Well, I guess this is turning out to be a series. Me saying goodbye to the Mainstage performers as they move on from Second City to pursue other things, namely, moving to Los Angeles and broadening their horizons. Mary Sohn is already sunning herself and Tim Baltz, who I saw for a minute last night, is hot on her heels.
Last night was another one of those nights, where I watched the third act of a Mainstage show, as it transformed itself into a combination of tribute and send-off and gratitude list and public love letter. The goodbye set has fast become a whirlwind of cognitive dissonance for me — it’s nothing I look forward to, because it means someone I’ve really loved watching is leaving; but it’s a night I absolutely love, because I laugh and cry and watch people who spend their lives sharing themselves with people for a living open up and be just alittlebit more vulnerable and share just alittlebit more in an effort to honor their friendship.
It was Holly Laurent’s turn last night. One of the things that people kept saying about Holly was how kind and generous she is. In my personal experience, I have found this to be true. I have come to understand it is always the little things in life. Always. It’s not going to be the death or the dire or the doom that will drive me to drink and despair. Instead, it will be the dreary and the drab and the last damned little thing. The devil truly is in the details.
But, where the devil is found, so are the angels. And as I heard Holly being described by her friends, I already knew. I knew that she was one of the people that people came to see six nights a week — one of the faces whose headshot is lit up underneath glass — that took the time to look me in the eye and ask me how I was doing and give me a genuine smile. This means everything. If you ever wonder if a genuine interaction means something, it does. Even the ones that take seconds. Don’t forget that those small moments are all we’re really even here for.
It’s not like everyone just clomps around here, being self-important and dickish. But some people just seem to know that they’re here to be a person first and a performer later. And Holly is one of those people. To wit: She was in the building when I was working reception once. She had her dog, Sister (pron. “Seee-ster”) with her. A lovely, goldenblondie lady.(1) And I’m a nutter for pets, especially dogs who remind me of my family dog, Johnny.
And I talked to Sister (and to Holly), and petted her and loved her (just Sister, not Holly, although you kind of want to) and just hung out for a second. And Holly was just … nice. I don’t know. You ever sometimes feel like the world has run out of normal, nice people? Well, chalk one up for L.A., cause they’re getting one of the best. She’s just nice. She was always nice when she came to tell us the cast had ordered food and she was always nice when she needed tickets or had to pick up a package. Like just … overly nice. Respectful. Kind.
The proof is always in the pudding, too, because as she went down the list of people she wanted to thank (the exiting performer always goes last and gets to say their goodbyes and farewells), she had a whole section of nightstaff that she called out by name with specific thank yous and inside jokes and love, love, love. The Beatles said that’s all we need, and I’m on board.
I knew for about a week or so that she was going to be leaving, and the other night when I was walking through Mainstage, I caught a scene that she and Edgar Blackmon do early in the show. It’s an improvised scene where they are a married couple, telling the story of how they first met — sharing secrets and small delights — and it’s truly a joy to watch. One of my favorite scenes from this show.
I sat there and had one of those moments where you just know. You just know you’re just right NOW. And I also was supremely aware of fucking good Edgar and Holly are. How much they love each other as friends and performers and how many gifts they give each other on stage. How in the moment they are and how wonderful it is to be in the moment with them. And no matter how many people come through that room and watch them every week, no matter how many people just want to “come and laugh,” those moments are truly something special. They are where the real work happens. It’s like having a good meal. It’s where all the magic happens. And I made sure to remember how it was, how it felt; I made sure that I’d tell them before she left. And last night, I did.
Blessings and love and light to you on the journey, lady. Everything you give coming back to you tenfold.
(1) Note: goldenblondie isn’t a thing. I just can’t remember if she’s 100% poodle or if she’s got other snout mixed in.