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I should get a better camera. Or at least not be so shy when taking pictures.

John Hodgman was performing a comedy show last night at Union Hall in Park Slope. I didn’t know that, so the giddy joy I felt as I told my companion PC was standing in front of us at the door was genuine. I thought perhaps that he was just there to soak up the hipster vibe like the rest of us. It turned out he was amplifying the hipster vibe, by a factor of ten at least.

We two were joined by two more — a couple of guys I’ve known since high school, one of whom is a Midwestern expat like myself, the other one is visiting from the motherland. They were suitably impressed by our celebrity sighting. To make the serendipity complete a couple more friends showed up and greetings were exchanged all around. It turns out those friends had tickets to see Mr. Hodgman perform in the club downstairs. Micaela told us that he was going to name 700 mole men (people who live in the underground tunnels beneath New York City) while his friend played some song over and over. I said, “that sounds terrible,” and our friends said, “It’s probably just a joke. He’s not really going to do that.”

I know what you’re thinking. “That sounds awesome! It sounds just like something Zach Galifianakis might do!” Then you might continue in this vein: “I love absurdist humor! Like, Monty Python was my older brother’s favorite, and I totally grew up on shows like Wonder Showzen!” You probably also have a beard that resembles a Lithuanian lady’s netherlands, skinny jeans, and a fixed gear bike. That is to say, you’re probably a hipster in your mid 20s.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Everybody (God willing) lives through their 20s and passes through the awkward phase in which you think that anything that is perfectly senseless is actually very clever. God knows the 20th century in the West did it in its 20s. Remember Schoenberg and Marcel Duchamp? But it really is just a phase, the last shiver of late adolescent perversity that eventually becomes either annoying (Schoenberg) or stale (Duchamp). (Monty Python is the exception. Their absurdism is the cover for truly biting satire and witty exposure of human foilbles.) Sure enough, our friends emerged from the underground after name 250. Yes, he was actually going to do what he promised, and yes, it was tedious.

After two more rounds of drinks our group dwindled to three: me and the two guys. We noticed some commotion at the back of the room. It was Mr. Hodgman with his entourage and various hangers on. I decided for the sake of journalism to approach Mr. Hodgman and ask his views on comedy, politics, and Schoenberg. That last one came to mind because I saw he had his (very expensive looking) ukelele with him. This, I thought, will be my point of entry. I have a dear old friend who is himself a bit of an absurdist masterwork who has played the ukelele for 20 years, and who taught me to play a couple of songs. I thought, if I can only get the uke in my hands, I’ll have the best story ever to post on my blog….

I walked right up to him, stuck out my hand, and said, “Hello Mr. Hodges.” (Oops.) “Hello.” He said, Then his entourage did their job and shut me out. I was put at the end of the receiving line on a couch next to a kid from Indiana with red hair. He couldn’t have been more than 23, he was nervous, trembling all over, and drenched with sweat. (He also had a scraggly red beard, wore tight jeans, and probably got to the show on his fixed gear bike.)

I suppose this is why famous people have entourages — to limit access to them to the “right” people, and I’m sure I’m not the right sort of person. But I had no idea to what insidous lengths they would go to make sure I didn’t lay my hands on that ukelele. Every time I reached across the low coffee table frontier to talk to Mr. Hodgman the bar tender would turn up the annoying hipster music. If I leaned forward on the couch, the kid beside me would pull be back with a question, or Mr. Hodgman’s friend, standing to his left, would turn his body to stand in between us. Finally, as I was answering the kid’s latest querry (on the best place to get a flat fixed in Park Slope) I looked up and Mr. Hodgman had been spirited away to the bar, where he and the inner circle were holding court. Defeated and deflated, I and my miserably small two person entourage slunk out of the bar.

Is there a happy ending to this story? Sadly, no. After years of preparation — learning how to play the &%^$ ukelele, memorizing a full two sets worth of cute, hipster-pleasing songs, waiting for my big break, and immolating sacrifices on the alter of Fama, goddes of 15 second celebrity — my moment came and went. And so I sign off this post as I started it: in obscurity.

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