Hope this finds you well. Perhaps on a tropical beach twirling pineapple slices and building sandcastles. Or maybe on a silent forest retreat, a wine tour, a private jet to some island that just popped out of the ocean. Whatever it is, I hope you’re taking a much-deserved break.
So I’m writing for a bunch of reasons. First of all, Mazel Tov on the season finale of 30 Rock. Also, the opening of Admission, the birth of your second daughter, your recent Palin interview with Lipton and really your life in general. I felt so genuinely happy for you when your last name was in the New York Times crossword puzzle for the first time that I kept it in a desk drawer for months.
A. May. Zing.
I don’t know if you remember me, and there’s really no need to, but we performed at The Second City in Chicago around the same time. I admired you so much even then and begged my director to tour your sketches so I could impersonate you impersonating Terry Gross.
Memories I hold maybe a little too dearly:
I was there the day you were hired by SNL and took off on a rocket ship to stardom. Of course, I was hoping to follow in your footsteps and tried to make eyes at Lorne Michaels every time he came out to Second City to pluck the next Tina wannabe. No dice.
(I stayed at the theater for another few years, then got anorexic, left to do some rehab and watch my mom die, and started writing very unfunny pieces of my life that were stuck in my throat.)
I’m still ever hopeful that one day soon I’ll get to publish funny pieces again and perform to surround-sound peals of laughter. I know you worked damn hard to get to where you are and I’m not trying to ride in on your gown-tails in any way.
Really, I’m writing this is to say Thank you.
Thank you for leading the charge to make SNL topical, smart and hilarious again.
Thank you for teaching me the term “reach-around” and making glasses sexy.
Most of all, thank you for your appearance in a hospital room a few weeks ago, where you were the only one who could make my friend Baba laugh.
I’ve written about Baba here recently, so I won’t go into too much detail – stage IV cancer, two-year-old daughter, and seriously tied with you as one of the funniest people on this earth.
I have squirted many a soda out my nose because Baba cracked me up. She’s never met Lipton, but she does a spot-on Billy Idol, has no problem charging through the grocery store with a bra on her head, and even through the past year of surgeries, IV’s and debilitating pain, always greets me with lyrics to some new (dirty) song she wrote or comments on the size of my rack.
So any stage fright I felt near you or Lorne, I recognized from a childhood of trying to make Baba laugh too. Which brings me back to that hospital room, a few weeks ago. Baba had just a major organ removed and was trying to wait out the hour/eon until her next pain meds. I was bombarding her with tales of my toddler and his recent obsession with grabbing his crotch. I also had a cache of stories about my innate klutzitude. I’ll willingly admit, it was not my best material and I didn’t blame her for not eking out a giggle.
I offered to turn on the TV, but all I found was a handful of channels with healing waterfalls and some instructional videos for how to order food from the hospital kitchen. All helpful, just not what we wanted.
Then Baba whispered through gritted teeth, “On. My. Phone.” I leaned in closer, her words gravelly and urgent like Kane’s last Rosebud.
“Yes?” I handed her the phone.
“I. Have. Bossypants.”
A few thumb swipes later you were there, in the room with us. Chatting about your childhood town in Pennsylvania and checking to make sure the toilet seat was clean enough for Oprah on set. Your voice was sure, calm, reminding us that there were such silly things as Peter Pan famines and mullets. I saw Baba close her eyes and her lips spread into a slow smile.
And for the first time since she’d come out of surgery, I closed my eyes too. Dreaming you were right beside us. Silently thanking you for your amazing gift.