Return to Flatpoint

by Tony Lagarto 

Ultra-maxi-super-mega-special photographs by the endlessly entertaining and oh-so talented Jill Watson, provided exclusively to jerriblank.com


Flatpoint, here we come!
Monday — June 19, 2006

In recognition for the work that I'd done not only on my own website, jerriblank.com, but also for the first iteration of the official SWC movie website, I was invited to attend the official movie premiere of Strangers With Candy in New York on Tuesday, June 20, 2006. After a bit of wrangling and finagling, I was able to turn my "plus one" invitation into a "plus three."  And, as fortune would have it, the premiere would happen during the same week that my friend Jill was going to be coming from Seattle to visit me in Washington, DC, and our mutual friend Katie in nearby Frederick, Maryland. Our online buddy Mike would be driving down from Boston to be the third guest in my own mini posse.

The day before the premiere, I drove Jill and Katie from DC to our New York destination: Manhattan's luxurious, ultra-chic Milford Plaza (Anyone who has been there knows that I'm just being sarcastic. It's one of those bargain hotels—$200+ per night is a bargain in NY—that's valued more for its location than for its not-so-posh decor and amenities, but for a few days it would be our happy Flatpoint home). After checking in, we relaxed in our room for a while and made plans to meet up with another online friend, Annie Shapiro, who worked as an Art Department intern on the movie's crew.

We walked up to Carnegie Hall to meet Annie at the subway stop there and we made plans to have Mike meet us at our hotel. Then we all made our way to Korea Town to have dinner and to partake in a night of karaoke at a bar called Chorus. While at dinner we called my pal Matt Lappin, one of the Strangers With Candy writers, to see if he and Greg Hollimon (Principal Blackman), who was staying with Matt, would like to join us. To our delight they were available and said that they'd meet us at at the karaoke bar.

There was much ado about soju, a potent Korean grain alcohol sweetened in various flavors, which was flowing like water all evening. Bottle after bottle, we downed this sweet, fruity, and very dangerous liquor, which led to much drunken warbling by one and all. Rumor has it that I might have done a rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and Mike and Greg might have done a duet of "We are the World."  Fortunately, we were the only patrons in the bar most of the night. Thank God it was Monday!  Who knows what time we left the bar or how I ended up safely in my hotel bed.


Friends, strangers, and candy
Tuesday — June 20, 2006

By some miracle, when we woke up the next morning we were not terribly sick with hangovers. We were still a bit tired, but the room didn't spin and there were no other physical souvenirs of the previous night's amusements.

Once we finally ventured out of our room we had a few hours to do whatever we wanted before having to get back to the hotel to get ready for the premiere. Jill and Katie wanted to go to the Museum of Natural History, so I took the subway uptown with them, but I wanted to enjoy the weather by strolling around the Upper West Side and Central Park.

The premiere was supposed to start at 7:30pm, so we made our way over to the Cinema 1,2,3 at 60th Street and 3rd Avenue at around 6:30.  I was supposed to look for Jessie Ely, who would show me where I'd be placed along the red carpet, so I could take some pictures next to the professional photographers of the press corps. I asked if Jill could join me, because she has a much more professional camera than my little Canon digital, and I know that she just happens to take great photos. Luckily this was okay with Jessie, so then it was just a matter of waiting for the stars to arrive.

While waiting outside the theater, we saw Matt Fagan, who was waiting for other members of his family to arrive, so I introduced him to Mike, Katie, and Jill, and we chatted briefly.

It was a really hot day, so once we'd found our place at the end of the red carpet, Jill and I were a bit uncomfortable as we waited for people to arrive.

Carlo Alban (Megawatti) and Ivette Dumeng Diaz (Melanie) were the first cast members to arrive. They were followed shortly after by Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello. The professional photographers were like a dangerous mob as they tried to get the attention of the various carpet walkers. They must have been wondering who Jill and I could be, because when Amy and Paul got down to our end of the carpet Amy gave me a hug and Paul shook my hand and they both chatted with us briefly and gave us a few photo ops, while the rest of the press corps practically rioted to get a few shots. Alan Kalter, from "The Late Show with David Letterman", arrived, followed by Matt Lappin, Todd Oldham, Dolores Duffy (Iris Puffybush), Sarah Thyre (Coach Wolf), and Greg Hollimon, who also gave me and Jill a little extra attention. Joseph Cross (Derrick Blank) was followed by Deborah Rush (Sara Blank) who was accompanied by her son, Walter Cronkite IV.  At this point, Jill and I decided that we'd spent enough time with the vultures of the press corps, so we decided to make our way to our seats, and to rejoin Katie and Mike.

