A couple weeks ago I learned that a company named Happy Family was interested in working with me for a blogger program. Right away, I was convinced they had contacted me by mistake: Happy Family is all about healthy, organic kids’ food. It’s not that I’m opposed to healthy, organic kids’ food, it’s just that … well, I’ve always been pretty up front about the fact that my children are insanely picky and have gone months at a time living off of processed carbohydrates and whatever pinkish dye goes into those squeeze yogurt tubes.

Happy Family wanted me to come to New York and to tell a funny story or two on camera about kids and food, and they promised it didn’t have to be a successful story. Are you sure? I asked, over and over again. Because I have exactly ZERO stories that end with my kids happily munching on a stalk of broccoli after I convinced them it was a tiny delicious fairy castle tree, or whatever. But if you want a story about the time my son suspiciously refused to try an orange because he “didn’t know what flavor it was” and I ended up shouting “IT’S AN ORANGE! IT’S ORANGE FLAVOR, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE!” out of sheer frustration, well, I’m your woman.

After I’d clarified for the millionth time that they weren’t looking for a healthy-eating spokesperson, I said sure, I’m in. I like the brand, I’ve heard good things about their products, and I imagined sitting in their groovy, low-key company office somewhere — photos of grinning babies adorning the walls — while I casually chatted into someone’s iPhone camera or something.

Then I got the itinerary, and realized I was going to take part in an actual commercial shoot. At a studio. With, like, a rehearsal and a call time and everything.

I came thisclose to canceling the whole thing out of sheer pants-shitting terror, but I kept thinking about a values worksheet I did recently where I marked that adventure felt important to me, but that I have virtually none of it in my life right now. I could chicken out of the video shoot because I’m a giant fucking pussy whose comfort zone doesn’t extend three inches past my living room, or, you know, I could get on the goddamned plane.

So I got on the goddamned plane. I spent two nights in New York, which was a thrilling change from my usual routine:

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The video shoot was at a studio in Brooklyn. The rehearsal was fairly low-key, but when I showed up for the actual filming the environment had totally changed: There were crowds of incredibly busy people clustered around monitors and monitoring equipment and strategizing wardrobe, and there were billions of cameras and enormous lights, and people were barking “Aaaand … action!” and “Cut!” and when I tell you I was nervous this doesn’t even come CLOSE to describing how it felt to wait my turn to walk on set.

Everyone was incredibly kind and encouraging, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget the makeup artist who buffed and glossed me, then put his hands on my trembling shoulders, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Honey, you’re going to be fabulous. And if you’re not, what the hell, it’ll make a great story.”

I do not think I was in fact fabulous, but neither did I sink to the floor in a twitching, urine-dribbling faint once the cameras started rolling, which is what I had become increasingly convinced was going to happen. The most awkward part was my introduction, where I said something like, “Hi, my name’s Linda Sharps, and I’m going to tell you about the time my kids …” — but I had to say it over and over again for the different takes they wanted, and pretty soon I felt like it all sounded like gibberish. MY! HI LAME’S SHINDA FLARPS!

The lights were insanely hot and I could feel sweat running straight down into my shoes and I didn’t know what to do with my hands and I had a really hard time keeping my gaze pointed in the direction they wanted. I was also helplessly, stupidly apologetic, even though I knew it wasn’t charming or remotely useful for a busy crew to hear some lady repeatedly yapping about how sorry she is that she’s so awful — they just wanted to get the footage and move on, for god’s sake, but I couldn’t help it. “HA HA HA OH MY GOD I’M SORRY,” I’d say, and the producers would smile and say I was doing great but could I try it this way, and I’d be like, “OKAY SORRY! HA HA HA HA BOY I AM BAD AT THIS!”

