About a year ago, we won a pair of tickets to the Berkeley Rep at an auction. Suddenly realizing they were about to expire, Amy announced a few days ago that we were going to see Carrie Fisher‘s one-woman show, Wishful Drinking. The fact that our house has been filled with Star Wars talk for three months running did not exactly have me enthused about the prospect, but I had heard she’s had an interesting life, and what the hey – why not open up a few new circuits?
Prepared to be underwhelmed, but both of us were blown away by how good the performance was. It would be hard for anyone to spend two hours talking about their own life – no matter how surreal – without it coming off self-indulgent or egocentric. But somehow, Fisher managed to be both hilarious and humble about… everything: Her marriage to Paul Simon, her plunge into mental illness, her substance abuse, her relationship with Hollywood (her mother is Debbie Reynolds, her father was the singer Eddie Fisher, who left his mother for Liz Taylor (she did a great extended segment called “Hollywood Inbreeding 101”)), her magical ability to turn men bald and gay, the comic book collectors and sci-fi fans, who stalk her from the wings, the strange grandmother who locked her in the closet, yelling “Go ahead, cry all you want – you’ll pee less!” The whole thing was endearing and charming and full of silly wisdom that somehow seemed life affirming, despite all the tragedy.
Somehow we missed “the juicy stuff about making out with the actor Harrison Ford” (New York Times), but she did get 10 minutes of good Star Wars gossip into the mix, e.g. remembering George Lucas telling her she wouldn’t be allowed to wear a bra under her white robes in Star Wars. “Umm… OK… why not?” “Because there is no underwear in space,” Lucas deadpanned back, with that face that knows only one expression. “Ah, right. Lucas has been to space, looked all around, and didn’t see any underwear. He knows!”
Kind of tough to get across just how compelling the show was. If it comes to your area, just go.
If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood to throw up a little bit in your mouth, re-live the saccharine, Hallmark-y 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special: Happy Life Day (warning: includes cute baby wookies). Glutton for punishment? This 5-minute condensation of the two-hour boondoggle includes Bea Arthur and The Jefferson Starship, together at last on one stage! Looking at these now, it’s amazing she didn’t spend half the show talking about the shame this one TV special must have caused.
Thanks grahams for the Holiday Special links.