I had some kind of humor hangover all day Sunday. I was in the best kind of pain--cheeks aching from near-constant laughter--and I can still feel some soreness today. I woke up yesterday morning with glitter on my nose and in my hair and in my bed. And I think I'm in love with Carrie Fisher.
Wishful Drinking (first the show Saturday night at the Rep, then the book Sunday afternoon) turned me into a fan in the space of about five hours combined. This woman is magic. She sails through the telling of painful stories with so much ease it's sort of alarming. It's also completely hilarious.
Oddly, I didn't know much about her prior to this weekend's Drinking binge, apart from what I'd absorbed through the pop-culture collective unconscious. But the last time Rob and I were at the Rep, I just happened to notice that a one-woman show written and performed by Carrie Fisher would be coming to Seattle. I read the blurb next to the title and promptly declared that we ought to see the show. "She should be funny," I think is what I said.
I had no fucking clue.
If I had been paying better attention, I might have had some inkling. A little half-clue to get me started. For instance, I don't really think of her as Princess Leia. I saw Star Wars for the first time as a junior in high school. (Yes, I live under a rock.) My first real exposure to Carrie Fisher was in a movie called Drop Dead Fred. While I love her in When Harry Met Sally, and I think she gives one of the funniest interviews in The Aristocrats, I've seen Drop Dead Fred too many times to count and prior to this weekend, that film was my major cinematic connection to her--which I freely admit is completely odd. (It's kind of a funky rock.)
In the film, Carrie plays Phoebe Cates' straight-talking, power-walking friend Janie. She lives on a houseboat that Phoebe Cates' imaginary friend sinks. (Really, it all makes perfect sense. Just see the movie.) I don't know why I've seen this movie so many times, except that it's clearly one of those films that was loved like crazy by its creators, and I kinda-sorta identify with the main character. Because that's the kind of girl I am. You know, without the cheating husband or the devil-mother or the imaginary friend from childhood. What I mean is that I have an elaborate--sometimes madcap--internal life that occasionally gets the better of me. Janie, on the other hand, responds to the problem of her house sinking by attempting to bludgeon her friend's imaginary friend to death with a shoe.
There's some of that beat-the-thing-into-submission mentality in Wishful Drinking--"I have problems, but problems don't have me," she says conspiratorially--but mostly there's a kind of reactionary joy. For example, the show opens with a death...and also glitter. The fascinating thing about listening to Carrie tell her stories was that I felt my whole body laughing at the same time that my mind was going, "Fuck! How awful!" So much of the show could be tragic or poignant except that you almost never get there through the humor. Laughing takes the sting out of Fisher's life--for the audience listening to it, and certainly for her living it. It's an incredible alchemy. And it's what I want for myself. I mean, if this woman can make it through such a variety show of crazy circumstances with her vibrancy and sense of humor unscathed (made stronger, even), then there's no reason that I can't best my comparatively minor emotional crap.
I need to get in touch with my inner Carrie. The humor-and-honesty part. Not the drug-using, licensed merchandise-gracing, turning men bald and gay part. (But if someone wanted to make me into a Pez dispenser...)
Towards the end of her show she says she tells her younger friends that "one day they'll be at a bar playing pool and they'll look up at the television set and there will be a picture of Princess Leia with two dates underneath, and they'll say 'aww--she said that would happen.' And then they'll go back to playing pool."
She's only half right about this. Some of us won't go back to playing pool right away. Some of us will stop and cry, because it will be a very sad day when Carrie is no longer with us.
If you're in Seattle, of if you'll be in Seattle in the next week or two, go see Wishful Drinking. Do it! And take advantage of the Audience Participation element of the show by getting seats in the front rows, if you can. Rob got "picked on," and it was unforgettably awesome.
P.S.--I think I'm also in love with the Internet. Your comments on my last post were fabulous. Thank you all so, so much. You're all magic.