Thursday, August 7, 2008


Things just seem to happen to Gregg Gethard. After telling a few stories at comedy shows in New York City, he created his own monthly show in Philly, BEDTIME STORIES, to tell a few more. Over the past year the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city.

Gregg is also a member of the Philadelphia sketch group The Sixth Borough, which will be performing their new sketch show "World Crisis" at the Adrienne Theater during the upcoming Philadelphia Fringe Fest.

Here, Gregg meets Nancy Pelosi. Yeah, that Nancy Pelosi.

Nancy Pelosi ranks as one of the most important historic figures in recent times. She’s the first female to ascend to Speaker of the House, making her third in line in case the president and vice-president die in a tragic combine accident or something.

And this week, I flirted with her.

And she may have flirted with me right back.
(Skip to the third part if you want to read about that and don’t care about my feelings about Nancy Pelosi. It’s cool, I won’t care if you do that, Aaron Hertzog.)

I don’t agree with Pelosi on a lot of issues. But, still, I jumped at the chance to see her speak Tuesday night at the Philadelphia Free Library, where she was discussing her book oddly entitled “Know Your Power, A Salute To Our Daughters.” Even though I don’t agree with everything she says, I still have to appreciate her – she’s managed to outmaneuver everyone in Congress to have the throne as its most powerful member, which is something to salute considering how politics has usually been dominated by people with penises. She probably put up with a ton of crap – sexist remarks, a general lack of respect of her opinions, patronizing behavior, etc – but somehow steered through it all.

In that way, she’s kind of like a member of Bikini Kill, except more likely to wear Tahitian wood pearls.

When I arrived, I was told the event was sold out. I began to see if there was a way to covertly sneak into the proceedings like my wife and I did when Anthony Bourdain spoke a few months back. (I like No Reservations a lot, and my wife would totally bone him, but that’s true for pretty much every girl, admit it, Meg Favreau.) However, armed library volunteers prevented me from sneaking into the auditorium.

No worries, though. I went back up to the ticket booth and asked if they had anything open. They did and they sold me a ticket – at half the price they were originally being sold at!

There were signs everywhere that the only way to meet Pelosi in person was by having a copy of “Know Your Power: A Salute To Our Daughters.” They were available for sale at the front of the library, but I stole a copy off the desk when no one was looking. (I don’t endorse shoplifting and have not participated in that unique hobby since I was a teenager when I stole a golf shirt from Caldor. But the books were $26 bucks and I don’t have health insurance right now, but am probably getting a policy this week, in case you’re wondering.)

I was not able to go to the auditorium where she was speaking live. Instead, I was pushed into a side room to watch her speak on simulcast. The room, as well as most of the people hanging around the library, was filled with wealthy-looking middle-aged women. I don’t think I’ve ever been around more clothing purchased at Talbot’s ever in my life.

The simulcast room was odd. When Pelosi took to the stage, the people watching her live applauded. After a little bit of a delay, the simulcast room also applauded. When Pelosi said she didn’t support the war in Iraq, the live audience applauded. And then after a few moments, the simulcast room applauded. No one really knew the proper etiquette of the situation. We were there to see Pelosi, but we weren’t actually seeing Pelosi, so what do you do in that situation? It was pretty awkward and right up my alley.

Before Pelosi was introduced, I read some of her book. It’s not really anything special – it’s mostly rote stuff about the importance of family and faith, etc. I’m a political junkie (I watch the Sunday edition of C-Span 2 more than I should) and am completely fascinated with political rhetoric and narrative. This is mostly because I am curious to know if these people actually believe what they say.

Case in point with Pelosi: Early in the book, she talks about how one of her daughters wanted a car when she was Georgetown. Pelosi said that wasn’t in the cards because they had five children and that wasn’t in the family budget. This is an odd statement because her husband’s some kind of investment banker and they’re worth around $25 million, so, actually, I think it was in the family budget.

Also of interest was Pelosi discussing how she came to become a Congresswoman, claiming her predecessor Sala Burton asked her to run for office on her deathbed, and Pelosi never before wanted to run for office. This is a curious statement since her father and brother both served as mayor of Baltimore, her father was a Congressman, she interned for a Congressman in college and she spent a lot of her adult life setting up a political base. But maybe I’m just being a bit cynical. The last person I saw on the deathbed was my grandfather, and he mostly just farted a lot.