Anyway, I found it marginally easier once I was past the scripted stuff. I don’t know what they’ll use in the final video, but I told a story about how I’d made Riley a healthy organic carrot cake for his first birthday and he reacted like this:


I also talked about the time Dylan barfed hotdogs all over his car seat and I learned that the human digestive process does virtually NOTHING to that particular food, since it came out in the exact same coin-shaped slices he’d eaten HOURS ago. At the end of that story I cracked a joke about how that unpleasant experience ruined my otherwise intimate relationship with hot dogs, at which point I clapped a hand over my mouth and shrieked in pure horror to the entire studio: “HOLY FUCK DID I JUST SAY INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH HOT DOGS??”

The concept of the video is that a handful of bloggers (eight, maybe?) tell their stories about kids and food, then a team of improv actors take those stories and act out some related skits. Basically once I was done with my part, the improv folk got on set and leaped into action, performing a bunch of off-the-cuff scenes that were unbelievably funny. For instance, I’d said something in my intro about how my husband is a professional project manager, but he’s kind of a hillbilly at heart, so they did a scene with a super-businesslike guy who occasionally lapses into “y’alls” while giving a presentation, until his suspicious coworkers pull aside his shirt to reveal — gasp! — his hidden overall sunburn. They also did a skit about a guy who’s trying to move on from his relationship with hot dogs, until his phone rings while he’s on a date and a deep voice says, “It’s me: Hot Dog. I’m … slathering myself with mustard right now.”

Okay, it’s sort of hard to explain, but the results were hilarious. I sat there and laughed until I had to be re-powdered by my BFF, the makeup guy, and then once the improv folks were done I did one more awkward bit of talking, then that was it. I ran straight from the studio to my airport car, and flew home with an inch-thick layer of foundation on my face.

The video will be posted in Happy Family’s Facebook page for a campaign called “Stories from the Bright Side,” and I believe it’s scheduled to go live April 10th or so. I am equally excited and terrified to see the final product, because I am hopeful it’ll be funny and awesome … but I’m super freaked at the idea of seeing my footage. I will, of course, let you know when it’s available, even if I look and sound like a complete goon.

Thanks so much to Happy Family for including me in the program. Although their intent was surely not to provide me, Shinda Flarps, with the personally rewarding experience of pushing past my comfort zones to try something utterly new, I’m hugely grateful to them for the opportunity.


48 Responses to “Happy Family video shoot (OF TERROR!)”

  1. Emma on March 18th, 2013 8:32 am

    Oh, Shinda Flarps, how I love you and how you make me laugh with your stories of intimate relationships with hot dogs. I can’t wait to see the video!

  2. Colette on March 18th, 2013 8:32 am

    Oh. So. Funny.

    Can’t wait to see it.

  3. Pete on March 18th, 2013 9:01 am

    Congrats and I’m sure it will be great. Love the hot dog reference.

  4. Ronna on March 18th, 2013 9:09 am


    That phrase alone totally made my day. Actually I think it may have made my entire week. You are awesome, up to and including your intimate relationship with hot dogs.

  5. Jeanette on March 18th, 2013 9:14 am

    Sounds hilarious! I can’t wait to see the finished video!

  6. dorrie on March 18th, 2013 9:19 am

    hahaha mrs flarps! I would probably pay to see the footage now!!

  7. Anais on March 18th, 2013 9:26 am

    That sounds amazing! I’m so glad you got that opportunity. How fun! That visual of the hot dog slathering itself in mustard while phoning the guy made me guffaw.

  8. Jennifer on March 18th, 2013 9:33 am

    I rarely comment but I’m crying laughing, not even caring that I just woke up my sleeping baby over your intimate relationship with hot dogs. Anyway, I haven’t heard of this company before but it sounds lovely. Off to check it out!

  9. Eric's Mommy on March 18th, 2013 9:36 am

    That is hilarious! I bet it will be awesome :)

  10. Ang on March 18th, 2013 9:40 am

    I can’t wait to see this – I don’t see how you couldn’t be awesome!!

  11. Annie Singler on March 18th, 2013 9:59 am

    Thanks for the laugh… I needed that this morning.

