By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
After Stuart was Joey, and Joey begat Paul and Paul begat Chris and Chris begat Sarah (and her boyfriend, Jeff).
“I’m just here for moral support,” says Jeff. If Sarah ever leaves him, I want Jeff to be my boyfriend. He’s brought along tall cans of malt-flavored Novocain to ease them through the frosty evening, plus a blanket and pillows and body heat. God, I hate being single.
Joey’s impulsive shopping spree didn’t stop him from getting a place in line ahead of Paul Storiale. The 27-year-old was no stranger to camping out, though; he once sat outside for three days in Minnesota to get front-row tickets to Rent. God, I hate musicals.
“You guys are like standup warriors or something!” Butch Bradley sweeps by with a couple of friends in tow. He is what everyone in line aspires to be, a working comedian. I find that out when someone says his name and I notice that the marquee above my head has Bradley’s name on it. Bradley offers some kind words of encouragement, shakes some hands and departs for warmer places. Stuart Papp, the first man in line, dreams peacefully beneath the sleeping bag.
“I was here yesterday,” says Damien, who shows up with Mimi a little after 4 a.m. Immediately, all eyes are on Damien as he tells of meeting this guy from Pittsburgh who flew out for yesterday’s audition. According to Damien, the guy stood outside kind of dazed after his two-minute audience and said, “I think I gotta re-evaluate my life.”
That’s a tough two minutes. It also brings up a question comedians, actors and other artists have to face all the time: When is it time to walk away? Langston Hughes convinced me long ago that “a dream deferred” is
a bad thing, but when does a dream turn into a fantasy? After all, at some point rent needs to be paid, kids like to eat, and God forbid you might want to buy the odd latte or two. Is this anybody’s last go-round?
“If you were going to quit comedy
because you didn’t get this [gig],” says Mimi, “then you were never really doing comedy in the first place.”
Eventually, the sun rises and revives the bone-cold bodies of those of us too dumb to bring blankets or even an extra sweater. “They don’t have anything like this in the middle of the ocean,” says Paul from Oahu. As the doors open and registration cards are passed around, Stuart Papp stretches, yawns and breaks down his mini-camp. Behind him are more than 100 comic hopefuls.
Adoring the Spin Master
I’M AT THE RINK with my skating teacher, when another coach approaches. “You should be here Friday night,” she tells my teacher, ignoring me. “Lucinda Ruh is coming.”
My eyes bug out, my mouth drops open and I feel like a tweener who’s just been told Hilary Duff will be attending her slumber party. I’ve been a fan of Ruh’s ever since the 1999 World Championships, when, as a little-known, 19-year-old Swiss skater, she brought the house down with spins so inventive, they caused even the notoriously finicky Dick Button to declare her the most brilliant spinner he’d seen in all his years. Since then, Ruh’s gone on to become a world professional medalist and a record holder for the most rotations (115) in a single spin.
But she’s beloved also for the sheer joy she radiates when she’s on the ice. That joy was actually one of the things that finally moved me to make the transition, well into my 30s, from watcher to doer.
I arrive at the rink for Ruh’s seminar Friday night to find that the next-oldest person in the group is celebrating her 16th birthday that night. When we hit the ice to warm up, my heart sinks to see my young companions’ spins and jumps leave me in the dust.
Then comes Lucinda.
She gets down to it, starting us off with scratch spins, the kind that start out slowly and pick up speed until the skater is a tightly tucked blur. I am, shall we say, a slowly but steadily improving spinner, so when she finally comes my way I have to tell myself, “This is for her,” before I launch into a spin that barely gets around. “You’re rushing the entrance,” she tells me, businesslike and oblivious to my adoration. I try it again, and pull off one of the best scratch spins of my life, fast and centered and elegantly finished. “That was a little better,” she says, and moves on.
Over the course of the session, she demands increasingly difficult positions and combinations — sit spins, camel spins, laybacks, all of which the kids toss off with ease as I struggle (valiantly, I think) in the corner to which I’ve banished myself. Ruh comes by a few more times to help me out, sweetly but no-nonsense, admonishing me repeatedly to take deeper edges going in. She is much prettier in person than on TV, with a delicate pink complexion and large, extravagantly lashed eyes. With her bleached-blond hair in Heidi braids and a striped scarf wound around her neck, she looks like the picture that might appear next to “Swiss figure skater” in the dictionary. Still, the only trace of foreign birth in her otherwise unaccented voice is the European tendency to end statements with questions, as in, “There’s no sense my helping you with your camel spin when you’re not even getting into it, yeah?”
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