I was talking to another comic at an open mic recently. He had just got his permit to work in the U.S., so I asked him what he had to do to get it. Most of what he said made sense; press clippings, resume, references, basically, proof that you are a working, in demand comedian. Plus of course, the steep legal fees for “processing”. But there was one thing on the list of “must haves” that utterly confounded me…he said you need to provide photos of yourself with celebrities. Erm, really? When I asked him why, he really didn’t know, but thought maybe they (the U.S. Immigration people) want to see that you know famous people.
This is nuts on so many levels. First off, define celebrity! I mean, I could go around trying to take pictures of myself with any number of people I consider comedy celebrities in Canada; Mike Wilmot, Jon Dore, Debra DiGiovanni, Jeremy Hotz, Sean Cullen etc etc – but with all due respect to these guys, I truly doubt that most Canadians would necessarily even recognize them, never mind American authorities. Which I know speaks volumes about the state of the Canadian entertainment industry, but that’s another kettle of apathy altogether…
So where does that leave you? Do they expect pictures of you with Jay Leno or David Letterman? Even if it were possible, would they be okay with a picture from the time you stood outside the studio waiting for their show-tapings to end? Or does it have to be you with Kathy Griffin playing tennis or having dinner together?
Do they have to even be comedy celebrities? I mean, the Toronto Film Fest is on right now, maybe I should scurry downtown and elbow my way to the edges of the red carpets to try to get a photo of me with George Clooney or Kevin Spacey. I’d have to be very pushy, yelling “Outta the way, mama needs a work permit!” Alternately, I could go to something like Fan Expo and pay $60 to get a picture of me with Leonard Nimoy or Linda Hamilton. I mean, what’s another couple hundred bucks, right?
Of the pictures of me-with-a-famous-person I already do have (not counting the few with Canadian comedy celebs), there’s really only two; one with me, my friend and Louis C.K. taken after he signed my DVD after his show last December and one with me and Bob Izumi (we’d just caught a wee shark!) taken from the days when I working on his fishing show; a paltry collection, to be sure. The fact is, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of celebrities, between my days working at the Forum at Ontario Place and the days I worked at CBC & NBC…but it never occurred to me to pull out my camera and build a repertoire of U.S. Immigration-worthy photos. Oh, to have had the foresight! I feel like such a putz. A putz who will probably never work the the States. Sigh.