How a Three-Year-Long Prank Landed Me a Job at ‘South Park’
By Sanjay Shah
Not Mickey the Goat. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
I had just gotten a job writing for a sitcom, so when my agent Mickey got married I felt a lot of pressure to give him a “funny” gift. I got him a goat—specifically, I paid Oxfam International about $40 to donate a goat to a village in the developing world, on Mickey’s behalf. If you’re wondering how a goat is funny, it’s not.
Mickey did his best to politely thank me for this gesture. But I knew the truth: Nobody likes a donation as a gift. They just want the pizza wheel that they put on their wedding registry. I asked Mickey if his wife liked the gift. After a long pause, he said, “Yeah, I haven’t told her about it yet, but I’m sure she will.”
He fucking hated it, which was perfect—because the goat wasn’t the real gift.
About a month later, Mickey received a letter in the mail, post-marked from South Africa, from the recipient of the goat. The guy explained that he asked Oxfam for Mickey’s address in order to personally thank him for the goat: “Thank you so much! We haven’t had a goat in a long time. We even named the goat after you. The kids are drinking Mickey’s milk right now!”
I got a call from my agent after he got the letter. He was over the moon: “I’m really making a difference in these people’s lives!” He thanked me, and I was so happy—mostly because he didn’t realize I wrote that letter. I’d emailed the text of the letter to a college friend who was working in South Africa, who hand-wrote it onto South African air mail. It was totally convincing.
I sent letters to Mickey this way for the next three years.
The second letter arrived about six months later. The recipient of the goat told Mickey he was writing to “check in” and update him on the goat’s welfare. “Everything is fine,” he wrote. “The goat kind of ran away. But don’t worry! I found it and gave it the beating of its life. It will never run away again. Your investment is safe!”