Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Tuna.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

I love three day weekends. In fact, I excel at three day weekends. I say we make this a regular thing. Who's with me? 

Speaking of excelling, let me tell you about my dear friend Jay Pharoah. He excels at being funny and doing impressions of pretty much everyone in the whole world. He's my dear friend because we go way back. We go all the way back to the Arlington Drafthouse parking lot last night. That's when we first met. And by "met" I mean "waved." He probably won't admit to remembering it but I'm sure that wave was pretty special to him too. 

Now, let me back up. I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Virginia's own Jay Pharoah, from Saturday Night Live fame, was in town all weekend doing stand-up comedy at The Arlington Drafthouse. Melissa, Pete, and I decided to check it out. 

*Side note: My sister, excelled in her own improv comedy show the night before at Artomatic in Crystal City. It was a very funny weekend. If you've never been to Artomatic, then you should go. It was really cool. A total "art takeover" of a boring office building.*
As we drove around Arlington Drafthouse looking for a parking spot, we cruised back behind the building. We had to stop because someone was getting out of a Nissan Altima in front of us. I can't confirm that that was the exact car, but it was that kind of car. It was not the kind of car you think a TV star would get out of. It was more the type of car that you get out of when your mom or dad has just dropped you off at the movies to meet your buddies. 

So, we were really excited to see that the person getting out of the car was, in fact, Jay Pharoah himself. "Hey mom, just drop me off by the stage door. I'll call you when I'm done." 

He didn't actually say that. As far as I know.

However, here is a real-life conversation from our end about that moment. 

"Is that him?"
"That is him."
"It is!"
"I'm going to wave!"
"I'm going to wave too!"
"Does he see us?"
"He did see us! He gave us a peace sign. Would you say that's a 'what's up' face?"
"I guess so. He wasn't smiling as big as we were. Or, at all."
"We looked crazy."
"I think he thinks we're crazy."
"Pete, did you wave too?"
"Yeah, I think I did."
"Oh Lord, we all waved?"

Later, we got to re-do a greeting with Jay. I wish I could say we were smoother but I'm not sure that would be true.  

Arlington Drafthouse is cool venue. They have a lot of interesting shows, events, and movie screenings. Inside it kind of looks a movie theater and a Staples had a baby. (I recognize that makes no sense. Just go with it.) I've never seen so many office desk chairs in one place. Rows and rows of desk chairs. But, boy were they comfy. It was the perfect set-up - there were no bad seats in the house and we had our own table to accommodate our beer and pizza order, which we promptly placed upon arrival. (Two thumbs up, BBQ chicken pizza!)

There were three other comics who opened for Jay. Two of them were hilarious. One of them bombed. Like, really, really bombed. He was so bad that, at first, I thought it was part of his act and that in the end the joke would be on us. Nope. That was not the joke. In fact, I don't really remember any of the jokes. But, I do remember that people in the audience were mean. 

The poor kid (and he was only 21) was trying really hard and it was so sad to watch. I wanted to stand up and say, "Keep working on it, buddy. Good for you for getting out there and trying. That's more than any of us have done. But, if you don't mind, maybe you could go practice? Maybe, somewhere else?" I can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to go downhill for him. And, well, it was about 5 seconds after he walked on stage. He led with "Where all my thick white girls at? Thick white girls? Let me hear you!" 

I kid you not. 

And then, there was no punch line or anything. Very few women want to cheer and scream to identify themselves as "thick white girls."  As we'd say back home NC, bless his heart.

The situation was made worse when the other two comics called him out by saying things like, "I don't know what just happened. Next up is a professional comedian." Everyone laughed. I wanted to give the kid a hug.

The other two guys were very funny. There were lots of jokes about iPhones, interracial relationships, stereotypes - the usual. Comedians are great at saying totally inappropriate and politically incorrect things and then giving you permission to laugh at them. Unfortunately, I'm not a comedian so I will not be repeating many of the punchlines on this blog. I'm not trying to get to trouble. 

Jay's set was hilarious. At one point, I think my sister was laughing tears. And, his impressions are unbelievable. He frequently performs on SNL as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Eddie Murphy. But that's just the beginning. Last night, he introduced us to President Obama, Matthew McConaughey, the Family Guy cast, Lord of the Rings' Smeagol, Jay-Z, John Legend, and so many more. 

I couldn't take video during the show, but I found this clip for you on the internet. It's from three years ago and he's wearing a tank top but it shows some of the impressions. Many of them are even much better now. I don't know why I felt the need to point out the tank top but, there you go. 

Knowing his great impressions from SNL, I was sort of afraid that he would just get out there and do impressions all night. That would've still been funny but how do you do that without it getting tedious? Fortunately, his comic intelligence extends beyond mimickry and he performed a well-crafted, clever show. 

*This might be an appropriate time to explain the title of this post. At one point, Jay was talking about everyone's favorite topic - autocorrect. He said, he tried to type, "Happy Birthday, Tupac." And instead it posted, "Happy Birthday, Tuna" to his facebook wall. The best part is that it got 200 likes. Autocorrect - and people apparently - are dumb.*

At the end of the show, Jay announced he'd be available to take pictures. So, obviously we were game.

Pete opted not to have his picture taken. Melissa and I left him outside. With Pete holding down the sidewalk out front, Melissa and I had to rely on the folks behind us to take the photo. She said we should hand the camera to Jay to take our picture and tell him "Thanks for offering to take pictures after the show. That was really nice of you. We'd wanted one of the two of us together but didn't know who would take it." 

We made lots of jokes like that in line. But, then when it was our turn to meet him, it went like this, 

"Hi. Great show." 
*Lindsay does awkward handshake with Jay*
"Thanks for taking pictures."

Aaaaand, scene. 

It was very reminiscient of the when we met Cam Newton and could only come up with "Congrats! Good game. Ok, thanks." 

Why are we so not cool? But, in our defense,  what were we supposed to say to Jay? Tell him a joke? Say his name in the Don Pardo voice? "Nice to meet you...Jaaaaaayyyyy Pharrrooooah."
I can't find any way to make it so that Melissa and I aren't glowing in this picture. It looks much better on my phone. Jay had already told the audience that we needed to use the flash so that it "doesn't look like an ultrasound image."
We decided not to reveal ourselves as the parking lot wavers from earlier that evening. He probably appreciated that. We'd already made quite an impression with our memorable, "Great show" comment. 

And that's how Jay Pharaoh became my favorite cast member on Saturday Night Live. Hopefully, next season, they'll give him more parts. I need someone to help fill the Kirsten Wiig-sized hole in my SNL heart.

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