Here’s an anecdote I’ve often told at parties and have meant to write down for some time.
It’s the summer of 2001. Friend X (who does not want to be named) and I had met in Gainesville, Florida and coincidentally both moved to New York City at the same time, about a month before this story takes place. We are at a little East Village indie rock bar called called Brownie’s, watching some indie rock band. As the band finishes, and the crowd disperses, we see that against the wall, about 20 feet away, is Janeane Garofalo.
Friend X says, “We have to talk to her.”
As I said, neither of us has been in New York long, but one thing I know instinctively is that you do not impose yourself on celebrities. You let them be. You don’t stare. You don’t say anything. If circumstances allow you within reach of a handshake, you might say, “I’m a big fan of your work” and then move on. You do not impose yourself.
Friend X is going to impose himself. He snaps his finger and says, “I’ve got it.”
“Oh no,” I say, and I follow him over to Janeane. “Miss Garofalo,” I say, preliminarily. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m a big fan of your work.” She graciously says thanks and shakes my hand. I start to back away.
Friend X says, “Janeane. Check it. On a scale of one to ten, how much do I look like David Cross?”
Indeed, Friend X and the former star of Mr. Show, future star of Arrested Development, share a bald spot and a blond tuft of soul patch on the chin. They both wear similar glasses. From a distance, Friend X might pass for a doughier version of David Cross.
“I don’t know,” Janeane says. “I’ve known Cross for about 12 years, and I mostly see the differences. I guess I’d give you a three. But if you want to ask the real expert, he’s right over there.”
Right over there, walking toward us, is David Cross. Friend X puts himself in Cross’s way and begins this absurd “man in the mirror” pantomime. Cross basically catches on and plays along for a tooth grinding half minute or so.
“Check it,” Friend X says. “On a scale of one to ten, how much do I look like you?”
“Oh that’s what you were doing,” Cross says. “Do people say you look like me?”
“Yeah, all the time,” Friend X says. I don’t know if anyone but Friend X has ever said this.
Cross makes a show of checking out Friend X’s teeth and bald spot. “Eh,” he says. “Four.”
Friend X says, “Better than Janeane. She gave me a three.”
I say, “I’m sorry my friend is insane. I’m a big fan of your work. It’s nice to meet you.” We get out of there.
The next night, Friend X and I are at a Tenacious D concert at Town Hall. During an intermission, Friend X sees Mark McKinney on his way to the restroom. He goes right up and says, “Mark McKinney. Check it.” etc.
Mark McKinney says, “Well, to tell you the truth, when I saw you approaching, I thought you were David Cross, so I have to give you an eight.”
After the show, who should we run into again, but Janeane Garofalo. Friend X says, “Janeane! Check it! McKinney gave me an eight.”
“That was very generous of him,” she says.