Saturday, January 20, 2007

Celebrity Snippets: Ellen DeGeneres

Once a week long-time radio producer and author Rick Kaempfer shares his favorite brushes with greatness in a feature he calls “Celebrity Snippets.”

Ellen DeGeneres turns 49 this week. She has hosted The Emmy's twice, and her very popular TV-talk show “Ellen” is on the air every weekday on NBC.

In 1989, I was working as the producer of the Steve Dahl & Garry Meier show on WLUP AM, but I was also helping out another show at the same station: The Kevin Matthews Show. For the most part, my help was only needed at his live stage shows.

Kevin hosted a series of what he called “Comedy Jams” in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He recruited comedians from around the country to appear at these shows, and one of them was Ellen DeGeneres.

At the time, Ellen was an up and coming comedian with a quirky sense of humor. Her stand up act was polished, but she wasn’t nationally known.

I was working backstage when I had my one and only encounter with her. She was in her dressing room minding her own business, when a co-worker of mine (I won’t embarrass him by publicly revealing his name) knocked on her door. This co-worker had earlier told me: “There’s something about Ellen that really turns me on.”

He saw me watching him knock, and winked to let me know he was going to be turning on the charm. Ellen was 31 at the time. My co-worker was around 25.

I knew he had no chance, but I didn’t know he really had no chance.

Ellen was very polite and allowed him to enter her dressing room, but she stood in the doorway in a way that wouldn’t allow the door to be closed. That was too bad for my co-worker, because I heard the entire awkward conversation.

He asked her what she was doing after the show, and wondered if she wanted to “party.”

Ellen told him that she never went out after shows--she preferred to go back to her room and chill out. I was expecting my co-worker to ask if he could come back to the hotel with her, but even Romeo realized he was striking out. He sheepishly told her to “break a leg,” and then left her dressing room.

He was embarrassed when he saw that I had heard the entire conversation, so as he walked by me, he said: “I bet she’s a lesbian.”

"Sure, pal," I joked. "If she’s not into you, then she’s gotta be a lesbian."

When Ellen "came out" on her television show in 1997, I was probably laughing harder than anyone else in the country.

She really is a lesbian.

Although between you and me, I’m betting that even if she wasn’t, she still would have given my co-worker the exact same brush off.

Stories like this one (and many, many more) are available via Allworth Press--in my How-To-Guide for producing radio shows (co-written with fellow radio producer John Swanson)

Click on this link to order your copy: The Radio Producer's Handbook

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Half Empty: Medical Small Talk

They say that when you hit your 40s, your life is half over. We prefer to think of it as HALF EMPTY. Our age has finally caught up with our outlook on life. Remember, it is possible to turn that frown upside down...but you might pull a muscle.


By Rick Kaempfer & Dave Stern

When Rick mentioned an awkward small talk conversation he had with his urologist during his vasectomy procedure (Steve & Garry notebook), he was a little surprised at the reaction it received.

Apparently, this sort of thing happens to just about everyone. It may occur during vasectomies, but it happens at other equally embarrassing moments.

This column is for our friends in the medical profession. We know you do this sort of work every day so it’s no big deal to you. It’s only natural to lose sight of the fact that there are times when small talk is not appropriate.

We’re writing this as a gentle reminder.

A loyal reader (who begged us not to use his name) sent this to us. It’s his recollection (he called it a transcript) of a recent visit to the doctor’s office. He was there for a routine prostate exam.

At the doctor’s office

Doc: (while putting a rubber glove on his hand) Is your kid still taking piano lessons?

Patient: Yes, he really seems to like it.

Doc: (while putting lube on two fingers) Piano is almost the perfect musical instrument for kids. Once they get the basics of piano, they can move on to almost any other musical instrument after that. Please drop your pants and face the wall.

Patient: (while dropping pants and facing the wall) Yeah, I wish I stuck with my piano lessons when….

Doc: Can you spread your legs a little bit…

Patient: Sure….HELLO…when I was a kid.

Doc: (while checking prostate) My wife and I don’t have any kids but I’m a big believer in the piano.

Patient: Yeah….(grunt)…me too.

Doc: (while moving fingers around and squeezing prostate) Did you know that kids who naturally pick up the piano are usually pretty good at math, and kids that are pretty good at math are usually pretty good at piano?

Patient: Yeah….um….I….heard….(grunt)…that.

Doc: (while removing fingers) It’s really a mathematical process.

Patient: (exhaling) I guess so.

Doc: (while taking off his glove and tossing it in the garbage can) Are your kids good at math?

Patient: Yes…they…

Doc: You can pull your pants back up.

Patient: Oh, thanks. Yeah, they are pretty good at math. So…how did it turn out?

Doc: My wife and I both still play the piano.

Patient: (pointing at the garbage can) No, I mean…

Doc: Oh? It’s fine. No problems. You’re just getting older. Nothing to worry about.

Got any other examples of awkward small talk conversations during really embarrassing moments? We’d love to hear them. We promise not to reveal your name. Just click on the “E-mail me” link, and send in a transcript (as close as you can remember it) of your conversation.

If you missed any previous Half Empty columns, click here: