Saturday, December 17, 2005
Billy Crystal - "700 Sundays" in San Francisco
One of the great things that Aforementioned Wife has brought into my life is theatre. You could count the number of professional productions I'd seen before meeting her on Mordecai Brown's hand. But since her family is so into the theatre, I've had many more occasions to go, often thanks to them. One such occasion was this past Tuesday, when Julie's father gave her a pair of tickets to the Billy Crystal "700 Sundays" show at the Golden Gate.
I knew I liked Billy from his work in TV and movies, but I enjoyed this immensely because it was so personal. It's Billy talking about his life experience growing up. By doing that, he connects to all of our experience growing up. As a person who likes to remember personal history (I've kept a journal every day since 8/31/76), I really appreciate the effort he put in to recapture that experience and share it with us. What I ended up seeing was not so much "Billy Crystal doing his professional entertaining thing" but "Billy Crystal using his talent and skills to reflect on the past the way I wish I could." He made a very stout effort to ignore his professional success and focus on his experience as Everyman. Probably especially more so if you grew up Jewish in New York in the 50's, but still. A notable and well-chosen exception to mentioning his celebrity was when he spoke about seeing his mother in the hospital when she had some memory loss. She said to him, "Hey, you're Billy Crystal. What are you doing here?" Man, I'm tearing up just remembering that.
It just so happens that his life as a kid had some exceptional moments too. His uncle was a visionary who ended up turning an electronics store into the Commodore Record label, thereby making a huge contribution to New York jazz and bringing that influence into Billy's life. He watched "Shane" while sitting in Billie Holliday's lap... how cool is that?
It was a great show. If you get a chance to catch it, then you should. If not, his book is probably a decent substitute and they've got it at Amazon. We sat in the front row of the loge, but I expect even the worst seat in the house is still fine.