What? Chris rock isn’t writing all his Oscar-hosting material himself? He has writers? Who knew?
Actually, a lot people did. Including Vanessa Ramos. Hope y’all enjoy this interview with an unsung heroine of TV:
by Jeanne Jakle
When Oscars host Chris Rock dishes out the laughs, zingers and edgy topical humor on television’s biggest awards show Feb. 28, San Antonio viewers also will have one of their own to applaud.
Alamo City native Vanessa Ramos, a versatile TV comedy writer who’s worked on everything from the prime-time sitcoms “Superstore” and “Bordertown” to Comedy Central’s blistering celebrity roasts, has spent the last couple of months helping Rock pen jabs and giggles for the Academy Awards, which start at 7:30 p.m. on ABC.
“You have to be on your toes. When a show’s live, anything could happen,” Ramos, 32, and a 2001 graduate of Antonian College Preparatory High School here, said in a phone chat.
“It’s important to play off it,” she added. “You have to make the show feel like everything is in the moment.”
While thrilled she’ll be part of one of TV’s most-watched events, Ramos also spoke of the special challenges this particular Oscars presents.
She referred to the Hollywood uproar over the Academy’s lack of diversity among the best picture and actor nominees this year.
As a result, celebrities, such as director Spike Lee and actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, led a charge to boycott the ceremony.
Rock, an ace at pushing buttons on everything from race to politics in a biting but jovial way, never considered dropping out as host over the flap.
However, he will address the “elephant in the room,” Ramos added, “right out of the gate.”
Q. How do you, as one of Rock’s scribes, fit into all this?
A. It forced us to switch gears. When the controversy erupted in January, all 16 writers were tasked to write jokes about diversity and send them to Chris in New York. What we’re focusing on is staying true to Chris’ voice and perspective.
Sure, he’ll get into other jokes — about the movies, you know, classic Oscar humor — but those will come a little later than usual in the broadcast.
Q. How searing will his monologue be?
A. We won’t know for sure until the run-through the day before. What is certain is the network and the Academy will be giving their host more leeway than ever this year. They need Chris; it wouldn’t look good if he walked.
Q. What’s Chris like?
A. They say never meet your heroes. But that wasn’t a problem with Chris. He’s just as smart and funny as I thought he would be. Everything is effortless for him. He’s so curious about things; that’s where his humor comes from. And he’s very laid back.