Yes, it’s true… I was in a televised sketch with Amy Poehler.
Yes, that Amy Poehler.
Let me paint a picture for you…
(It’s a sad clown holding a drooping flower, and it took me about three hours. You’ll probably want to frame it and then display it in a place of prominence in your home. You’re welcome.)
Okay, now let me paint a metaphorical picture for you…
As I describe the location and time frame of the particular event that changed many people’s lives forever.
The month was February. The year was 1999. The city was New York. I was on a school field trip with 20 or so wide-eyed dreamers, all looking to expand our horizons.
I was young, headstrong, and a delight.*
I had dreamed of visiting NYC, the city that never sleeps, because some of my favorite television programs were filmed there. Before the trip, I wrote a letter to Late Night with Conan O’Brien requesting tickets for some members of the group, and several weeks later I received eight paper tickets in the mail.
(Things to keep in mind: this was before 9-11, before Occupy Wall Street, and before the internet was really even a “thing.”)
On February 24, we showed up to 30 Rockefeller and we were escorted onto the elevator (with its NBC peacock-print carpet), and up 30 stories to the studio. We were ushered to the front row, where we made chit-chat with Max Weinberg and his Max Weinberg 7. Conan and Andy came out to chat to the audience before the show. I put my hand up and asked for a hug, and Conan said, “no.” I don’t remember much about the show itself, except the guests were Howie Mandel (OCD comedian) and Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons).
The thing that I remember very clearly, was that as the audience began to clear out, a Producer approached a few of us and asked if we’d like to be in a sketch that would air the following night. “Uh, yeah.”
(This is the magic of NYC… Anything can happen!)
The premise of the sketch was that Late Night wasn’t a very popular TV show, so they had a hard time filling the audience. They were having a draw for a dinner out with Conan and Andy, but every time they drew a ticket there was no one in the corresponding seat, until they finally drew a ticket and it turned out to be, “Andy’s little sister, Stacy,” who was wearing an upper body brace because of an unexplained injury.
“Andy’s little sister Stacy” was played by a little-known actress by the name of Amy Poehler.
“Wistful and wise audience member number 5” was played by yours truly.
Full discloure: I took my performance to a new level that day, first looking pensive, and then plaintive, and then mixing in a bit of nostalgic contemplation. I shifted in my seat, and gently rested my chin on my fist. I wasn’t Kim Manky that day, I was “Audience member number 5.” And when the Director yelled “cut,” I knew that I had nailed it.
I don’t want to brag, but I think it’s safe to say that working with me obviously and unequivocally elevated Amy’s acting game as we “treaded the boards” together (I sat a few rows in front of her, and we definitely made eye contact.)
This was before Saturday Night Live, a string of hit movies, and a best-selling memoir (all Amy’s).
Would she have gone on to become a well-known, award-winning actress, comedian, director, writer and producer if she hadn’t had the opportunity to work with me on that fateful day?
We’ll never know.
(But probably not.)
* It’s not important. I just wanted you to know.