  12. Anne on March 18th, 2013 9:59 am

    Ha, suspicious baby is suspicious.

    Can’t wait to see the video, I’m sure you’ll be great! Or the editors will make you LOOK great. Isn’t that their job? It’ll be fiiiiiine. (xo)

  13. deborah on March 18th, 2013 10:00 am

    I just wanted to say thank you yet again for making feel like I am one of the massives and not alone in my parenting style!

  14. Lisa on March 18th, 2013 10:19 am

    Good for you stepping outside your comfort zone! I’m sure you were great. I’m a professional photographer & have been doing a bit of video for my corporate job & rest assured, you are not the only one who gets super nervous in front of the camera. Most people get nervous, especially when it’s video. I always try to reassure the folks I’m filming that they are doing fine.

  15. jen on March 18th, 2013 10:32 am

    Thanks for the laugh, definitely needed it. I miss your blog posts so much. Not that they’re GONE, I realize, just not so frequent.

  16. sal on March 18th, 2013 10:35 am

    Well done, Ms. Flarps. Super excited to see the video!

  17. Aunt Linda on March 18th, 2013 10:42 am

    At least on your mother’s side, it’s been the women in the family who had most of the moxy. Looks like it mainlined right into your veins. Congrats

  18. Barb. on March 18th, 2013 11:07 am

    It’s only Monday, but I can already guarantee I won’t be laughing this hard again all week! I am so glad I am alone right now, as I was laughing the high-pitched “airplane takes off” laugh of shame. You are hilarious, and I can’t wait to see the video. :)

  19. Shannon on March 18th, 2013 11:09 am

    I am laughing so hard at this post right now. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to eat my hotdog for dinner one night (I was also a terror when it came to my pickiness as a kid), and my dad made me eat it because he was just DONE with my nonsense. I promptly threw it up on him and that was the last time that I a) ate a hotdog until my 20’s and b) my dad made me eat anything ever again.

    Can’t wait to see the video!

  20. Jennifer on March 18th, 2013 11:10 am

    Oh, good for you on stepping up to the adventure!

  21. Carrie (in MN) on March 18th, 2013 11:20 am

    Oh Shinda Flarps, how you make me laugh!

  22. Amy on March 18th, 2013 11:37 am

    Hahahaaaaa! Good for you for sucking it up. I totally would’ve wimped out. Wish I’d known you were here–would’ve bought you dinner. Two socially awkward chicks on the town! ;-)

  23. Sandy on March 18th, 2013 11:45 am

    So Awesome. I am beyond impressed that you did that. Seriously. You are one ballsy chick.

  24. Angella on March 18th, 2013 12:15 pm

    I am SO PROUD OF YOU. I know how nervous you can get and YOU DID IT.

    Can’t wait to see the end result. :)


  25. Danell on March 18th, 2013 12:16 pm

    Now I want swistle to do a baby naming post with the name Shinda Flarps. Or I want someone to get a puppy and name it Shinda Flarps. SOMEBODY NAME SOMETHNG SHINDA FLARPS…so I can say that name and then spend five minutes laughing EVERY DAY.

  26. MassHole on March 18th, 2013 12:16 pm

    You amaze me.

  27. Ris on March 18th, 2013 12:17 pm

    Oh, Ms. Flarps, you are the only blogger who positively makes me laugh out loud. I’m cry-laugh-whimpering over here. Good on you for pushing past that comfort zone, lady.

  28. Artemisia on March 18th, 2013 12:31 pm


    I am dying. That is EXACTLY what it feels like to do a mundane, scripted line over and over. Oh, man. I am laughing so hard right now.

  29. judy on March 18th, 2013 12:51 pm

    Ha! You’ve always been hilarious. Sounds like you inspired the improv people. Not surprised. You’re very funny. I can’t wait to see it. And just so you know, there is an old swiffer duster commercial in which the woman dances around the house while she dusts stuff. She reminded me of you whenever I saw her.

