EPISODE 618: UNDERSTUDIES

Down, Rafifi!

POP CULTURE SPIRIT WOW

One of the great Wait What Now moments of my life was learning that when guests come on Late Night shows, their conversations are mostly not happening in real time, that in fact the host expects them to come with material to entertain the crowd.

Now you might say, Wait, in the grand scheme of things, which includes nuclear fission, dinosaurs and the fact that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s dad, THAT was one of the great WWN moments of your life? To which, let me just say, a) What are you, one of those grinches who come home for the holidays and tell the kids there’s no Santa? And b) I’m doing my set here, keep it down.

Okay, it might be a tad bit hyperbolic. But it was a genuine surprise. And it still can be, because the great guests just knock themselves out making it all flow.

Which leads me to tonight’s guest, Broadway legend and Jesuit-educated Jersey kid Nathan Lane. Late Night with Stephen Colbert had its first week back in the studio last week — Stephen’s getting ready for me to arrive, and I just gotta say, the man is a class act — and Lane gave it eveything he had. Watch him work that room.

You’d think he was a stand up, the way he sets ‘em up and knocks’ em down. Except then he sneaks in that story about Anne Bankcroft and Mel Brooks and tell me you didn’t suddenly feel all the things.

And it doesn’t end there.

To me, Lane is like a stand-in for what a lot of people are feeling right now. He’s as giddy as a kid on Christmas, he absolutely can’t stop talking and he just looks like a million bucks. (When I get to New York I am finding those glasses.)


Right now my room looks like a bomb went off in it, and then stuck around, opened all the drawers and threw everything into a pile in the middle of the floor. I can’t usually function if there’s too much mess — actually, let me correct that — I can do mess, but it has to relegated to certain areas. One part of a desk, the top of a small book shelf, the area beside my chair, all good. But this really is like a mine field of debris, where the debris is by turns my childhood, a mini-DV tape from 2003 that apparently I now have to keep forever because you never know (kill me) and new mail.

It’s fun, is what I’m saying. Moving is fun. It’s fun. It is. It’s fun. I like it. This is fun.

It feels like I’m getting near the end — all the shelves are clear, there are many boxes ready to go. But isn’t that the point where you usually discover eight boxes in storage that you haven’t looked at in eleven years? And then you spend three days sorting through class notes and journals and keeping way too much?

Actually I threw about half my class notes away and I’ve still got too much. And I have yet to be able to toss a single journal. I don’t know what it is about that Moleskine binding, but throwing one of those books away feels like lighting the works of Shakespeare on fire. I absolutely cannot do it.

I must say, I am surprised at how much stuff the room seems to have held. I don’t know from square feet, north/south or anything spatial, but I’m pretty sure if you looked at it you wouldn’t think it terribly large. And I’ll tell you, many of my shelves are kept kind of wide open, books on the end and tchotchkes in the middle. I don’t like wall to wall books. But even so—even so—when it comes time to pack them up, it’s like there’s some kind of crack in my wall I don’t know about and books from other rooms are fleeing to get a free trip to the Big Apple.

Someone asked me if I was using Fed Ex for my packages. Which I thought was ridiculous. Oh yes, of course, I want to make sure my truffle oil arrives undamaged.

Then—as I was about to post this—I checked with UPS and Fed Ex, and wouldn’t you know, the boxes are something like $25/box a cheaper. I’m so confused. How can FedEx be cheaper than the Postal Service? And wait, does this mean I don’t have to lug more boxes to the post office? (The first ten went Friday. I was very proud of myself. But I would be okay with letting someone drive to my house and pick the rest up.)


Today I got an email from Criterion about things to watch. I actually quietly cancelled my subscription because HBO Max isn’t going to pay for itself (oof).

Amongst their offerings was this set of movie recommendations from American hero and man about town Nathan Lane, who is in a closet (wonderful) and still has those amazing glasses, now married to a fabulous sweater with Aztec-y birds and colors. It’s more fun, combined with a pitch for a musical version of Being There that is just fantastic.


I warned you last week that today might be a bit short or weird or something. And so here we are, in what feels like an episode inspired by unanswered clues from the New York Times crossword.

I’m writing this somewhere far away from the hellmouth that is my room, and yet even from here I can hear it calling to me. So I should probably go.

Hope you all have a great week. If you’re feeling low, Google Nathan Lane. He’s basically giggles in a great suit.