First Comic Meeting
There I was, about to meet my folks for lunch -- they were visiting from the Twin Cities and staying at the Quality Inn downtown -- when who should I run into but Mr. Marcus of the NBC-hit "Last Comic Standing" just chilling in the front lobby, waiting for fellow Top 5 contestants from the show to roll on through.
A part of me thought for a split second, I should probably leave him be -- he probably gets sick of nerdy fans approaching him when all he wants to do is hightail it out of Packerville. But before I could let that thought even settle, I blurted out -- surprising myself, even -- "Hey! You're Marcus of 'Last Comic Standing!'" (Real cool ... almost like shouting, "Hey! You're wearing a blue shirt!" to a relative stranger.)
Not sure what I expected him to say to that, he kindly replied, "Yeah, I am. What's up?" (Editor's note: It should be noted that I approached Marcus wearing sweats and not showered. Why he didn't pepper spray me, I'll never know.)
Through rambling and an attempt to assure him I wasn't crazy, I told Marcus I was a fan of the show (and left out the portion about how I blogged about this season earlier on Channel Surfing and gave it a less-than-positive review, not to the fault of him or other comics, but more so due to NBC ruining its brilliance) and asked him about how the Friday night show at the Meyer Theater went. To my pleasant surprise, he was extremely cool and -- though it's totally cliche to say about a celebrity sighting -- very down-to-Earth.
I told him that I and a friend from the cities referenced jokes from the show on a semi-regular basis and frequently discussed our fascination with the group "God's Pottery." To this, Marcus replied, "Really? That's awesome. Let's call him up." Now reaching uber geeky levels, I called up my friend, giving him the intro of "you'll never guess who I'm hanging out with right now" and passed the phone on to Marcus who graciously discussed the show with my friend and his girlfriend. ( Yes, he totally pulled a "Dude, you have to talk to my girlfriend." Nice one.)
As if talking about the tour, his comedy and a brief chat about Dane Cook (of who he shares the same manager with) wasn't cool enough, Marcus raised the bar and said, "You know, the other guys in the Top 5 are hanging out on the bus, do you want to go meet them?"
My exact response, I believe, was "Uhwhatumyeahsure!" followed by about two minutes of geeking out. (Man, I'm so classy. And again, had not bathed.)
A few steps out to the back of the hotel and we were standing in front of a huge tan and black tour bus. Marcus led the way yelling up the stairs, "Hey guys, I ran into this girl Sara in the lobby. She's a big fan of the show. Come out and meet her."
There was a long pause. And then, an accordian-like door opened and there was Louis Ramey and Jim Tavare (who by the way isn't quite as pale as he looks on TV). Whether they were offended by my unkempt presence or the fact that I was quasi-stalking them at 11 a.m., I think it was safe to say they weren't sure what to think of the situation. Both politely shook my hand as I did a bit of brown nosing and told them how funny I found them to be. Then we got right into the good stuff. Louis asked me what I thought of this season and if I watched previous seasons at all.
My response: "Well, no offense, but I would've liked to actually see you guys perform more and I don't know, watch comedy instead of Olympic promos."
Another long pause. Before I began preparing to be booted off the bus, Louis spoke up. "Thank you!" he said. "This is what I'm saying." The three discussed how NBC would film them for countless hours and use the most random footage. How producers pushed for them to tape confessional scenes but then never used them. The made reference to the speedy season and how the finalists were chosen and then, a week later the winner was announced -- instead of previous seasons where the winner is chosen after a slow elimination of the final five, giving ample time to each to truly give last performances. Before discussion could continue on the ridiculous NBC promos that dominated the finale, Jeff Dye and "Last Comic Standing" winner Iliza Shlesinger walked in.
A part of me panicked a bit, knowing full well that I had ripped into Iliza for winning the finale when I thought any other Top 5 comic was more deserving. I hoped she wasn't one of those people who sat and read every word ever printed of her while I simultaneously prepared a verbal apology for not finding her funny and a bit spiteful on the show. Luckily, it appeared she had literally just woken up and was far from being able to recognize anyone, let alone make the connection of a small-time blogger from Green Bay. (Ahh, thank God I work in newspapers and not broadcast. Not that she would have known who I was, or even, that I would've redacted my statements on thinking Marcus or Jeff should've won.)
As I was about to leave and ask myself the obvious question, "Did that really just happen?" Marcus approached me and asked if I had plans for the evening or if I would like to grab some friends, drive to Milwaukee and catch the show that night -- for free. How could I pass that offer up?
So I made the two-hour trek to see the live show -- with a reassuring phone call from Marcus half-way there confirming the tickets would be at will call -- and continued pinching myself, thinking it was highly unlikely this was occurring. Turns out, not only did Marcus get us free tickets to the show, but he put us right up front at the Pabst Theater.
From watching the show on TV, I knew none of the comics were too filthy or inappropriate -- but it did not occur to me that was BECAUSE they were on TV. I decided to bring my parents to the show with me and remember telling them, "I really don't think it'll be that dirty. I'm sure it's a family show." Oh silly me.
Louis opened the show as the night's MC with a 20-minute bit on sex, masturbation and other things definitely not appropriate for this blog. (This is a family blog, after all.)
There was a part of me that tried to stifle a laugh, not wanting my mother to think I found this stuff absolutely hilarious but then the sound of both my parents completely cracking up changed all that. My mother later said Louis was her favorite -- and the funniest. My dear old dad rather enjoyed a bit from Marcus in which he recaps watching the "Labyrinth" as an adult, versus as a child and a certain "bonus character" on David Bowie he never noticed as a youngster. I enjoyed it all, though I must say, everyone's favorite hottie Jeff Dye kind of disappointed me. He made a joke about how he had "four minutes of material to stretch into a 20-minute set." Sometimes the truth isn't really funny, Jeff.
When Iliza came out, I gave her the benefit of the doubt and tried to put past opinions aside and see what the "Last Comic Standing" champ is made of. As much as I tried to laugh at her jokes, it just wasn't happening and I don't think it was just me. At one point she even said, "Did that one go over your head, Milwaukee? Ok, moving on ..." Granted her bit about the two reactions to running into a table corner was funny, but it was also on the show -- except this version had the word "crotch" inserted where "leg" had been previously. Crotch is always more funny, so kudos to her on that.
All in all, it was a great experience and an awesome excuse to head to Milwaukee for the night. The show was great and the comics were all very cool. I'm sure it wasn't a big deal to any of them but it totally made my day. I stopped by the Comics' table at the show to thank Marcus for the great tickets and for being so cool to his fans. He said it wasn't a problem at all and he was glad we made the trip to check out their performance. A class act all the way.
-- Sara Boyd, firstname.lastname@example.org