Love Happened Here

I feel like I wouldn't be able to live with myself unless I documented this past amazing weekend somewhere. So here it is.

I made up the hours in the days leading up to Friday, and took the day off from work. I did not sleep in, however. I woke up at 7:30, did my usual routine, and was off to Chelsea to wait in line at the SVA Theatre for tickets for the New Yorker Festival. Unlike the people ahead of me in line, who all wanted multiple events, I was only interested in one: The Social Network. I already had tickets to the other events that interested me (and even if I didn't, I could only afford one event as it was). This was no ordinary screening of the film, though. It featured a talkback afterwards with Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, and Aaron Sorkin. I HAD to get tickets.

So I waited in line for 2 1/2 hours, in the rain. The box office opened, and as things sold out, they announced them. My stomach was churning. What if I'd just waited 2 1/2 hours for nothing?
Then it was my turn.

I got up to the counter and asked for 3 tickets. The guy smiled and told me they were the last 3 tickets left. A minute later, they announced that The Social Network had sold out. If that's not fate, I don't know what is.

The movie, as most of the country knows by now, is brilliant. Aaron Sorkin doesn't disappoint. Jesse Eisenberg gives the performance of his career, and I officially have a totally different opinion of Justin Timberlake. Oh, and Andrew Garfield is beautiful.
Anyway, and then the talkback came. We were front row. It was surreal. Jesse Eisenberg looked around the room nervously the whole time. Aaron Sorkin did 80% of the talking, not that anyone minded - he is completely engaging and genius to listen to. He put to bed all rumors that were circulating, said that he was in fact committed to the facts of the story. They talked about David Fincher's famoud 99 take opening scene. Jesse and Justin even got to talk a little! And afterwards, Aaron Sorkin stuck around on stage to sign a few autographs and shake some hands, including Gary's. It was a successful night.

Oh, and the Wafels & Dinges truck was outside afterwards. Perfection.

I had a long day of flyering in Times Square ahead of me. But one fact made it easier: knowing that that night, I would be seeing Jake Gyllenhaal. In person. So I rushed home after flyering, changed into something a little nicer than my A Life in the Theatre t-shirt, got dinner with Alison, and was sitting 3rd row center before I knew it. And then there he was, in his (bearded) glory.

This night, A "Conversation" with Jake Gyllenhaal, was reminiscent of Inside the Actors Studio. The moderator discussed Jake's career, childhood, sister, parents, all that stuff. They showed clips from Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountain (which made me sob), Zodiac, and his new movie Love and Other Drugs.

He was completely charming, interested, and really smart. They talked about his mustache in Brokeback Mountain quite a bit, and Jake said that he actually won an award for that mustache. (No, seriously, an online award given out every year to best mustache). We found out that Jason Schwartzman, a close friend of Jake's, was originally supposed to play Donnie Darko. (WHAATTT?) He talked about sex a lot, and we discovered that there is a lot of nudity in his new movie - probably the best advertisement ever.

It was over way to soon, and was completely surreal the whole time. He seems like a very cool guy who really doesn't comprehend how immensely talented he is. I wish I knew how to quit him. (How could I resist?)

I'm not even going to bother with a preamble here - Sunday morning Mike and I sat front row and listened to Steve Carell talk for 2 hours. STEVE CARELL. No, but seriously, STEVE CARELL. I talk about things being surreal a lot, but this really tops the list. He was right in front of me. Steve Carell. Very different from his comedic persona, but still completely hilarious, he was totally captivating the whole time. He seems really down to earth and modest about his immense success. He talked a lot about his daughter and wife. Called Stephen Colbert an asshole (jokingly, of course), talked about his time at Second City, and his audition for Bruce Almighty - which was maybe his 3rd movie audition ever. Talked about the much rumored, and apparently ill-fated, Anchorman 2. And, get this, they all wanted to do it as a BROADWAY MUSICAL. But no one besides the actors seem to want to put it on its feet. (CAN YOU IMAGINE?!?!) He said that he generally needs to play a character, a more "interesting" version of himself, while doing interviews. Talked about The Office, and how he feels like his leaving at the end of this season will be good for the show, and that they can use a "change of tone". Whether this is his genuine opinion or not is hard to say. He can't very well come out and say they should end the show when he leaves without sounding like an egomaniac. (But if he'd just pass along my letter to NBC, I won't tell anyone).

It really was, and I really need a better word for this, completely and utterly surreal. He is one of the funniest comedic actors out there, not to mention one of my absolute favorite actors. The setting really did feel very intimate, and it was refreshing to really hear him talk about his career and the people he's worked with.

And then there was Sunday night. I may have said previously that seeing Billie Joe in American Idiot once was totally enough. But I knew I was lying. You knew I was lying. Not even 24 hours after that entry was posted, I bought a ticket for his final performance. And I have never been so grateful for a rash decision in my life.

His last show was completely electric - I won't go into too much detail, there really isn't much more that I can say that I haven't already said here, but he'd even gotten better since I saw him that night. You could tell he wanted his last show to be special. He'd added some things since he started - some really interesting moments in the background of scenes, when he wasn't the focus. (Not to mention singing a snippet of "It's Fuck Time", which he didn't do when I was there before). He sent this incredible energy across the theatre. It really was one of those experiences that I look back on and can barely believe that I was there.

At curtain call, before singing "Good Riddance", he performed a short song he composed for that occasion. I was sobbing. And I mean, face in my hands sobbing. It felt totally personal, you could tell how much he loved this experience and loved sharing it with us, and for the love of god - I WAS THERE.

I left my blood like bullets over Broadway.
The fire of the footlights at the St. James.
With broken legs and roses over New York.
These goodnight songs of long lost love and war.
But I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive like suicide.
So goodnight, goodnight, New York.

It's been a few days, and I honestly still can't stop thinking about the show, his performance, the experience. I still get choked up watching the video. I've seen a lot of amazing things in the 5 years that I've lived here, but this may actually be at the top of the list. For a lot of reasons. Phenomenal.

Only in New York.

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