Scene 3: Dance with The Dogg
by Memoirs of a Seatfiller
Put your Discman on pause and now fast-forward a year to March 2004. A lot has happened for me in the past 13 months. Deep breath: I graduated with a Masters in Physical Therapy – moved from Philly to my parents house – studied for my boards – passed my boards – no idea what I want to do – interviewed at 33 places – decided NYC is the place I want to be – found my ideal job – got my ideal job – and was a waitress in the meantime. P.s. I was a really good waitress [cut to angry customer throwing a drink in my face]. So my job as a seatfiller has been temporarily put on hold but now I’m ready to get back into it. I was notified that Comedy Central needed Seatfillers for their “Bar Mitzvah Bash” which sounded cool… I guess. Most of my best friends are Jewish, so I’m down with the Tribe. I had no idea it would be one of the most memorable nights of my life…
Ding! (You’ve got mail). “Calling all Seatfillers. Join us for a night of laughs at Comedy Central’s Bar Mitzvah Bash.” What the hell is this?? Now I have time to be a seatfiller and I’m going from the Grammys to… dancing the Hora, caricaturists and balloon arches? Great. I read on: “It will be a comedy special celebrating the network’s 13th year on the air. Due to a need for seatfillers, you can bring up to two friends.” Ok cool. Well I guess I will bring my besties Steph and Miriam (ironically both part-Jewish and Miriam moonlights as a Bar Mitzvah dancer… yes I swear that’s her job).
It’s a Friday night, on March 19th, and we are headed to Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. This time the gowns are left in the closet and we are hooched out. We got our hair did, mini-dress with cleavage poppin and f**k-me-pumps on (sorry daddy). We arrive at Hammerstein Ballroom, as I just hyped up my seatfiller experience the entire way there, and expected to once again arrive to a mob scene. Hmmm nothing? No crowds? No lines? W.T.F? Is this the right day? We mosey up to the entrance. There is a table with one person who checks us off a list and directs us to a waiting area. Inside the waiting area are some other seatfillers – just hanging out, very chill, no lines, no craziness. So we wait. Some more seatfillers trickle in. We wait longer… two hours go by… and we wait some more.
“What’s going on? Nothing is happening. When is the good stuff gonna happen? Where’s all the celebs?” says Miriam in a pout. Me: “This is only my second time being a seatfiller and the first time was unbelievable.” At this point Steph and Miriam are ready to choke me. We are all dressed up, standing around for hours, our feet are killing us and we are exhausted. This is not the glamour they expected. Miriam finally jumps ship: “I’m too exhausted, I’m going home. Do you really think something cool is gonna happen?” Me: “Yes I have a gut feeling about tonight.” Mir: “I’m not so sure. You guys have fun.” Steph:“ I’ll stay, I have nowhere else to be.” Now I feel like a tool. Why did I hype this up? Is she right? Is this lame? I feel totally stupid. But I really think something exciting is gonna happen…
“Ok seatfillers – line up! Here’s how it’s works. We are going to position you up along the back of the theater, and when all the guests have arrived, you will fill in the empty seats. We have a really funny cast of comedians performing, so sit back and enjoy the show.” You know what – that’s a good point. I’m just going to enjoy the show. Even if I don’t meet cool celebrities, I have a free ticket to a great event and will be entertained. This is why I love New York. Now all the guests start to arrive…. Here we go! Who’s gonna be here? I scan the audience, my adrenaline pumping and… nada. I can’t see anything. I’m too far in the back. Everyone now arrives and Steph and I are assigned to seats. At the Grammys, Sarita and I sat together, but here Steph and I were assigned to different sections. I get stuck stage left, in the back, on the aisle. Steph is a few sections ahead of me. I spend a few minutes straining, trying to see… nothing. I hear grumblings about possible names: Ben Stiller, Wanda Sykes, Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, Colin Quin, Hank Azaria and some others. Lights dim before I get a peep and so the show begins.
Host Adam Carolla comes out. It evokes a few chuckles. Next, the comedians start performing. Jeffrey Ross gets on the stage and now I’m into it. Hysterical. Up next – Mario Cantone – he’s so funny tears start streaming down my face. I’m totally engrossed in the show when all of a sudden… a feverish tap on my shoulder. I jump. What the f… who the hell? I look up. Standing over me is a gorgeous 6’8” black man wearing a full-length mink coat, with diamonds in his ears the size of an ice-skating rink. He signals for me to get up and step to the side. My initial reaction: Oh shit. What did I do? I’m in trouble. But for what? What could I have done? Then he asks me, “Miss, do you dance?” Ummmm que, what? Confused. “Sir, do you think I’m a stripper? I’m not. I know my skirt is kind of short, but I swear I have a very respectable job.” He laughs and explains, “No I mean can you dance? Tonight there will be a surprise celebrity guest performance. It’s Snoop Dogg. I work for him. I was asked to pick 5 girls from the audience to come backstage, learn a basic routine and perform behind him.” Ummm again… que??? Me: “Seriously? What? Yes I can dance. I’ve taken classes for many years, BUT I only feel comfortable doing this if I can bring my cousin Steph.” He says “well… which one is she?” So I point. “Oh yea, she’s hot, she fine, bring her.” Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! This can’t be happening.
