What do you do when you cross a borderline unhealthy relationship with Futurama and a free trial of LinkedIn premium?
You get inches away from being drawn into a Futurama episode.
My love affair with Futurama started long after the show was off the air (for the first time). I never really watched the show during the original six-season stint, even though I remember gathering around the living room TV to watch the premiere episode.
It was much later, when I was in college, that I really got hooked into the show. I had downloaded the entire series, along with all four movies, and was working my way through each episode. I had recently cancelled my cable subscription, so I’d often come home from work and throw on a few episodes while I ate dinner and unwound for the evening.
When I finished the series, I started again from the beginning. By that point, I wasn’t always paying full attention — it became something that was just running in the background. I’d give majority of my focus to my computer. It become comforting background noise.
After a few cycles through the series, I decided to start watching other television shows. I made my way through HBO’s Rome and part of Breaking Bad, but I’d still want my Futurama fix. I’d toss on an episode before going to sleep, usually drifting off before the intro even ended.
Time passed, and Futurama returned to the air for a seventh season. At that time, I was working at a piercing and tattoo studio, which often had slow days in the summer. One of the artists there did amazing photorealistic portraits, and kept trying to convince me to get one. But I could never settle on who I’d want tattooed on me.
That’s when it came to me: I’d get a portrait of myself. As a head in a jar from Futurama.
The artist loved the idea, and mocked up the tattoo. I immediately fell in love and within three hours, it was a permanent part of my left thigh.
Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was share the masterpiece. I posted it to Reddit, in both the Tattoo and Futurama subreddits. That got the attention of both Uproxx and Comedy Central itself.
When I saw my face on the Comedy Central blog, the seed of an idea got planted in my head. Someone at Comedy Central was obviously amused by my tattoo — I wondered what would it take to convince the appropriate person to draw me into an episode?
But was that request to weird? And how would I even go about finding someone to ask about that? Twitter? After a little bit of thought, I convinced myself to give up on the idea, writing it off as fandom fantasy.
That is…until the following year.
I was being bombarded with emails trying to give me a free trial to LinkedIn Premium, but couldn’t think of any good reason to sign up. But one day it hit me: I could probably find someone who works on Futurama through LinkedIn’s search. And a Premium account would allow me to send them a message.
Within a few minutes I found Eric Rogers (nominated for the Writers Guild of America award for “The Silence of the Clamps”) and sent him the following message:
I honestly didn’t expect a response, I just wanted to say that I tried.
But sure enough, I got a email later that day:
I think I might have broke my previous record for the amount of times I’ve said “holy shit” in a single day.
As he suggested, I followed up after their meeting the following Tuesday. But I may have already been too late. The ability to be drawn into a future episode of Futurama was wholly dependent on whether the show was picked up for another season.
I waited and waited, constantly checking to see if Futurama was going to be picked up for an eighth season.
Spoiler alert: it did not.
I sent Eric a note thanking him for trying, and that was that.
Even though I didn’t end up getting drawn into a Futurama episode, the experience had a profound effect on me. Suddenly, anything was possible.
Before that getting that email response from Eric, being drawn into a Futurama episode was no more real than finding the winning lottery ticket or sprouting wings and flying. But being drawn into a cartoon episode is not like those other two things at all. It’s actually a lot easier than one might think.
The big realization is that everyone in the world is just like you and me. Everyone — from a fast food worker to the CEO of large corporations — wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night, and finds things to fill the hours in between.
I just had to think to myself: if I was a writer for Futurama and I got a similar message, how would I respond?
That simple question makes it so much easier to send emails that might seem weird or will take you out of your comfort zone. The person on the other end of the line is always someone just like you or me.
I may not have been drawn into a Futurama episode, but I still count the experience as a win. I’m no longer nervous reaching out to people I respect, whether I’m giving them a compliment or asking for advice. It’s helped me find amazing guests for the podcast and has given me many opportunities I one thought impossible.
It never hurts to ask.