iO WEST ARMANDO NIGHT WITH KATE WALSH AND MORE: Kate Walsh (Private Practice, Gray's Anatomy) and Reno 911 creator and star Robert Ben Garant will host the 3-act, 2 ½ hour improv extravaganza. Garant (along with partner Thomas Lennon) is a top screenwriter, having written the hits The Pacifier, Herbie:Fully Loaded, Balls of Fury, Night at the Museum, and the upcoming Night at the Museum 2. The Office's Angela Kinsey, Kate Flannery, and Ed Helms as well as MADtv's Mo Collins will be joining the cast of regular "Armando" performers including Tim Meadows (Walk Hard, SNL) for this incredible night with more special celebrity performers to be announced in the upcoming days. All proceeds go to the WGA Industry Support Fund. Tickets for this special show are $25. The show starts at 9pm. iO West is located at 6366 Hollywood Blvd. For tickets call 323-962-7560. Check out the website at iowest.com.
I told a friend about it and we were a little surprised that it hadn't been written up anywhere else, but thought it was worth a shot to get some tickets. I was expecting this to be very difficult, but nope--a standard ticket buying operation and we were good to go.
Now I need to preface all this by saying I am a HUGE fan of The Office. After my jaw surgery I watched both the BBC version and all of the American version, in order, and pretty frequently (it was difficult to laugh at the time because, oh yeah--my jaw was wired shut, but it was probably the best distraction from the pain besides the codene). The other show I watched a lot of was Grey's Anatomy. Because I think Meredith is a whiny little bitch, Addison, played by Kate Walsh, was easily my favorite female character. As Kate Walsh has become increasingly present in the regular celebrity press, I've decided that she is just fantastic, so it's safe to say I'm a big fan. So essentially, the opportunity to see some of my favorite cast members from two of my top favorite television shows seemed just too good to be true.
Well, last night we arrived at the iO West theater, not really sure what was in store. The venue itself was interesting; you walk into a small space that was essentially a bar that also doubles as the lobby. People are standing around chatting, getting drinks--it could have been just any night at any place. Then I look closer. Oh there's Kate Flannery (Meredith) and she just hugged Angela Kinsey (Angela). Wait a minute, that's Oscar! He's talking to Ed Helms (Andy)! And that's the blonde dude from Reno 911. Where's his mustache? Oh and look it's David Schwimmer! Oh wait, nope, just some dude who looks like him. And wow that bartender is hot. And who is this incredibly well dressed tall chick walking by me now? Holy Crap! It's Kate Walsh!
Okay so I've seen a handful of female celebrities between New York and LA--Julia Roberts, Claire Danes, Julianne Moore, Paris Hilton--and they are usually beautiful, it's true. Kate Walsh was no exception. It once again reminded me that celebrities are stars for good reasons. Perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect demeanor--the works.
It was completely bizarre to be standing in this room surrounded by all this brilliant talent, with everyone sort of chilling, drinking, talking, waiting for the show before to end. My friend and I sort of had a moment where we stared at each other in a mutual understanding. Were we allowed to be there? I mean, we are standing 5 feet from Kate Walsh (wearing a giant Barack Obama '08 pin on her kick-ass leather jacket, by the way) and any minute we're expecting someone is going to come in, tap us on the shoulder and quietly remove us from the premises, because clearly we don't belong.
But that's the thing about LA--you can go to a venue like this, sort of hob knob with the hoi polloi and the celebs--then watch some fantastic improv comedy. Speaking of--the show was a riot! I mean, of course Robert Ben Garant is hilarious, he kills it on Reno 911, but who knew Kate Walsh had such stellar comedy chops? Robert Ben Garant's monologues were a little funnier, or at least paced better, and he covered topics such as trading DVDs of movies he starred in for store credit and his Uncle Steve giving him and some buddies a trash bag of Marijuana for a trip to Mexico. Kate Walsh talked about a leaky roof in her dream house, and she told a hilarious anecdote about passing out at her wedding due to a heatwave and dehydration, as well as a pretty morbid story about her dad's cremation. And Kate, unlike Robert, also participated in the regular improv skits that followed each monologue, with the rest of the troupe. These were pure brilliance. Actors who really stood out were Angela and Ed Helms, who was probably the funniest on stage. He even did a little bit where he was singing and all I could think about was my favorite scene in The Office where he and Jim are in the car and Andy won't stop doing a capella. I loved him on The Daily Show, then Andy was one of my favorite added Office characters, and now it's safe to say that Ed Helms now has a special place in my heart as one of my favorite comic actors.
I think the most impressive thing was that the entire two and a half-hour show was 100% improvised. That is NOT easy. It takes a lot of talent to be able to do something like that, and it was pretty fantastic to see these well-known television stars having a whole lot of fun doing a whole lot of silliness. There were bits about an invincible fetus, getting lady raped, Hitler, the McDonald's drive through, a kid hitman, and hitting on people in Walmart. Knee-slapping stuff.
After the performance was over, everyone filed back into the lobby/bar area, and once again, my friend and I were pretty appalled that people were still just sort of mulling about and chatting--performers included. There was a moment where I walked out of the ladies room and pretty much smacked straight into Kate Walsh. I was tempted to ask her what it was like kissing Patrick Dempsey or if she missed her Grey's costars or if Katherine Heigl's teeth were as busted in person as they were on screen. Thanks to better judgment, I kept my mouth shut and moved on. I have to say, I definitely still haven't gotten over seeing celebrities in real life and up close. Yes, they are people too, but there is just something startling about it.
As we were both exhausted, my friend and I decided to pull ourselves away from the complete surreality of the evening (and all the actors who were still there hanging out) and walk back to my car, parked at nearby restaurant Wang's (a fine establishment, judging by the motley, pot-smelling crew in the parking lot). A quick trip to my friend's car, parked at In-n-Out, our pre-show dinner location of choice, and around midnight I was home, in bed, and on my way to dreaming about more nights like this one--nights that confirm some of the many reasons I moved to LA. In-n-Out included.
Kate Walsh and Ed Helms