Clayton Kershaw’s Ping-Pong Tournament Is the Oscars of Table Tennis

Within the writers room for an AMC drama, we known as it “the Ferrari.” Our producer’s assistant had ordered it from the premium Ping-Pong firm Killerspin, whose stylish table tennis paddles retail for tons of of . He claimed he purchased his used for $50, however we nonetheless mocked him, primarily as a result of he saved trouncing us with it. Then we tried the Ferrari ourselves, and one other author bought one, full worth. In spite of everything, how will you have a good match if just one facet is swinging a high-priced designer paddle?

That’s how significantly TV writers in Hollywood take Ping-Pong as of late. Are you able to blame us? We want one thing to distract from the business’s inventive clamor.

On my subsequent job, the interval drama Unusual Angel, we carried a table from stage to stage throughout the Paramount again lot. And we weren’t alone. Josh Gordon and Will Speck, of Hulu’s upcoming Marvel’s Hit Monkey, are mentioned to be table tennis fiends, and I do know from expertise that Jason Cahill, one of many government producers on Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings, has a depraved pop serve. The Whiskey Cavalier room performed a lot Ping-Pong that the Gotham and Swamp Factor rooms above and under it needed to break story over the fixed patter of stray balls.

“I purchase a Ping-Pong table for each manufacturing,” Bryan Cranston informed me earlier this month as he entered Dodger Stadium for pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s Ping Pong four Function fund-raiser. Cranston was kidding—I feel—nevertheless it’s clear that even Walter White has picked up on how weirdly obsessed TV writers have turn into with the common-or-garden pastime of table tennis.

There’s one thing in regards to the informal thrill of Ping-Pong that gives the proper launch from 14-hour days on set or epic all-nighters within the writers rooms of up to date Hollywood. The reality of TV’s second golden age, which has L.A.’s soundstages buzzing nonstop, is that there’s a variety of downtime on set in between takes, which is available in 15-minute increments—good for a fast recreation. And within the writers room, the place a complete group of laptop-bound scribes spends all day bunched round a convention table, an advert hoc event is the proper excuse to not fear about episode seven’s squishy story arcs. For hypercompetitive Hollywood sorts, it’s additionally an incredible place to drop the general public facade of bonhomie and respect for one another’s work and bask in what’s really necessary: wiping that smug grin off your fellow artist’s face like some cruel, paddle-wielding Daniel Plainview.

Tony Tost, creator and showrunner of the Despair-era gangster epic Damnation, purchased a table for his present and located it to be the proper counterbalance to the high-pressure calls for of showrunning. “With all of the frustrations that go into making a present,” he says, “it was tremendous cathartic.” Maybe too cathartic: After taking part in Ping-Pong all season, Tost awakened one morning to search out he couldn’t carry his arm over his head. He’d torn his rotator cuff and wanted 4 months of bodily remedy. Accidents however, Tost stands by the advantages of Ping-Pong for overtaxed writers: “It’s such a reduction from the navel-gazing dialogue and evaluation. It’s simply a lot immediacy…it occupies your acutely aware thoughts however doesn’t tax it, and permits your unconscious thoughts to form of do some work.” It’s true. I’ve usually discovered I’ll come again from a fast Ping-Pong break with a brand new perspective and totally different, if not higher, pitches. “It’s a distraction,” Tost provides, “however I all the time really feel refreshed coming again.”

If poker, with its cigar-puffing, bet-till-dawn bravado, was the Hollywood craze of the mid-aughts, it’s becoming that humble, sober Ping-Pong is the pastime du jour now. It’s much less hedonistic escape than work remedy for an business operating its dream manufacturing facility at full tilt. The edgiest factor about Hollywood Ping-Pong might be the existence of a secret, guests-only table on the Chateau Marmont—which in flip might be the tamest factor in regards to the Chateau Marmont.

Nonetheless, in post-Harvey Hollywood, there are worse issues to be accused of than being too tame. And there may be loads of healthful enjoyable available at Clayton Kershaw’s large event, which has turn into L.A.’s late-summer charity occasion of be aware for these too busy working to flee to the Greek isles on a billionaire’s yacht. Now in its seventh yr, Kershaw’s occasion mingles L.A.’s superstar super-spheres below Dodger Stadium’s lights, serving to increase cash to construct colleges in Africa and fight intercourse trafficking within the Dominican Republic. Final yr Kershaw honored fellow Texan Matthew McConaughey and his Simply Preserve Livin Basis. Along with the standard business sorts and beneficiant donors desirous to play with their hometown heroes, the event attracts Dodger-loving celebrities like Will Ferrell, Jason Bateman, and Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher. “Individuals are intrigued,” Kershaw informed me the day earlier than this yr’s occasion. “Truthfully, having Dodger Stadium as a backdrop…not many individuals can say they’ve performed Ping-Pong on the infield filth.”

In spite of everything my on-the-job follow, I figured it couldn’t be that onerous to compete at charity-circuit ranges, so I secured a press go and booked a lesson at L.A.’s Gilbert Desk Tennis Middle, a secret monastery of table tennis hidden away in a Jewish rec middle south of LACMA. Based on proprietor Michael Zaretsky, the middle has helped Jamie Foxx, Justin Bieber, Andrew Garfield, and Billions showrunner Brian Koppelman all good their video games. (Zaretsky additionally makes a speciality of designing glossy, high-end Ping-Pong tables for the Hollywood Hills crowd, certainly one of which is ready to make an look within the upcoming season of Westworld.)