My goodness, what a long, strange trip it’s been. I may have had to fall off the blog lately (work and lots of overseas travel sucked up my time), but you people have been a huge part of my life for almost four and a half years now — unbelievable!
So how, I thought to myself, can I possibly come up with anything like a coherent post with which to say goodbye? Answer: I can only go back to the beginning (well, sort of). I’d been watching the show since the debut episode, when I busted out laughing at the over-the-top credits and didn’t stop until the end. But you know how it goes with Stephen: you find the show, you love it, you watch it religiously, and after a while you drive your friends nuts with the constant references. (To paraphrase Sarah Vowell — you know that Kevin Bacon game? Well, I was like that with The Colbert Report; talking to me on any subject would invariably lead back to him before long.) And then you get tickets to the show, you meet Stephen, and the real whirlwind begins!
I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of shows, and I’ve seen highlights I still can’t believe I got to experience live. The original “Singin’ in Korean“? Yep, saw it in the studio! The “Midterm Midtacular” in 2006, when the Democrats took Congress? I was there! On the day he interviewed “Coach K” (Mike Krzyzewski), you can see him pointing to someone in the audience and saying, “Hey — nice to see you!” as he runs over to the interview table. That someone was me! (I’d seen him earlier in the day at a DonorsChoose event). I got to see — and sometimes meet — Stephen at any number of other events: the I Am America signing with Tim Russert, the New York Times Talk he did, the To Kill a Mockingbird book club … good Lord, how did I get this lucky? And best of all, Stephen has been an unfailingly courteous and generous gentleman every single time I got to attend one of his events.
So how does a person pick a favorite? She goes back to the first show she saw live, also the first time she met Stephen, back in 2006. Elephant vasectomies were on the script, David Kuo was the guest, and Stephen brought out his Lord of the Rings toys to dramatize a Rick Santorum statement.
I’d gotten there early and ended up with a fabulous seat in the front row, right in front of Stephen’s desk and with “Killer” crouched at my feet. The Q&A covered The Dana Carvey Show and had Stephen basically acting out a sketch about Eurotrash bands from the unaired episode; he described his Flock of Seagulls hairdo and detailed how they had actually shaped the hair into cereal bowls on top of their heads, containing real cereal and milk. He sang several verses of the song his band had done and followed it with a bit from one of the skit’s other bands (that one was supposed to have been sung by a milkmaid, IIRC). As we all cracked up, Stephen, half-laughing himself, railed at us, “Where were all of you ten years ago?!? I had a baby!”
The show itself was awesome, The WØRD (“Sherlock“) was great, and I was fascinated watching the Stephen-staff interactions during the commercial breaks. My favorite part of the show, however, was the close. Stephen addressed some Santorum comments [drawing an analogy between the war in Iraq and The Lord of the Rings] and brought out his LOtR toys to bring them to life. It wasn’t aired, but he continued to play with the toys after the broadcast went to credits, adding what appeared to be a Gandalf, possibly a Saruman (or perhaps Gandalf the White, I couldn’t quite see), and what I think was either an Aragorn or a Faramir to the mix. So cute!
After the show as I was killing time while awaiting my bus, Stephen came out of the studio, walking towards me and my cohorts and saying, “Ladies.” I introduced myself, and as we shook hands, I asked him whether he could pass along my compliments to his writers, which he readily agreed to do. I mentioned that I had gone to the same high school as one of his writers and we made small talk while he signed my copy of Wigfield and my Season 3 Strangers with Candy DVDs. I mention that it was the Season 3 DVDs because that set has a shot of Paul Dinello in his Speedo on the DVD cover, which led to possibly the most hilariously wonderful exchange imaginable: Stephen started talking about what an unbelievable body Paul has! I could only agree, saying something about how “insanely ripped” he was (yeah, I’m an idiot). But Stephen agreed, and we had a great laugh about it.
To quote a friend of mine: That’s right, Stephen and I had a conversation about the insane hotness of Paul Dinello’s bod!
You know, starting off on a high point like that, you’d think there would be no place to go but down in a fandom. But I got lucky enough to see several more shows, meet the man several more times and, best of all, find a home here at NFZ so I could play among people who’d understand what a joy it is to follow this gentleman.
Thanks, DB, and everyone for making this such a fun, rewarding, and open-hearted place to play for all these years.
And to Stephen and everyone involved in your life and your shows, thank you thank you thank you!!