(SatireWire.com) — In a surprising disclosure, God revealed this week that He does not determine what happens in human lives, but instead leaves that to his head writers, Dan and Benji, who have been scripting Life on Earth since the show’s beginning about 4.5 billion years ago.
The following is an exclusive, first-ever interview with the pair.
Q: So, it turns out God doesn’t work in mysterious ways. Instead, it’s two guys named Dan and Benji.
DAN: I know, right? Pretty crazy.
Q: But you don’t get credit.
DAN: Well, we’re non-union, so…
BENJI: Besides, His name scans better than ours. ‘Behold the wrath of Dan and Benji!’ Doesn’t really work, does it?
Q: I guess not. But let’s start with this: you two write the entire script for Life on Earth. Everything that has happened and will happen, everyone who ever existed, you write it all. I think, then, the first question most people want to know the answer to is. ‘What’s it like working with Johnny Depp?’
DAN: John is great. A real professional.
BENJI: And funny. He cracks us up on set.
DAN: I’m going to miss him.
BENJI: Oops. Spoiler alert!
Q: Are you saying…
DAN: Next question.
Q: Alright. I think most people were surprised to learn not only that Life on Earth is a show, but that God doesn’t write it all Himself.
BENJI: Honestly? God has no gift for narrative.
DAN: Originally he wanted Adam and Eve to be actuaries.
BENJI: ‘In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth and the statistical probability tables used to quantify risk.’ No thank you.
DAN: And remember, LoE is a big cast. More than six billion characters. So he hired writers.
Q: But only two of you. How do you keep track of so many storylines?
BENJI: We have a really big whiteboard in the writer’s room.
Q: And each person – each character – their lives are entirely scripted? Because frankly, life feels very improvised.
DAN: Thank you. LoE is written to make it appear improvised. Like Rameses II or Vladimir Putin or Miley Cyrus. They appear to be improvising, saying or doing the most incredibly stupid or horrible things, but it’s all scripted. We’re proud of it, even though Benji doesn’t always take the show seriously.
BENJI: I do take it seriously.
DAN: Really? Kim Jong-il and Dennis Rodman?
BENJI: OK, sometimes I don’t.
Q: Since you introduced human characters 100,000 years ago, they’ve really taken hold. As you said, there are more than six billion. What have been your favorites so far?
DAN: Oh wow, that’s tough. Hitler, obviously. I know he’s hated, but the performance. Tortured artist, genocidal maniac, ridiculous mustache.
BENJI: That last was my idea.
DAN: There’s a shock.
BENJI: What? It humanized him.
DAN: Other than that, Martin Luther King, Jr., very inspiring role. Galileo I enjoyed writing. He was a master with shadow puppets. No one remembers that. But a lot of our favorite characters you’ve never heard of. There was a sixth century Chinese girl, Xi Ping. She was very complicated. A genius, a recluse, tender-hearted but stubborn. She was going to cure typhoid and develop a viable economic system that would have created the first true middle class.
Q: Would have?
BENJI: She was trampled by a horse when she was two.
DAN: Script mix-up. She had the same name as a Mongolian warlord.
BENJI: You know who I liked? Beethoven.
DAN: Because you made him deaf.
BENJI: I know. A deaf composer. Hilarious!
DAN: I thought he should just be left-handed.
BENJI: Deaf is funnier. He was suffering but triumphant. Inspirational. If someone can be deaf and a great composer, it gives people hope
Q: But hope for what? One of the most controversial things about the show – a big complaint, really – is that everyone in it eventually dies.
DAN: Without the prospect of death, there’s no dramatic tension.
BENJI: I wrote a show about a planet of immortals once. Life on Teozo? The only thing that died was suspense. “Stop or I’ll shoot, but either way you’ll be fine!” Honestly, I wrote it and I couldn’t watch.
Q: Wait. There is life on other planets?
BENJI: Oops. Spoiler alert!
DAN: Of course there are shows on other planets. But I know what you mean. You get attached to certain characters, like someone’s parents, or a friend, or Gandhi. Sometimes you feel like you just get to know them and poof, we’ve written them out. Usually you don’t even know why. It’s upsetting, but it’s supposed to be upsetting.
BENJI: We’re keeping you emotionally involved in the story, you see.
