Well, earlier this fall, I wrote a piece called Saying Goodbye to Tim Baltz. And now, another Mainstage actor leaves Second City; this time, to move to L.A. to give it a go. It’s one of those bittersweet things, watching someone leave. Exciting to see them go and do something else, to follow their dreams, to continue rise on the wings of a dove of the sisterhood of justice.(1)
But it’s sad, because just in passing through the Mainstage night after night, I watched some of those scenes at least a hundred times, and they still make me laugh. Basically. There I go again, making inside jokes to myself from these scenes. In fact, today, I caught a little bit of Judge Greg Mathis’ show and I was sort of snickering just from the fact that he gets this sideways reference in one of my favorite scenes.
Tonight, the show seemed to shine a little brighter and there were moments that were just a little bit more emotional and sweet, especially if you knew that it was goodbye. The set was long and I got to see scenes I’d never seen before, and it was super fun to see people come back and play — Aidy Bryant (now a featured player at SNL) and Tim Baltz (who is just lovely, and as it turns out, *does* know my name) and Brendan Jennings (whom I don’t know, but I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of his work lately, and I’m a fan) just to start things off.
The tributes were touching and while I definitely got the understanding that Mary is a powerhouse in the world of improv, this time what I took away was what an incredible lover she is. Of the world around her, of the people she calls friends, of her family, of the work she does, of life. She thanked so many people; she was genuinely so grateful and so interested in making sure people were noticed and recognized. Again, I wished I were someone who had gone out to coffee with her at least once.
The other thing that I wished during the whole thing was something for myself. Early on in my sobriety, I talked to someone, who is a senior faculty at Second City, about this or that related to the world of improv. He asked me how old I was (I was 28) and told me that it wasn’t really worth my time to go through all the levels of Second City … that I was already too old. Given what I know about the process of taking classes, going through the next levels of the conservatory, getting on a house team, trying to get on a boat, trying to get on a touring company, and then maybe, just maybe making it on to a Mainstage … I know he was right. I just NOW might be doing it. I don’t blame him for telling me the truth.
But you know what? There is always a person who breaks through and sometimes does something that is unexpected or not the normal way of doing things. I’ve heard the stories of John Belushi or Chris Farley. What if it had been me? What if I hadn’t taken his advice and just started classes anyway? And what if I had been fucking good and people took notice? That was my regret tonight. That I just didn’t do it anyway. Isn’t that what they always say about being on your deathbed? That it will be the things you DIDN’T do, rather than the things you did?
I hope I’ll get the chance to interact with Mary in the future. She certainly does light up a room. And I hope that if I’ve learned nothing else, it’s just to keep doing things anyway. That’s what Mary’s doing. She’s just going for it. Two of her good friends and past cast members were there tonight. One currently lives in L.A. and one went and has since returned. As they laughed and joked and relayed their experiences, the refrain was always the same, “You gots to do it.” Godspeed.
(1) That last line was actually from a sketch that Mary was in from Who Do We Think We Are? Some of my box office friends have worked at Second City quite a bit longer than I have and have different favorite shows — shows Mary was also a part of writing and performing in — and I regret that they are also not a part of my list of favorite shows, knowing what I do now about her as a performer.