How Have You Acted Around Celebrities?

It’s official: There is a massive gap between how I think I’ll act around celebrities and how I actually act around them.

In my mind, I’m cool, calm, and collected when interacting with famous people. Maybe I send them a drink, compliment them on something very specific to show that I’m a fan, and then leave them alone.

In reality, here’s what happens:

On Saturday I went to see one of my favorite bands, Typhoon, in concert at a venue called Off Broadway. I learned while mapping my way there that there’s a nearby Cajun restaurant (Sister Cities Cajun). I can’t resist Cajun food, so a friend and I went there for dinner.

Near the end of the meal, I heard the bartender say to two scruffy guys, “Oh cool, you’re performing tonight at Off Broadway?”

After eavesdropping to hear their response, I realized that it was the lead singer and one of the guitarists from Typhoon. So what did I do? Did I play it cool and send them drinks? Nope. Instead, I creepily took this photo:

After dinner, we walked across the street to Off Broadway. I had misinterpreted the start time of the concert, so we were really early. As we neared the will-call booth, who do we see standing nearby? None other than the same lead singer who was at the bar. He was adding some people to the list.

I froze and said nothing. I’m actually really disappointed about this, not because it’s embarrassing, but rather because I know how much it means to me when someone says they appreciate my games. I think it’s great when people tell each other how much they or their work means to them. I had the chance to do that face to face, and instead I said nothing.

I still greatly enjoyed the concert, and I told myself repeatedly that if I got another chance, I would definitely take it. So as we were walking out of the concert, three of the band members–including the female vocalist, who has a magical voice–were hanging out on the sidewalk.

And of course I’m completely delusional, because I said nothing. I wanted to tell them that the concert was amazing and unforgetable…yet I kept walking.

I thought this post was going to be funny, but as I write it, I realize that it’s just kind of sad.

No more excuses. Next time I’ll act like a decent human being and simply tell the person face-to-face that I admire and appreciate their work. Next time.

Have you ever frozen around a celebrity?

12 Responses to “How Have You Acted Around Celebrities?”

  1. Rob says:

    Hey Jamey,

    #1) I bet plenty of people have done the same thing around you. Fun to think about.

    #2) I like to let a famous person enjoy time in public without interruption. A few years ago at a resort, I’d just finished setting up a 3-player game of Endeavor when the lead from Monk (Tony S., who actually just won a Tony award the other night) walked up to our table to take a look. We knew who he was (my wife and I were big fans of his show Wings a long time ago), but we acted like he was anyone else. He asked a couple questions and then walked away and we started the game. Later I thought, I could have just said “It’s a pretty good game. Last around 90 minutes. We haven’t started yet. Want to join us?” It was a laid back Thanksgiving weekend….. he might have said “Sure.” Now I’ll never know. Haha.

    #3) I’ve had some long, interesting conversations with friends about the nature of celebrity and whether part of the price of fame is putting up with public interruptions. I don’t see it that way. I don’t think an actor/singer/boardgame designer starts out his career with that in his mind as part of the deal.

    #4) If I was to speak to a celebrity, I’d probably do it like you suggested. “I just want to thank you for the joy you’ve brought me through your work.” Or something like that. Short and sweet. Polite. And then move on.

    Thanks for the good question, Jamey. And if I ever do bump into you, and I’m just starting a game of Endeavor, I’ll be sure to invite you to play :).


    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      It’s neat that you were so calm and collected around Tony! Though you’re right, it would have been pretty cool if you invited him to play. If I were free, I would definitely join in!

  2. Jamey:

    It’s interesting that what concerns you is what you didn’t do for the celebrity—namely, let them know they are appreciated, which isn’t the same to them as their being famous. I think that the more typical inhibition centers on what their response might be, especially if you’re a big fan who avidly consumes all available information about the celebrity. That makes for a very lopsided relationship: intense on the fan’s side, but not reciprocal. The fan knows that intellectually, but that doesn’t protect against vulnerability regarding the celebrity’s response. A friend on the fan end described such sensitivity in relation to a celebrity whom he passed in the hall regularly: “It’s not how he says hello, it’s how he says hello today compared to how he said it yesterday.”