Q: So when I was nine, and you killed off my father in a car accident…
BENJI: This is awkward.
DAN: We were trying to advance the story. Introduce a plot twist. Plus, we liked the idea of your mother remarrying. She’d been so loyal. It gave her character a new perspective.
BENJI: Your character didn’t understand that, of course, which made your rejection of your new father all the more forceful.
DAN: Extraordinary performance, by the way.
BENJI: Even if you overplayed the tears a bit.
Q: And God’s OK with all this?
DAN: He gives us free reign. I think He trusts us.
Q: He sounds really hands-off.
BENJI: Are you joking? You ever met someone with O.C.D.? Who’s omnipotent?
DAN: O.O.C.D. is the worst form of O.C.D.
BENJI: God doesn’t do script, but believe me He insists on doing pretty much everything else, not just executive producing. He does scheduling, catering, lighting, set design…
DAN: Special effects, which He lives for, if you hadn’t noticed.
BENJI: True. If we left it to Him, Life on Earth would just be storms and earthquakes and asteroid strikes, with no plot.
DAN: Kind of like The Day After Tomorrow.
BENJI: Believe me, when the end credits roll, He’s gonna be all over them.
Q: I think a lot of people are disappointed that He doesn’t appear very often in the show.
DAN: I hear you. But every now and then He does a cameo. A voice. A beam of light. A whirlwind. The thing is, and He’d be the first to tell you this, He can’t act.
BENJI: Yeah, if you tell Him to just be Himself, He gets all supremely self-conscious. In rehearsals as the burning bush, He just kept saying, ‘This is stupid this is stupid…’
Q: You have rehearsals?
DAN: Just for God. The self-conscious thing.
BENJI: All the rest is live.
Q: And controversial, especially this season. Right now you’ve got multiple, extremely violent storylines running. Ukraine, the Middle East, St. Louis…
DAN: Yeah, this probably will be one of our strongest seasons.
BENJI: The reviews have been terrific.
DAN: You call it the news. On TV, newspapers, online. It seems everyone can’t stop talking about LoE. It’s very gratifying.
Q: But humans would also argue it’s horrible. So much death.
BENJI: Dramatic tension.
DAN: It does keep you on the edge of your seat. So much is going on there’s literally something for everyone in the show to be upset about, happy about, worried about. Usually more than one thing. That’s why the show works. It raises so many questions.
Q: And one of the biggest is never answered: “Why are we here?”
DAN: Does there have to be a reason?
Q: But surely Life on Earth has to be about something, otherwise why exist?
BENJI: I think the best way to look at it is Seinfeld, that TV show very famously about everything and nothing. Just think of life as an extremely violent episode of Seinfeld.
Q: That’s not very reassuring.
BENJI: What? People loved Seinfeld.
DAN: Footnote: Benji created Larry David.
Q: But they watched that for entertainment.
BENJI: Just like you watch Life on Earth. You tune in for the entertainment. All of you.
Q: But humans have no choice.
DAN: Ah but they do. They’re our biggest fans, but they can stop watching. They can leave the show at any time.
Q: You mean die?
DAN: That’s another way to put it.
BENJI: If you’re a drama queen.
Q: But people don’t want to die.
BENJI: Exactly. Because they’re hooked, you see? It’s a very compelling show. Much better than ‘Life on Cranog B.’ The entire cast walked out on the second day of shooting.
DAN: Well it was a ridiculous premise. A cloudless desert planet of hyperintelligent parasites that exploded in sunlight.
BENJI: They could play harmonica.
DAN: Not for very long.
BENJI: It was Will Ferrell’s first project, you know. He played an exploding parasite.
DAN: As did everyone else.
Q: Will Ferrell? I don’t understand.
DAN: Well, he was young. You take any role you can get.
BENJI: He doesn’t remember any of that, of course. You don’t when you’re recast.
DAN: We call it recast. When your character on Earth dies, you’ll get recast in another show.
Q: Wow, so there is life after death?
BENJI: I don’t think the cast of Cranog B would agree.
Q: Lastly, any chance you’ll give us a hint as to how the show is going to end?
BENJI: Sorry, you’ll just have to keep tuning in.
DAN: Well, not you personally. You won’t be there.
Q: I won’t…
BENJI: I guess it’s too late to say ‘Spoiler alert.’
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