30 January 2017
Sunday was a gorgeous day in New York City…a day when you’d feel guilty for not taking advantage of the weather and doing something noteworthy. It was 11:30 when, scouring the Times, we found a comedy show at 2:00 in Central Park, on the grass, under shade trees, just north of the Sheep Meadow. The guilt melted away…we had something to do.
So, with a blanket in a tote with a bottle of water, we took the ‘1’ (a subway line) to Lincoln Center and walked to the Park and found “Mineral Springs”, where a grass stage with a microphone and a couple of standing amps had been set up with low vinyl barriers to define the backstage, where the talent bobbed and weaved their nerves away before the show.
There were five comics, surprisingly not a weak link among them. The last one, the headliner, ‘killed’ (comic-speak for getting laughs) for half an hour and then they all bantered with each other backstage to come down from their performance highs. Each hoped they’d do it again next year, said their goodbyes…and left. The ‘headliner, though, was asked to stay for a second to wait for a praetorian guard of three park employees to escort her, ceremoniously, to a break in the fence…a triumphal exit for the star of the show.
The guard, respectful, bid her farewell as she then became just one of the legion of Sunday strollers, bikers, joggers, pedicabbers, horse-drawn carriage riders, disappearing into the crowd, walking toward Central Park West on her way home…a headliner for the 300 or so in the audience on the grass at the show, dramatically clad in a breeze-blown, diaphanous, painted veil over jeans and a tee shirt. But now she just blended into the flow of humanity…from star and larger than life…to waiting for the ‘walk’ sign, crossing the street. Highs and lows, the fate of performers…a face in the crowd to one of the crowd in the blink of an eye. I followed her with my eyes to see if an entourage, a husband, a friend met her. None did. And no one, but me, knew how extraordinary she had been, just minutes before.