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S02.E05: Midnight at The Concord

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Summer season at Steiner Mountain Resort continues as Moishe and Shirley join the group, disturbing Abe's peace. Susie tries to ward off a new friend while keeping a low profile at the resort. Midge jumps at the opportunity to redeem herself at B. Altman.

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4 hours ago, MorganSte said:

I'm enjoying Zachary Levi's character!  And that play sounded AWFUL

Ditto and ditto.

But what about Lenny Bruce?
Which guy is "right" for her? 
When I was Midge's age, there were times when there were no men, and then there were times when there were two men, and I couldn't decide, so: Neither. I think this is typical.

 

I guess that's a thing: Doing your best improvisation when someone important is in the front row—someone you cannot fail in front of. Even so, wow. ASP sure took it to the eleventeenth level by putting Abe in the front row of Midge's blue act.

So. Did Abe even know he was going to see a blue comedy act?

 

Midge tells the doctor that the reason she's not with her husband anymore is that he saw her doing comedy. Guess that's true, but she left out the mistress thing.

Edited by shapeshifter
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8 hours ago, shapeshifter said:

Midge tells the doctor that the reason she's not with her husband anymore is that he saw her doing comedy. Guess that's true, but she left out the mistress thing.

In all fairness, before he realized she was doing stand up and decided to leave her for good out of sour grapes over her talent, they were on the road to reconciliation. 

Just typing that sentence reminds me again how crappy Joel is as a partner.

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Before he realized she was doing stand up and decided to leave her for good out of sour grapes over her talent, they were on the road to reconciliation. 

Joel may be jealous of Midge's talent and her audience's love. Why wouldn't he be?  But the show as well as Joel claim, that's not the problem. Beginning from the moment that Joel saw Midge in the club, he's accepted that she's got it, and she needs it. Midge knows that too. The show and Joel said that what he literally can't live with is being the Mr. Maisel who's the joke-butt of Manhattan. And his knowing that every conversation they have is also grist for her mill.

It's a dilemma as old as storytelling, or mating. She talks about me and our marriage to everyone! He uses me as his punchline! To people I know, and people I don't!

There are lots of folk, men and women, who've found it difficult to be their spouse's subject: at family gatherings, social events, or small dinner parties -- even in couple's therapy. Maybe more so when they're caricatured in public, whether for a Nobel or for a laugh. Contemporary novelists, storytellers, comics and bloggers have all heard the same thing: Leave me out of it. 

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Ok, that is a fair point, but I still think that jealousy of her talent, a talent Joel wanted himself is a bigger issue. Midge is a bigger person than Joel, even before the comedy. Which Midge supported, just for the record. Why do you think Joel was having n affair with his ridiculous secretary? The marriage was a mesalliance and Joel knew it,even if it wasn't fully conscious.

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1 hour ago, AuntieMame said:

Which Midge supported, just for the record.

In fairness to Joel, he wasn't going up on stage and talking about Midge or their marriage.  That's a whole other issue than jealousy of her talent.  If that was it, he would have asked her to stop.  But he didn't because he already knew she was good at it and loved it.

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Agreed, two separate issues. Though I still think jealousy and sexism were the issues that won. Joel could have just asked that Midge not use their marriage and separation as material. She does have other material and could develop more.

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I don't think Midge would be nearly as effective without using whatever material from her life that worked for her.  Like Joel said, that's how you're supposed to do it--be honest and open up your life to everyone.  He just didn't want to be a part of that.  As for the sexism, it's a big part of that era and likely the main reason Joel refused to be a joke husband of a woman comedian.  But that doesn't mean he's jealous of her talent. 

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55 minutes ago, AuntieMame said:

Midge is a bigger person than Joel, even before the comedy.

That's certainly true; I think in most marriages, one spouse is a bigger person than the other. Now what. Joel did feel overwhelmed by Midge's...everything, her success at any task she turned her hand to. (That was compounded by his awareness of her family's much greater status -- from the view a few floors away, in the same building -- and his having no idea of how he wanted to earn a living, except: not become his father.) Joel confessed as much to Midge last season, and how it led to his giving up. Midge accepted this and they went to bed, where Midge insisted on allowing that her perfection was a little bit of a sham and a struggle.

Nothing in the scene, the acting or what followed in the story ran against this understanding. I think the same is true of their phone conversation in "Simone."  We're meant to see that the problem is real. Past that though, Joel's insecure and doesn't know where he fits in the world. As you say, he may not be able to make it work with a bigger person -- even if he's obviously someone who could never make it work with someone smaller. If that's true, then that's the sad heart of the matter. 

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There is a lot that is sad at the heart of the matter, as you o.o it out, for Joel too. He doesn't know where he fits into n life and is married to a powerhouse. My poor it isn't that one person is "bigger" in a relationship or that this can't be managed. My point is that we have real issues as individuals and as a society about what is appropriate when it is the woman who is the more talented, smarter, more charismatic person. If she invests n her talent and herself without social punishment, she is going to lose other things. The only sanctioned choice is for the talented woman to put all of her resources ultimately in the service of other s. Midge was doing this and then a series of events opened up other possibilities for her. 

