I wrote this several years ago and it recently resurfaced during my Once Every Decade Computer Colonic. There is some updating to do, however … (1) Alex Borstein is a producer, writer and voice on “Family Guy” now … (2) after meeting Jackson Douglas I became a rabid Gilmore Girls fan, learning I was indeed smart enough and, in fact, have since been told I could be Lorelai Gilmore’s older sister — a compliment, though left-handed, that gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure because my motto, like theirs, is “life’s short — talk fast” … (3) we took back that waitress’ tip … (4) it’s much easier these days to find liberals to talk to in Colorado … (5) I now know the guy who played Mr Wicke on the Drew Carey Show is Craig Ferguson, who entertains America in the middle of the night … (6) Ms Borstein’s “Drop Dead Gorgeous” is on Netflix. We watched it again and laughed ourselves silly. Not for the kiddies, though.
Okay, now you’re up to speed. It made me laugh and I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
Three Days as a Civilian at the Aspen Comedy Festival
I just got back from the HBO Comedy Festival in Aspen. I couldn’t have had more fun unless Mr. Steve Martin sat on my lap and told me jokes. No, I couldn’t have had more fun unless Mr. Steve Martin sat on my lap, told me jokes and tickled me with a feather. Well, okay, I couldn’t have had more fun unless Mr. Steve Martin sat on my lap, told me jokes, tickled me with a feather and paid my Aspen expenses.
Anyway, I didn’t actually see Mr. Steve Martin.
But I did have many other celebrity sightings.
Work with me here as I toggle back and forth using the singular “I” as well as the plural “we” to include my husband whenever I can’t make it all about me.
We were there at the urging — like we needed urging — of our pal Ted Hardwick, who was performing at the festival with the very funny Alex Borstein of “Mad TV” fame.
If you’re keeping count, this is Name Dropping #1. Ted doesn’t count because we knew him when he used to drink chocolate milk instead of double bourbons with Coke backs. Even though he’s been on television and at the Improv in Los Angeles AND at the Montreal Comedy Festival, he’s cool with it.
Ted does a flamboyant old-time stand-up comedian character named Teddy Towne. If I haven’t over-explained that enough, he also wears a loud plaid jacket and sunglasses. Teddy Towne opens the show for the talented Ms. Borstein.
So we met up with our pal Ted and headed back to the condo to stow our luggage and catch up with him. He showed us all the loot he got as a performer at the Festival . . . his official name badge, t-shirt, winter scarf, those cool earmuffs that wrap behind your head so as not to muss your Hollywood hair, and the coveted Comedy Arts Festival Beret. And some mints.
As we were hanging around, who comes in but the actual Alex Borstein, not just a name to be bandied about anymore, but a real live person. (Name Dropping #1A) She plopped herself down on the couch, opened a bottle of water and told us she needed somewhere to hang out until it was time to do the remote taping with Jay Leno for “The Tonight Show” to be broadcast later that night.
So we hung out and had an entertaining conversation with this most delightful, and very nice woman. If you didn’t already know, you can tell someone is nice by how they react when you pull out photos of your children. She passed the test . . . nary a whimper from her.
After Alex left, we wandered around Aspen, trying to score tickets in the Festival’s ill-conceived notion of ticket purchasing. Luckily, this became a moot point as Ted is very tall and was wearing The Badge of Comedy around his neck which proved to carry with it a certain cache. He refused to wear The Beret of Comedy or The Earmuffs of Comedy which I think could have gotten us much closer to Mr. Steve Martin. But I’m not going to open up that can of worms again.
As we walked around Aspen, Ted introduced us to Jackson Douglas who is married to Alex Borstein and has a recurring role on “The Gilmore Girls.” (Name Dropping #2) I never told him, and he was too polite to ask if we watched his show. If he had, I’d have been forced to tell him that I didn’t think I was smart enough to watch. The handful of times I’ve watched brought me to the realization that those Gilmore Girls talk too fast for me, a forty-something woman who lives on the Colorado plains.
We ended up at the beautiful St. Regis Hotel, which is one of those if-you-have-to-ask-you-can’t-afford-it kind of places. So we didn’t ask, but it didn’t make it easier to pay for our $42 round of three drinks. And here’s something interesting in a place like the St. Regis … if your cocktail waitress gives you the bum’s rush and doesn’t think you’ve tipped her well enough for walking fourteen steps to carry three drinks to you, she’ll refuse to accept it. As a woman with children of my own, I’m gonna say that her mother would be embarrassed by her behavior. But I digress.
