Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Guy Under The Seats is across the hall

20+ years ago (GULP) when I was in high school I was a huge fan of Late Night With David Letterman. Now, when I say "huge" I mean, well, HUGE. I watched it every night. I wrote hundreds of letters hoping just once I might be picked for a viewer mail segment. And when my high school drama club took a trip to NY the summer after my Junior year, I was far more excited at the prospect of being near the building where Dave taped then seeing the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building or some boring place called "The World Trade Center."

It was June, it was hot, and NYC was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined from all those episodes of "Fame." You could feel the creative juices oozing from the pavement. I think it was our 2nd day in the city. The first day we had gone to Chinatown and eaten Italian at some joint which was supposed to be famous. But on the second day, we were going to tour NBC. Wow. Neat. Unbelievable. BORING. I remember little or nothing from the tour other than we walked by a radio studio where Soupy Sales was interviewing Ralph Nadar. How I knew who either of those guys were at the time, I will never know.

It wasn't till after we left the building that things got interesting. A couple of my closest friends and I were crossing the street. I remember thinking it was so cool because it was really wide and the crosswalk had big white stripes painted on it like on the cover of Abby Road. As we walked across the street my friend, Cristie I think, screamed, "Hey, you're the guy under the seats." It was officially my first ever celebrity sighting and the only one that I can remember actually asking for an autograph because I genuinely thought it would somehow improve my life. The guy in question was Chris Elliot, a bit player at the time on Letterman. I think we may have been the first people to ever recognize him because he was truly surprised and in awe of the fact that a group of high school kids were so enamoured with him. He told us that day that they were debuting a new character called "the fugitive guy." I felt so cool and in the know because I had some sort of insider news. He then happily signed autographs for all of us. I handed him my address book. It was a red, spiral bound, 5" square book containing the mailing addresses of everyone I knew. So, it was pretty empty. He signed the back cover and I thought it was the most valuable thing I would ever own. So, I kept it.

Last week, I walked out of the back door from my office space to get something from the storage room down the hall. There has been a lot of movement lately in the building as the summer is ending and new shows are staffing up for the fall. With that in mind I took notice of the signs on the doors as I made my way down the hall. "Don't Forget the Lyrics" was still there, as was Spike Jones Jr. Just as I was fumbling with the keys to the storage room I noticed an office with the door open and 2 new faces sitting behind desks. I looked at the name on the placard an it read "Chris Elliot." I got all flush and nervous as if the sign had read George Clooney or something. My workmate asked me if I was ok and I hurried her down the hall and into the storage room.

"What? Did you see somebody?" She asked.

"The sign said Chris Elliot." I returned.

"Oh. So, how many XL t-shirts should we grab?" She was unimpressed.

We gathered the schwag we had come to get and locked the door behind us. As we walked past the open office on the way back I made sure to go slow and take notice. No one in there looked like him. Bummer.

The day wrapped up and I headed out a few minutes early to beat traffic and get home in time to put Tenacious G to bed. A few feet in front of me walked 2 guys having a conversation that I couldn't hear, but didn't want to interrupt by passing them. They headed down the stairs in front of me and as they hit the midway landing and turned to make their way down the second set of steps I got a glimpse of their faces. I gasped. Noticeably. He turned and I grabbed my bluetooth as if I was reacting to something someone was saying in my ear. But I wasn't. I was reacting to the fact that there, ON the stairs was the guy from under the seats. 20+ years later, Chris Elliot has a tiny little office across the hall from mine. And that, my friends, is pretty darn cool.


Blogger Joe Powell said...

i heart chris elliot. funny man (and a "fancy lad") with a most funny dad too. i'd like a t-shirt!!

so what project is he doing??

i almost had my foot appear on the Letterman show once as Biff was outside trying to catch nerf balls tossed from a window. a brush with greatness.

5:53 PM, September 10, 2007  
Blogger Kelvis said...

He's doing a pilot produced by, of all people, Jimmy Kimmel. My worlds continue to collide.

9:17 PM, September 10, 2007  
Blogger Dave Lowe said...

Love this story.It's great when small moments at work reminds you what fun TV work is sometimes. Linked this story on my blog and you reminded me of my own story to tell. Hope OK.

3:28 PM, September 11, 2007  

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