Christ, look at me. Why didn’t I take the advice of virtuallly every football coach in the country? You’d think that as an entertainer with decades of experience I’d have the presence of mind to flash my friendily-posing-for-a-picture-with-an-audience-member grin, not the I-cannot-believe-I-just-did-The-Tonight-Show smile.
It doesn’t help matters that I look small enough to be Jay’s puppet in a ventriloquist act. Let’s talk turkey – I’m a little man. Not short – little. I could be a jockey or one of those guys who assembles the sailboat inside the little bottle. I mean, look at the two of us: I could fit inside him, for crying out loud. (That’s not an offer, Jay). There’s not much I can do about the fact that I could easily represent the lollipop guild but would it have killed me to put on some kind of bulky jacket or something for the photo?
And why is Jay pointing at me? Am I supposed to be pointing too? And at who? That would have been nice – both of us pointing at me.
The producer, Steve Ridgeway, didn’t wait for me to ask what I should wear. “We’d like you to dress somewhere between church clothes and beach clothes. “You got it”, I said. I would have preferred my usual jacket and tie but when the producer tells you to dress between church and the beach, you dress between church and the beach.
On the set Jay asked me if I was married and I said “No” – true enough at the time. “Maybe it’s the 1950’s shirt” he said. I remember thinking “Not a good time and place to have a glass jaw”. The next time I’m asked on national tv if I”m married I’ll say “Yes – to a woman”. True enough at this time.
Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was originally scheduled to appear on the same episode but she had to reschedule in order to write some law which had to be passed so that we could read it or something. Actor William H. Macy took her place in the downstairs dressing room while John Mellencamp and I took the upstairs dressing rooms. Mellencamp looked like a real Marlboro Man, regularly stepping outside the studio to light up next to Jay’s parking space. This guy doesn’t have wrinkles in his face – he has crevices.
Anyway, Mellencamp’s dressing room was directly across from mine and with his door always open, I could plainly tell that his dressing room was identical to mine: nothing fancy, actually kind of plain, but perfectly serviceable. My dressing room had a nice fruit spread and a shower, although it appeared I wasn’t expected to use it: there were no towels. There was, however, a shriveled-up dirty bar of soap on the shower’s soap tray which I imagined was left over by George Gobel or somebody. Maybe I should have kept it as a souvenir. Instead I received some nice pictures of me and Jay, a not-terribly-fancy “Tonight Show” watch, a non-union paycheck for $400.
And the picture.