June 09, 2006

Serenity Now

Stiller and MearaIt was back to the theater last night for yet another performance of Awake and Sing! Last night's show was especially good. Everyone on stage was on their game - timing was crisper, delivery was sharper. Maybe it had something to do with who was in the audience. I was handing out my usual load of headsets, when someone famous started walking in my general direction. As he got closer, I recognized him as Jerry Stiller of Stiller and Meara - aka the parents of Ben Stiller. Here is our exchange as best as I can recollect.

"I need a headset. How are you doing?"
"Very excited to see you."
"I'm thrilled to be alive and to be here."
"Do you have your driver's license handy?"

He gave me his license and I gave him a headset. Then, in spite of my excitement, I was able to give him spiel about using our headsets. I was very proud of myself because I didn't stumble over my words. I watched him walk back to his seat to see if his wife was with him and she was. Stiller and Meara. That was exciting. I remember them as a comedy team and I'm not sure why. I've always known they were a funny duo but couldn't tell you one thing they've performed together.

Later in the evening people lined up to return their headsets. I had two lines. One to the right and one behind me. I usually favor the line to my right because it's easier. When I turned around after the line was gone, there was Jerry Stiller talking to fans. I heard a fan say to him, "I met you once at Zabar's before your fifty-second anniversary. (Do you wonder why I don't talk to celebrities? I should sound so lame). There was a small group surrounding him. He was busier than me. I let slip,

"Gosh. I thought I was busy."

But I don't know if it came out the right. Because I heard him say, "You thought so, huh." I don't know if that was directed at me or the fan that was bothering him about their meeting at Zabar's, but he did give me a $2 tip, which was very nice. Actually I made $6 in tips last night - for 56 headsets, that's pretty good. I've made less handing out more.

It didn't end there. After he handed me my headset and just before I helped the next person, Anne Meara popped in out of nowhere and asked me where back stage was. I couldn't believe it. She looked right at me and asked me this question like a regular patron. I was so busy, I didn't have a chance to react but still, I can't believe it. She's amazing. She's someone I admire.

As usual, I was the last one to leave the theater. By the time I was done breaking down my headsets, the doors leading out of the front of the theater were all locked, so I had to cross under the stage and leave through the stage door.

Stiller and Meara were there talking to Mark Ruffalo. Actually the little group that they formed was in the way of the exit. Ruffalo's back was to me, so I carefully slid behind him without touching him so I wouldn't interrupt their conversation. But I did take a good look at Anne Meara one more time. She was smiling admiringly at Ruffalo - who was exceptionally good last night.

Wednesday night - the night I took off to go to trivia - another famous patron used one of our headsets. Paul Newman. But I wasn't there. He was at the show with Joanne Woodward and I missed them. Oh well. I guess I can't meet every celebrity, but this is the second time I've missed Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

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