“Whatever with Alexis & Jennifer”: My 15 seconds of fame

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Becoming famous was the last thing I expected when I attended a taping of the new Hallmark Channel talk show, “Whatever with Alexis & Jennifer.”

"Whatever with Alexis & Jennifer" is a new Hallmark Channel talk show hosted by Jennifer Koppelman Hutt, left, and Alexis Stuart.

Well, OK, so maybe famous isn’t exactly the appropriate word to describe what happened to me on Sept. 23 in New York City. But when your only other exposure on television is an appearance at your township’s council meeting in which you complain about your mean condo board, this is a friggin’ H-U-G-E deal!

I’m not just talking about being a TV audience member. Oh, no! If that was the case, then I’d definitely be excited. But I’m super-duper, ridiculously over-the-moon thrilled because I was selected to ask the hosts a question during a Q&A segment!!!!! Even better, I wasn’t edited out of the segment – it actually aired on Sept. 24th!!!!!!!!!

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It’s Dec. 1: Wishing you “Bunny Bunny”

When I unexpectedly met comedian, author and former “Saturday Night Live” scribe Alan Zweibel in an East Brunswick temple last month, I had no idea he would make me cry.

Yet cry is exactly what I did… when I read his beautiful, heartbreaking book, “Bunny Bunny, Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story.”

Listening to Alan’s impromptu introduction last month of friend and fellow comedian Susie Essman – in which he regaled the audience with stories of his days on the “SNL” set and vividly (and humorously) described first meeting Gilda Radner – convinced me I needed to pick up “Bunny Bunny” from my library ASAP.

I devoured the book in one sitting. Which is not hard to do – it’s only 190 pages long and full of Alan’s recollections of his conversations with Gilda over the years.

They clearly loved one another, though their relationship never became as romantic as perhaps Alan wished it to be. They supported one another through failed relationships, Alan’s eventual marriage and birth of two of his children, and Gilda’s eventual diagnosis of ovarian cancer and her drawn-out, painful death.

By the time I reached page 189 – titled “At A Memorial – June 1, 1989” – I was bawling.

“I don’t know why God makes people and then takes them back while they’re still having fun with the life he gave them in the first place,” Alan’s eulogy goes. “Just like I don’t know if I’m supposed to celebrate the fact that Gilda was in my life, or feel cheated that she’s not here anymore. But even though her body grew to betray her, spirits just don’t die.”

I know exactly how Alan feels. Which is why a recent episode of “Celebrity Ghost Stories” featuring Eric Roberts made such an impression on me.

“You can’t kill energy,” Eric said in it. “You can only displace it.”

Me and Alan Zweibel hanging in East Brunswick last month./Credit Ava Gacser

The title of Alan’s book, by the way, refers to a phrase Gilda began using as a child to make herself feel safe when she was scared – and one that she continued using as an adult, albeit a bit more infrequently.

“It’s just that, for whatever reason, on the first day of every month the first words that I say when I wake up are ‘Bunny Bunny’ to make sure it’s going to be a good month and keep me safe from anything bad that could happen,” Gilda explains to Alan in the book.

Since it’s Dec. 1, I can’t think of a better way to start the first day of the last month of 2009:

Bunny Bunny to you all.

Susie Essman just can’t “Curb (Her) Enthusiasm”

“Can I say f*** in a temple?”

Susie Essman small

Susie made sure she signed each and every book (which I believe numbered well over 100)./Photos by Ava Gacser

Ladies and gentlemen, Susie Essman is in the building – a Jewish temple in bucolic East Brunswick, N.J., as a matter of fact.

“Now I’m here with all you lovely Jews,” she said last night with a smile.

The “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star’s appearance included a Q&A and book signing to promote her recently released memoir, “What Would Susie Say? Bullsh*t Wisdom About Love, Life and Comedy,” at Temple B’nai Shalom. The event, coordinated by the Friends’ Health Connection, was $35 and included a copy of the book which Susie graciously signed at the end of the evening.

Naturally, much of the conversation – which was artfully moderated by Susie’s good friend, comedian/actor/former “Saturday Night Live” writer Alan Zweibel – revolved around Susie’s experiences playing her “Curb” alter ego, the wonderfully foul-mouthed Susie Greene.

