75w: Louise Lasser / Preservation Hall Jazz Band
[FADE IN on an empty stage. In the far background, Louise Lasser can be seen walking down the stairs and across to home base while the audience applauds. She is in her trademark braids, with a blue shirt and red bell-bottoms. Barefoot, she carries a pair of stocky, thick-heeled shoes in her right hand and sits cross-legged in the middle of home base. Live piano music plays softly in the background.]
Louise Lasser: I know... I'm, um... [panting] ...kind of late. But I had a few things to rinse out, so... I'm gonna just, uh, sit here and put my shoes on, on the wrong foot... So here I am, I'm putting my shoes on in front of twenty-two million people at about 1:30 in the morning. Something you see every day. I'm exhausted. But, you know... Ow.
[She pulls one shoe off her right foot and lets lt lie next to her.]
Louise Lasser: But it's funny, you know. It's not like I'm exhausted--I mean, I don't mean I'm exhuasted from tonight, I'm just exhausted from this year, I mean, God. What a year, huh? I mean, this has been like the most incredible year for me, I mean, so many things have happened to me, y'know, great and awful, and... How it started--Norman Lear called me up a year ago and he said to me, "I got this part for you, you know you're gonna hate," he said, "You want it?" So I said "No," I mean, I'm not that stupid, y'know... So then he sent me flowers, and I said "Okay." I said, "What's the part?" He said, "Mary."
[starts singing hoarsely]
Louise Lasser: "Mary... plain as any name can be..."
[Louise looks lost for a moment.]
So we started into production, and... people seemed to like the show, y'know? People would see me on the street, and they would come over and they would like kiss me, and they would hug me, and then they began to come to my house, and then they began to come to my house in cars, and they began to come to my house in buses that parked on my lawn, and, and this wasn't quite as nice as the kissing and hugging part, so... Finally, y'know, I called this friend that I hired to guard and live in my house, because there were just so many people visiting me that... Not that I wasn't grateful... But, so anyway, I called him and I said, "Listen, I'm really tired of people asking where they can get orangeade and then getting it for them." So, he said fine, and then the next day, not only did he move out of my house, but he moved my house. I mean, the man stole everything in my house, I mean everything. I mean, he stole the furniture, the washer, the dryer. In one room, he actually stole the wallpaper off the wall. Which, actually, I thought showed some good taste on his part. [giggling] This "friend," by the way, uh, is a very big fan of the shows. And I thought, "Doesn't he realize he's not robbing from me? He's... he's robbing Mary."
[sings] "Mary... plain as any name can be..."
Louise Lasser: Oh! And then one day, I'm in Beverly Hills. I went to Beverly Hills--it was my friend's birthday, and I decided to have a surprise party for her--and I... I just wanted to buy a great birthday present for her, so I went to this great toy store in Beverly Hills, and...
What a fabulous doll's house.
[laughter and applause]
I mean, I mean, there was a room for me in there, y'know? It was just great. And then, I dunno, I think I didn't have any of the... I didn't have any of the right credit cards, I had credit cards, I just didn't have any of the right credit cards. So they wouldn't take a blank check, and then the next thing I remember there were a lot of policemen. And then I wasn't in the toy store, I was in another building. The Municipal Building. It's a very nice building, actually, very Thirties. [laughter] And they booked me. They booked Mary.
[sings] "Mary... plain as any name can be..."
[laughter and applause]
"But with propriety... society..."
[Louise rubs her lip and looks bewildered again.]
Louise Lasser: Okay, um, so, the next thing I know, I'm in this jail, and they're questioning me. They took pictures of me--not great pictures, not terrible, though. I mean, not great, but I wouldn't send them out as Christmas cards, let's put it that way. And I found that they were less interested in autographs than they were in fingerprints. But I was very good at fingerprints, I mean really good--and there is a trick to how you do fingerprints. [demonstrates with right hand] What you have to do is, you just have to lop your finger into that ink, and you just follow through. [makes windmill motion] And I thought to myself... "What a minute. These are my fingerprints, but... they also belong to Mary."
[singing] "Mary... long before the fashion came..."
[Louise looks bewildered once again.]
Louise Lasser: [painfully] So then they threw me into this jail... cell. And I got, ah, real scared then. And I said, "Please don't let me be in this cell all alone, don't let me be in this cell all alone." So what they did was, they stuck me, y'know, into a different cell, which I thought was real nice of them, y'know, that was real nice of 'em, they didn't have to do that. They stuck me in a different kind of cell. This one had killers and hookers and rapists: y'know, my kind of people, your kind of people. Our kind of people. So I spoke to one of the hookers, who got arrested for hooking at the Hilton. And I said to her, y'know, "When you get out of here, you ever gonna do it again?" And she said, "Not at the Hilton."
So then she looked me up and down and said, "Well, why you? Don't you make enough money playing Mary?"
[She chuckles and grins.]
Louise Lasser: So then I got sprung, and... as we say in the "underworld..." I found I had gotten a huge amount of publicity, but I mean huge. I mean, I don't just mean magazine covers. I mean Channels 2 through 13, at six o'clock, eleven o'clock, and right before they played the National Anthem. This is the way it went, this is the way it went. It was murders, wars, me, "O say can you see..." every night. So what happened was, to protect me, the show rented a house for me. And also to protect me, what I had to do is, I had to go to work, lying in the backseat of a station wagon under a blanket for a month straight. Just like Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson, y'know, all the big stars do it that way.
[ripples of laughter]
But at least I had my new house. [pause] Till I got robbed in a new way. This time... he stole everything but the TV. So that night I could watch exactly how he robbed me. I watched it on the late news, followed of course by "The Star-Spangled Banner," one of the few things I still have to look forward to. And of course, I could watch... Mary.
[singing] "Mary... plain as any name can be..."
[She drops her head and appears on the verge of tears.]
[singing] "But with..." [long pause] "...propriety..."
Louise Lasser: So that was my year pretty much, y'know? It's just your random robberies, arrests, and stardom. And I think, "Why?" I mean, why did all this happen? And then I remember, it's... it's because of Mary. I mean, that's Mary... who made me rich, famous, and a known criminal. [subdued laughter] Who put my face on the cover of "Rolling Stone," "Ms.," "People," "Newsweek," and "Crime Gazette." Listen... she hasn't been easy to live with, but... she's okay. Because the truth is, if it wasn't for Mary... you never would've watched Louise put her shoes on.
[ZOOM OUT as she grins and tugs on her left shoe.]
I like her.
[Audience breaks into applause as Louise remains cross-legged at home base. FADE to a long shot of her, PAN across the audience into the balcony, then FADE to black.]
Submitted by: Sean