The Time I Saw Three Famous People in One Day

Please understand that I rarely have such good luck. And while I suppose I have met some famous people: Lyle Lovett, who even fetched me a glass of water because I couldn’t stop coughing; and some much-loved Texas country singer whom I already forgot the name of. And being an Aggie, you know I’ve seen George Bush a couple of times, here and there. Usually, I meet people in what I hope will be their “pre-famous days.” They’ll be big one day, just you wait and see.


I guess that means I’ve used up all my good luck for life.

Anyway, here’s how Sunday, December 30, 2012, a.k.a. New Year’s Eve Eve, went down.

Famous Person I Saw No. 1: Scarlett Johansson

I love Ms. Johansson, ever since I watched Girl With A Pearl Earring after reading the book for a high school English project. I also enjoyed her work in Lost in Translation and, uh, The Nanny Diaries.

And guys. Now I have seen her perform live!


I have to credit my brother-in-law Ryan, who was visiting us for the long New Year’s weekend, for doing his research and learning that Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was running preview shows through mid-January…and myself for learning that they sell $32 student rush tickets two hours before the show.

Even better, we got box seats. You know, like those seats off to the side where you sit to be seen by high-society. Yeah. And silly me, without my mink fur wrap!

And bestest, Scarlett Johansson played the lead role of Maggie! I studied Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (as well as Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie) in my college Honors Southern Literature course. But they always teach us that plays are meant to be seen, not read, so needless to say, I was super-pumped for some alcoholism, domestic violence, suppressed homosexuality, and unhappy matrimony to go down on stage. All while dispelling the myth of the Southern gentility.

I was not disappointed. Despite being a native New Yorker, Scarlett (we were in the same room for a few hours, so now we’re on a first name basis) pulled off the frustrated Southern belle role perfectly. Our seats were a little off to the side, slightly obstructed by part of the show’s lights/sound system, but I kind of liked that angle. It was like being a fly on the wall, taking in all the action from just above.

At one point in her lengthy First Act monologue, Scarlett looked up in the direction of our box. And I know that the spotlight shining down on her from us made it impossible to see us distinctly, but I’m pretty sure she made eye contact with me for a solid minute. Or maybe she was eyeing Ryan, as he claims, but whatever. We shared a moment, me and Scarlett Johansson.

Some other somewhat well-known actors were also in the play, so I guess I technically saw more than three famous people that day. Cast members included the dude who played the title role in Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter as Maggie’s husband Brick, the Irish actor who played Dumbledore’s brother in the Harry Potter films as Big Daddy (that’s so great…Sean and I decided we are going to be “Big Daddy” and “Big Momma” when we’re grandparents), and the actress who played one of popular girls at Chilton Prep in several seasons of Gilmore Girls as Mae.

So anyway, I totally recommend the show. We’d been wanting to see a play (non-musical) in New York, and this was an excellent choice. Although watching live plays tends to stress me out because there’s just SO. MUCH. EMOTION. Especially in Tennessee Williams. “Mendacity is the system that we live in. Liquor is one way out, and death is the other.” “I’m not living with you. We occupy the same cage.” My gosh.

Also, if you have any doubts that celebrities are actually as gorgeous in real life as they are on screen, let me assure you. They are. Scarlett is probably one of the few contemporary actresses who could pull off that retro hairdo so well. She’s really, truly stunning.

Aaaand because we had the best usher ever, we also saw among our fellow audience members…

Famous Person No. 2: James Franco

james_franco_daddyI mainly think of James Franco as Spider-Man/Peter Parker’s best high school friend who goes evil villian. (I don’t go to the movies very often.) I also kind of think James Franco is probably really pretentious, because he has like 16 degrees in creative writing and is working on getting his PhD from Yale. However, he’s also directing a film adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, which we also studied in my Southern Lit class and which JAMES FRANCO BETTER NOT MESS UP BECAUSE IT IS MY FAVORITE FAULKNER NOVEL, OKAY? I guess I could have come down from my box seat to tell him that, but something tells me with all his degrees, he probably understands more than I do about the novel.

You know. Maybe James Franco is really a big fan of Southern literature.

The above picture is not from James Franco’s play-viewing. If you want to know, he was wearing a black pea coat, black-and-white striped scarf, and looked overwhelmingly normal.

Famous Person No. 3 (and my favorite!): Amy Poehler!!!!!

Amy Poehler gets exclamation points because I. Adore. Her. Parks and Recreation is probably my favorite current TV show, and Sean and I watch the new episodes religiously each week as they post them on If you’ve never watched it, you should. The first season is not as great, but as the show continues on, it’s pretty classic.

We saw Ms. Poehler at a Sunday evening performance of her improv troupe ASSSSCAT 3000 (yes, that is really the name) at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. Tickets were $10 for reserved seats, or you can go to the later show and wait in line for the chance of scoring free tickets.

I knew it was her troupe, but also that she is busy with her TV show and two children and splits her time between L.A. and New York, so I didn’t really think she would be there that close to the holidays. But as it was the last show of 2012, guys…she was there. Amy Poehler was there, fifteen feet in front of me, making jokes on the fly.

When they finally lowered the intro music and made an announcement that the show would begin, and a little blonde lady bounced out from backstage and squealed “How’s everybody doing tonight?!?!” and everyone started screaming, my mental reaction was: OHMYGOD OHMYGOD OHMYGOD IS IT REALLY IT CAN’T BE IT’S AMY POEHLER!!!!!


Like, it was probably one of the best days of my life. No lie.

And guys, Amy Poehler is hilarious in real life. Doing live improvisational comedy. She is a genuinely talented lady, and I admire her quick wit.

Also, Ben Schwartz, who plays Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Rec (below, right) was a special guest actor at the show! The skits between Ben and Amy (again, same room = first name basis) were priceless.

To be honest, the entire improv troupe that night was amazing. I definitely recommend checking it out. For $10 or free, you can’t beat it. There are moments when your insides will hurt from laughing so much.

Now, if only I could run into Joseph Gordon-Levitt at a coffee shop…


I don’t know. I feel like we could be friends. Or Tina Fey. That would be cool, too. I’m not picky about my famous-people-run-ins.


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5 responses to “The Time I Saw Three Famous People in One Day

  1. T. Bennett

    If you had cable you would particularly enjoy watching the Golden Globes…. hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (Jan 13). They will be interesting to watch (such comedic chemistry) and additionally will be competing against each other for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.

  2. My aunt and uncle actually go by Big Momma and Big Daddy to their numerous grandchildren, always said in a thick East Texas accent. Also, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is one of my favorite things ever. Very jealous, not a lie.

  3. Rebecca, I am jealous but it couldn’t happen to anyone sweeter. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey have got to be the coolest celebrity friends.

  4. Sheila Kozmin

    Hey, Rebecca, your New Year is off to a great Happy having met so many famous people already. I also adore Scarlet, especially in Girl with a Pearl Earring. I also saw James Franco, live at Toronto Film Festival this past September; he was on stage with Justin Bieber’s squeeze, Selena Gomez after the premiere of some weird teen-age Spring Break flick (a highly unremarkable film). Anyway, James Franco played a really bad druggie dude; but he seemed OK in real life. Amy Poehler? I’m not so familiar with her work, though I believe she and Tina Fey are hosting the Oscars or something this year. Keep up your great commentaries. I love living vicariously through your New York forays. Lots of love to you both.

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