Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Enough of that Bitching Crap
Brush with Greatness,
or Harrased by a Celebrity?
DirecTV purchased USSB, whom I was working for at the time in 1999. USSB was a great company for dealing with it's clients like HBO and Showtime. HBO in particular loved us as we represented more households than any single cable provider or group of cables at the time, though that's probably changed now with rampant deregulation.
USSB bent over backward for it's big clients, and HBO in particular bent over backward for us as well (please, do not insert sex related joke here, it really was a fantastic working relationship). Unlike every company I ever worked for, however, the management at USSB passed down perks that hey received from business partners like HBO to the rank and file employees. Part of that was that we were a relatively small company and there weren't thousands of employees to have to distribute perks to. Also the ownership of USSB had plenty of money and didn't see any need to keep all of the cool stuff for themselves.
I was watching the movie The Aristocrats with Tim last night, a movie about a particular vaudville era joke that comedians tell, primarily to each other, trying to come up with the most disgusting version ever. The film was filled with dozens of comics doing their own versions of the joke. One of the comics in the movie was Wendy Liebman, a comic who I always liked (who did a really nice twist on the joke in the movie) and had the opportunity to meet once, though not under an ideal situation. Unless you want a cool story, then the conditions were perfect.
HBO can really throw a party. HBO threw the employees of USSB a party when the DirecTV deal was final. The rented out a club owned by Prince in downtown Minneapolic, provided a fantastic meal, had an open bar (and I was drinking the good Scotch), and provided entertainment. The entertainment was comedienne Wendy Liebman.
After dinner and a few drinks (have I mentioned I was drinking really good Scotch?) Wendy Liebman came out. It was a good show. Being something of a fan, I was familiar with some of her material. I was having a great time. As more free booze somehow found it's way past my lips, I became a little looser.
I began heckling as I got a little looser. I don't like to blame that type of thing on booze, but I probably wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been pretty sauced at the time. I heckled, some of it mean spirited (and I do regret that), but mostly just your basic heckling crap that a comic has to deal with.
By the way, three different people were singled out by Wendy during the show, all three worked in my department. I guess operations types can't help buck heckle. The other exchanges were pretty short. Mine ended up being a little more extended.
I was standing with a bunch of other folks from the department. I would say stuff and they would laugh. Everybody would laugh. I was getting positive reinforcement, so I kept going. I like to think I'm a funny guy, I have a good sense of humor and I think well on my feet. I also think I can drive a car pretty well, but I wouldn't stand a chance at the Gran Prix on Monaco. My point is that during our last exchange I couldn't help but think "I'm a funny guy, but she's a professinal - this isn't going to end good for me."
And I was right. She got me and got me good. I wan't particularly embarassed, but I will always admit when I've been bettered. It probably also helped that I'd been drinking. The show ended, Ms. Liebman left the stage and I resumed my drinking.
One of the guys in our group got on his cell phone and called operations to detail what had just happened. As this was going on I hear random calls of "over there" from people in front of me. I start hearing it from voices I recognize. Eventually I hear "Where's Doug?" from a voice I also recognized, the one I'd spent the last hour or so listening to.
"Are you Doug?"
"I'm a big fan!"
"Well it's nice to meet you."
We shook hands as all of my co-workers looked on with horrified faces.
She dissappeared into the crowd and it was all over.
Aside from everyone asking if I got her number. Reasonable, I suppose, as I was moving to LA in a couple of months.