9.07.2010

Validation

I think we can all agree that in this world we always need to be validated for what we decide to do.  I am no different at all in that quest.  There was a time when I would walk around high school with signs on my chest that would say funny things just to make friends and get people's attention and approval.  It worked and I had more friends than I could have possibly have needed for those three years.  Once high school was over I couldn't really make a spectacle of myself for the validation I craved.  Instead I went to work at Blockbuster Video and let my vast movie knowledge and endearing personality validate my existence and earn praise.  Again it worked and I spent a year and a half happily living this life.

As time goes on we have less and less opportunities to be validated for the things we do and we have to depend on silly things like confidence and self esteem to build our sense of personal worth.  Now at the age of thirty I work at a thankless job that I absolutely love that I am AMAZING at.  I have wonderful friends that put up with my neurotic behavior.  I find that more and more I live to make people laugh.  That simple sound is validation enough for me to keep me going through this life that I have chosen.  Make no mistakes I know I chose this life and this is not meant to be construed as whining but rather just explaining why I am happy with this life that some people would find lackluster and empty.  It is because of all of your laughter and smiles.

This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Bumbershoot here in Seattle.  I go every year mostly because of the stand-up comedy that they have there and this year was no different (though Weezer, Bob Dylan and the Thermals also came into my decision).  I was most excited to see one of my favorite shows from Bumbershoot past come back - Greg Behrendt's Bring the Rock.  This show is not like a regular stand up show in that the comedians involved don't really tell jokes.  Instead they tell stories from their lives that involve music in some way, then from those stories the house band The Electrick Snowflake plays a song related to the story to help it come full circle.  It may not read like much on paper/screen/shut your face but I can promise you that the show is amazing.  Six years ago Greg brought the show to Bumbershoot before the release of his book and a trip to Chicago for Oprah and I fell in love real quick.  It is hard to not fall in love with a Nina Gordon acoustic version of  N.W.A's "Straight Out of Compton".

For reference this is what Nina Gordon looks like.  N.W.A. is like the EXACT opposite of this.
Since then I have been following Greg's career and have developed an Internet friendship of sorts with the man and his family (if you see me wearing an odd looking pair of fingerless gloves his sister made them for me and I love them.) We have been friends on both myspace, facebook and he even followed me on my original @allenbrand twitter account (he has yet to follow me on my replacement @theallenbrand account though).  When I found out he was coming again this year it became my quest to meet the man again and maybe get my copy of "He's Just Not That Into You" signed (yes I own that book, yes I have read it and shut your stupid judgmental face).  Well this plan it turns out took all of about 40 minutes on the Bumbershoot grounds.  I picked up my comedy pass for Greg's show and decided to stop by the venue to try and get into the early show there, a recording of Jimmy Pardo's Never Not Funny podcast and say hello to my old friend Devo that works there every year.

The original plan was to try and pull strings with Devo to get into all of his shows so I could hang out in the lobby and wait to meet him and get a picture with him.  After exchanging pleasantries with Devo I mention that I was coming back for the Bring the Rock show, I notice the door to the venue that I am haphazardly blocking is opening.  I turn my head while stepping to the side so whomever it is that is coming out can get by (because I am courteous like that and I want this blog post to longer somehow so I need to add these small details) I immediately recognize Greg.  I am a little taken back that meeting him was so easy, but I just start small talking with him about how I am going to see his show later.  He then asks me if he has met me before at Bumbershoot and I mention that we met six years ago when he first brought BTR to Bumbershoot before the book came out, then I mention buying the punk mittens from his sister and he immediately stops me and says "wait are you Allen?"  he actually knew who I was from facebook and twitter.  It was like we had suddenly gone from fan and performer to old friends.  I asked about his sister a bit and he said she was doing better, and I said I was glad because I'm not a jerk like that.  Then he asks me if I am going to be here all weekend, and I said yeah (I was originally not planning on going on Monday but after meeting him I really couldn't not go Monday now) and he asked if I was going to check out his show, I said I was going to try but getting comedy passes is a rather annoying process so I might miss out.  I then jokingly said that if he told them I was with him I could definitely get in though.  Without hesitation he turned to Devo and said "Okay, he's with me.  Take good care of him."  And with that I was set.  I didn't need to wait in line, I didn't need anything but to show up and see the show.

