Meeting famous people and the idiots we become

I recently attended a movie premier in New York City.  It was kind of a big deal.

A colleague of my mother recently produced a documentary on the life, times and comedic genius of Gilda Radner.  Having grown up in New York City in the 1970s and having inevitably become a student of all things Saturday Night Live, mom decided we should fly up for the premier.  What can I say.  We are a jet set pair.

Gilda Radner was a huge part of my childhood.  A complex character herself, the personalities she created and portrayed, from Roseanne Rosannadanna to Emily Litella to Lisa Lubner, were all extensions of her own self. Her countless, hilarious skits are committed to my memory to this day, some forty years later.  The documentary, called “Love, Gilda” was a great piece of nostalgia for anyone who loved Radner’s comedy.

That, however, is not the point of this post.

It’s more about the buffoons we (or at least I) become when encountering really famous people.

Mom and I both knew that a cast of thousands, original SNLers, aka the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, would likely be in attendance.  And they were.

Even though I’m a native New Yorker and walking through the streets of Manhattan means you can spot any given star at any given time, one is still never prepared for encountering greatness.  I wasn’t that evening.

For example, what does one say when encountering Chevy Chase?  This is a man who has starred in some of the funniest films of all-time.  A million thoughts race through your head as your heart rattles against your rib cage a mile a minute.  You try your best to play it cool.  It matters not.  You fumble for what to say, what to do.

Look, I have no doubts that I am a funny guy.  I make people laugh all the time.  But wouldn’t saying something that made Chevy laugh be the ultimate proof that one is actually funny?  I mean, why settle for the intentional walk, respecting Chevy’s privacy while letting him pass by, when you could hit a home run by saying something that just might make Chevy chuckle.

When Lorne Michaels walked into the theater, and you knew that he would (after all, he was Gilda’s biggest fan), what could one possibly muster that would draw a smile out of a man that for over forty years has heard the funniest things from the funniest people.  My mother, an Emmy-Award winning documentarian and consummate professional, while still awestruck, played it cool and simply said “Lorne, thanks for everything you’ve done.”  Short.  Sweet.  Perfect.

That was far more appropriate than the suggestion I received from one friend who said that, upon seeing Lorne, I should drop to my knees and immediately perform fellatio, although that would likely have elicited a far more grateful response than a heartfelt thank you.

I’m not sure what it is about the cult of personality that freaks so many of us out.  These are people just like the rest of us.  They eat, drink, sleep, snore, fart and poop just like we do.  They just happened to be named Tina Fey, Gilbert Godfried, Ray Liotta, Paul Schaffer and Keegan-Michael Key, all folks we’ve spent much of our lifetime admiring.

But when that screen isn’t in between you and they’re standing in front of you in real life, you can’t help but trip over your tongue.

So, to answer your question, yes, I did see all those people at the premier, all there to honor Gilda.  Oh, and did I say anything to Chevy as he walked by and more importantly, did he laugh?

I’ll never tell.

13 thoughts on “Meeting famous people and the idiots we become

  1. Wow. Great post. That WAS a great night. One of those very special times I will never forget. Thanks for being my date SC. Loved this post! Loved our trip home. And yes, “Love Gilda” (recommend the doc to your readers). Oh… and I won’t tell them what you said to Chevy. 🙂

  2. Gilda Radner was an extremely funny woman and very creative also. Her marriage to Gene Wilder was one of Hollywood’s most celebrated of the creative couples in movie history. Theirs alongside the marriage of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward might be among the most revered in movie history.

  3. So the Magic fires another coach (Frank Vogel) and their now back on a coaching surveillance round of interviews and another roster rebuilding process ? Ah well, it’s Orlando and another day in the life of a worthless franchise and an out of touch ownership group led by Rich Devos and his asinine son, Dan DeVos. The only thing more laughable is the fact that DeVos’ wife, Betsy DeVos is the nation’s Education Secretary . Oh but wait, Linda McMahon , wife of WWE Chairman Vince McMahon , it is Linda who now heads up the SBA (Small Business Administration) . Perhaps these two women can get together and figure what’s wrong with the Orlando Magic and their lack of competitiveness ? Then again, perhaps not .

  4. I enjoyed reading that post. Gilda was one of a kind. I still remember the Barbara Wah Wah skits. Let’s forget about landing on Mars and BEAT CANCER!

  5. I’ll be on the hunt for the movie. Loved me some Gilda.
    I’ve encountered many celebs over the years. Can’t really say I get starstruck anymore, but some interactions are more meaningful than others. Having breakfast twice with John Wooden was my favorite ever.

    Keifer Sutherland, Todd Bridges and Zsa Zsa Gabor were jerks.
    Chick Hearn, Eddie Van Halen and Heather Locklear were genuinely nice. …To me anyway. Played ball with Bell Biv DeVoe once. Biv was cool, DeVoe was a dick and Bell was just there. My buddy asked him why he didn’t play, his reply was, “I don’t make my money doin that shit”, lol.

    On Wednesday night I attended mixer at a hipster hotel in Westwood where Elgin Baylor was speaking. Very intimate event with less than 100 people with open bar (Hallelujah!) and free foo-foo appetizers (which were actually quite tasty). There was a Q&A interview about his book plus a meet & greet session afterward. Very humble and polite man. Took pictures with anyone who asked…So of course I asked, and he graciously indulged me and we chatted for a for minutes. Getting my free signed copy of his new book Hang Time was an unexpected bonus. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.

  6. MoS…

    It was a very special trip with a very special woman celebrating another very special woman.

    Keep me (and my readers) posted on when that thing may air on TV.

    And thanks again for everything.

    (FYI, the nova and bagels are officially all gone which means we’ll need to schedule another trip soon.)

  7. Al…

    There was plenty of video of the two of them in the doc. Definitely worth checking out.

    Like I said, when I know more about when it airs, I’ll be sure to share the 411.

  8. Al…

    The Magic could hire the second coming of Red Auerbach and it wouldn’t make a difference.

    This is a team that traded away Victor Oladipo and got nothing in return.

  9. Bleed…

    I saw that he just put out that book.

    Rachel Nichols was gushing over him when they had him on The Jump… and rightfully so.

    Keep me posted. I may just have to pick up a copy.

  10. I ran into Jimmy Buffet in a small restaurant on Manasota Key. After living my life in three quarter time I was left speechless in the presence of a person whose music had inspired me to embrace the motto that “if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”. I flashed a fist pump across my chest and he smiled and nodded. There was nothing left to say.

  11. I was thrilled to read your observations of Gilda’s doc and attendees.
    you do have a observant eye!

    also so happy – chuckling – having dinner together with your mom, lynn.

    please visit our NYC again..soon.
    much love Auntie A

  12. Aunt A…

    The trip was so fun I came home and weeks later had to make my own goat cheese sweet potato mash. That brisket was YUM!

    Always a pleasure to give you a hug and catch up.

    Next time, tell Marco and Nick to be around. That’s a must.

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