It is 1978.
Vince Carroll, Chris Callard, Kim Long and I enter the Roxy Theater as Steve Allen’s Big Band plays. We are late because Vince was working at Vons and couldn’t get off early. He picked us up straight from work and is wearing an ensemble that – well, he doesn’t always look like this. And it’s not just the polka dotted tie/striped shirt combo. He has decorated his shirtfront with a good-sized purple ink stain from marking prices on canned goods.
The show has already started. We get the last table in the place. An usher brings us in between numbers. I knew Steve Allen as a comedian from television’s Golden Era. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew he had written a song or two but as the band goes through their set, I recognize every song. The man is wildly prolific and a damn fine songwriter.
During a break between songs, Allen addresses the audience.
“This is the part in the show where I’m supposed to introduce someone in the audience. Last night the stage manager handed me a card with the name Dr. Sydney Weinstein. I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world but wasn’t familiar with Dr. Weinstein’s work. And, as it turned out, someone was just having a joke on him.”
The audience laughs.
“But tonight, the name on the card is one I recognize. He is a man who has helped bring live television back and I am pleased to introduce Mr. Chevy Chase!”
The spotlight comes on and I am in it. I blink and applaud as I look around. A man at the next table stands and it is, in fact, Chevy Chase. He waves and nods. The band resumes their set.
Chris and Vince are aspiring stand-up comedians. At the end of the show, Vince makes a bee-line for Chase’s table.
“Mr. Chase!” he exclaims, grabbing the comedian’s hand and pumping it furiously. “I’d just like to thank you for making me laugh!”
Chevy Chase takes in the striped shirt and polka dot tie, and the purple Rorschach stain. He pumps Vince’s hand right back, grinning.
“And I’d like to thank YOU for making ME laugh.”