Lame Adventure 427: Can we complain?

About two months ago I saw the Broadway play Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with my friend, Milton. He stood in line at the crack of dawn to snag a pair of terrific $40 rush ticket seats that were very close to the stage. These seats were so incredible that when Audra MacDonald, who transformed herself into Billie Holiday, took her bow at the end of the show, Milton threw caution to the wind and committed a cardinal sin of theater going: he snapped a shot with his iPhone. You’re not supposed to sneak pictures inside a theater, but more and more people are doing that these days with the proliferation of smart phones.

When everyone was applauding, Milton snapped this shot.

When everyone was applauding, Milton snapped this shot.

As we were waiting for Lady Day to start, I noticed that Joan Rivers was sitting across from us toward the back of the theater. Normally, Milton is the one with the celebrity spotting radar. He was very impressed that I noticed Joan. I was stunned because I hardly ever notice anyone. My natural inclination is to observe urban wildlife, bags stuck in trees, gum blots on the sidewalk or clouds. But sometimes, even when I attempt to photograph those sights, I get it wrong.

"Hey, this isn't the clouds above!"

Unintended selfie.

Fluffy clouds I was intending to take.

Fluffy clouds I was intending to take first.

As the crowd was exiting the theater at the end of Lady Day, a guy shouted:

Guy: Joan Rivers!

That alert prompted everyone to recognize her. She was besieged like metal to magnet. Milton was surprised that I didn’t join the masses that were photographing her, but I was on a Billie Holiday high. Later, I regretted not taking a picture. How often do I get to see a living comedy legend?

This past weekend, I volunteer ushered a very entertaining play at Second Stage Theater written by Laura Eason and directed by David Schwimmer called Sex with Strangers. When the house manager emailed the volunteers about accepting requests to usher this production, I leaped headfirst through my computer screen to get a slot, somewhat inspired by the thought provoking title.

There are four ushering slots per performance, three in the front of the house and one in the back, where I was assigned. The back can be a no man’s land if the box balcony is not busy, and there were only four people sitting in that section. They were offered a free upgrade to better seats, but three were content to stay in their assigned seats. I thought that was odd because they didn’t look brain damaged. Two explained to me that they like sitting in a section that was essentially all to themselves because they wanted to spread out. Extra legroom took priority over a better view.

As I was watching audience members file into the theater, my usually defective celebrity spotting radar activated for the only celebrity I can recognize: Joan Rivers. Yes, Joan and I were in the same theater at the same time once again. The play’s 3 pm Sunday curtain was delayed due to technical difficulties, something that can happen on occasion in live theater. Audience members were offered free wine at the concession stand. This induced a slight stampede.

Before heading to the concession stand, Joan glad-handed the ushers working in the front of the house, oblivious to the one working in the back. She went to the concession stand where she graciously mingled and took selfies with audience members. I snuck a few crummy shots of her from my post with my iPhone.

The best of my crummy Joan shots.

The best of my crummy Joan shots.

After the play ended and the audience had left, I was working clean up towards the front of the house when Joan returned with her entourage via the back of the house. She was meeting the cast, Anna Gunn and Billy Magnussen, back stage. And, once again, I got to miss meeting Joan.

Having the thrill of seeing this living comedy legend twice in two months, I have concluded that she is a celebrity who sincerely welcomes meeting with the public. I think that’s very stand up of her. If I have a third opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to see her again, and I probably have a better shot at winning the Triple Crown riding a saw horse, I’ll refrain from blurting, “Joan Rivers!” But, if she were on board, I would love to take a selfie with her.

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45 responses to “Lame Adventure 427: Can we complain?

  1. I love it. Excellent!!!

    R.

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  2. Too bad she didn’t see you because she had a copy of your book in her purse! So how was the play?

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  3. Thanks for the shot of the clouds and the explanation for inadvertent selfie. For a moment I thought you’d somehow inherited my tech savvy. At least it wasn’t a 3 minute videography of a nasal cavity or an eyebrow. Not that THAT has ever happened to anyone.

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  4. Third time is a charm… It’s in the cards.

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  5. Love this! welcome to the dark side of selfies!

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  6. You should!
    I’ve been lucky to spot many celebrities in New York and LA, and even a few in Denver. I’ve always given them their space. With the birth of the selfie, it seems to make it more acceptable social trend!

