Imagine spending half your summer at a salmon processing plant in rural Dillingham, Ala., and spending the other half in sunny Atlanta, Ga. as a writer’s assistant on FX Networks’ hit animated series Archer. For junior visual and media arts major Tesha Kondrat, this bizarre situation became a reality.
Her summer of salmon and success will be skewered Wednesday in the Cabaret with a roast entitled Tesha Kondrat Is Dead. The title derives from her absence as she spends her fall semester in the Netherlands.
Her globe-trotting lifestyle began last spring when Professor James Macak sent out an email to all screenwriting students inviting them to a phone interview with Archer executive producers Adam Reed and Matt Thompson. Being a fan of the show, Kondrat asked to sit in.
As the interview concluded, students were given the chance to submit a spec script — an unsolicited script written in the hopes that a producer or studio will option, and eventually purchase, it — to the show. Kondrat, eager for her big break, asked Macak if it was fine if she did the same, even though she was already behind the other students as she hadn’t yet written a spec script for the show. He agreed anyway.
“She worked incredibly hard and she did not take this for granted,” said Macak during a phone interview.
After not hearing back for about a month, the Michigan native gave up hope and found a fish-filled job in Alaska. She described herself as the “token American” while working there and noted the poor treatment workers were given.
“I worked the night shift,” said Kondrat. “I got up at 7 p.m. for dinner, clocked in at 8 p.m. for work, and then had a break every four hours and a meal every eight hours.”
This hectic schedule continued for about a month until the company started laying off workers as salmon season waned. Kondrat, who was sharing one landline with over 350 people, took this as a sign to check back home. That’s when her sister told her Matt Thompson sent an email expressing interest in her Archer script.
[caption id=attachment_3813627 align=aligncenter width=400 caption=Kondrat worked in a fishery on the southern coast of Alaska during the first half of the summer. Her second half saw her working in Atlanta on FX Network#39;s hit animated show Archer. Photo Courtesy of Tesha Kondrat]a href=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/beacon1.jpgimg class=size-full wp-image-3813627 title=beacon1 src=http://berkeleybeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/beacon1.jpg alt= width=400 height=251 //a[/caption]
Fearing she had just missed the opportunity of a lifetime, Kondrat got in contact with Macak to explain her situation.
“I was playing go-between for her and Matt,” recalls Macak.
Eventually Kondrat went to Anchorage and gave Thompson a call to clear up the situation herself. Thompson hired her to work for Archer on the spot.
“And within a couple of weeks I was flown down to Atlanta and given a desk until mid-September, she said.”
While there, Kondrat worked on script ideas, met illustrators, editors, and producers, and had the chance to listen to the voice cast record an episode.
“It wasn’t a typical writer’s assistant’s job,” said Kondrat. “Everyone was so sweet, and I don’t think I could have had better bosses.”
For six weeks, Kondrat had the opportunity to work on the show, during which time she submitted a brief script and plot summary to sole writer Adam Reed. Her idea will be used in an episode set to air in either January or February.
“She wasn’t my student, but I’m incredibly proud of her,” said Macak. “I think she did Emerson proud.”
This success has been a long time coming for Kondrat, who cites high school as the time when she realized she wanted to be a comedian.
“I tend to find that the most successful comedians have something in common: honesty,” said Kondrat. “They just tell the story how they want to tell it. And that’s what I try to do with my comedy.”
This comical streak came from early childhood teasing. She said that, as a kid, classmates always made fun of her — most likely the result of the signature neon-fleece zip-up outfit with complimentary turquoise sweatpants she frequently sported. But some good did come of this early age teasing.
“Instead of becoming introverted, I tried to attack back,” said Kondrat. “And I used humor to do that.”
And now the hard work will be skewered by The Inside Joke, a group of Emerson comedians who host an annual roast.
Junior writing for visual and media arts major Andrew Coalson is a fellow comedian who met Kondrat last year while they were doing stand-up on campus. He is the creator of her roast and one of her biggest fans.
“She’s got a very unique and honest storytelling,” said Coalson. “She’s just this nice, genuine person.”
Junior visual and media arts major Grey Traynor is on hosting duties. Traynor first met Kondrat through the Emerson comedy troupe The Girlie Project, and the two have been close ever since.
“I’ve been around her a lot, especially when she’s drunk, so I can rag on her,” said Traynor.
And with this roast, Kondrat’s increasingly unique and busy life continues. For now, though, she gets to enjoy her success. She says she will continue to relish her semester in the Netherlands while eagerly awaiting her Archer episode’s arrival.
“I’m going to have a knee-walking drunk party to celebrate,” said Kondrat. And after this year, who could blame her?