Andy Bankin: The Non-Writer Writer

Published on September 29, 2010

Andy Bankin never envisioned himself as a “real” writer.  Following his freshman year at Long Island University, he transferred to Eugene Lang College with the belief he would major in the political science department.  “I figured I would go into writing for some satirical show like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report,” said Andy. He hadn’t changed his mind; upon arrival, he was told, “there isn’t one.” Either way, he knew it was a better choice than a previous school he once seriously considered–Oaksterdam University, also known as “the weed school.”

“When we first met, we both lived in the same dorm,” said his roommate Ben Ruffman-Cohen. “I started to hang around him because I thought he was a weird dude.”

Andy stands with a rounded physique, elevated at the height of 5’1 with thick eyebrows, thin brown hair and blue eyes; he tends to dress casual, yet clean.

“I don’t like it,” stated Andy. “I used to live next to lounges I wasn’t cool enough to get into, and now I live next to White Castle.” Andy and Ben recently moved from the East Village of Manhattan to a new apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Even so, it’s this same dry humor Andy employs on a daily basis that makes the living easy.

“He has a streak of evil genius,” said Ben. “He’s very roguish, but plays it cool. Sometimes I forget he’s a young person. He’s very old-mannish in his mannerisms; very Eastern-European… like my Uncle Andy.”

Andy’s parents are, in fact, of Eastern Europe Holocaust survivors who grew up in the Soviet Union. Later, they fled, met and married in New York before they moved to Holmdel, New Jersey. On November 28th, 1988, Andy became the first American-born in his family.

During the start of his high school career, he attended Holmdel High School for a year. He and his family then returned to Eastern Europe for his father’s job assignment in the North-East. Here, he attended the esteemed International School of Latvia. The Republic of Latvia had, at alternating times, been under the rule of the Soviet Union and Natzi Germany before it declared its independence in 1991.

By the time Bankin and his family arrived in the fairly new, free country, his Jewish ties held him no boundaries. In Prom photos from 2005, he can easily be depicted as the class clown: ice-skating on foot through two pictures with an over-erect thumbs-up gesture; exaggerated smiles while exposing teeth, tongue, and gums with wide-opened eyes; posing in a hip-hop b-boy stance with pursed lips.

Following high school, Andy recalls the shock many of his friends expressed.  Most of them had anticipated he would be accepted to a fine school for film, when in fact, he hadn’t applied to any at all.  “At the time I was very anti-film school for some reason,” he said; “Something about ‘Woody Allen never went to film school’– or something.”

Andy, who cited Woody Allen as his “Celebrity You Most Want to Meet” on his profile page for Uinterview.com, of which he has an internship, shares many similarities to the famed icon.  Not only are they both Jewish, but they also engage in screenwriting, directing, acting and comedy, as well as comparable ideas about societal roles.  “I read he doesn’t like to be bothered by fans, and I don’t like bothering celebrities. So it seems like a good fit.”

Andy learned early on that anything including him and comedy is an even better fit, and the jokes don’t fall too far from the laughing tree.

“The way he dresses always reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres,” said his younger brother Mark Bankin.

Mark, the “16 year old, gay, Jewish hipster,” according to Andy, is one of two siblings; the other an older, half brother.

“Andy is funny, looks like he’s 40, and has an angry face… like an upset baby.”

The comical dichotomy between the two, prove to be the spark of something greater for both.  Apparent on Andy’s Vimeo page, of which the videos he post are both written by and (usually) starring him, his first post allowed his brother to take the spotlight.  In a montage of events entitled, “Back Holm,” Andy chronicles Mark’s adventures from happy to sad, or rather, wimp to survivor with the popular song that sings: “The candyman… the candyman can” playing in the background.  The song will consume you long before the images do, but by the time the images consume you, the song is the least thing on your mind.

It was this same talent that caught the attention of his professor who recommended him as an assistant for a comedy writer– a comedy writer who never actually told him who the jokes were for.  As Andy wrote for “SNL,” he came up with jokes that didn’t make much of his audience LOL.

“Your jokes are too left,” is what he was told. He found he was working for a radio show based out of Chicago named “The Roe Report with Roe Conn.”

“Roe Conn is one of those blubbering Right-Wing idiots who also hosts a show with Roeper from Ebert and Roeper called… “Roe and Roeper.”

“I sent my boss a self-deprecating email one day asking if there was anything career-wise he could do for me, because I was thinking of quitting. Rather than finding it funny, he took it as a personal attack against him and his character, and fired me.  So I accidentally became a conservative joke writer, and then accidentally got myself fired… over jokes.”

Not a complete loss, Andy continues to move forward.  As a film reviewer for Uinterview.com, his online mini-series “Now Taking Applications” evolving each month, and a ten-minute infomercial recently directed by himself for Food Production Line GMP, which is a parent company of his father’s business, Santegra, Incorporated, things aren’t looking too shabby for the so-called non-writer.  Maybe that’s the way human comedy keeps perpetuating itself.

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