'The Guest Book': The True (Fake) Stories Behind Greg Garcia's New TBS Comedy

Danny Pudi and Carly Jibson in ‘The Guest Book’

Back when he was working on NBC’s delightfully weird comedy My Name is Earl, creator Greg Garcia found an interesting way to cure writers’ block: Writing long, elaborate, and comically outrageous stories in cabin guest books during vacations. Eventually, Garcia got so into his side project that he started scheduling vacations in cabins around the country just so he could write an insane story in the guest book to “freak out the next guest.”

Now, those crazy stories are getting their due in a new comedy, The Guest Book. The TBS anthology series features a new set of guests every week — played by well-known faces including Community‘s Danny Pudi, The West Wing‘s Stockard Channing, My Name is Earl‘s Jamie Pressly, and The Office‘s Jenna Fischer — and each episode is based on one of Garcia’s real (fake) guest book stories.

(And if that’s not enough reason to watch, Garcia is also offering to give $10,000 to one viewer’s charity of choice. You can read more about that here.)

We asked Garcia to share some excerpts from those original guest book stories, and the stories behind his tall tales. Read on for more:

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Story No. 1: The Strip Club Adventure

I’m in the middle of a bit of a crisis here, but I wanted to leave some kind of record of what happened to me while I was staying at your place just in case things go sideways and my plan doesn’t work. I’m going to try and be brief but since the police may need all the details to put the pieces together, I want to make sure I paint an accurate picture. It all started when I visited a strip club in town when my wife sent me out to buy a humidifier because she forgot to pack hers. 

The two other strip clubs I’ve been to were in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and like I mentioned, I thought they were a little gross. This one was in the heart of Apple Valley and it was disgusting. Now, I’m not a terribly judgmental person but I can’t for the life of me figure out why this woman decided to go into the business of stripping. She looked like Flavor Flav with the flu. This was not the girl I had seen on the sign. Flavor took off her top and unleashed a pair of breasts that looked like two dress socks filled with pennies.

This is actually an excerpt from the story I used for the first episode of the TV show The Guest Book. I got the idea on my drive up to Big Bear when I passed a strip club called Peaches. It was really run down and very sketchy looking and I couldn’t help but wonder what goes on in there. In the episode, Danny Pudi can’t help himself and turns around and goes in. I’m not saying I did that — but I’m not saying I didn’t either.

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Story No. 2: The Baptism Gone Wrong

Henry Zebrowski, Stockard Channing, and Mary Lynn Fajskub in ‘The Guest Book’

The drive up to your cabin was a little awkward.  Jeff and I did a lot of talking about our church. Our son Ethan kept trying to change the subject knowing that his fiancée Lynn is an atheist but I don’t see why I can’t talk about my church work just because Lynn hasn’t welcomed The Lord into her life yet…   

…later that night the alarm clock woke me and Jeff up at 2:45 a.m. I put on my robe and Jeff emptied his pillow out of his pillowcase.  As we made our way down the hallway I let out a little yelp as I stubbed my toe on your single step in the hall.  What is up with the odd steps in this house?  After that we were careful not to make too much noise although I think we were being overly cautious because you really couldn’t hear anything over Ethan’s sleep apnea machine blaring away from his bedroom.  Lynn’s door was mostly open so we only had to open it a little to make our way in.  Jeff was holding his pillowcase and I was holding your flashlight I had taken from the fireplace in the living room.  Lynn was lying on top of her covers in what looked like something Farrah Fawcett would wear on her honeymoon.  I mean, good gracious. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned PJs?  I went to roll my eyes at Jeff but he was already lunging towards her with the pillowcase.  That was my cue.  As Jeff threw the pillowcase over her head and held her tight I stuck her in the thigh with my syringe of Propofol.  She struggled for a few moments and then the Propofol took effect and she went limp.  

I wrote this story in a guest book in Big Bear, California when I rented a cabin for the fourth of July weekend with my family. The cabin had an indoor hot tub and I knew I wanted to incorporate that in whatever dark and twisted story I left in the guest book for the next renters to read. So after some brainstorming I landed on a little tale about a religious couple who decides to drug and baptize their son’s atheist fiancée.

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Story No. 3: The Special Closet

Jamie Pressly and Greg Garcia on the set of ‘The Guest Book’

Well, I’m hiding in your closet. Don’t worry, I’m not in the upstairs “Special Closet” of things not to be touched by the vacation renters. I couldn’t get in that one. It’s locked. I’m sure it’s full of wonderful things that your family enjoys using when you come to the mountains to relax. You would think for the money we paid we could have access to whatever is in there. What the hell is in there that is so precious that we can’t use it? Do you think we’ll break it? Steal it? What kind of people do you think you’re renting your place to?   Anyway, I’m hiding from my husband and children because I accidentally ate two weeks worth of pot brownies and I’m high as shit. 

