Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Not that sweaty after all!

Hello! Yes! I'm back from my very first television appearance. Well, okay, technically it wasn't my first: in 1982 when the Brewers went to the World Series a local news crew came to my elementary school in Eden, Wisconsin because it was home to Brewer / local hero Jim Gantner...when the reporter asked me on camera who my favorite Brewer was I shouted, "Gorman Thomas!"

Because what eight year-old DOESN'T look up to a creepy professional athlete accused of spousal abuse?

Of course they were hoping I'd gush about Jim Gantner, so my defiance never made it to the airwaves. (Later that year I "went out*" with Jim Gantner's nephew, which came with the perk of having Jim Gantner autograph the back of my second grade photo. Oh, the humanity.)

Now where was I...Right! My television debut! Rachel Manek was so gracious and beautiful. I think I only had one dopey moment (when I mentioned how Oprah is reputed to smell really nice...yeah). On the way home I phoned a friend who had watched, and she told me I looked much more innocent than I am in real life.

Hey, now!

I was most nervous about following Michael Perry on the show, because he is a literary rock star. I can't tell you how many people have told me, with stars in their eyes, how hilarious he is. And I had to follow him. So I was terrified that my first TV appearance would also be my first Mike Birbiglia moment. I'm thinking of the incident in which he had to perform comedy at a charity golf tournament after inspiring and moving speeches by a hall-of-fame quarterback and an 11 year-old leukemia survivor.

(His Chicago appearance this Sunday on a live broadcast of This American Life is sold out. Of course.)

Anyway, my two takeaways from this morning are as follows: 1) I think I could rent ad space on my forehead. Hey, it's been done! And 2) I heart Rachel Manek. And yes, I am saving the juicier stories for book clubs and Saturday's chat in Kimberly.

*"Going out" when I was in second grade consisted of passing notes, avoiding your girlfriend or boyfriend in the hallways, and maybe talking on the phone if someone was brave enough to call. And it was on a rotary phone with a long, warped curly cord, and if your house was small, the entire family could hear you making a complete idiot of yourself.


  1. oh wow- I'm so glad it went well!!

    Good gravy, Mike Birbiglia's matress story cracks me up... you probably know it, but where he's moving a matress into his apartment, and a new neighbor holds the door open for him. She says "I'm sure you're not a murder, har har, they don't usually move in matresses."
    and Berbigs says-
    "You never know!"(or something equally uncomfortable)

    I can so totally see myself saying that kind off-handed totally inapropriate comment. Like when you're going into the gym and a friend is leaving, and they say 'Have a great work out' - and you respond "you too!"
    Even though clearly they are DONE with their work out...
    anyway. Enough rambling.

    Glad your TV debut went swimmingly!!

  2. You were fabulous!!! Good luck with the Book Fair and I hope this spurs a big sales burst for you.

  3. Yeay, Jess! Well done! I've never met you in person so I can only assume you are indeed as sweet and lovely as you come across on screen...I'll have to ask Emily to verify that for me...:-) Congrats on your tv premiere!

  4. Mike is fabulous but my favorite I Bombed Story belongs to Seinfeld. He got booked at an outdoor playground and he was standing on the dais they made out of wood. He bombed and bombed and people were talking and playing ball but Seinfed was contracted for 45 minutes so he stuck it out. Finally his manager walked up and as he crossed the stage in back of Jerry he hissed "Get off, just GET OFF now." And Jerry did.

    JESS!, did you vote for me yet?

  5. Congratulations. When will your appearance be available via YouTube for the rest of us? :)

  6. Great interview, Jess! Congratulations!

  7. Glad to know your interview went well, although if you'd have bombed, I'm sure you would have been Birbigli-esque in your telling of it.
    Thanks for posting the vid, he is so funny- I heard this last winter on This American Life and I just about drove my car into the ditch I was laughing so hard.