Romanski drops a name and picks up a TV showBy MELANIE PLENDA Correspondent
Thursday, January 28, 2010
It turns out the keys to success can be broken down to the following: drive, talent, blind faith and tuna fish. Lots and lots of tuna fish.
At least that’s what worked for comedy writer and Nashua native Romanski. The one-name moniker is new. He may be more familiar to his peeps back home as Chris Romano. The Nashua native and Nashua High School grad has hit the big time with a new half-hour comedy series “Blue Mountain State,” which airs on Spike TV.
Romanski writes, produces and stars in the 30-minute comedy, which is executive produced by Brian Robbins (“Varsity Blues,” “Smallville”), Sharla Sumpter Bridgett and Lionsgate. The series follows the on and off-field antics of three incoming freshmen as they learn to adapt to life at the fictional college football powerhouse, Blue Mountain State. It’s a coming-of-age series, if one came of age in “Porky’s” or “Animal House.”
But contrary to what some may think, they don’t hand out television shows at the LAX airport with the baggage.
The show is the by-product of a decade-long struggle as a writer and comedian.
After he graduated from Nashua, Romanski went on to Plymouth State College, where he said, he got his grades up enough to go to Emerson College in Boston. Enter Eric Falconer, friend and writing partner.
“We were always talking about writing, and each of was like ‘I’d love to have my own show,’” Romanski said. “I think we thought it would be a lot easier than it was. Like, you just go out there and say, ‘I want to a TV show,’ and they just give you one. It obviously didn’t work that way.”
They wrote together and performed for free in Boston comedy clubs together. They ate donated tuna.
“My mom would send us all this tuna in the mail,” he said. “I don’t know if she thought we couldn’t get tuna in Boston or that we really liked it. But we were so broke, we ate it. We used to take spices and add it to the tuna. So one night would be like basil tuna night. That was probably the lowest point. ”
Yet, they still wanted to be writers.
“There wasn’t anything else we wanted to do,” Romanski said. “We just had this ‘Stick to this no matter what’ mentality. We couldn’t see ourselves sitting at a desk all day doing something. We didn’t put a time limit on it; we just figured we’d keep struggling until we can pay our rent with writing.”
In 2000, Romanski was offered an internship at Comedy Central in California. Falconer stayed behind in Boston. His first job was as a production assistant for the cartoon “That’s My Bush!”
“A production assistant does everything that nobody else wants to do,” Romanski said. “Empty trash, make coffee. Basically, you are the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave at night.”
Despite the menial nature of the work, Romanski learned as much as he could and stood out. He ended up being offered a job as a production assistant on “South Park.”
After two years of lunch runs and trash collection, he was offered a writing position.
“They were always messing with me … so at first I was like yeah, right, very funny,” Romanski said.
He was invited to a writer’s retreat.
“Yeah, OK, whatever,” he told them.
He didn’t even fall for it when they gave him his ticket to Arizona, or when his girlfriend dropped him off at the airport.
“I told her ‘Can you just do a loop around the airport, because I have a feeling no one’s going to be here, and then I’ll be stuck at the airport,’ ” Romanski said.
But they were there. And next thing he knew, he was in a bungalow at an Arizona spa with all the other writers.
“I was like, ‘(Expletive), should I be taking their lunch orders or something?’ ” he said.
It really only hit him that he was now a professional writer when he was flying back to L.A. on Norman Lear’s private jet. Lear had shown up to help write the gang’s 100th episode.
“At that moment, I was on my cell phone, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m on Norman Lear’s private jet, and I think I got this writing job,’ ” Romanski said. “That did it. And that confirmed for me what I thought in college. You just say ‘I want to write a show.’ You write a show. And they put it on TV. Next step, my own show.”
After two years on “South Park,” he got a little cocky, he said. Romanski quit “South Park.” He told Falconer to come out; they were totally going to have their own show. On Romanski’s say-so, Falconer did come out.
“We ate a lot of tuna,” he said.
In the two years the fellas freelanced, they wrote one episode for “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Romanski eventually ended up with a three-season gig on the “Sarah Silverman Show.” He and Silverman, a fellow New Hampshirite, hit it off, and he even managed to write himself a part on the show.
Things picked up for the fellas a bit from there. They were given their own show on VH1 for a season called “Acceptable TV.”
“You may have heard of it, but I guarantee you’ve never seen it,” he said. “It was on at like 9:30 on Friday. Trust me, no one was staying in to watch that show.”
They also made an appearance on “How I Met Your Mother.”
But finally, in 2009, the guys said they wanted to write a show about college life. They wrote the show. And now it’s on TV.
Romanski said he loosely based the character of nasal-spray addicted coach on one of his coaches in Nashua and freely admits it, since, at 31, the coach can no longer make him do laps. And another character is based on a friend from back home.
The rest are loosely tied to friends he’s met along the way. The show is also a nod to the ’80s movies he and Falconer love so much.
As for the name change, well, that was a joke that just stuck.
“I just thought it would be really ridiculous to go by one name,” he said. “The other day, it was really weird. I met Hulk Hogan. And he was like ‘Hulk,’ and I said, ‘Romanski.’ We had like this one word exchange. …So it’s like Hulk, Cher, Romanski.”
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