Having grown up being a fan of the old TV show “Laugh-In”, I was very excited for the opportunity to work as a co-auctioneer with one of its stars, Lily Tomlin. The event was “Arts for ACT” a significant fundraiser for the Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center in Fort Myers, Florida. The venue was the Harborside Event Center and more than 1,200 attendees were present.
I found Lily to be a wonderful, down to earth, funny-as-hell personality. She was a joy to work with.
At this particular auction, due to the large number of items up for bid, the organizers decided to have two professional auctioneers take turns selling 10 items at a time. When I was not calling the bids I was able to converse with Lily and point out particular individuals in the crowd for her to “pick on” via the microphone.
When we were about two-thirds of the way through the auction she turned to me and asked if I thought it appropriate if she had a gin and tonic. I explained to her that the way she had endeared herself to the crowd I didn’t think she could do anything wrong.
So off the stage we went walking, arm in arm, toward one of the cash bars set up to serve the thirsty auction attendees.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself – to be escorting such a well-known celebrity in my hometown – and having the privilege of buying her a drink. But, my pride quickly turned to panic as I suddenly realized I had no money in the pockets of my tuxedo.
Fortunately, as we neared the bar I saw the manager of the event center, a man I had worked with on numerous occasions in the past, and quickly introduced Lily to him. As they shook hands – and without missing a beat – I said: “Wouldn’t the Harborside Event Center like to buy Ms. Tomlin a drink?”
What a relief when I heard the reply, “Of course we would!” Whew. I was off the hook. And ever since that near “Laugh-In Disaster Moment” I always keep a bill in my pocket when I’m on the stage with celebrity co-auctioneers.