Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An Evening with Stella

Last night was the fulfillment of a quest that I had at times even forgotten about: meeting Michael Ian Black.

I seem to have a curse with television shows. I find these wonderful shows that no one watches and they get cancelled. My heart is currently grieving for Pushing Daisies, an amazing show which ABC has just decided not to order any additional episodes of. Prior to that, I endured the premature loss of Joan of Arcadia, which CBS killed in favor of a Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle about someone talking to ghosts. I watch so little TV that when I finally find a show I love, I fall hook, line, and sinker and take it personally when the networks cancel it. Fox is hardly immune--for they demolished the absolutely brilliant Arrested Development. The only show I have loved that's managed to stay on is Lost. But I digress. Back to the original show of my adulthood that died an early death, and NBC's entry into the "Shows Susan Loved That Got Cancelled Early" Hall of Fame...

Seven or eight years ago, my show was Ed. Starring Tom Cavanagh, the show revolved around Ed Stevens (played by Tom Cavanagh), a big city attorney who upon discovering his wife is cheating on him returns to his tiny hometown of Stuckeyville to open a law office inside a bowling alley, the aptly named Stuckeybowl. He finds out that the love of his high school life, Carol (played by Julie Bowen), is still living in Stuckeyville and teaching there. Ed moves in with his best friend Mike (Josh Randall) and Mike's wife Nancy (Jana Marie Hupp), and the cast was nicely rounded out by Carol's best friend Molly played with plucky perfection by the incomparable Lesley Boone, by high school nerd wannabe Warren Cheswick (in a role that launched Justin Long's career), and the bowling alley employees, headed by Phil Stubbs, expertly and hilarious played by Michael Ian Black.

I loved Ed. Fiercely, devotedly. Anyone reading my old, and now long gone, blog at that time knows that Ed was how I spent my free time. I worked on the Virtual Stuckeyville site during much of Ed's run on TV. The show initially made enough of a splash that the cast and creators gave a panel discussion at New York City's Museum of Television and Radio, and being as Boston isn't that far from New York, I gathered up my sister and off we went. The panel discussion was great, and afterwards, we had the chance to meet the cast, with the exceptions being Justin Long and Michael Ian Black.

The Virtual Stuckeyville team had been sent free Stuckeybowl bowling shirts, and I brought mine with me that fine night and asked each cast member and the creators to please autograph my shirt, which they did with grace and enthusiasm. It was a night that makes me feel all warm and happy just to remember it.

Soon thereafter, the film Wet, Hot American Summer (WHAS)was coming out, and was opening in Newport RI. Michael Ian Black was a key cast member in the movie, and I had no idea of what the film was to be about, but rumors were swirling that MIB would show up at the filming. So again, I called my sister, who was living in Newport, and we stood in line at the film, and nothing. Nada. No MIB. Michael Showalter, one of the writers, was there, I THINK, or possibly David Wain, the director, but no MIB. So disappointment reigned in my sad little heart.

Anyway, after 3 seasons, Ed was cancelled. Actually, compared to Joan of Arcadia, which had 2 seasons and Pushing Daisies, which has had 2 half seasons, I got lucky with Ed, and by then, it had probably either jumped the shark or was perilously close to doing so.

During one of the moves, the frame I had used to mount my Stuckeybowl shirt broke, and the shirt was folded and put away amidst a bunch of other memorabilia I had collected from on a variety of interests.

But a few weeks ago, Facebook started popping up advertisements for Stella, a live show starring Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain coming to the 6th and I Synagogue. And I started thinking, "third time's a charm". Ok, granted, I had no idea what the heck Stella was or what to expect, but I figured that if I could meet MIB and get him to sign my shirt, life would be good.

Last night I went into DC for the show. Joe took me to a nice dinner and then I got on line at 6th and I. Fifth in line, I might add. So when I got in, shivering from the cold, 35 minutes later, you can bet I was in the front row. AWESOME! YES! :-)

I was seated next to Addie, a young man who was there with his girlfriend. He asked why I was attending the show and who I was a fan of, so I explained the Ed thing and the shirt. It turns out, he was a screaming Ed fan too, and he was blown away by the shirt. He took pictures of it, and when I let him hold it, I thought he'd die of happiness. So I asked him if he knew what Stella was about, and he said not really, but that the three of them were in WHAS together and it was kind of a 3 man stand up comedy act. So that was what I was expecting, and that was indeed what we got.

What was a little strange was sitting in a house of worship while a string of curse words and dirty jokes were emitted for 2 hours. It was hilarious, I won't lie, but it seemed kind of weird in the setting we were in. Still, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

They announced that they were going to go downstairs to screen WHAS for anyone who wanted to stay, and while I had no intention of sitting through the movie again, I did figure that if MIB was down there, I was going too! As it turned out, a line had been organized, and all three sat at a table to do a signing.

Well, being cheap, I didn't have a DVD or T-shirt to have autographed by all 3 of them, so I had them all sign the ticket stub. Fortunately for me, MIB was last on the line, so I pulled out my shirt and said, "You are the only regular cast member of Ed I've never met, and I wondered if you wouldn't mind signing my Stuckeybowl shirt?" So he looked up at me and said, "Sure!" and flashed a grin and then unfolded the shirt. And then, I think, he was impressed, since even the creators of Ed had signed it. He said, "Wow, you HAVE met everyone!" Since the line was long, I was unable to pose for a picture with him, but he did sign the shirt and and wrote "Phil" underneath his name, which was cool. :-)

And then it was all over. I was done and walked away.

But man, was it cool--I got to meet him and talk to him and get my shirt signed, and that's ultimately what really mattered.

My P.O.S. camera didn't do well with the lights, so I only got a couple of good pictures while they were on stage, and with the crowds and the rush, I didn't have much time to squeeze off a good picture in the social hall, but above are the two good pictures I got. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to spend an evening solo :-)

1 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Talmadge Gleck said...

I understand completely. It seems like no sooner than I get into a TV show, it gets canceled.

Would you mind developing a love for Wheel of Fortune? Please? That way we can be rid of it, once and for all.

As for Ed, did Stuckeyville have a Stuckey's?