On the way up the stairs to get to the theater, I finally got to meet Sarah Thyre, after having missed meeting her on the set of the series back in 2000, on the last day of filming the final episode. When I told her who I was, Tony from jerriblank.com, she told me how much she has loved my website and appreciates all of the work that I've done. And, of course, I told her how much I've appreciated the work that she's done and all of the laughs that she's given me over the years.

Shortly after we found Katie and Mike, I saw Maria Thayer (Tammi Littlenut) enter the theater, so I went to say hi to her. I also saw producers Mark Roberts and Lorena David, who both told me that the movie probably would have never happened without me and my website, which was nice to hear. I also greeted Billy Erb, David Rakoff (Boswell), and right after he arrived, just before the movie was to start, Stephen Colbert.

During the movie there was so much laughter that many jokes were missed, but the audience seemed to have loved every minute.

After the movie ended we all walked around the corner to Dylan's Candy Bar (owned by Ralph Lauren's daughter, Dylan) for the premiere party. Sarah Thyre gave us all a good chuckle as we strolled from the theater.  Katie, Jill, and I had been joking about "man-boobs" all day, so I pulled the front of my shirt out, but inadvertently stretched the fabric, which made the girls taunt me.  I whined to Sarah Thyre, "Sarah, they're making fun of me..." and she said, "You mean about your man-boobs? I wish someone would talk about my woman-boobs."  I always knew that I loved her!

When we entered the party we were all given bags in which we could put as much candy as we wanted to munch on. Normally I probably would have been like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka's factory, but I wasn't in as much of a candy mood as I was in a beer mood, and chocolate doesn't really go very well with beer, does it?

As we mingled, I caught glimpses of celebrities at the party whom I hadn't seen in the theater: Maria Thayer's Accepted co-star Justin Long, Amy's pal Sam Rockwell, Justin Theroux, and Paul Shaffer (The Late Show with David Letterman). I got the chance to meet Carlo Alban (Megawatti) and chatted with a bunch of people who worked on the TV series: Liz Fagan, Luke Lappin, Neil Fagan, and, of course, Amy and Paul.

Stephen Colbert's time was completely monopolized by everyone who entered his orbit. It seemed as though his fame from doing "The Colbert Report" and notoriety from speaking at the White House Correspondents Dinner had made everyone else realize what Strangers fans have always known: the man is absolutely brilliant. Everyone wanted a moment of his time, whether it was just to say hello or to shake his hand. When I finally got a chance to talk to him I asked him where his lovely wife Evie was and he said to me, "She's in South Carolina with the kids. She really wanted to be here, but I said, 'No! You will stay there and you will like it!'"  I asked him about Amy's upcoming appearance on "The Colbert Report" and he told me that I should try to be there for the taping because he, she, and Paul were going to "tumble."  I didn't ask him to clarify the statement because I'd just assumed that he meant that they were going to stage a fake feud or argument, the way that Amy and Stephen had done when he interviewed her on "The Daily Show" on April 3, 2001.  When the "Colbert Report" episode actually aired on July 10, though, I learned that he meant "tumbling" by its literal definition (see pictures here and here).

I spoke to Valerie Schaer Nathanson, who was one of the movie's producers from David Letterman's Worldwide Pants and who remembered meeting me on the movie set and at Sundance, and asked her if it would be possible for me to get four tickets to next night's "Late Show with David Letterman" taping, because Amy was going to be Dave's guest. I know that it's usually very difficult to get tickets to the show, even with advance notice, but Valerie gave me her office number and told me that she'd ask her assistant to see if she could arrange getting tickets for us. So we all felt pretty hopeful that we'd be having another enjoyable experience the next night, too.

