Yesterday, my girlfriend, Olive Oyl, and I were invited to sit in on a table read of the first episode of the new season of The Simpsons. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s when a whole lot of people involved in the show––directors, producers, actors, writers, etc.––sit around a large table and read a new script. From this, the people involved are able to see what parts of the script are successful and which need work. Outside observers are often brought in so that those already familiar with the script can judge their reactions.
The table read it self was terrifically entertaining and interesting. We had a ball. After the read, our friend who had invited us and is a writer for the show (Tom Gammill), gave us an impromptu tour of the Fox studio lot. We visited sound stages and offices, that sort of thing. That, too, was interesting. As we were wrapping up and about to go home, our friend said let’s pop in here and see if anyone is recording anything. We ventured into a building and up to a second-floor sound recording studio where actors do the voices for the show. We first stopped in at the green room, a small room down the hall where guest stars are located before they record. There, sitting in a chair just like a completely normal person, was none other than Ricky Gervais, my personal hero in the field of dramatized comedy! I was beside myself.
I’ve met lots of celebrities before and have gotten used to it. I pride myself on not being overly impressed or fawning, realizing that these are just people like the rest of us, who happen to possess certain skills that have made them what the rest of us call “famous”. In this case, however, my regard for Gervais is so high that I found myself speechless. I proceeded to drool and mumble like someone possessing a very low I.Q. after having been awakened from a drug-induced sleep. I did manage to get my picture with Ricky, however, thanks to the able assistance of Olive Oyl. It’s a blurry shot, I know, but it’s one of those situations where you don’t want to inconvenience your idol with lots of “Wait! One more!” moments.
We chatted for a moment or two, then Ricky was called into the studio to record a commentary track for the episode in which he starred last season, along with Matt Groening and director, David Silverman. We were allowed to watch from the sound booth and it was hilarious. What a quick and hilarious mind Gervais has.
Ricky was remarkably kind, generous, and good humored with everyone he met there. You could tell by the reactions from the Simpsons’ staff that he was a joy to work with. Friends have asked if he was a fan of Bizarro, but I seriously doubt Gervais even heard my name when we were introduced as he had just arrived and had already met a dozen-or-so employees at Fox. To him, I was just another fan and/or employee at Fox, and that’s fine.
Yes, I wish I’d said something more intelligible than “gshr, mah jhoschnil flrmn slrm glumbdrled!,” but I had no warning I was going to meet someone so high on my list of brilliant minds, so I had no time to think. What a dork I can be. As I watched hockey at home last night, I could not help but replay the moment over and over in my head and lament the fantasy that if I’d said something less stupid, Ricky and I could’ve been lifelong best friends. Sigh.
And, just for fun, here’s a shot of Olive Oyl moments after we arrived at the table reading, using her cell phone next to a largish sign asking her not to. In spite of how it looks, she had no idea the sign was there until after I took this pic. It made us laugh.
Also for fun, here’s a pic of me signing a poster they have in the writer’s room, which they get artists and performers to draw or sign. My pal told me that Gervais signed RIGHT NEXT TO MY SIGNATURE later that day! Imaginary importance by proximity!
It was a damned fun day and I just wanted to share it with you Jazz Pickles.