Friday, December 27, 2013

Mr. Crystal, We all commiserate…… good friend!

Mention the performer 'William Edward 'Billy' Crystal' and one might be first tempted to smile, recalling a favorite cinema line or humorous quip from your memory, and one might even fully believe that having spent the last 40 odd years watching, listening, and laughing (at and with) this Long Islander, that one might believe that they actually 'know' him.

And on a certain level one might be right in that conviction. It's a common delusion among media mavens (all of the viewing public) that the real personality of any performer can be extracted or distilled from the very attributes and characters he or she chooses to portray, or at least some might believe that you can. The 'relationship' thusly formed with any performer, or more the persona of the performer, may emulate a 'friendship' and lead this populace towards a more convivial one than otherwise exists.

Yet presently at The Imperial Theater in New York (and not too much longer mind you!), one learns for themselves both the truth and the fallacy of this 'reality'.

Having had the opportunity to sit before such a 'friend', and hear him tell you (and 1475 of his other closest friends) the backstories of his life, the quirky machinations of his inner mind, the joys as well as the fears, trepidations, and anxieties of growing up and then at 15 years old dealing with the death of his father (having been together for only '700 Sundays'), was as emotional a roller coaster as one can summon.

This, yes, THIS was the fireside chat that will allow you to not only enter the mind and heart of one of the world's most enjoyable performers but, when you leave this wonderful theatrical experience, you will genuinely feel as though you leave as friends (or, at least leave you with a much better understanding and closeness about YOUR friend!)

Intriguingly, there was never a belief in my investigative mind that a Saturday afternoon spent with this fine comedian ("I was never a comic, no, a comic was the guy wearing the cow head running across the football field at the game. No, a comedian would be the guy who got him to do it in the first place! There IS a difference!") would result in unexpected moments of such poignancy and such heartbreak, moments that drew you into the emotional viscera of his life. And then after lingering for just a moment, the deft performer and ever professional that he is, turns on a dime (subway token) and makes a heartbreaking moment disappear before your very eyes and quickly replaces it with the deep belly laughter and elation that he seems quite capable of summoning up at will.

Very few in life can perform such feats……to travel the emotional gamut from Anxiety to Zany-ness and convince us all every step of the way.

It was truly an honor to have the privilege of spending a short afternoon with Mr. Crystal, and I would harken to say that in the very short time left that this performance has to run (it closes early Jan. 2014), one should do everything within their power to allow themselves such a treat…. it will be a joy one will remember for a very long time.

Yet, knowing this to be an impossibility for so many, our 'friends' at HBO (I still remember when it was called Home Box Office) will be recording the Jan. 4th and 5th performances to air sometime in the fall of 2014……..a recording that (in my humble estimation) will seal one William Edward Crystal as one of this world's all time talents …… and forever our good friend.

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