Garry Shandlling complimented me via twitter on some jokes I was writing late one night. This was meaningful to me. Mr. Shandling is a comedy icon and made a difference to me when I was finding my own voice as a performer. George Carlin was one of my childhood heroes, drawing me toward the world of comedy. Garry was one of my heroes in my early years as an adult finding my own way in the world of comedy. So I saw this as an exciting opening, responded to him. He tweeted something to me publicly that I was pretty sure was a subtle reference to something from one of my CDs which I took as an additional good sign and asked him if perhaps we could have lunch sometime. He said yes. Then it didn't happen. For months. He kept saying it would happen and it kept not happening. Then, finally, we scheduled it and I was dorkishly giggly about it.
The morning that we were to meet, I tweeted that I had a good day ahead of me that would include lunch with Garry Shandling and I used the little @symbol that alerted him that I had mentioned him in a tweet. Also, my social networking guru (whom I fired a week later for being a raging alcoholic) tweeted an invitation to him through my account, asking him to come to my show or at least to retweet the info to his many followers. So the morning of my lunch with him there had been two tweets apparently both from me. It must have felt as though I was trading on his name. It certainly felt to him as though I was publicizing his lunch plans. So he got to the restaurant grumpy and annoyed with me. This is the sort of thing that gives me heartburn as I try to sleep at night.
Sometimes it seems that my version of success revolves around alienating people of ever-increasing influence in the entertainment industry.
Now, all of this actually happened a couple of months ago, but I haven't blogged that much and I'm just sort of getting the hang of making it a regular thing so sometimes I may write about things are not the most recent news. Also, the most interesting thing that happened to me today, really, was having a big toothy wolf run at me at top speed.
Wait. The wolf thing is pretty great, and that's something I can tell you about. There's a wolf named Waya who attends the dog park that I go to with my dogs. He's a very good wolf and he's able to mingle nicely with the dogs there, although it is very clear to both me and to Waya that he is not a dog at all. He is very much a wolf. He's tall and thin and grey and I've known him for a couple of years now.
On Wednesdays Waya's mom takes him to agility training -- which is sort of silly 'cause he seems like an awfully damn agile creature to begin with -- and in order to get him to run some and work off some of his excess energy, she brings him to the park first. The first time I ever saw Waya I wanted to meet him, but he was a little bit uncertain until I spent some time standing with his mom and chatting with her about things while he snuck up behind me and smelled my ass and then gradually drew close enough for me to pet him.
The next time I saw him he came directly to me for a greeting and since then he has been very happy to see me when I arrive.
There are a couple of other full-blooded wolves that come to the park sometimes named Brutus and Buffy who were very stand-offish about me. Then mid-winter of this year, they saw me sitting in a plastic lawn chair in the park (Here in L.A., it makes perfectly good sense to sit in a lawn chair in a park in mid-winter. I know this is confusing to Minnesotans) with my dogs, Sir Corwin the Beautiful Dog-faced Dog, Brindled Beast of Sylmar and Lord Buckley Sweetlips, Greatest of All Dane Mutts (The Dinosaur Slaying Dog) sitting in the grass nearby. The two cautious wolves watched Waya come over to me very casually and put his front half in my lap to be scratched and talked to and they decided I was probably cool, so they came over too. Then Buckley got a little bit protective and peed on the chair I was sitting in and a little bit on my leg. That made Waya a bit competitive so he peed all over my leg and then Buffy and Brutus each peed on me to show that they were cool enough to pee on the guy in the chair. Since then they've been very friendly with me because, you know, what doesn't open up the lines of camaraderie like a public golden shower. In any case, for weeks afterward when people said, "How you doin'?" or "How's it going?" I said, "Great! I was peed on by wolves!" And I meant it. The whole thing made me feel deeply loved and accepted. The smell of pee can be washed out of pants, but the feeling of warmth remains.
In any case, Waya has been away from from the park for a while 'cause he got into some sort of an argument with a large dog that wanted to dominate him and didn't seem to understand that, while he will be friendly with dogs, he's still a wolf, and there are limits to what he will put up with. He returned a week or two ago for the first time in what seemed like ages and then this week he sustained a small injury and had been cooped up for a couple of days. When I saw him at the park and happily called out his name, he charged toward me, grinning his happy wolfy grin and leapt at my face, trying to eat my whole skull in an expression of love and it was the best and most wonderful part of my whole day.
After Mr. Shandling scolded me about the importance of containment and I apologized for my exuberance -- battling, all the while, the impulse to tell him that I know other celebrities who don't give a shit if I mention online that I'm having lunch with them as long as I don't give out their phone numbers or e-mail addresses -- things settled down and he was as warm and kind as I had hoped he would be. He talked about the nature of a career in comedy and he talked about the ritual of hand-wrapping before he boxes (which led me to write an interesting poem later that week about the boxer's hands and the tefillin). Still, I felt I had offended him in some way that I could not possibly fix.
I saw Mr. Shandling again recently at an event celebrating what would have been George Carlin's 75th birthday. A wonderful photographer named Cat Gwynn (the woman who's done the photography for my last two CDs, incidentally) asked if she could get a photo of the two of us together and as we posed for the shots I feared that Garry hated me and wished he did not have to be photographed with me. I spent the rest of the party in a tailspin of self doubt and self loathing.
Afterward, when I got home, I sent him a note by e-mail. I said that usually such photos get posted at FaceBook and Twitter but that I wanted to be respectful of his containment issues. He responded that when I receive them, I'm welcome to post them (I will). He thanked me for asking. He said he was sorry we hadn't had a chance to talk more at the party. It made me feel warm and accepted and forgiven.
I'm struggling to figure out who I am in the entertainment industry, in the world of comedy and literature, film and television and theater. I'm still learning, still trying not to anger the big dogs but also not to grovel.
Sometimes, before a relationship can start to form, territories and statuses need to be sorted out. People need to be pissed off, they need to be pissed on. They need to figure out where they fit in the pack.
Tonight, I'm feeling pretty good. I've been peed on by some of the biggest wolves in the park. If I had a tail, it would be wagging