A Party Of Five: My Last Dinner

For thousands of years, humans valued meals. Because, hey, it’d be kind of nice to survive. Even in caves people would gather for a feast, and it’s not hard to see why. In a world without grocery stores and prepackaged consumer goods, you had to hunt to survive. Very rarely would you come across a decent meal, so every time you ate it was like partaking in a ritual, or social gathering. Even with the advent of TV dinners, advertisers marketed them as something to easily eat while you watch TV… together.

And so it was a question that came out of absolutely nowhere. I was watching The Daily Show one night a few weeks ago and I thought to myself, “Damn, I’m hungry. What would dinner with Jon Stewart be like?”

Like this, I imagine.

So I took to Twitter and Facebook. I asked my friends and followers: It’s your last day on Earth and you can invite five people to your final dinner party. Because it’s your last living day, they have to be living as well. Who do you invite? With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided to answer my own question.

When I asked my friends, I was surprised by the considerably small response I got. Most didn’t invite celebrities, which made me feel guilty. You’ll see why. They invited families and close friends, which I think was heartwarming. Some didn’t take the question seriously (or read) and invited Hitler. One couldn’t decide.

I didn’t provide an answer because, at the time, I wanted to know the kind of people others would invite. I’m not a psychologist nor am I a psych major, but I do think of myself as a people person. There are various amounts of levels this question could lead to. When I asked for dinner, what was the setting you imagined like? Fancy and served by maids, cooks, and butlers? A home-cooked meal in a middle-class house? Were you even in your own home? Were you out at a restaurant? What kind? What food is being served?

How high are you?

The first things you imagine could either be A) The kind of food you’re craving at the moment B) What you idealize as a “dinner,” thus what you idealize as a space to know people. Again, I’m not a psychologist. Any psychologist out there or psych majors (you know who you are) that can debunk this question, please do.

But even after all that, the question still asks the people you invite to dinner. Are they family or celebrities? Do you want to reflect on your past life in your final hour or would you rather get to know new people and mentally push away the inevitable doom?

For me, it’s half and half. I value the family I’ve had and surely I would invite them to dinner if I were to die. But since this is my blog and you’re here to read about celebrities and you don’t know the people in my personal life, here are the five ~CELEBRITIES~ I would invite to my fancy dinner party.

By the way, the dinner table is in the set of the orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut.

I’m only half kidding.

1.) Chris Jericho

Actor. Writer. Singer. Dancer. Pro wrestler. Probably the only guy I know who’s done it all and won it all. Okay, so he hasn’t won an Oscar and he was eliminated from Dancing With The Stars, but he was/is one of the best damn pro wrestlers around. I was always a fan of his growing up watching him on TV, but my respect for him increased ten fold when I read his autobiography At Lion’s Tale my junior year of high school. I was in the production of The Crucible that summer and I would read Tale before, after, and sometimes during. Not only was his wit and outrageous personality coming out of every page like it did in the WWE, but his life stories and lessons inspired me and motivated me. I used his concept of “entertaining the people” and channeled his pro wrestling and music spirit into my own work on the stage.

His career is a yardstick for me to measure up to. If some kid from Canada can travel around the world and entertain millions, maybe a kid from New Jersey has a shot too.

2.) Kevin Smith

Speaking of Jersey boys… another major source of inspiration, director Kevin Smit,h is the poster child for being yourself and milking it for all its worth. He’s partially responsible for why I read comic books, why I enjoy weed, dick, and fart jokes, and probably why my first film was about two guys who work in a comic book store (and maybe also why it sucked).

I had the pleasure of seeing his newest film Red State in New York City and was impressed over all. The movie failed to scare as a horror movie is supposed to (although I think any horror film nowadays can’t do that) but it successfully engaged and entertained me and that’s all you could really ask for.

Over the years I’ve begun to see where all the criticism of Smith comes from. Mallrats isn’t the film I thought it was when I was 11 and I can’t seem to sit through all of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back anymore. His movies have focused too much on the same types of people. His own self-deprecating humor is tiresome (Kev, you managed to get Alan Rickman to be in a movie that contains a poo monster. Achievement unlocked). His CM Punk-style shoots on critics are career suicides.

But that’s just Kevin Smith. Fact is, he IS a slacker, he doesn’t have an Oscar to brag about, and his loyal fanbase guaranteed he would make back profit on Red State. And I’m happy to say I did.

He’s also funny as hell, if you haven’t listened to SModcast. Imagine having that at the dinner table. It would make my incoming darkness seem just a little brighter.

3.) Donald Glover

I really, really wish I was watching Community, which just recently was put on hiatus. I had the pleasure of seeing Donald Glover perform last year at Rutgers. He opened for Craig Robinson, and I’m not afraid to say he actually upstaged the headlining act. Glover’s comedy is traditional yet refreshing, his relatively young age brings a perspective not unlike anything seen in the comedy scene today. He managed to land one of my dream jobs of writing with Tina fey and that is probably the main reason why I’d invite him: How the hell did he do it?

