Best Part of My Weekend: Jane Lynch at Outfest

Waiting in line at the Director’s Guild of America on Saturday, early afternoon, I overheard the couple behind me discuss what we were in line for.  “I am so excited to see her,” she said.  “We are so lucky to live in LA,” the other she said.  Yes, yes.  There are a few times (i.e., Sunday morning, trying to get from Los Feliz to Santa Monica) when I get so angry at this city.  (Seriously, why is there rush-hour traffic on Sunday morning?  Sunday!)  And then I remember things like my then-previous day (Saturday), when I was waiting in line and overhearing that conversation.  Yes.  So lucky.  Los Angeles.

You see, I was waiting in line to see Jane Lynch.  She was set to be on an “In Conversation” panel as part of Outfest 2010, the film festival dedicated to queer cinema (it wraps up later this week on July 18).  I was very excited.  Some of you may know this, but, for a variety of reasons I won’t bother getting into here, I run Her Name is Jane Lynch, an unofficial ode to Jane Lynch.  At this, I’m a little embarrassed (I am, after all, a 28 year old (somewhat) grown-up woman (girl)), but also a little proud (the site was voted LA Weekly’s Best Celebrity Fan Site of 2009, huzzah!).  Now, if you live anywhere but LA, the idea of breaking through the digital fourth wall and actually meeting an object of a celebrity fan club or site is a far-off fantasy.  Here?  Not so much.  You’re more likely to run into your favorite celebrity at brunch than your best friend.

Jane Lynch plays Sue Sylvester in Glee, but hopefully you know she has been in pretty much every television show since the early 1990s and in a great number of movies.  She’s a character actor, one that most people recognize but, until Glee anyway, most couldn’t pinpoint exactly why the feeling of familiarity was so strong.  After some 20-odd years of working in the business and being known as “That lady from…”, she now has two Emmy nominations, Outfest’s Annual Achievement Award, and a ranking (99) on the Guardian’s list of the 100 most powerful people in media.  If there was ever a case of someone working hard and finally getting the recognition they so richly deserve, it really is Jane Lynch.  On that note, wow, am I happy that Tina Fey continues to be awesome and get work.

So, along with the rest of the sold-out crowd in Theater 1 of the DGA, I was eager to see Jane Lynch in conversate for 90 minutes about her life and career.  And she didn’t disappoint.

She touched on everything from her family life (“My family was not very funny”) to being only one of two women accepted into renown Chicago theater comedy troupe Second City to parlaying her “authoritative butch dyke” aura (“let’s call it what it is”) into roles originally written for men (i.e., her role as the store manager in 40 Year Old Virgin originally was written for a man) to her Vogue video on Glee (“I was awesome.”).  The discussion was capped by a question and answer period, which I usually find a bit boring, because people who attend these things often have a scary stalker-ish knowledge of the subject at hand, and will ask fairly esoteric question that make sense only to the person asking and the person answering.  The Q & A period following John Waters discussion with Carrie Fisher, for example, was filled with all sorts of references and allusions I had no hope of making heads or tails of.  (By the by, the John Waters event was organized by Zocalo Public Square’s awesome series; if you can’t support the library directly, buy a ticket to any one of Zocalo’s fascinating discussions!).

Thankfully, this was not the case during this session – people asked questions we all understood (Carol Burnett called Jane after Emmy nominations were announced to congratulate her; her favorite Sue Sylvester track suit is the purple with gold stripes; and she thinks she landed the role of Meryl Streep’s sister in Julie & Julia in part because she was the tallest actress director Nora Ephron knew).

Now, I have never, ever been one to ask anyone questions during a Q and A period.  My friends often do, and that’s usually because they are way more ballsy, and way more informed, than I am.  That said, I found my balls somewhere that day (stuck them in a drawer somewhere) and asked her whether she would be interested in hosting SNL (imagine that, an actress with an actual background in sketch comedy, hosting SNL).  This is the one question that I receive most often from fans who happen by Her Name is Jane Lynch, so I thought I’d take one for the team.  Almost 3,000 fans on the Jane Lynch to Host SNL (Please?)! Facebook page can’t be wrong.  So, would she host if asked?  “Yes.  I’d be terrified, but yes.”  Hello, Lorne Michaels?  Crickets?

Celebrity culture is such a funny thing.  I think as residents, we try to eschew what we consider “touristy” faux pas’es: caring that Ashton ate at your neighborhood brunch spot that morning, becoming excited that Pink is standing next to you at Macy Gray’s impromptu concert at the Hotel Cafe, etc.  We think we’re better than that.  I think I’m better than that.  Nonetheless, that does not stop me from getting a little bubbly every time I see someone I recognize (the level of excitement is directly proportional to how much respect I have for them).  This is a thrill that can’t be quite duplicated elsewhere, especially when one does really respect the particular celebrity for what they do.  That is my Apple-level fanboy love for Jane Lynch in a nutshell.   To actually hear these talented people recognize their own abilities without inflating them, and talk about their work seriously, without a hint of arrogance or entitlement – that is a real treat.

Only in LA.

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