|Judah Friedlander & Mr. Will-W.|
Okay, true story. I received a tip-off from a friend last night that 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander, known best for his role as Writer Frank Rossitano, had just arrived at his Hotel in Yorkville. Friedlander had been slated to do an Autograph Signing at Chapters Festival Walk in Toronto's Entertainment District today in addition to a round of Press which included appearances on Q Radio with Jian Ghomeshi, George Stromboulopoulous Tonight and CTV's eTalk with Ben Mulroney. The Big Boys.
Being a huge fan of the NBC sitcom in which he stars, I played my cards safely, double-confirming that indeed he had checked-in. Let's face it, Time is valuable to all and I have lived my days of young Fandom, waiting about ad nauseum in front of Hotels in the freezing cold. "Can you please put me through to the room of Judah Friedlander?" I asked, clearing my voice of a combination nervous phlegm/residual Dairy from two Lattes earlier. "Please hold", the Receptionist chimed. This is the turning point of the Call which decides your fate for the next hour or sometimes few hours, depending how badly you want to meet that Celebrity. Within seconds, I was put through to the room of the scene-stealing, 20 year veteran Comedian who got his industry breakthrough as a Cameraman for Chris Rock's Who is Chris Rock?. "Hello?" he answered in surprise at receiving a call in his Hotel Room. Holy shit. Fuck. Jesus Christ. OMG. What the fuck? I hung up in a nervous fervour. Judah Friedlander was in town, indeed. Yes he was. Click.
But get this - my Cell Phone began ringing instantaneously and on my Call Display was the number of his Hotel. Shit. Shit. Christ. Fuck. OMG. What the fuck have I gotten myself into? While in an all-about debate to whether or not I should answer, I lost my golden opportunity to convince Friedlander that in fact I was not a crazy lunatic and that this somehow was a big misunderstanding - that I meant well. So I let him go through to my Voice Mail. Oh God. I went to Starbucks and ordered another Latte, deciding to put in an hour or so of my time to see if he might happen to pop out for some of Yorkville's couture Cuisine. In what played out like a scene so outlandish - not unlike those of 30 Rock itself - this episode ended with my decision to call it a day and meet him at his Autograph Signing (today).
I arrived at Chapters Festival Walk early with my copy of his hilarious new book How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion, released early October. Yes, he is the self-proclaimed World Champion. Shortly before the Signing began, Event Organizers offered one Meet & Greet opportunity with Friedlander to the one chosen Fan who Tweeted @IndigoGreenRoom first. Having sent my share of Text Messages in my day, these fingers were ready to beat up anybody getting in my way of the Stand-Up Comedian first/Actor second. And as fate would have it, I was the chosen one, being escorted to the Store's Office where he was preparing his Presentation. Donning his signature look of a Trucker Cap, World Champion-inscribed T-Shirt and thick-framed Black Glasses, this was the Friedlander who less than 24 hours prior, was calling my Cell Phone unknowingly.
Chatting with his Publicist for a bit, she briefed me on his Itinerary for the day, not knowing that my persistent Twitter searches on anything Friedlander-related today had already revealed his whereabouts to me. She was absolutely delightful and informed me that Toronto will be the only Canadian stop-off on her multi-faceted Client's Book Tour. Before I knew it, he had come over to greet me, asking me my name. "Will", I said avoiding eye contact. "What's your last name?", he then probed. Oh fuck. "Wong", feeling as if I were being arrested for a minor misdemeanour like Pot Possession. He then shot me a knowing look, "So it was you who called me last night!.... you weren't stalking me, were you? Do I have to be worried? I know Kung-Fu, you know!". I giggled back, "Of course not. And yes I know you know Kung-Fu, I skimmed through your Book already. I'll have you know that I'm perfectly harmless."
Still unconvinced, he asked me "So why were you calling me?" and here's where the Truth comes out, well - because it was the Truth. "I was checking to see whether it was worthwhile to wait around for a bit outside to see if I could get a Photo with you ....and maybe an Autograph for me and my Best Friend". And that seemed to do the trick in disarming him as he proceeded to grant me my wish, posing happily for a Photo with me, while Event Organizers snapped away in a frenzy. Friedlander was v. curious about my Blog and I promised to Tweet him back. So there we have it. The Champion of all Fan Encounters.
Before greeting an intimate group of Fans, Friedlander gave us the scoop on his new Book in-character with accompanying Visuals and really, it's pretty ridiculous. In a nutshell, it's a 500 photograph-heavy Guide to Self-Defense; how to Kung-Fu your way to Victory over anyone and everything. We see him knocking-down a tall building, getting banned in China, beating-up someone on a Unicycle, defeating Gangs and people with three arms - should that latter threatening situation ever present itself. In this day and age where the issue of Bullying has risen front-and-center, what better way to combat the problem than with some handy tips from the World Champion himself? At the end of the day, anyone and everyone who has overcome anything in their lives will know that the best weapon we possess is Laughter. Laughter at ourselves, laughter at those who are full of themselves.
Judah Friedlander's How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion is now in stores. Click here for more details.
Also check out some more Photos I got of Friedlander below including some from our One-on-One time:
And for a better idea of what this is all about, check out this Clip below:
(Photo/Video credit: Mr. Will-W.)