Bye George

Published 2:12 pm Monday, July 7, 2008

Probably because Ive been a stand-up comic since, well, never you mind, I seem to be first on the receiving list of sad emails and phone calls whenever a fellow entertainer dies:
Hi Pam, did you hear about Tom Poston? Isnt that sad…..
Didnt you work with Richard Jeni? Wow, what a shock!
Ah, Harvey Kormans passed…he was so wonderful!
The truth is, while I appreciate the sentiments, I dont know most entertainers any more than their most loyal fans. Even those that I worked with. Appearing in an episode of Coach, with Tom Poston, I found him to be an utter delight: a dear, kind, man and a generous actor. But I didnt know him. And I cant tell you how many airline flights and back-stage green rooms I shared with Richard Jeni: literally dozens. But we never had dinner together. I have a fond memory of Milton Bearle berating me as I was the youngest comic that happened to be seated near him, over how these damned young comics today are all the same! No originality! Did he remember me five minutes later? Doubt it. However, when they all passed away, like everyone else, I mourned and smiled at the thought of each.
When George Carlin died unexpectedly, it hit me like a hammer. Not George! Not Hippie-Dippie Weatherman George. Not the man that slayed me with, I have just as much authority as the Pope, I just dont have as many people who believe it. I just assumed he would be my generations George Burns: living forever, working forever. He was one of my earliest inspirations and his meaty, intellectual observations never failed to astonish and intimidate me.
Did I know him? No. Have I ever met him? Yes.
In 1992, after five, failed, nominations for Best Female Stand-up Comic presented by The American Comedy Awards, I managed to break my own Susan Lucci curse and win the damned thing. It was a marvelous evening: the show aired prime-time on ABC and featured comedic luminaries such as Billy Crystal, Steve Martin and Tom Hanks. George Carlin was presenting the Stand-up Award.
And the winner is…….. he said, breaking the red seal of the envelope (I still have it).
My enormous, lacquered, blonde hair quavered beneath the lights.
Pam Stone!
To my horror, there is footage still of me leaping the stairs in my cat suit (thats what you get for not questioning the judgment of a Beverly Hills shop-girl). I resembled a black velvet pipe cleaner. And I simply towered over George. He must have thought the Statue of Liberty was making a bee-line for him. I was so much taller that I didnt even try to bend down and kiss his cheek. It would have looked like a mother sending her youngster off to kindergarten.
Before taking the award and turning to face the cameras, I made a private joke to him and he laughed. He laughed. This is the equivalent of Tiger Woods nodding in approval of a putt youve just made. And in that moment I fell forever in his debt.
Thank you, George. Youll never know what that meant to this Southern girl from Marietta, Georgia.

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