Brush with Greatness


Mark And Haydn Porter At Letterman Taping Featuring Artie Lange. 01/03/07

Beauty And The Geek

This is one of those days that I'll remember forever, January 3, 2007... and October 26, 2006, can't forget that day either. That's the day 18 year old Haydn Porter called the Howard Stern Show and got herself booked on the show. Usually when a guest calls the show I just write it up in my daily synopsis and forget about it. October 26th was different. That evening I got a message from Haydn Porter through my MySpace page. For a couple of weeks we just exchanged messages through that mess of a site, kind of getting to know each other little by little. Then we started to instant message on AIM...

Haydn and I seemed to just click when we instant messaged each other. That really doesn't happen too often with me, but this girl was different. It must have something to do with her listening to Howard from the age of 6! Yes, I thought about our age difference constantly. I'm 20 friggin years older than she is but I think I have the mentality of an 18 year old, or maybe a 12 year old. We just got along. I guess it helped that I'm on the computer all day and can IM at any time.

Haydn eventually set a date for when she was going to be appearing on Howard's show, January 4, 2007. After getting that info, I thought about how I might be able to meet this new friend of mine in person. I thought about asking Mutt to be a guest on the Superfan Roundtable that night since he has asked me to be a guest on occasion. Then on December 4th Artie Lange announces he's going to be appearing on Late Show with David Letterman on January 3rd, the night before Haydn was going to be on Stern. So I thought ''Great! I'll use my connections and try to get her tickets to go see Artie on Letterman!''

Vinnie Favale, President of Late Night Programming, East Coast, was my connection. Vinnie once told me that if I wanted to get into a taping of the show, he needed about a month's notice. Perfect! Long story short, Vinnie hooked me up with two tickets to the taping. Initially I was going to give the tickets to Haydn and her brother so they could go to the taping. Then, after some discussion, Haydn and I decided that we were going to go together.

Haydn and I continued to IM just about every single day for the next month, looking forward to seeing the Late Show taping. Then New Year's Eve rolls around. I headed down to the comedy show that Artie was headlining near Philadelphia at the Tower Theater. (Read about that here). While I was there I mentioned to Artie that I was going to see him in a few days at the Letterman taping. Out of nowhere Artie suggested that we come back stage and hang with him over at Letterman. Artie told me to talk to Vinnie and he'd set it up. I text messaged Haydn that night telling her what Artie said and she was more than thrilled that she'd be able to hang with Artie.

The next day I asked Vinnie about going back stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. Vinnie actually suggested that we'd probably be better off watching the show from the audience instead of being in some green room watching Artie on TV. Haydn and I figured Vinnie knew best so we took his advice and decided to be part of the audience. I think we made the right choice.

Haydn and I didn't have any set plans for meeting that day. We figured we'd just meet up somewhere in the city at some point that afternoon and head over to Letterman to meet Vinnie at 4:30pm. I headed into the city without much of a clue as to exactly where we were going to meet. I got a call from her a short time later telling me that she was going to be recording a song parody with Dan the Song Parody Man over at SIRIUS. Perfect! I parked near SIRIUS and walked over to the front of the building to see if I could meet up with her.

I had left a couple of messages with Haydn telling her I was out there. I got there much quicker than I thought so I had a lot of time to kill before Letterman. I didn't hear back from her at all so I started to worry about getting her out there in time to go to Letterman. Meanwhile, Shuli had come out with Penny Crone and a couple of other people to have a smoke. I asked Shuli, and eventually, Penny, to try and find Dan and Haydn for me, just to let them know I was there. Then I heard that Elegant Elliot Offen was going to be showing up in front of the building soon to be taped for Howard 100 News and Howard TV. I figured I was going to get to see a bit of a show while I waited.

Elegant Elliot Offen making a scene...Shuli and the Howard TV crew came back out and waited for Elliot Offen to show up. A crowd of Stern Show staff had come down to watch the mayhem. Not too much later Elliot comes flying up 49th Street and slips into a space right out in front of the building, coming awfully close to hitting another parked vehicle. Elliot was soon out of his car and yelling at Shuli and the camera crew. He was poking Shuli and Greg Carmel the camera guy as he was complaining about not winning the full $25,000 in the football pool that had just ended. Elliot, Crazy Alice and Big Foot Mark were tied for the win and were supposed to split that grand prize equally. Elliot apparently thought that was unfair.

