Monday, September 9, 2013

In The Big City: John Hodgman at the Rex Theater

Ever since Hubby and I have been together, we have been big fans of John Hodgman.  In fact, as we were driving to our honeymoon in New York, Hubby read excerpts of one of Hodgman's books aloud to me.  Because that is what nerds do to show their love.  They share nerd culture.

As we have gotten older, and more comfortably entrenched in nerd culture, we have come to an even deeper appreciation of Hodgman's genius, through his books, his recently released Netflix special "Ragnarok", and his amazing podcast, Judge John Hodgman.  About a year ago, I vowed that the next time he came within a reasonable driving distance, I was going to see his live show.  That item got checked off the bucket list this past weekend.

The minute I learned Hodgman was coming to Pittsburgh, I bought tickets.  I then spent 3 months fretting about Hubby's work schedule to insure that he could attend with me (it all worked out).  By the time the big day arrived, I was so excited I could not shut up about it.  I was tweeting and facebooking like a maniac.


We got to the show about 30 minutes before the door opened, and already a line had formed.  This was going to be amazing.  When we got inside, our diligence paid off with second row seats on the right aisle.  Sweet.  The show opened with a 30 minute set by local comedienne Gab Bonesso.  Hubby was familiar with her work, but this was my introduction to Gab.  She did a great job, and it was wonderful to be able to support a local artist.  If you have a chance to see her live, take it, you will not be disappointed.


Then, the big event.  Hodgman took the stage, and for the next hour and a half, I was in heaven.  I knew the show was going to be good, but it totally blew away all my expectations.  I saw a whole new side to Hodgman, and I do not just mean the part where he stripped to his skivvies (more on that in a bit).  I saw a much more relaxed, casual side to him, and I have to say, my love and admiration for him grew.  He talked a little bit about Pittsburgh, some outdated cultural references, a very amusing tale of his recent speaking engagement on April 20th (my birthday woot woot), some amazing stories about his "cats" and even a song or two.

  During his set, I was consciously aware that I was experiencing pure joy.  This is not an exaggeration, I literally paused and realized how happy this show was making me, and said a silent word of thanks, just for being alive to experience it.


The highlight of the show was when Hodgman stripped down to his boxer briefs, donned a dress, and did a bit in character as Ayn Rand.  It was so amazing, and given the fact that one of our dogs' middle name is Rand after this same woman, I suspect it was the highlight of the night for Hubby.  He laughed so hard, and it made me so happy to hear him having a great time.


There were two moments of the night that melted my Pittsburgh loving, media nerd, fangirl heart.  The first moment was when Hodgman ended the show by singing the classic Mr. Rogers closing song, "It's Such a Good Feeling".  The ENTIRE audience sang (and snapped when appropriate) along with him, and it was one of those moments of perfection you only experience when seeing a live performance.  I was kicking myself for not recording it, still am.


After the show, I snuck up to the stage and asked Hodgman if I could have the paper he used for the cultural references bit, and he graciously obliged.  I clutched it in my hand, and we waited in line for the meet and greet, so that I could get it autographed.  When we finally got up to him, Hodgman said "Oh, hello again.  I am John".  I responded "Hi, I am Tiffany, and this is my husband, Steve".  Then the second heart melting moment happened.  Hodgman responded with "Oh, the Harkleroads."

::blink blink::

HOLY CRAP HE KNEW WHO WE WERE.   Turns out he had seen all the support we were both throwing his way on Twitter.  And then, he thanked us for said support.  I was so blown away and flustered that we forgot to get a photo with him.  He proceeded to sign the paper he had given me, and chatted for a few minutes.

Not only was John Hodgman a hilarious and engaging performer, he was humble and gracious.  If I could sum up the entire night in one word, it would be, without a doubt, "magical".

Go support live shows by both local and nationally touring artists.  It is an experience unlike any other.