Monday, October 18, 2010

You're In My Heart, So Until Then

So, this week I saw my favorite comedian - Russell Brand - twice. The first time was on Tuesday, when he gave an hour and a half long interview at the New York Times building, followed by a book signing. In my eagerness to get a good seat I arrived an hour and a half early, securing myself the 24th place in line. And since the 23 people ahead of me were apparently people who waited hours to sit in the third row, I sat on the first - smack in the middle. It was great, he was hilarious and the interview was really interesting. During the Q&A a 14 year old boy stepped up to the mike, and Russell Brand went on and on about how he could be the new Justin Bieber before hopping off the stage to give him a hug. At the book signing afterwards I got a copy of his first book (he's touring to promote the sequel) and waited for my signed copy. I give him a lot of credit - he's not sleepwalking through what I imagine is an incredibly monotonous schedule of book signings. He talks to everyone who gets a book, really studying them with an intensity that almost makes you feel self conscious. Then after the book is signed he offers a hug, generally by saying "Give us a cuddle." And he seems to take the hugs seriously, pausing and closing his eyes as he embraces each giddy fan. By the time it was my turn I was feeling quite flustered, and distinctly uncool. I decided to limit my engagement to saying I liked his comedy and moving along.

He signed the book and then fixed me with the intense look and said, "I remember you."
"Seriously?" I asked, surprise sounding a lot like skepticism.
"Yeah. From the audience."
"Right. I was on the first row." My plan to say something nice sprang back to mind, but flustered, I went for the first thing that caught my eye. "I very much like your scarf."
"Thanks. I got it today." He said, and then gave me a hug.
"Also the stand up comedy." I added lamely as I felt the flow of the line pushing me away.
"Thanks very much for saying so." He responded, with what seemed like genuine gratitude.

The next evening, I attended his book signing at Barnes & Noble in Union Square, because my friend Rachel is also a big fan and she couldn't make it to the night before. I had really wanted to see the interview, so I just decided to do both. This was a much different event, complete with an interview with E! (You can watch the video here. I couldn't spot us in it, but there is some footage of the madness we were in the midst of) and attendance by the paparazzi. There was a brief talk/Q&A where he accepted a garland from a Hare Krishna, and engaged in a bizarre back and forth with the bolder audience members. Then there was a book signing. At one point he stopped the line for a good 10 minutes to visit with a little girl in a wheelchair who was hoping to get her booked signed. He signed the book, posed for pictures with her and her parents, and had what looked to be a pretty in-depth chat with her. It was all very sweet.

Rachel bought a book to be signed, so I waited in line with her. When we got to the front she was just as giddy and flustered as I had been the night before. I was giddy, but not nearly as much as I had been.

As her book was being signed she said, "You have great hair." Which he does.
"Thanks!" He said, shaking his hair a bit and happily letting the curls bounce. "You may touch it if you wish."
We did. He gave Rachel one of his zen hugs.
When he looked at me I said, "Oh, I got a book signed last night."
"Where?" He asked. Then without prompting remembered, "Right! First row!"
"Right." I said, accepting my second Russell Brand hug of the week.

I may be imagining it, but I feel like he gave me a bit of a look as I walked away that said, "It's still cute now, but if you turn up in the next city I'm notifying security."

Of course, all this was but a blip on my happiness radar compared to the join that accompanied Angus coming to visit me for the weekend. He was here from Thursday afternoon at 12:30 until Sunday afternoon at 3:15, and every moment was wonderful. It was his first time in the city, and I did my best to be a good tour guide in the face of adverse weather (rain, heavy wind.. apparently we were on the fringe of a nor'easter). I made sure he got to eat the iconic food (pizza, Katz's Deli, and H&H Bagel), and got to attend one cool event (a reading by Bill Bryson at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square - this place hosts a lot of events!). We did tons of walking around, visiting the different neighborhoods and seeing the famous buildings. Obviously, there's still a lot more for him to see next time he visits. But it was fantastic to be together, though saying goodbye again wasn't easy.

Today I had a five minute presentation for my midterm grade in my Politics of the Gaze class, which was nerve wracking but I ultimately felt good about. I have quite a lot of reading to do this week, but I'm feeling like a pretty capable grad student these days.

1 comment:

  1. from the vantage point of 74 years I have no idea who Russell Brand is but sounds like a nice guy.How do you know about interviews with N.Y. Tmes, etc.? Sounds exciting, anyway. Even Barnes and N. sounds that way. Glad the weekend and the Presentation were good. G.M.