Mark with Penny CroneI got to meet Penny Crone while she was out for a smoke. She was kind enough to pose for a picture with me as well. While she was there, she did me a huge favor by going up to the Stern studios and telling Haydn I was waiting outside for her. I was starting to get nervous that she wasn't going to make it down in time to go over to Letterman so I kept bugging Penny to do me that favor. I know I was annoying but I didn't have any other way to get in touch with her... Until I remembered I had a number for one of the offices up by the Stern Show. When it was coming down to the last minute, I used that number to get someone up there to do me another favor and get Haydn on her way. Whew! She finally came down, just in time to head over to meet Vinnie Favale.

Dan the Song Parody Man had brought Haydn down from the SIRIUS studios to the street to meet up with me. She was so shy it scared me for a minute. She couldn't look at me, it was like she didn't know me at all. I thought I was the shy one. Luckily she seemed to come around fairly quick as we walked over to The Ed Sullivan Theater. Once we got there, the great Vinnie Favale met us out front, got us our tickets and brought us into the theater... right past all of the other ticket holders who were waiting outside. Nice! Like friggin VIPs!

Vinnie warned us that it might be loud in the theater because there was a band rehearsing for the show. He brought us into the hazy theater (fog machine) and had us stand in the back to watch the rehearsal. There weren't more than 10-15 people sitting in seats and a bunch of stage hands checking on the sound and set up on stage. The band Augustana was rehearsing their song ''Boston'' and sounding awesome. We hung out there for maybe 20 minutes to a half hour while the band rehearsed the song over and over again. They sounded awesome every time.

I've watched Letterman on and off since about 1986 so I knew what the theater looked like on TV. I immediately noticed that it's much smaller in person than it appears on TV. It was wild to see it in person, especially with the man-made haze they had pouring into the studio as the band played. Vinnie asked Haydn and I how we met and even cracked a joke about how it almost looked like a kidnapping because Haydn was acting so shy. (The next day on the Wrap Up Show, I learned that Vinnie had instant messaged Gary Dell'Abate and told him that he kept expecting Haydn to blink S.O.S. To him like she was trying to escape from her kidnapping. Ugh! Thanks Vinnie.)

Haydn and MarkOur balcony view at The Ed Sullivan Theater When the band was done rehearsing Vinnie shuffled us up to where our seats were. I figured he'd sit us in the front row at stage level but he told us that we'd be up in the balcony where we'd have a better view of the whole show. At stage level there are cameras and other things in the way. How cool is Vinnie? He gave us seats right in the center of the balcony with a perfect view of the whole stage! Vinnie even took a picture of Haydn and I. I don't think pictures are usually allowed in there because one of the Pages came over and told some young kids next to us not to take pictures. Oops! Vinnie stuck around and talked to us for a couple of minutes after seating us. Then he had to take off and get back to take care of business behind the scenes.

The show started taping at about 5:30pm after a warm up guy, Eddie Brill, introduced everyone and filled us in on when to applaud at the right time and nonsense like that. Dave did his opening act, Top 10 list and all of that goofy stuff. Matt Lauer was the first guest. It wasn't exactly a laugh fest with Matt although the audience seemed to be amused by every word he said. Artie came out and killed after that. The audience seemed to love him but they would laugh at just about anything that was said or done in that theater. Artie killed though so they were genuine laughs as far as I could tell. Haydn later told me that she couldn't stop smiling when Artie was on stage.

After Artie was done with his time on stage, the band Augustana performed their song ''Boston'' for the full theater. They were great once again. Once the taping was done, Haydn and I headed out and met up with her brother out in front of the theater. Turns out he's been a Stern fan for a very long time and has used my site on occasion over the years. Haydn has told me the same thing and I love hearing that from fans. We went out to eat at Mars 2112 and then went out to meet her brother's friend out on in front of the restaurant. We wandered around the city for a short time trying to find some open stores like Nintendo World, that's right, I said Nintendo World. I'm into video games, it's just one of those things that we had in common. Unfortunately the store was closed by the time we got there.

Haydn and Mark at Rockefeller Center Haydn and her brother were going to head up to their friend's apartment to hang out for a while so I figured it was time to get going. Haydn and I had our picture taken over by Rockefeller Center since we just happened to be right there. My fun night was coming to an unwelcome end. We headed back toward SIRIUS and eventually went our separate ways.

I'm glad I got to know Haydn before she did the show. I knew how cool she was ahead of time, so it made listening to her appearance that much more fun. You can read about her appearance in my archives.

Some of you may wonder how I was able to manage something like this even though I'm married. Well, my wife wasn't thrilled with the whole situation but I think I convinced her that we were just two Stern fans going to see our man Artie Lange live on Letterman. Just two friends hanging out. If my wife wasn't so cool about it, I never would have gone. It was kind of like walking a tight rope for about a month but definitely worth it.

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