I grab Steph. She looks up and sees me standing with my ‘new friend’ and says “what’s going on?” I stammer, “they want us to perform with the guest celebrity Snoop Dogg. Come on, we have to go backstage.” Steph: “You’re kidding.” Our new friend: “No, not kidding Miss. Please put on these talent passes so you can have access and won’t be stopped.” So we put on our lanyard and plastic pass… I feel like I’m Charlie and was just given a golden ticket to the chocolate factory. Now we are escorted backstage where we meet a few girls and the choreographer. She lines us up, teaches us a simple routine and we practice. After rehearsal is over we are asked to sign a waiver because the show is being aired on TV. “Ok ladies, we have about 10 minutes, then you’re on.” Now the nerves kick in. Sweat is literally pouring off of my body. Again, the chunks begin to rise in my throat. Some guy then says, “Girls you need to relax. That door leads to the Green Room, go in and have a drink, you all need it.”
I open the door to the Green Room. The site before me will forever be etched into my mind. There standing in a green and grey tracksuit is Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr (aka. Snoop Dogg). Dancing in place, holding his pimp cup, he smoothly states, “Ladies, ladies, come on in and make yourselves comfortable.” I stand frozen in my tracks, can’t move an inch, till I feel a nudge from Steph. My legs are moving but I can’t feel them. I think I’m having a stroke… “Help yourselves to a drink and thank you all for coming.”
So I look over at the table and notice there is only one kind of liquor…Courvoisier Cognac. Oh no, I’ve only heard about this stuff in rap songs, what is it? All the girls just stand there staring at it, no one willing to give it a try. At this point I’m so nervous I’d drink Moonshine if it was in front of me. I pour a glass and take a few gulps. Now I’m feeling gooooood. Then we hear: “Snoop… Ladies… You’re on in 2!”
As I walk out in front of the audience, I feel myself float out of my body and rise above the stage. As thousands of eyes watch, I perform the routine rehearsed, but feel like a stranger is controlling my limbs. After a minute I relax and take it all in. This is the most surreal thing I’ve ever seen. I am on stage at Hammerstein ballroom, dancing behind Snoop Dogg. Before I know it, it’s over, we hustle off stage and the adrenaline is still pumping through my body. It’s the most intense high I have ever felt, even greater than taking too much NyQuil. Snoop follows us off stage and then gives us a big hug: “Thank you my ladies. Now come back and celebrate in the Green Room. A few friends will be there.”
We go back into the Green Room and Snoop’s entourage follows… Bishop Don Juan and Uncle Joonbug. Bishop Don Juan is wearing this blue and white outfit with stars and a corresponding Top Hat. It confuses me. Then there is Uncle Joonbug. Quite an interesting man. Snoop calls him his idol and the O.G pimp. All I know is he’s about 75 years old, about 75 pounds and he keeps trying to hump my leg. Maybe that’s where Snoop Dogg got his name and inspiration.
We’re all hanging out when the guests start to trickle in. First you have Wanda Sykes, then in hobbles Jeffrey Ross on crutches, Dave Attell, Colin Quinn, DL Hughley and a few others. Everyone starts mingling and chatting. Hmmmm I know that guy. Who is he? I’ve seen him somewhere. So me, with my “Courvoisier muscles,” saunters up to this guy and starts chatting. In conversation he says, “oh yea, its cool, we are in the first season of the show and its fun.” Then it hits me. I’ve seen his show and it’s hysterical. So I say, “Oh I love your show…I’m Rick James bitch!” It was Dave Chappelle. He politely smiles and nods “Yes, I’ve had that quoted to me a few times.” Doh. Probably not my wittiest moment.
A little while later, we’re sitting around in a circle of chairs, when Snoop Dogg breaks out the LARGE Louis Vuitton duffle bag (est. value: $1,510). Everyone seems to get the gist of what’s happening, but I’m as clueless as Cher Horowitz. Snoop opens the bag and it’s the most egregious site my eyes have ever seen. I’d later come to learn it’s what the west coasters call “The Chronic.” Steph innocently says, “What’s that?” and I whisper back, “I have no idea.” Something starts getting passed around the circle. Before I have a chance to inspect the situation, the choreographer comes storming over: “Don’t take that.” I stammer, “Well I wasn’t going to… I was just curious as to…” She interrupts, “Don’t even think about it – I’m watching you.” Geez, okay lady. It’s cool that I hang out with celebrity – but I can’t share with the celebrity. I don’t want it anyway! Then I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s DJ Clue. Steph elbows me in my side. He says, “Here. You want it?” I feel the choreographer looking at me. I again stammer: “Ummm no thanks…I have to pee.” Smooth. Real smooth.
From there we went to the “W” hotel for the after-party where Snoop got tables and bottles for everyone. He really is the alpha…dog?
Fast-forward a month to Sunday, April 25, 2004. All my friends have heard the tale of the Dogg (no pun intended) and have gathered to view my big television debut. We are at my friend Keryn’s house, people strewn about, overcome with anticipation for the show. Here it comes! My moment! I wonder what I will look like. Oh God, I hope the camera really doesn’t add 10 pounds. This is it! And……….my segment was cut. Awesome.