#9 Keep 'em in Stitches
As a kid, the youngest of 6, I play to type: a big old ham, the court jester. I'm always angling for attention by any means necessary.
This one time, I’m playing with matches. Of course, I’ve been told repeatedly NOT to play with matches. But matches are just awesome. (I STILL love them.There are bowls of them all over my apartment. I mourn the day when every bar and restaurant stopped giving away branded matchbooks. Sometimes a throw-backish place will offer them and I hoard them like my mother used to do with packets of Sweet ’n Low.)
Anyway, I’m totally playing with matches. Always a multi-tasker, I’m watching tv and mindlessly ripping each flat, brown piece from its cute little cardboard folder, scratching the red bit over the tiny emory board on the other side of the matchbook and discarding the “dead” ones carelessly on the bed. My parents’ bed.
Soon it’s the Burning Bed, but without Farah Fawcett. Come to think of it, she’s probably there on the TV in her Jill Monroe form. Suddenly everyone's was screaming, running around, throwing water onto the smoking bedspread. It’s my finest moment.
As I get older, I turn my attention to imitating the people I see on TV or in movies. Making my brother and sisters laugh lights up some part of my brain, a feeling somewhere between a hug from mom and a brownie delight sundae from 31 Flavors.
When I’m 8 years old, I memorize Steve Martin’s A Wild and Crazy Guy album - even though I don't understand most of the jokes.
“That cat was the best fuck I ever had.”
I sneak out of bed every Saturday Night to watch and learn the voices, physicality and catch-phrases of all of Gilda Radnor’s characters.
In my 20s, I mimic my idols, especially Jennifer Tilly in Bullets Over Broadway (“I’m working on a superior laugh”) and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker (“I drink too much and that's because I’m thirsty”).
Even now, decades later, I’m still quoting from my favorite movie from the 90s: Waiting for Guffman. Largely improvised, the story zips along due to a legendary cast including Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, whose description of her character’s “less is more" acting style still makes me giggle madly.
Levy and O’Hara are back together as down-on-their-luck jillionaires Johnny and Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek. If you’re not watching this show - you ain’t living. The writing is so absurd and smart, I’m a little annoyed that I only found the show 4 years into their run (h/t to Lynda Markel!)
My sisters and I have a whole text thread that is 65% Schitt’s Creek GIFs and 35% coordinating nursing home visits and Medicaid applications.
So, when we find out that the cast of Schitt’s Creek is doing a series of live appearances, we book ourselves tickets to the Philly show.
Nearly 3000 people brave the snow and slush, many dressed in costume as their favorite characters. We were raised right, so we come dressed in official show merch bought from CANADA.
The whole night is a joy. My favorite thing is hearing Catherine O’Hara talk specifically how her character, Moira, came to have such a specific verbal style. Moira has collected “oral mementoes” from her travels to bring back and share with the “less fortunate, less educated people of the world.”
After the show, my sisters and I make our way through the slushy streets of Philadelphia and the other attendees crowd around us. We can hear them chattering about the night, calling out memorable one-liners to each other as they get in their Ubers: “What kind of kitten befriends a giraaaaaafffe?"
As my sister drops me off at my hotel, she hugs me saying, dryly, “Best wishes.”
I reply, “Eat glass.”
My brain lights up.
What tickles your funny bone? What movies are you still quoting 20 years later? I want to hear from you! Leave me a comment below. And if you haven’t signed up for my semi-monthly email updates, hit subscribe up above and give me your deets.