After his first show I didn't want to bother him so I quickly left the theater with the rest of the audience that had been sufficiently rocked (so much so the guy next to me decided to go see all three shows when he was originally only going to the first one).  That night I came home and received a friend request from Greg on Facebook (we were originally friends but about two weeks ago he deleted his personal account because so many fans were sending him Farmville requests and he was tired of it, He started a new one shortly their after for just his close friends).  Along with the friend request was a message telling me that he could put me on a list as a guest in the morning if I wanted to.  I thanked him for the thought and then went fanboy on him about a post he put on his website about a week ago.

On Sunday I was with my friend Cassie and I partially wanted to show off that Greg knew me, and I also wanted to thank him again for everything and tell him how amazing the show was so after the show we kind of hung out after the show a bit on the stage when Greg saw me and immediately came over and gave me a big hug and said "Thanks for coming.  It was good to see you out in the front."  Again it was like we were long lost friends.  I introduced him to Cassie and he asked if we were going to see Weezer and Hole later in the evening.  We told him we were definitely seeing Weezer but that we didn't have any interest in watching Courtney Love mumble through her songs doing a poor man's Bob Dylan impression.  And like that we were off again.

Monday was the last day of the Festival and so I made sure to remember to bring my book and a pen.  I hated that I was going fanboy on him so much at this point but I have been trying to get this book signed for the better part of the six years I have owned it and damned if I was going to let that stop me now.  After his last show of the festival he was signing other autographs and being the general nice guy that he is and he sees me and again gives me a hug and says "Hey man!".  I tell him great show again and ask him to sign my book.

And then it happens.

Greg - "Hey man do you do stand-up?"
Me (kind of taken back) - "I don't actually.  I wanted to do it when I was younger but I decided that I wanted to raise a family and life on the road isn't really typical of that."
Greg - "Yeah I understand that.  You're really funny."
Me (REALLY taken back) - "Thanks man that really means a lot."
Greg - "Yeah your tweets are really funny.  Be sure to hit me up next time I am in town."
Me (searching for the only words I could think of) - "absolutely"

Then Greg handed me back my book shook my hand and then I was off dazed and amazed.  Greg thought I was funny.  A man that gets paid regularly to be funny thinks I am funny.  It is widely said that the greatest compliment a comedian can receive is having another comic say you are funny because they are traditionally a rather fickle bunch and one of my absolute favorites just said that I was funny.  Suddenly the little joke on my facebook page "I am funnier than you think I am" became true because of his validation.  I.AM.FUNNY.

I left the Charlotte Martin Theater in a blur.  I don't remember leaving the theater.  All I can remember is wandering around lost mumbling that he thought I was funny while crying in the middle of Seattle Center desperately searching for someone to tell.  I found my friend Elisa.  I found Kaylene.  I found Laird.  I found Jen.  I found my phone and told Twitter and Facebook in vague terms.  And now I am telling you.

Thank you Greg for saying something that might have seemed normal conversation to you.  There is no way for me to properly convey how much this very simple and honest conversation meant to me.  I won't say the cliche that this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me, because I do understand the mundane nature that this exchange could have to everyone reading this.  I will however say that this was just the shot in the arm that I needed this weekend.

Thank you Greg.

This would be the place where I would put the picture that I took of Greg and I after his last show at Bumbershoot, but wouldn't you know it I forgot to take said picture.  But that is okay because this memory is even better.  Also here is a video of Greg performing at BTR this weekend that I took nevermind I had to take my videos down. Boo.

3 comments:

Mallory said...

You tell great stories! I am glad something so awesome happened to you this weekend!!!! Yay for you!

amera hearts said...

you are a natural comic and story teller. this post doesn't surprise me. i'm super happy that this happened to you though!

also, i have never felt the need to be validated by anyone except family. i think that's why so many momo's in seattle hate me. i have no filter on my mouth. i said whatever and it took them back...at the time...

smiles :) said...

You are funny, it's true. :) Very awesome experience.