By Sean Fitz-Gerald
Am I an asshole?
Last Wednesday night I acted on a tip from a friend who said Martin Short was going to be making a guest appearance at The Second City comedy club.
I called the club and asked if I could show up and do a “colour” piece on the place before it closed down and moved to its new home on Blue Jays Way. Admittedly, It was a small lie, but I felt if I was honest, they wouldn’t let me on the property.
The media relations lady was very nice to me and said she would have a table ready for me that night.
Second City’s last show at the Old Firehall on Lombard Street was entitled “Last dance on Lombard.” It was hilarious.
As promised, Short went up on stage after the show and did an hour’s worth of improv with six other Second City alumni. This, too, was incredibly funny.
After the show, most of the patrons started filing out, leaving behind some autograph-seekers and the Second City cast members.
I pulled out my camera and tape recorder and waited for Short. I had never interviewed a celebrity before and I was as nervous as Mel Lastman in a homeless shelter.
As I prepared to talk to Short, my friend came by on his way out ang suggested I check out the rear entrance to make sure Short didn’t sneak out. I did, and there wasn’t any sign of movement, so I went back inside.
On my way back to the stage area, a man stopped and asked if I was waiting for Shirt. I told him I was.
“That’s sort of an asshole thing to do,” he remarked. He said Short had just come for this event and may not want to be bothered by any journalists.
I assured him if Short emerged I would make the utmost effort to be polite to him, and ensure that I wasn’t bothering him.
Eventually, Short emerged, and I caught up with him outside of the club as he was accepting congratulatory handshakes from his adoring fans.
I politely asked him if he had just a moment for a quick interview and a picture, assuring him I was just a journalism students and not some sort of paparazzi scum. He smiled, assured me I was not in his way, posed for a couple of pictures and spoke with me for about two minutes before going to his parked car.
On his way to the car, he chuckled and said, “It was you guys who killed Princess Diana, you know.”
On my way home, I wondered if I had acted out of line. Had I invaded his privacy? Had I acted rudely to him in any way?
After a great deal of thought, I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t. I did not run up to him and snap his picture unannounced. I didn’t shove my recorder in his face. It’s not like I hopped on a motorcycle and chased him down the Gardiner Expressway.
I felt I had given him all the respect and privacy any journalist could have. I asked for permission, and he consented.
Am I an asshole?