I think I'm the first to admit that I'm generally star-struck by literally anyone I see perform any kind of act, even if they aren't particularly famous. I have an autographed copy of a Magnolia Electric Company album, and I feel that most people wouldn't know who the hell they are. And back when I was in college, if I happened to be drunk in a bar and someone from a JMU theater production was also there, I might tell them that I liked them in whatever experimental play about incestuous rape they were in. I don't know why. I'm stupid.
So I'll bring this to the present. My roommates and I have had sort of a Monday night tradition where we'll go to a bar down the street that has two dollar burgers and then go to Improv Match Game at Improv Olympic. I think I've been every single Monday night for two months - maybe I've missed a week, I don't know. There are a couple reasons I go. One would be that I am obsessed with Match Game; I think it's one of the best television game shows ever. I was Charles Nelson Reilly for Halloween once; I wore the red and white-checkered leisure suit that my dad wore on his honeymoon. No one knew who I was, of course. The second reason I love Improv Match Game is that it's free, and I can't afford to go to a real improv show.
The Improv Match Game has six improv "celebrities" as panelists. They're really not celebrities; the only one I had ever seen before was Molly Erdman, who is on the Second City mainstage and was once in a Sonic commercial with some other improv dude I saw perform once at the UCB theater in New York, and who occasionally gets work on VH1 clips shows (thank God for those, by the way, or otherwise those comedians would have NOTHING to do). Molly's a pretty regular panelist, as is Noah Gregoropoulos, whose claim to fame is that he was a writer for Dharma and Greg for thirteen weeks. The third panelist that I've seen perform several weeks in a row is Jeff Griggs, who wrote a memoir about being Del Close's assistant - a book that is currently being optioned to be a movie directed by Harold Ramis.
Improv Olympic is practically next-door to Wrigley Field, and it's just three blocks east of my neighborhood. I was still surprised, however, to spot Noah walking out of the Jewel parking lot in the direction of my street one night when I went grocery shopping. It was kinda cool to see that he lived in my neighborhood, and there's been this big joke that we should be friends with him since, other than each other, we really don't know many people in Chicago yet. That was about a month ago, and I've never talked to Noah, because that would be weird.
I should probably include here that I have, however, talked to Molly Erdman after a show. I mentioned she was in a Sonic commercial, and I sent my friend Christina a link with Molly's picture because she had also seen the commercial. Christina didn't think that Molly was the same woman, and I told her that I'd prove her wrong. One Monday night after a couple PBRs (which, I remember is my third reason for going to Improv Match Game: it's the cheapest place to buy beer), I walked up to Molly after the show and told her that she was the subject of an argument I had with a friend. I explained the situation, and she said yes, she was in a Sonic commercial, and she was glad I won. And it was super awkward, and I vowed to never make an ass out of myself in front of, basically, non-celebrities that I watched perform every week.
On this last Monday, I was walking down a street in my neighborhood, literally half a block from my house, and I watched Jeff Griggs walk into his apartment. Sure, I thought it was kinda cool that a published author was living down the street, and it did make my neighborhood seem a little bit more awesome, but I don't really care either way, because I haven't even read his book or possess a single opinion about this guy. But of course, after the improv show, he was walking home in front of us. And I felt like such a tool because there was absolutely no way to get around him, no way to make it look like he was following us.
So great, this is my life. I've stumbled into a situation where I could potentially look like I'm stalking someone I don't even care about.