What’s the point of living in LA if you’re not going to be friends with celebrities? In this series, The Avocado provides tips for approaching the sort of famous person standing in front of you at Coffee Bean without coming off like a total tourist.
Celebrity: Matt Besser
What You Know Him From? Matt Besser is one of the most influential American comedians of the last twenty years, he tells his wife when they argue. He is a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows.
What Your Mother Will Know Him From? Nothing. And if I were you I wouldn’t even try to explain who he is to her. Maybe you can elicit some type of recognition by mentioning that he started UCB with Amy Poehler, but do you really think that will impress her? I mean, your sister just got into medical school and you’re trying to drop Michael Belter or whatever his name is to your mom? Pathetic.
Who Cares What Your Mom Thinks? You Love Matt Besser. And You Need Help Getting Into a Sold Out UCB Course. How Should You Approach Him? The first thing to know about approaching Matt Besser is that he doesn’t want you to do it. You may think Matt Besser will be flattered by being recognized, but unlike Ian Roberts, he really doesn’t want to talk to you.
So I Should Ignore Him? Yes, do you know how many times people come up to Matt Besser and tell him how much they love him and how important he is to modern-day comedy, he asks his wife when they argue. The point is, every comedy nerd in Los Angeles goes up to him when he is trying to order his morning coffee and tries to talk to him about UCB. Unless he is wearing a hat. Then no one recognizes him at all.
I Insist On Speaking To Him! What Obscure Work Of His Should I Mention So He Knows I Am A Real Fan? Okay, start off by complimenting his podcast “Improv4Humans” then tell him that a dot-matrix printed picture of him wearing an eye patch from UCB’s first promotional VHS was an instigating event in your sexual awakening. He will tell you that Ian Roberts was actually the one wearing the eye patch in those promotional photos and that he was wearing the gear glasses. Good job fucking that up, you idiot.
You’ll apologize, letting him know that in the fog that is your adolescent sexual memories you remembered them all having eye-patches and that it’s a shame Ian Roberts isn’t more widely recognized for his contributions to the group and the etat du monde of 21st-century comedy. He’ll agree and will compliment you for your insight and incorrect French usage. At this point, you have successfully established rapport with Matt Besser. Congratulations.
It’s about now that you should casually mention that you were thinking about enrolling in a UCB Improv 101 course at the training center but can’t because your preferred time slot is sold out. He won’t respond, so just let the silence build for a few minutes. Eventually, because Matt Besser is a fucking gentleman, he’ll ask you your name and tell you he’ll see what he can do. He’ll also ask you for the $475 tuition upfront, which he prefers in cash “for tax reasons.” You panic because you don’t have that kind of money on you and lie that it’s in your car and ask him to wait a minute while you go get it. He reluctantly agrees because while he doesn’t need the money, he’s not at the point where he would just turn down $475 in cash.
So you go outside the Coffee Bean or wherever this meeting is happening and see a bank in the shopping center and think about robbing it, but you know you’ll probably just end up grabbing the dummy pack of money and getting blue ink all over your face which would make you look really bad in front of Matt Besser because what kind of nerf ball robs a bank without knowing how to differentiate between the real cash and the dummy stack? But then you remember there is a nail salon down the block your mom sometimes goes to called Nail Fever and figure that its probably a cash-heavy business given the mostly immigrant workforce, so you go there intent on robbing it, but when you get in there you see your mom getting her nails done and she lights up and says “Oh sweety, you came to surprise me on my birthday?”
Well, what are you going to do at this point but go with it and wish your mom a happy birthday and sit down next to her while a Vietnamese lady who wants you to believe her name is “Rebecca” gives you both manicures? So you and your mom have a really nice conversation and she tells you an amusing story about your father from when they were in college that you have heard before but still really like and you sigh after she is done with the story and tell her how much you miss him. She does too.
Then, during a quiet moment, you ask your mom for $475 and say you need it “no questions asked” because you don’t want to try to explain to her who Matt Besser is and in any event she won’t understand why you need money for improv classes when you have a perfectly good anthropology degree from Indiana University that you’re not doing anything with. So you tell her you just “need the fucking money mom” and she says okay, but says that this is the last time. You’ve heard that before. So she hands you her debit card and tells you her pin, which is your sister’s fucking birthdate. God, what a bitch.
You leave the nail salon, leaving your mom responsible for tipping Rebecca for both of your manicures and go to the Bank of America you thought about robbing and take out $500 from the ATM.
By the time you get the money it’s been like 45 minutes since you left Matt Besser and he is still waiting because truth be told he didn’t have anything better to do and enjoyed the time alone with his thoughts to think about comedy, his legacy, and why him and his wife have been arguing so much recently. You hand him $475 and he tells you to call up a woman named Lindsay and says she will get you set up with a class.
You and Matt Besser then part ways. True to his word, Lindsay was a sweetheart and enrolled you in a beginning improv class that you attended twice before quitting because it takes way too long to get from your apartment in NoHo to the UCB training center on Sunset on Tuesdays by 6PM, which, in retrospect, was a stupid timeslot for you to sign up for.
So, maybe don’t go up to Matt Besser next time you see him at a Coffee Bean because you will just end up wasting $475 and will further strain your relationship with your widowed mother who really doesn’t understand how on earth you could turn out so selfish. It’s not how she and your father raised you and he would be so ashamed to see you like this if he were still around.