In the bar of the St. Regis we saw Michael Moore who was at the festival to receive the Freedom of Speech Award for his body of terrific work, including his recent “Bowling for Columbine.” (Name Dropping #3)
As we were sitting, watching Michael Moore ignore us, an adorable long-haired weiner dog was nursing a brew at the table next to us. One thing I learned at the Comedy Festival was that “weiner” is much funnier than “dachshund.” Say them both out loud. You’ll see. When Mr. Weiner Dog (Name Dropping #4) started sniffing around my purse, I became a bit alarmed because, as they say in TexArkana, you just rent beer. So I got him back to his People and found out that Mr. Weiner Dog was himself a Hollywood star when they handed me a flyer advertising his latest movie. Can’t remember the name of the movie, nor Mr. Weiner Dog’s real name, but Richard Belzer’s photo was on the flyer, even though Mr. Weiner Dog’s was not. Another thing I learned at the Comedy Festival is that he should discuss this slight with his agent, his manager, his make-up person, his producer, and the cocktail waitress to rectify the situation immediately.
So it was only a matter of time before Richard Belzer (Name Dropping #5) walks up to Mr. Weiner Dog’s table and sits down. This, I suppose, makes it Mr. Richard Belzer’s table now. And in case you ever wondered . . . yes, the sunglasses stay on at night.
Since we had finished our $42 round of three drinks, and had decided for obvious reasons against another, we left the St. Regis bar. As we moved into the hallway, I saw some commotion to my right and a Beret of Comedy lumbering toward me. As it got closer I could see it belonged to John Goodman (Name Dropping #6) who is a great big happy bear of a man. There was a handful of people around him and as he walked, the crowd in the hallway parted, almost reverentially. Later, it was pointed out to me that the crowd really does have to part for Mr. Goodman, so I might have put my own little reverential spin on the situation.
Mr. Goodman and his group stopped smack dab in our way so we were forced to walk out of the hotel with them. As it was the Comedy Festival, I was expecting to get stuck in the doorway with Mr. Goodman a la The Three Stooges. Didn’t happen though. The Gods of Comedy were obviously busy elsewhere, maybe thinking up more funny names for “dachshund.” But, while we were leaving through the second sets of doors, who should hold the door open for me but Harry Shearer. (Name Dropping #7) He is the voice of so many great characters on “The Simpsons.” I hope he wasn’t as bored as he looked. I probably should have said “weiner” to him.
Speaking of “The Simpsons,” Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) was also at the Festival. It’s entirely possible that she could have been on my Celebrity Sightings List too, but I’m not entirely sure what she looks like. Maybe she was the one in the restroom who told me to eat her shorts when I crowded in front of her at the hand dryer.
We went to see Julia Sweeney’s show, “Guys and Babies, Sex and Gods.” (Name Dropping #8) What a delightful show she puts on! She has had a most interesting life and was telling about her adventures in adopting a baby from China. We laughed, we cried.
After we saw Teddy Towne and Ms. Borstein’s show (which I should tell you was the hottest ticket at the Festival despite what Kelsey Grammer’s people would have you believe), we went back to their dressing room where we were introduced to Janeane Garofalo. (Name Dropping #9) Even without her Beret of Comedy she was a hoot to hang out with. She is very well read and so interesting. Even the way she smokes is funny. She didn’t want to smoke in anyone’s face so she got right down on the floor where the full-length window opened so she could blow the smoke outside. But it was windy so it just blew back in. Okay, maybe it’s not that funny. Later, she and my husband and some others had a 3-hour conversation in the middle of the night, much of which was about politics. My husband was very excited to talk politics with someone who shares his liberal leanings. Hard to find someone simpatico on the Colorado plains.
There were some other shows we wanted to see but had to wait in line, because, apparently, Ted’s Badge of Comedy was losing power. While waiting in line, however, I saw Norm Macdonald (Name Dropping #10) and my husband saw the guy who plays Mr. Wicke on “The Drew Carey Show” (Name Dropping #10.5) And later on, Mike Myers (Name Dropping #11) bumped into my husband. Nothing really funny about poor balance, but we’ll blame it on the altitude and cut him some slack.
Which leads me back to Alex Borstein, who is funny and has impeccable balance. She also, by the way, told me I had nice skin. Uh huh, uh huh. Ms. Borstein’s show is called “Drop Dead Gorgeous in a Down-to-Earth Bombshell Sort of Way.” Which she is. The television does not do her justice, but that isn’t the point. Her point, made in a laugh-yourself-silly-kinda-way is that she is looking for role models on television and in movies. She tells very funny stories about the descriptions of women that Hollywood producers are looking to cast in their shows. You know, like the character named “Teena” who is a physicist but also blond, sexy and willing to get into wet t-shirt contests. Or “Unnamed Woman” who is sitting at her vanity in sexy lingerie to sell motor oil.
Frankly, these are not women anyone can identify with, whether you’re a short, Jewish entertainer or a 40-something woman with nice skin and three kids. But if she’s looking for a role model, I don’t think she has to look any further than her own mirror. Alex Borstein, Janeane Garofalo and Julia Sweeney are all amazing, smart, articulate, opinionated and very funny women with or without their Berets of Comedy. I would be honored if my daughter took on any of them as a role model.
Except for the smoking, Janeane, I’m pretty sure that’s not good for you.
How ‘bout you? Got any names to drop?