iSpy: Gabe Rotter, Author of “Duck Duck Wally”
Name: Gabe Rotter Age: 29 Occupation: Screenwriter/Novelist Duck Duck Wally is Gabe Rotter’s new novel about a thirtysomething overweight dork who ghostwrites songs for the world's most famous gangster rapper, Oral B. In the opening scene he accidentally takes a … Read More
Duck Duck Wally is Gabe Rotter’s new novel about a thirtysomething overweight dork who ghostwrites songs for the world's most famous gangster rapper, Oral B. In the opening scene he accidentally takes a piss on the orange velor jumpsuit-clad leg of a rapper named Funk Deezy. This sets in motion a string of Lebowski-esque events involving blackmail and dog-napping.
Jewcy: Any book whose chapters are designated "Chizapters" promises either great fun or great horribleness. I'd put your novel in the former category. What did you do before you became a comic novelist? I know you went to film school and had been working in television.
Gabe Rotter: Before I wrote DDW I was working as a writer’s assistant on the X-Files and writing pretty crappy screenplays. I wrote about four scripts that were very cool in concept, but very poorly executed. Mostly dark, suspense thrilled type stuff. Unfortunately, none of them were terribly suspenseful or thrilling. But more than that, I wasn’t excited about them. I remember thinking, “Man, if this ever gets made into a movie, is this something I’m going to be proud to tell people that I wrote?” The answer was resounding “No.”
J: As for this being your first novel, so many young novelists want to write the modern-day This Side of Paradise but you seem to realize, quite refreshingly, that we shouldn't take ourselves too seriously.
GR: Wait – are you saying that Duck Duck Wally isn’t the modern-day This Side of Paradise? Interview over. Nah – that’s absolutely correct. My goal was certainly not to write the great American novel or to be the next Fitzgerald. I only wanted to make my friends laugh, my parents proud, and have something I could be proud to put my stamp on.
J: Aside from Larry David, you don’t really see Jews lampooning black culture. There seems to be a general wariness among whites to try and pay back the Def Comedy Jam race comedy in its own coin. And after the Michael Richards scandal, I can’t imagine it’s a popular theme right now… How’d you arrive at the idea?
GR: I guess it all sort of just evolved as I wrote. I had the idea for the character Wally first, before any of the plot details. I was inspired by a P. Diddy lyric. He says, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.” This made me wonder who was penning his rhymes, and I just found it funny and ironic to have a fat, schlubby, loser-ish (yet loveable) white guy who goes through life as essentially a doormat, totally invisible to everyone around him, being a ghostwriter for a hardcore gangsta rapper. The disenfranchised male is always my favorite type of character.
J: Any thoughts of turning DDW into a movie?
GR: Absolutely. I think the one plus I got from my years of writing crappy screenplays was that I definitely have a very cinematic point of view. One of the first things everyone says after reading DDW is always, “This has got to be a movie!” The book is currently being considered by several companies in L.A. for film adaptation. To me, a movie would be totally fun, but anything that happens from this point on is really icing on the cake!