After a while, our friend Annie arrived, thanks to Matt Lappin getting her in, and we all did a little more mingling.  Jill and I started a very low-brow conversation with Billy Erb (who had most recently collaborated with Amy on her upcoming book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence) and a uniquely captivating, futuristic space diva in a tight little gold dress (Note to Jill: We talked about Justine, remember?). Fortunately, they both added their own outrageous contributions to the discussion without batting an eyelash, so I didn't feel that we were being too outrageous or obnoxious. I wish that I'd asked the shiny lady what her name was, because a few days later (when I'd gotten home to Washington, DC, and checked out some of the party pictures online) I'd learned that she was none other than Lady Miss Kier, the lead singer of Deee-Lite, one of my favorite music acts of the early 1990s!  If I'd known it was her I would have asked her if groove is still in the heart. I have a feeling that her answer would have been yes.

As the party wound down, we made the rounds and said our goodbyes, and toyed with the idea of going back to Korea Town for some more karaoke. Greg was definitely up for it, but some of us felt our energy waning. I think that we wanted to save some energy for the next day, just in case were would be able to get into the Ed Sullivan Theater to see Amy's taping of the Letterman show.

Red carpet pictures by Jill Watson, exclusively for jerriblank.com
[Click on pictures above to see the enlarged versions]

» See my red carpet pictures, too «


Inspirational message...  T.B.D.
Wednesday — June 21, 2006

The next morning, I think we were all grateful that we hadn't overdone it the night before. Katie, Jill, and I went to breakfast nearby at Pigalle while we waited to find out whether we'd be able to get tickets to the Letterman show taping or not. After we finished eating, I got a call-back from Valerie's assistant notifying me that we did indeed have four tickets waiting for us at the Ed Sullivan Theater. With that uncertainty no longer hanging over our heads, we went to check out some newsstands to see if the latest issue of Interview was for sale yet, and it was. There was an interview with Amy Sedaris, by Whoopi Goldberg, and some hilarious Todd Oldham photographs in the magazine. We strode up to Central Park to sit and read the interview, and to do a little people watching.

I called Mike and told him that I'd been able to get the Letterman tickets, so I told him what time he had to meet us outside the theater on Broadway. And before we knew it, we were there in line, waiting to go into the theater.

Amy was hilarious, as usual, and she was especially excited because this time she was actually on Dave's show to promote something: the movie. Unfortunately, her time was cut into a little bit when some basketball player named Dwayne Wade was brought on because his team had won some big championship game the night before. Big whoop. At least we were there, for the third charmed day of our New York adventure. I'd always wanted to go to a Letterman taping, as did Mike. In fact, he told me that he'd tried to get tickets in the past, but it was always impossible. (Read a synopsis of Amy's appearance and see pictures here.)

That evening, Jill had to visit with a family friend, and Mike was doing stuff with friends, so Katie, Annie, and I went to dinner at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant called Zen Palate, which was fantastic.

Greg Hollimon called Annie while we were at dinner to see what we were doing. He wanted to hang out again, but we didn't feel like another round of karaoke and soju, so we invited him to come to our hotel room to watch the broadcast of the "Late Show" taping that we'd attended earlier in the day.

Greg arrived and, before Amy's Letterman segment began and during commercial breaks, he regaled us with tales of his days at Second City when he met Amy, Paul, Stephen, and number of other Strangers people. One sketch he mentioned that I wish I'd had an opportunity to experience was one he did with Jackie Hoffman (Miss Plog, A Price Too High For Riches) in which she played the Virgin Mary and he played Joseph. He also said that whenever he and his fellow improv comedians were coming up with ideas for skits to perform if there was a dearth of suggestions Amy would always want to do her old standby, something called "Ladies Room."  I didn't ask what "Ladies Room" entailed, but apparently Amy liked to do that one a lot.

After the show ended, we chatted with Greg for a while longer and he entertained us with more stories. Eventually he had to leave and we had to go to bed, so we said goodbye to him and to Annie and Katie, Jill, and I went to bed, so we could be fresh in the morning for our drive back to Washington, DC.

The only regret I have about our Flatpoint adventure is that I couldn't have brought more loyal fans to the event. But I'm glad that timing and the Fates conspired enough to allow me to share the experience with Jill, Katie, Mike, and Annie. In fact, they were the ones who turned those few days into much more fun than I could possibly have had if I'd attended on my own. Good times, indeed.
 


In memory of our sweet li'l shrimp cocktail, Justine. You were constantly in our thoughts.
"Sparkle for mommy, angel!"


© 2006 Tony Lagarto