There are two kinds of survivors: those that move quietly, tiptoeing about their lives, fearful that at any moment disaster could again find them, and those that pick themselves up and shout their infectious pleasure at being alive to the world--tempting fate and the rest of us too.
Needless to say, Carrie Fisher is amongst Group B.
Having made her way through the impossible thickets of Hollywood inbreeding ("Celebrity", as she puts it, "is royalty by way of scandal"), addiction incarceration, bad marriages, hit movies she starred in ("Star Wars") and wrote ("Postcards from the Edge"), and years of behind-the-scenes Oscar punch ups, she arrives at "Wishful Drinking" her twinkling one woman show at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood in unparalleled good form.
How does she do it?!!!
As I wander through the brambles of my own memories for writerly posterity, constantly fighting off the ponderous surges of boring introspection and tedious rehash of old news, Carrie has managed to take a life filled with angst and turmoil and turn it into--a barrel of laughs.
Her daughter Billie (onstage after the show to take a bow, a veritable clone of her mega-agent father, Bryan Lourd, for whom Carrie's "gaydar" was not, she confesses, sufficiently calibrated) meets Mike Todd's grandson. Mike Todd who was Liz Taylor's husband, for whom Eddie Fisher was best man at their wedding and after his death, the one who looked after (a little too well, from Carrie's perspective) his widow. So Billie comes home and asks her mother, "Are we related?" Carrie takes out a blackboard studded with photos of her immediate (and in Hollywood terms, that's pretty far out) circle of family and friends and a pointer, and explains to us how, well, everybody in Hollywood is related somehow. It's delightfully outrageous.
Eddie Fisher has the misfortune of misplacing his hearing aids, the new expensive ones. And how precisely he does that, which has to do with the digestive system, is something she makes hilariously apparent. (Eddie comes in for his share of abuse, but in the end, she sounds somehow resigned and even affectionate.)
Carrie is cast as Princess Leia in "Star Wars". She has to wear a wig, one that only accentuates the weight she is supposed to have lost. She's not allowed to wear a bra either because her director, George Lucas, tells her, "there is no underwear in space."
Also on the carpet are Warren Beatty, Paul Simon and various anonymous ex-lovers and wives and friends. All come in for their share of ribald storytelling.
But instead of sounding in-jokey and trite, by sharing so darn much she makes us over into a bunch of howling empaths. "I know you think a lot of this stuff is over the top but you can't imagine what I'm leaving out", she kind of apologizes at the top of the second act.
Who cares if she's reading bunches of it off a teleprompter? They're her own clever words and she never claimed to be Julie Harris--it's hardly noticeable and embraces, gracefully, the fallibility she whole-heartedly cops to.
I called a friend in NY and told him to hurry and sign her up for Broadway. It's so much fun to laugh with her as she recounts her foibles and tribulations. The show isn't network presentable, but I guess HBO could snap it up. That would be too bad. Carrie should tour around the country: her story is heartfelt, meaningful and very, very funny.
I'm so jealous of her miserable life.