Saturday, Sept. 17th, 2016. I am sitting in the office of Paul Booth. He tattooed my arm a while back and owns the gallery I show in. Someone loudly announces as they read from their phone that a bomb went off on 23rd St. We all pause. More news comes in. No deaths mostly minor injuries. We collectively exhale. But that is replaced with, WHAT THE FUCK??? We were bombed!!? I finish my beer and say my good byes.
I'm on my way home. Trains are suspended. I hop in a cab around 35th St. It takes about 20 minutes to get to 23rd St where the police are redirecting traffic back up town. I get out and walk. My new Dr. Martins are salivating over how they are going to savage my feet. I stroll a few blocks out of my way to see if I can get in on stand by at the Comedy Cellar. Boom! I immediately get in to see a great show!
Wil Sylvince is the MC that night. I approached him after the show on the sidewalk for a photograph. A month later, I do an ink portrait of him from the photo, post it and tag him on my Twitter and Instagram. He wants to buy it! I am in a bargaining mood because I didn't expect him to buy it. He didn't ask me to do his portrait and just spontaneously asking to buy it and me telling him my price ($500) probably would have been off-putting. So I said just get me in the Cellar next time you're around. Deal.
Yesterday, Sunday, he calls me around 5pm. Fred, what are you doing at 9:30 tonight? I was planning to see him at the Cellar. He asks if I want to see him open for Dave Chappelle at the Cutting Room? I walked in the door around 9. Got a special pass to be in the balcony during the show. Wil came out and killed it for 15 minutes. Before I realized it Chappelle himself was out there instead of the other openers. He came out and torched the audience for over an hour and ended the show on such a positive note... it was really special!
It was only midnight when the actual performance was done. Turns out I was sitting by one of Dave's good friends, Josh, during the show. The audience clears out. Wil had to skip to go back to MC at the Cellar leaving me with his friend Tina who went to the same high school as Dave. I suggested she go and approach him on the stage but she got cold feet. "Not while Naomi Campbell is up there." WHAT??? I've heard of her! I go to speak to Josh who is sitting at the front of the stage as Dave is still walking the stage and talking to everyone who came up as Naomi seems to be training some super model how to runway walk. Josh is very nice to me even though I had no idea who he was. As we spoke, Dave plops down right next to us and I get one of those fancy handshakes from him as it deteriorates into me sinking into my seat as it becomes obvious I don't know what I'm doing.
Ten minutes later and Dave is pouring Tina and I generous shots of tequila. He remembered her and I made him laugh so I was in. He decides it's time to go to the Comedy Cellar. I followed him and a few guys out the door and into a giant Escalade and we're off! We came in while Dave Attell, Ari Shaffir, and my new buddy Wil, are all riffing onstage. Chappelle goes up to close.
I was fascinated how the material he had just performed at the Cutting Room had evolved into different forms by the time we got to the Cellar. I hopped in a cab after saying goodbye to my new friends and by the time I got home, the Pakistani cab driver was giving me his card and trying to pitch his leather garment sportswear at 3am. What a night!