Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hello Friend


Back in February I took a trip up to New Brunswick, NJ to watch a marathon of elderly people. Who knew that at the finish line there would be a comedy show?

After a long time of dreaming about it, I finally got to see a performance by the man, the myth, the metamucil-drinker...Bill Cosby!

At Penn Station, we all piled into what I figured was Willy Wonka's elevator. Turns out it's a narrow passage way to an escalator. There was an overweight kid teetering at the top step, and an angry businessman behind him who kept shouting, "Go! GO!" His wife was claustrophobic. And she hates fat people.


From the train, we asked my sister if she knew how many stops there were to New Brunswick. She said she it takes forty-five minutes. So we asked the ticket-taker as he stopped by.
"Excuse me, how many stops between here and New Brunswick?"
"Uh, I don't know. See, it's a forty-five minute trip so..." He clicked our tickets and walked away.
My sister turned around in her seat to face us. "Why didn't you believe me? Why did you have to ask HIM?"

A few minutes later the conductor returned, this time with a schedule. He unfolded it in front of us, and pointed to some tiny numbers under New Brunswick. "Forty-five minutes, SEE?" and he walked away.


The opposite of a perfect complement to dry pretzels is an empty water bottle, and that's just what we had. I brought my guest book with me because my weekend visitors from DC forgot to sign it. I need concrete proof that I have friends.


I loudly exclaimed to my friend Ryan that he misspelled my name, and a woman in front of me chimed in, "Everyone's a critic!" A woman I have never met and have not talked to thus far on the trip. A woman who, together with her friend, braided the hair of their daughters' American Girls dolls after being commanded to by a child. A child who, I might add, unabashedly picked her nose and ate it.


The State Theater uses Oprah magic to advertise its website on the walls before a show. It is right around the corner from Rutgers University and sits on a cute street with plenty of shops. Shops filled with bottles of water for your Pretzel Dry-mouth. But I came to see a show, not quench my thirst, and my quest continued. Salty and dusty.

Luke's view

This was Luke's view from his seat. We were two rows in front of the stage, and a big guy plopped down with his fidgety son. I got the fidgety son who, lucky for me, prefered to stay slumped in his chair while making his McDonalds toy dance in his lap. There was jazz music playing, and the kid tooted an action figure like it was a trumpet, just to make his dad laugh. I took low shots so as not to disturb the body guard by the stage. He was slipped some money from an old man in the front row, which made him smirk a little and nod instead of staring ahead stone-faced. I was still scared of him.


The stage had a chair with a towel on it that said, "Hello Friend". There were two screens showing separate close-ups of the chair; one for the vision-impaired and one at lip-level presumably for the hard of hearing. This show was old-folk proof. Cosby walked out, still talking to the stagehands. He treated the applause as an interruption to his conversation, and nodded a little and waved. He sat down next to the table with a bottle of water, and got comfortable. Then he tried to talk, but the mic was busted.


When the sound came back he said, "There we go." More applause. He got even more comfortable and said very loudly: "THANKSGIVING." The delivery alone got laughter. Just for fun, I looked at the time: 5:00. He danced in and out of the subject, and built a story, kept us on the edge, and there were jokes all throughout. But he made it clear that these little jokes were not getting to the point of what he really wanted to talk about. When he finally got around to it, the Giant Punchline, which was met with great applause, I looked at the clock again: 5:33. Thirty-three minutes to tell one bit. It was very impressive. And it felt like an instant.



Crutch said...

i mos def think chris rock will be more my speed...hope you will be equally impressed. great pics you got!

Abbi said...

The fun continues in April! I bet people will be really strict about taking photos there. That's why I'm wearing a giant hat and training the spider monkey inside how to use a disposable camera. You have to remember to wind it, Artemis!

Jerell said...

Did you hear, the Coz is dropping a hip-hop/jazz album?

Abbi said...

Selections include the New Orleans-jazzed "We're The Same; White Folks Are Just Black Folks With Money, Power and Privilege", "Ignore That Lawsuit Honey and Give Me Some Sugar" and "Positivity (Where Did I Lose You? Speaking Out Against the Poor, or Doing it with a Net Worth of $500 Million?)"