I always walk around and check everything out in a cabin before I write the story in the guest book and in this cabin I was surprised to find a little hidden closet under the stairs. I started to ask myself why someone might be hiding in there and before you knew it I had a 40 page story about a woman who ate too many pot brownies and didn’t want to face her family. As soon as TBS told me they were going to let me do my stories as a TV show, I knew Jaime Pressly had to play this role.

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Story No. 4: The Crystal Meth Mishap

Andrew J West and Shannon Woodward in ‘The Guest Book.’

I woke up to the smell of burning crystal meth. I’m not sure if Mar Mar ever slept but she was definitely starting her day. She had combed her hair so she looked pretty hot. That’s a weird thing about Mar Mar. Sometimes she could look like one of Charlie’s Angles and other times she looked as weird as Mr. Spock. She was blowing the meth smoke into my face and she must have been doing that for a while cause I when I woke up I was really really really awake. By the way, I don’t know if you get high but if you do you have to stare at your crazy Mickey Mouse blanket for a while. That thing is a trip. So many Mickeys. Looking at that blanket was a good portion of our morning. That and talking. Mar Mar loves to talk when she’s on meth. She hardly ever says a word when she’s not high but when she’s high she never stops. I love it. She says some really funny stuff sometimes. A couple months ago we were stealing stuff out of people’s shoes at the beach and she said that it stinks when there’s nothing but stink in the people’s shoes. She’s said other funny stuff too but I can’t think of it right now. I gotta rest my hand.

When I arrived in Frazier Park, California to get the keys to the cabin I had rented, I was surprised to see the rental office was closed on Tuesdays, which gave me no choice but to break into the house. I had already paid so I assumed it wasn’t a crime. But the act of breaking in and having to figure out how to turn on the heat and electricity made me think of a story about a couple of meth heads that came up to the mountains for a vacation and broke in to the cabin. Before I knew it I had a 30-page story in the guest book about their adventures.

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Story No. 4: Holy Fork!

Garret Dillahunt and Kellie Martin on set of ‘The Guest Book.’

Have you ever heard the sound it makes when you step on a very large beetle? It’s a wet popping sound. This was the exact sound it made when I lunged across the table and stuck a fork deep into Jack’s left eye. He jumped from his chair, fork firmly nestled into his eyeball, and started to flail around the room…

…I washed off the fork really good using the soap next to the kitchen sink and since we never got to do any cooking you’ll be happy to know that we didn’t put any grease down the drain as is instructed not to do by your sign. Personally I would have no problem using that fork knowing how well I cleaned it but if you’re a bit of a germaphobe you might want to throw away all your forks because I put it back in the drawer with the others before I realized that you might not want to use it considering where it’s been. 

This was actually the first fake story I ever wrote in a guest book. It was in a place called Pine Mountain. I had so much fun writing it that I started writing one every time I went to the mountains to work on sitcom stories. I became so obsessed with it that at a certain point I was only going to the mountains to write fake stories in peoples’ guest books. The funny thing about this story is that I wrote it in a town called Pine Mountain where we now shoot the TV show. One of the actors, Garret Dillahunt, decided to rent a cabin to stay in while we were shooting and when he started reading the guest book, he stumbled across the story.  Five years later it was still there.

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Story No. 4: Making it Count

Michael Rappaport (center) in ‘The Guest Book.’  

What a cool place!  You have 288 VHS movies upstairs and 70 VHS movies in the bedroom closet. You have 151 DVD movies. 12 big spoons. 11 little spoons. 8 little forks. 12 big forks. 12 knives. The kitchen has 11 cabinet doors and 5 drawers. There are 10 chairs in the house and 2 stools. The deer antlers on the wall has 9 points. There are 7 lamps. There are 7 clocks or other things that will tell you what time it is. There are 22 long matches in the match holder by the fireplace (but one has been used). You have 20 placemats and 5 things to use to pull hot things out of the oven. There are 12 framed pictures on your walls. You have 19 plates including decorative ones. Animals are depicted 37 times in various art around your home. There are 21 pieces of plastic food in the basket in the kitchen, but that’s counting the bunch of grapes as one piece, which feels like cheating.

My name is Adam and I love to count.

This story was written in a cabin that had way too much stuff. That was the first thing I noticed about it. And I thought that someone with OCD would have a field day in there. So I started to count things. And I made sure that I was 100 percent accurate in case anyone who read the story wanted to check my math. When I finished writing the story I knew that if I ever got to do it as a TV show, I needed Michael Rapaport to play the role of the guy with OCD, and luckily that’s exactly what happened.

The Guest Book premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on TBS.

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