She admitted that when hired by Larry David to do the show, she was reticent when “LD” (as Larry refers to himself) instructed her to curse out her co-star and “Curb” husband, Jeff Garlin, in an episode called “The Wire.”

“Rip Jeff a new a**hole,” she recalled was the only direction Larry gave her. And after a bit of cajoling, this was the result:

“He let the genie out of the bottle,” Susie said with a laugh.

She revealed that she and Larry have never had a discussion about who Susie Greene is, and that she was the one who came up with Susie’s crazy taste in clothes.

“Susie is a very simplistic character,” she explained. “You don’t cross her, and you definitely don’t cross her kid.”

She said she’s pretty good at holding it together during filming and doesn’t laugh, but that this week’s episode, “Officer Krupke,” sent her over the edge.

When Larry dropped his pants, “just seeing those spindly legs” was enough to crack her up.

Her favorite episode, though, is “The Doll.” She said that was the first time the “Spaghetti western music that’s become my theme song” (I love that music!) was used.

“I don’t know what’s funnier than (screaming), ‘Get me the f***ing head!'” she laughed.

Susie said that despite the fact that most of actors on the show go by their own names – Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Michael York, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards (you get the picture) – they’re not necessarily playing themselves.

“The only one who is who you think he is is Richard Lewis,” she said.

(Which is a pretty interesting statement, considering his actions in the funniest episode so far of this season, “Vehicular Fellatio.” Clip please:)

“People don’t understand that it’s not reality TV,” Susie added.

Alan agreed, saying that he was just out with Jeff Garlin this week, and people were coming up to Jeff and cursing at him for cheating on Susie – Susie Greene, that is.

Although Susie enjoys being on “Curb,” she said she would like the opportunity to explore different roles… like perhaps on “Mad Men.”

“It’s so beautifully written,” she gushed. “Those characters are so fully drawn.”

You hear that, Matthew Weiner?

One thing is for certain: When Larry originally contacted her about “Curb,” she had no idea it would turn out to be anywhere near as popular its become.

“I never planned to make a living telling people to go f*** themselves,” she said.

A bit about Alan

When Alan Zweibel first came out, I realized my friend Mary Ann and I (who I was again with last night) had seen him perform earlier this year in “Celebrity Autobiography” (also with Susie Essman!) in New York City. He read a hysterical passage from Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee’s memoir, “Tommyland.” Alan, it turns out, was one of the original writers for “Saturday Night Live” and was good friends with Gilda Radner, for whom he wrote her iconic character, Roseanne Roseannadanna. In fact, he’s written a book about that relationship, “Bunny, Bunny: Gilda Radner, A Sort of Romantic Comedy.” Just the little bit he recounted last night was enough to make me want to read the book (and thanks to Franklin Township Public Library, I soon will be!). Alan also talked about his life working in the biz (he’s good friends with Billy Crystal) and his own experiences with Larry David (he was a consultant on “Curb” for a couple of years).

“We all knew that someday the rest of the world will catch up with him,” Alan said, explaining that audiences didn’t seem to appreciate Larry’s sense of humor back in the days when he worked comedy clubs.

Susie agreed, recalling that she and her best friend, Joy Behar, used to hang out with Larry and listen to him complain about women and dating.

“It was all the George stories,” she said and confirmed that “The Phone Message” episode (clip above) was straight out of Larry’s life.

At the end of the evening, Alan hung around the lobby as Susie signed books. He also took the time out to talk with people, signed several of Susie’s books himself and was nice enough to pose for photos, like the one below with me.

me and Alan Zweibel small

I chatted with guest host/comedian/author Alan Zweibel after Susie Essman’s talk.

And here’s another photo of Susie at the signing:

Susie Essman 2 small

“SNL” plays a little “Jeopardy”

If “Saturday Night Live” would have more funny segments like this, maybe I’d watch regularly:

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more about “SNL: Will Ferrell’s Celebrity Jeopard…“, posted with vodpod

Spock, Spock and Kirk stop by “SNL”

I saw the new “Star Trek” movie yesterday and thought it was completely awesome. The movie’s stars, Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine, stopped by “Saturday Night Live” and brought along a special guest. Check it out:

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more about “Saturday Night Live – Update Feature:…“, posted with vodpod

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