  30. Marilyn on March 18th, 2013 1:15 pm

    Aw, yay! This is so sweet and impressive. And NYC is so great, I’m happy for you that you got to go AND clear a hurdle (OF TERROR) like a pro.

  31. Kris on March 18th, 2013 3:06 pm

    You are living the dream, my dear. I realize you don’t know me in person, but I’m so stinkin’ proud of you right now!

    Can’t wait for the final production – I bet it will be tinkle-in-your-undies funny!

  32. Shazi visram on March 18th, 2013 4:30 pm

    Hi Linda,
    It’s shazi the founder of happy. I just missed you as I had recorded my probably less funny story in the afternoon. I heard you were awesome and every one loved you and your story . I am just really excited that for our first ever campaign we could do something Creative and Funny about feeding our kids and that we could showcase really funny people like you! The whole concept is just super cool and I’m so glad you came out for it! So thank YOU!


  33. Kristin on March 18th, 2013 4:41 pm

    I agree with everybody else! This post was really funny! Sorry that it was terrifying for you, but way to laugh it off and bring a little laughter to our days!

  34. joaaanna on March 18th, 2013 4:52 pm

    See Shinda, this is why you were chosen to do this. You are a friggin’ riot! I can’t wait to see the results.

  35. Stephanie on March 18th, 2013 5:11 pm

    You may not be much of an on-camera personality (I’ll reserve judgement until I see the bit), but, girl, you can write. Thanks for sharing your neurotic experiences with us. You make me feel more normal.

  36. Alison V on March 18th, 2013 6:59 pm

    So funny! And as someone with a pathological fear of video cameras, I admire your courage.

  37. Donna on March 18th, 2013 7:20 pm

    Oh my god. . . . was THAT post worth waiting for! The more ‘traumatic’ the experience, the funnier you write!

  38. kendra! on March 18th, 2013 8:21 pm

    Skeptic Riley Babe is still so delicious.

    I guffawed several times at this which I never do in front of my compooper. Oh, gurl. Hot dogs will never be the same.

  39. Heather on March 18th, 2013 8:36 pm

    So cool! I’m so proud of you!

  40. Suburban Snapshots on March 21st, 2013 4:19 am

    Oh, I am very looking forward to this, though I’m sure it won’t be as mortifying as you think. Besides, they edit all that out in post (though I hope they leave the hot dog part, and then an urban legend starts about the blogger who…)

  41. Donna on March 21st, 2013 2:35 pm

    I CANNOT wait for this! You rock girl!

  42. Baddest Mother Ever on March 23rd, 2013 11:24 am

    I feel you on the hot dogs(wait…that sounded questionable too). The first time I cleaned them up post-hork I thought, “Did they even CHEW these??”

  43. Taryn on March 23rd, 2013 2:32 pm

    I think it’s cool you did that! I also stepped out of my comfort zone and auditioned for and got a small part in a commercial recently. It wasn’t that fancy a production but I literally had NO CLUE what I was doing, and the others all had prior experience. I guess I did ok though, some of the other actors said as much but I was like “ok were you just being nice?”. :) But I think I might be hooked now. I want to do MORE if only I could find some more weekend stuff. Super cool you went out on a limb. Feels good doesn’t it?

  44. Leah on March 24th, 2013 8:59 am

    This is amazing! It’s all amazing, from the fact that you got this opportunity, to your stories about kids and food (our boys have similar food “problems”), to your hilarious story telling. I love it all!

  45. Kelly on March 24th, 2013 10:09 am

    SOOO awesome! I laughed so much I had to clap my hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t wake the sleeping baby! :) Can’t wait to see it. Congrats on pushing yourself past your comfort zone yet again. Go, girl!

  46. Sharona Zee on March 25th, 2013 7:46 pm

    my son never ate delicious castle fairy trees or orange flavored oranges…and he grew up to be 6’5″!

    I’m so excited about your adventure, can’t wait to see the footage

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