But anyways, Pelosi’s not unique in politics in making up shit about her life or offering vague answers to questions she doesn’t want to answer (like when she was asked why she hasn’t tried to impeach Bush yet). And seriously, she really deserves a ton of respect for all she’s accomplished.

I wanted to show my respect for her in the book signing line. But the part of me that enjoys creating awkward public fiascos also wanted to do something. As always, that part of my brain took over.


So I got in line to have her sign my book. When in line, I started talking to the lady ahead of me. She was probably in her mid-20’s and was taking notes during Pelosi’s remarks. She told me she wrote for a website and wanted to ask Pelosi some hard hitting questions.

When in line, a library goon came down with a post-it note. He asked me whom I wanted the book made out to. I answered “Future Mother” and he gave me a weird look. I then told him my wife was pregnant and that was my pet name for her. (My wife’s not pregnant and if she is it’s her problem and not mine.)

We were now near the end of the line. And another library tough-guy looked at whom I was having the book made out to. I told him it was for my cousin who was three months pregnant.

The girl ahead of me was in line and started asking Pelosi her questions. This lasted for about ten seconds before she was forced away.

Now it was my turn. I was within inches of arguably the most powerful woman in the world! She looked at the book and asked me who “Future Mother” was. I told her my half-sister was pregnant and that’s what we called her. She asked me her name and I told her my wife’s name, so she put that down on top of Future Mother.

When she was signing the book, I told her “Madame Speaker, I found your message about the importance of motherhood inspiring, even though I’ll never know what motherhood is like, I still was inspired.”

She kind of chuckled at that as she was finishing signing.

And then I told her, “Also, before I go Madame Speaker, I just want to tell you… you look SO good in person. You’re really beautiful.”

The whole room laughed. And so did Nancy Pelosi, who beamed a smile at me.

Then, she grabbed my right hand with both of her hands. And she started caressing the top of my hand!

“What’s your name?”


“Well, I’m glad you came tonight, Gregg. I’m thrilled to have met you.”

“I’m honored to have met you, Madame Speaker.”

And then I walked sheepishly out of the room.

Now, being a big weirdo, I’m always fascinated by how politicians look in person. I don’t really care about celebrities at all, except for pro wrestlers. But I do care about how politicians look in person.

I met a bunch of politicians when I worked as a reporter. New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg – old and decrepit. NJ Governor Jon Corzine – surprisingly tall but he looked like he would bang anything that moved. Ex-Massachusetts Governor and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had WASPY good looks but was a total toolbag. I even once saw Ed Rendell at the A-Plus in East Falls, where I was really drunk and wearing a sleeveless shirt with both a wolf and a lot of lightning on it. I drunkenly shook his hand. He’s really big in person and looked like he wanted to destroy me.

Nancy Pelosi somehow never looks the same in pictures. So I was really curious to see what she looked like in person.

And the answer is: She’s a total cougar. I’m not kidding at all. She’s REALLY attractive in person. So I wasn’t really lying when I told her that.

But then when I was home I looked up how old she was and she’s 68. So, this means I’m attracted to the 68-year-old Speaker of the House of Representatives. And I more or less told her that on Tuesday night.

I’m even weirder than I thought.


Anonymous said...

Great story!

I once saw Ed Rendell naked at The Sporting Club at The Bellevue. He's very hairy.

Tara said...

Gregg, I'm gonna beat you for stealing a book from my library.

(Did you not notice the one and only Mr. Matt Nelson sitting in the 5th row of the live audience, or did the shark teeth-like rows of platinum blond blind you as well?)

Anonymous said...

I was in the simulcast room. But there was a LOT of platinum hair in the house that night. A bigtime Ann Taylor Lofts crowd.

Sorry for stealing. But I wasn't paying $26 for her book. It's really crappy.

And, I should have put this in the article, but say waht you want about Nancy Pelosi but in person she was EXTREMELY gracious. She took the time to talk to everyone in the book signing line. She was even answering questions from the girl in front of me in the line. And she seemed to have really enjoyed my ridiculousness, on top of flirting with me.


Rob said...

What's weird is that while we were in Minn -- No Reservations was on loop on the in-house travel network.