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  7. I never see anyone famous. And I LOVE Joan! You and Joan are meant to seflie….

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  8. I think the selfie is going to be an improbability, what with the restraining order she’s going to get after you keep “popping” up at the same theater

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  9. Just don’t blurt: “Joan! If you keep following me, I’ll have to take out a restraining order!”

    :>
    MJM

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  10. Yeah! That’s Joan Rivers. I’d recognize the top of her head anywhere! To funny that you’ve seen her twice in two months. But my favorite is the selfie. I have so done that with my iPhone when I got the cameras switched unintentionally.

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  11. I like Joan. She is so outrageous. The most recent work I saw her do was in an episode of Louis CK from a couple of years ago. She waxed philosophically about comedy before she and Louis headed for her bedroom.

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  12. LA, you’re mingling in the same circles, so eventually you’ll meet – it’s bound to happen.Those unintentional selfies always catch you unaware, don’t they? It looks like you’re tinkering under a car or something in yours!

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    • I was looking up at the sky, Tom, but just as suddenly I seemed to be looking at myself on my phone’s screen. It was rather discombobulating. Then, I snapped that shot of myself. If I encounter Joan for a third time, when I try to take a selfie with her, I expect to take a picture of anyone watching me attempt to take a selfie instead, even if it’s a lost antelope looking at us through the window.

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  13. So late to your Broadway after party (and to other things as well) but it seems as if you and Joan are destined to meet, V. I’d keep my Joan-dar up and who knows, I may see you sitting in one of those chairs on that show that I happen to catch when I’m idly channeling through cable crap. Where she and other people dish on fashion. Anna Gunn–isn’t she the wife from Breaking Bad? How cool and I love Billie Holiday–I think I saw a television special about Audra McDonald and she was wonderful via television–I imagine it was a treat to see it up close and personal.

    Nice selfie btw. You look 12. That’s a compliment.

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    • Nice compliment for someone over four and half times twelve, Brig! Yes, Anna Gunn was in Breaking Bad, a show I’ve never seen, but that’s mentioned in the Playbill. Audra is mind-blowing. She is by nature a more operatic-style singer, so Milton and I were stunned when she sounded so much like Lady Day. Afterward Milton said, “I can’t think of anyone who could have played this part better, can you?” I suggested, “Billie Holiday.” As for Joan and I being destined to meet, if your inner crystal ball is so certain of it, can you suggest a date, place and time? Always great to hear from you!

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  14. I think your fortune with Joan Rivers may be karma, something good must be about to happen.

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    • I have been getting seats on the train ride home from The Grind Val, and my hostile letter carrier has refrained from crushing any of my mail this week. I do seem to be riding on a wave of fantasy happenings.

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  15. These things always come in threes. You’ve seen her twice: I’m predicting the selfie opportunity the third time.

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  16. I have a theory that Joan is following you, borderline stalking if you will. I’ll give her extra credit for being clever and nonchalant in her approach. The only reason she doesn’t rush upon you and scream, “God, I love your book,” is because she’s a classy lady and doesn’t want to embarrass you in public. I have a feeling you’ll bump into her again–real soon.

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    • Interesting theory, Russell, but if I do bump into her again a third time, when she sees how I dress, she might bolt the other way or beat me with a fashion police baton. Whatever’s easier.

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  17. How cool is your life that you get to run into celebrities! I like how you refer to her as Joan, your dear friend. You know when I saw Joan on David’s show (as in Letterman) she really cracked me up, the one when he walks out on her. I thought to myself, what a pro she is! She doesn’t take herself too seriously and knows how to entertain a crowd. I’m not surprised she’s taking selfies! Loved your unintended selfie!

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    • My, you’ve inferred quite a lot about my non-relationship with Joan from this post, Amy! It’s not my nature to invade a celebrity’s space, but Joan does seem to welcome and encourage interaction with her fans. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to be in the right place at the right time to join her adoring masses.

      I am a fan of the technology of the times, but it does not take much for it to befuddle me. Basically, as you can see from my untended selfie, just the click of a button.

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  18. Joan Rivers will be missed — a fun, tireless and indomitable spirit and so acerbically hilarious. Nice recollection.

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