Guest Column

Fame (and fortune) somehow elude me

Like most Americans, I would like to be famous. Unlike most Americans, I have managed to sniff around the edges of celebrity, achieving a fair amount of notoriety for a nobody, but not as much as, let's say, a minor cast member on one of the less popular reality shows.

I'm not nearly as famous as one of the friends of one of the Real Housewives of pretty much anywhere. And, while I'm sure I have way more talent than any of them, the staff at the Kardashian sisters' clothing stores gets more recognition than I do.

Talent has a shockingly small relationship to success. Look how many incredibly talented people have been discovered by various reality show singing/talent competitions. Susan Boyle was a completely anonymous homely woman before being on TV - as mostly a goof - exposed her as having a voice of singular beauty.

Even for the amazingly talented, fame and success involves more than a little blind luck. I went to high school with an amazingly talented actress who has had featured roles in multiple network shows - each of which was cancelled faster than the last. This year, she had a key role on a critically beloved series. Unfortunately, nobody except critics watched the show and it died a quiet death after 13 episodes.

These shows being cancelled had absolutely nothing to with whether or not my friend had the talent or deserved to be famous. And, while she still toils looking for her big break (I actually think she's more into working than being famous) many less-talented actresses blissfully enjoy more successful careers.

My personal quest for fame has left me tied (at least until Worst Ideas Ever comes out in July) with Snooki for how many books I have had published. After 15 or so years of writing a newspaper column that theoretically could be (but in practice isn't) read by millions, I have exactly as many books to my credit as someone famous for being dumb.

Snooki became a media sensation because she can't hold her liquor and tends to throw punches or fall down when she's drunk. I will basically be standing on street corners trying to get a few thousand people to buy my book and she gets to do late night talk shows, The Today Show and basically any radio show she wants.

Perhaps my mistake comes in writing a funny book rather than being a drunken idiot. That said, I'm pretty sure nobody wants to see me fall down while wearing a skirt and not wearing underwear. Of course, nobody wants to see Snooki do that either, but when she does, somehow we can't look away.

Still, I toil under the illusion that hard work and talent might ultimately lead to a modicum of celebrity. That's perhaps why I just put the finishing touches on a chapter about the female urinal (it lets women pee while standing up and is a classic worst idea ever).

Perhaps by writing about women peeing while standing up instead of being one (not literally, I don't have the legs for it) I have fatally erred on my path to stardom. Still, I'm hoping that amidst the drunks, the surgically enhanced and the truly baffling, that there's room for a guy from the newspaper who writes a funny book.

- Daniel B. Kline's work appears in more than 100 papers weekly (


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