Monday, August 29, 2011
A number of years ago at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Los Angeles there was a new play by Herb Gardner starring Judd Hirsch that my wife and I wanted to see. In this case, I did not know anyone. I had met Judd on a couple of occasions when I was on CHEERS and he was still doing TAXI on the same lot. But those were only momentary “Nice to meet you” encounters. Still, through the casting director of the show I was working on at the time I got Judd's house seats.
We go to the theatre, they’re great seats, and about ten minutes before the performance Judd’s assistant approaches and says Judd would like us to come back to his dressing room after the show. Okay. That’s a little strange. Often as a courtesy, you will go backstage to thank the person for the seats or just leave him a note acknowledging your gratitude. It’s a little odd to be summoned.
All through the play I’m wondering – what does he want? Does he have an idea for a show he wants to pitch? Is he just a big fan of my shows? Does he want to go out with my wife?
After the show the assistant reappears and escorts us backstage to Judd’s dressing room. And here’s where it gets weird.
We walk in and immediately, by the look on his face, it’s clear he doesn’t know me from Adam. He must’ve thought I was somebody else -- someone that he did know. But of course he doesn’t want to be rude so he pretends that he does know us. At which point we don't want to embarrass him by saying he doesn't know us so we pretend that we know him as well.
So now the three of us engage in the most excruciatingly awkward conversation ever. I don’t recall what we talked about. I just remember a whole lot of pauses. All the while I kept hoping the assistant would pop her head in and say there were other well-wishers or the theatre was fire. Nothing. There was no escape.
After what seems like an hour (it was probably ten minutes) we go to the babysitter card and gracefully make our exit. Moments later our car screams out of the parking lot.
The next day the casting director who arranged for the tickets said Judd called her and asked, “Who the hell was that?” Then, when she told him, he said, “Oh. Glad he stopped by.”
The next time I’m just buying tickets.
By Ken Levine at 5:53 AM