If I can’t watch Community (get that shit on Netflix already!) then I can surely listen to his music, and he absolutely kills it as Childish Gambino. I listened to rap for many years but I always felt kind of out of place. As if Method Man wasn’t for me. But here’s a guy, probably the least intimidating-looking guy in skinny jeans and a red hoodie, and here he is rapping about why he should have been Spider-Man. Which is probably why I relate to him.

Last year I went on a tirade against Saban Brands for calling only Caucasian actors to portray the newest Red Ranger in Power Rangers. The leader of the Power Rangers. Has to be white. Did I mention the show was going to have a samurai motif?

Go Go Power Rangers!

I was frustrated actors couldn’t portray the leader of the Power Rangers by anyone who wasn’t white. Not that I’m racist, mind you, but that the character was restricted to a particular ethnicity outraged me. Donald Glover campaigned to be Peter Parker in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man and, unfortunately, failed. But he still managed to ruffle feathers that the buzz put pressure on Marvel Studios for a little bit. Even Stan Lee had to chime in.

I’d like to poke his brain for an hour. Get to know the seemingly geeky and happy kid on television and what makes him so bitter and angry in his music. How he destroyed the image of what a rapper “should” be. What went on between him and Rashida Jones (listen to “Never Going Back”). Everything about himself and a career. It would make getting to know someone who I hope is like myself in my last meal a little meaningful. And if he isn’t, then I learn a little more about the world even then.

Also, Camp should be album of the year. I’m just saying.

2.) Sasha Grey

She pushed the boundaries of what you can or can’t do in pornography and became one of the hottest sensations in the industry. Retired at only 23-years-old, she is one of the most fascinating personalities in entertainment that I’m aware of. Putting aside that “she’s like, super hot bro,” she’s another person like Donald Glover whose brain I’d like to poke.

Please, refrain.

Film critic A. O. Scott described Grey as someone “distinguished both by the extremity of what she is willing to do ” and an “unusual degree of intellectual seriousness about doing it.” She is equal parts primal as well as civilized, embodying human sexuality and promiscuity as nothing to be ashamed about, but rather celebrated.

If you’re a teenaged or adult male with access to the internet then you have seen thousands upon thousands of hours of internet porn. Don’t give me that look. Chances are, you know exactly the kind of performances she does in her films. I can’t be the only one who notices something different about her compared to others. Grey once claimed (and I am paraphrasing) that she intended to bring some sort of empowerment to women with her work. How is beyond me.  Ineffable to me, really, but I have to respect it. There’s art in the smut, pure lust and nothing but turned into an expression, a statement.

Great table conversations.

Pass the mashed potatoes.

1.) Tina Fey

If you were paying close attention (and I applaud you for reading this far) then you knew she was going to be on this list. I admit I didn’t grow up watching a hell of a lot of Saturday Night Live. More like just a lot. And it was her tenure that entertained me as a kid the most. Fast forward and 30 Rock is one of my absolute favorite television shows, ever. She reflects almost exactly my brand of comedy. The show has kept some of my worst days bright, and I could rely on it to put a smile on my face no matter what.

Well, that, or Parks & Recreation.

Or How I Met Your Mother.

Or Power Rangers.

Moving on, Tina Fey is someone I respect and try to emulate professionally. Everyone here is someone that I’ve taken pieces of and put to use in my daily life, but Fey is who I aspire to be: admired by the peers, but only if it’s deserving. I want nothing handed to me. Her self-deprecating humor and frankness is played cleverly and not used over and over. Her physical attractiveness is an afterthought, a bonus on top of the actual ice cream that is her charisma, talent, and reputation. I’ve never seen or heard a TMZ blog post about her. She has her shit together. I could learn a few things.

Chris Jericho, Kevin Smith, Donald Glover, Sasha Grey, Tina Fey. These five people are not the definitive list of inspirations in my life (I don’t exactly aspire to be a porn star but that’s another thing entirely), but if this is my last dinner on Earth, then damn I want to have a good time.

I’m trying to imagine the personalities at this dinner table. Italian and American cuisine with a side of specialty sushi served in the VIP section of a swanky New York restaurant. The colorful careers these individuals have had. All together for a basic human necessity turned ritual. What will they talk about? Will they get along? How do people who have been around the world come together and relate to each other? The things you learn from people in general — not just celebrities, or families, or friends — but people in general can be invaluable to your life. I’ve had conversations at bus stops, student centers, libraries, everywhere with total strangers and they’ve opened up the world around me. They’ve made life smaller and bigger all at once, fascinating and frightening. If I were to seek refuge, if only for a bit, with five complete strangers, then I hope I’ve made the right choice.

Too bad I’ll die the next day.

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