    I haven’t personally experienced such vulnerability because I never ran into any of my heroines/heroes (Julia Child, Charles Schultz). Instead, my two face-to-face encounters with celebrities were both bathed in blissful ignorance. A fellow passenger on the elevator in my apartment building, seeing me with tennis racquet, asked if I had a good game. I answered “Yes,” and asked if he played, to which he responded, “A bit.” I later learned he was Tony Trabert (an all-time great tennis champion in the 1950s). At a party I was introduced to Carl Reiner, who told me that I looked familiar. To which I replied, “That’s funny, you look familiar too.”

  3. dmvp says:

    Well, to some of us you have celebrity status. 🙂 And I kind of act the way you do. I saw you at Geekway and wanted to say something, but just gave you a head nod as I walked by… It’s always a little nerve inducing because I know your name, but you wouldn’t know mine.

    I’ve seen my share of celebs, but usually just watch them from a distance. I’m nervous about knowing what to say, and also don’t want to draw attention to them if they want to be unnoticed…let them have their peace. It’s an odd combination of excitement and then subconscious thoughts of being bothersome.

    I saw Summer Glau (Firefly) walking out of a hotel near GenCon. I’ve seen Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) at World Vision events, and I saw Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement) at a store in the airport. I just kind of watched them from afar and then later wished I’d said something or taken a picture, but I don’t want to be perceived as a nuisance.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Denise: I’m sure that if you said, “Hey Jamey, it’s Denise–I read your personal blog,” I would make the connection in an instant. 🙂

      I very much like the idea of letting celebrities exist in peace. Saturday felt a little different (especially at the concert venue) since they were there to be seen.

  4. I feel you on this one! Creepily took their photo though :’D I’m always torn on things like this. One of my fave bands is Alkaline Trio and I was kinda jealous that my brother met them (twice) and I didn’t. If I have the opportunity again I would absolutely say hello, and say something hopefully honest and meaningful, but I’d feel worried they’d let me down by being arrogant or standoffish. That would feel like 15 years of fandom crushed. But I do think that if it’s something I’ll regret *not* doing, then I just go for it anyway. You’ll get another opportunity Jamey 🙂 As an aside I still think of you as a celebrity and was *extremely* nervous to speak to you. Definitely one of my ‘do it or regret it’ moments!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Lindsay: That’s an interesting worry about being let down by celebrities we admire. I can totally see that!

      I very much enjoyed our interview–I felt the same way about it (and with other members of the board game media). After watching content for a long time, I’m always nervously excited to actually speak to you/them for the first time.

  5. TMac says:

    Hey Jaam – here’s the Typhoon contact page:

    On the page they have email addresses for people affiliated with Typhoon and their social media accounts. Even though you missed your chance to let them know they are amazing in person, you can still let them know electronically! I’m sure it’ll mean as much to them as it does when your fans reach out to you.

    As for myself, I’ve only run into a few celebrities. Most of the time my gut reaction is to leave them alone to avoid bothering them, but every now and then I’ve interacted with them a little. I had a small chat with Ben Stein near the height of “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” and I walked behind David Eigenberg (played Steve on Sex and the City) for awhile (but said nothing). I did meet Brian Rosenworcel from Guster at a concert in Cedar Rapids, IA. He seemed genuinely pleased that Laura and I had traveled up from St. Louis, and he recalled specific shows along with us. He remembered my first ever Guster show on Brown’s Island back in 2002, where John Mayer opened for them. Overall, it was a brief, positive interaction in which I hope we conveyed our appreciation well enough!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Thanks Trev! That’s an excellent point, and it can’t hurt. That’s awesome to hear about the Guster guy. Also, didn’t you have an interaction with a famous athlete in Ireland (but at the time you didn’t realize quite how famous he was)?

      • tmac80 says:

        Ah yes–it was a Welsh singer (who sang in Welsh). He had the top selling Welsh album and he signed a US $10 bill (or something similar). I had no idea who he was, so I just chatted with him as if he was any normal person.

  6. gene lane says:

    I literally ran into Vince Neil at a poolside party in Vegas a few years ago, I said “excuse me”, turned to face him, then froze. I saw Motely Crue in concert a dozen times in my twenties (now a couple of decades later) and should of let him know that but I froze….

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