Berkeley Breathed.

Breathed is the comedic genius that has created some of my favorite
cartoon strips, Bloom County, Outland, and the newly introduced Sunday
strip, Opus. He has also written several dark and funny childrens
books. More than that, he is immensely cooler and hipper than I can
hope to be. At least I imagine hes one very cool guy. Who knows if Ill
ever find out for sure? Regardless, I want Berkeley Breathed to like
me. If nobody else ever finds me or my work worth a damn thats fine.
But Berkeley Breatheds seal of approvalIve come a long way baby!

Breathed? Why not Stephen King, Larry King, or even Don King for that
matter? Why not seek the love and admiration of noteworthy people in
this field, spoken word artists, or even famous comedians? At the
absolute least I should be courting guys like Dave Barry or Richard
Roeper if not a few high profile news broadcasters ( I do think a
signed photo of Ted Koppel would be very cool to have ). Why should the
man who penned the phrase, pear pimples for hairy fishnuts be the
target of this media flirtation? Ill explain.

Since Opus came
out of retirement and returned to my newspaper, I started rereading
some of my Breathed books. While rediscovering the hilarity and
poignant satire that Id grown to love over the years I noticed how much
fun it was for Berkeley when he received some sort of notice from the
subjects of his strip, other cartoonists, and the like. In his book,
One Last Little Peek, 1980-1995, Breathed cites times he received poems
from Caspar Weinberger, thank you letters from Gregory Peck, accolades
from Ronald Reagan, and spoof cartoons from Bill Watterson. He talks of
these little gestures sometimes with reverence, other times with
disbelief, always with whimsy. I can see where a small token of
appreciation can make your day a bit brighter. But it is not really
these types of keepsakes I am after. I want a signed sketch of Opus the
Penguin, dammit!

I know I could simply write the guy and
do the whole fan-boy thing. I could even go online and search for
Berkeley Breathed memorabilia to buy for my wall. Thats just not the
point. I want to know that the silly little things Ive written have not
only found an audience of the normal folks like me (and presumably,
you), but some of the people whos work Ive respected over the years.
There are many people that have helped me form my sense of humor,
performing style, and outlook on life. I would have to say that of all
the folks I can think of as great influences, Berkeley Breathed has one
quality that sets him apart from the crowd. He may be the most
accessible of the bunch! (Henry Rollins is a close second and I already
have some nice letters from Dr. Demento.). It is not impossible to
think I could even meet the guy and have lunch with him someday. Just
try to get an appointment with David Letterman. Good luck, pal!
Breathed is just famous enough to have a little clout, but not so
famous that hed be a total prick to a guy like me. Clever, eh?

my plan: On a regular basis, once a month perhaps, I will make a plea
to Mr. Breathed. I have noticed a number of similarities between the
two of us and writing about them may sway his judgment a bit and
inspire him to either send me the original copy of my favorite strip
(Hey Berkeley, it is the Louie Louie lyrics translation from
the Dukakis campaign years) or a nice hand-written letter (with Opus
sketch) telling me he likes my work. THATS something I can put on my
wall, enjoy forever, and leave to my family years after Im gone only to
have some guy from Antiques Road Show asking, Do you have any idea how much this is worth?.

there it is; my path to glory, laid out for all to see. I fully expect
that with the vast power of the internet, somebody out there (hopefully
a fan of mine) will have the connections to Mr. Breathed and direct his
attention to this article and future writings. Some folks have lots of
time to waste online and will send e-mails to anybody if they can find
a correct e-mail address . If you are one of those peoplestart writing!
I am asking for your help. Help me in my completely lame quest for
acceptance. Give me my Sally Field Oscar moment, where I can one day
thank my readers and proudly proclaim, you really like me! Somebody out
there will be able to get Berkeley Breathed to read my work. Ive heard
that were only six people away from anyone in the world. The whole
Kevin Bacon game is based upon this theory. Help me find those six
people. Help me find Berkeley Breathed. Help me find Kevin Bacon. He
may able to help!

Berkeley - uh, Mr. Breathed, sir? If youre out
there, I want your approval. Ive read your work, bought your books
& stuffed dolls & worn your T-shirts. Surely you can appreciate
this desperate cry for help, this need for attention. Not hearing from
you will bring my anxiety closet to full capacity. I need that space
for my Gary Larson obsession. I have no plans on calling Trudeau (his
stufftoo preachy). My mother once got a card from the Fred Basset guy
simply because we owned a basset hound. This request MUST be a better
way to your heart. If you do not like my writing, a simple e-mail
stating that you are not YET a fan will be a fine start and a showing
of good faith that when my work improves, youll be reading. I await
your response and will prepare next months plea.

Andy Martello
is not only a regular contributor to The Cheers, he is also a comedian
& juggler living in Chicago. He has been heard on The Dr. Demento
Show and has been seen on Last Comic Standing.

A signed copy of his upcoming book, Prose & C.O.N.S. will be reserved in Berkeley Breatheds name. For more information about Andy simply visit his website,