In terms of Joel, not knowing where you belong with no strong vocation is sympathetic. Not being shoe to accept that the more talented person is your wife? Not so much. Joel could actually be amazing support to M idge, while finding his own path, but he is unwilling to do this. 

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So. Did Abe even know he was going to see a blue comedy act?

I didn't really buy the set up.   Abe doesn't really strike me as the kind of person who is going to go out on his own and stay up past midnight to hear a bawdy comedian.   He seems more like the kind of person who would whine about the late hour, and having to get up and leave where he was staying to see a comedian playing at a different resort.  Mind you, I did enjoy the scene, I just didn't think that would really happen.        

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Ok, so, in the employee cafeteria, Susie nibbled off two plates, but didn't take either one to eat. What was that about? That really bugged me. I'm surprised she didn't take one to eat and one to save for later.

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1 hour ago, rollacoaster said:

Ok, so, in the employee cafeteria, Susie nibbled off two plates, but didn't take either one to eat. What was that about? That really bugged me. I'm surprised she didn't take one to eat and one to save for later.

Those were leftovers - plates bused from tables

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18 hours ago, MorganSte said:
20 hours ago, rollacoaster said:

Ok, so, in the employee cafeteria, Susie nibbled off two plates, but didn't take either one to eat. What was that about? That really bugged me. I'm surprised she didn't take one to eat and one to save for later.

Those were leftovers - plates bused from tables

No, a different scene, the one where she has paged Midge and she comes to the employee cafeteria. They both seem to nibble off of freshly fixed plates, but didn't take either plate. 

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On 12/8/2018 at 10:54 AM, txhorns79 said:

I didn't really buy the set up.   Abe doesn't really strike me as the kind of person who is going to go out on his own and stay up past midnight to hear a bawdy comedian.   

Or one who would feel comfortable occupying a table up front in a crowd of suits, ties and cocktail dresses while wearing ridiculous Hawaiian clothing.   This is the same man who only a few episodes ago couldn't leave the house unless he had specific pants and socks for a certain work environment.

Thankfully this episode was more Midge-centric.   Although I find it less than credible that Midge can do an entire act apparently without preparation of any kind.   I always understood that comics prepare their material in advance, work on bits, etc.   Midge just shows up and blows everyone away.

There's a whole Dirty Dancing thing going on in these Catskill episodes.   Baby abandons her social station to perform risque dance steps with the "help," then is caught and reprimanded by Jerry Orbach.    Midge moonlights as a foul-mouthed comic, and is found out by a furious Abe.  Cue the Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes song ... 

Edited by millennium
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I was delighted to see a scene with Midge and Lenny Bruce in this episode.  Rachel B. and Luke Kirby have such great chemistry together.  While it makes sense to the story line that their interactions would be limited, they're so great together that you want more.

This was my favorite episode of the season so far.

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On 7.12.2018 at 5:41 AM, shapeshifter said:

Ditto and ditto.

But what about Lenny Bruce?
Which guy is "right" for her?

Given that Lenny Bruce is married, I think they'll just have this very comfortable platonic relationship. He even gave Benjamin the classic, "Have her home by ten." I do enjoy their relationship very much, it's my favorite of the show. And the fact that there are so few scenes with the two, only adds to its charm.

Now, Benjamin, there's a man for Midge! I know physical appearance isn't everything but in the last episode, when he and Joel were standing next to each other, I kept thinking, one of them looks like a boy and the other one like a man. And I think Joel just couldn't handle all of Midge whereas Benjamin seemed to keep Midge much more on the edge, which is something she might need. I'm pretty sure that's not where the show is headed but I hope Midge explores this a little at least.

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On 12/7/2018 at 10:01 AM, AuntieMame said:

There is a lot that is sad at the heart of the matter, as you o.o it out, for Joel too. He doesn't know where he fits into n life and is married to a powerhouse. My poor it isn't that one person is "bigger" in a relationship or that this can't be managed. My point is that we have real issues as individuals and as a society about what is appropriate when it is the woman who is the more talented, smarter, more charismatic person. If she invests n her talent and herself without social punishment, she is going to lose other things. The only sanctioned choice is for the talented woman to put all of her resources ultimately in the service of other s. Midge was doing this and then a series of events opened up other possibilities for her. 

In terms of Joel, not knowing where you belong with no strong vocation is sympathetic. Not being shoe to accept that the more talented person is your wife? Not so much. Joel could actually be amazing support to M idge, while finding his own path, but he is unwilling to do this. 

I'm no supporter of Joel by any means. But I don't think his not wanting to be the butt of Midge's jokes all his life wrong.  I would have trouble being portrayed as a joke - and at my worst - to strangers by the most important person in my life. I have actually experienced that (with an ex who loved to be the life of the party), so I can sympathize with Joel on that point.

I think he's actually showing some maturity and understanding of  himself. And in telling Midge that she's a great talent and that she needs to go and to disregard the societal norms, he is supporting her, in my opinion, by telling her the absolute truth - that she's better off without him because they'd both be miserable if he stayed. Sometimes a breakup is the path to freedom.

Edited by Clanstarling
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1 hour ago, Clanstarling said:

I'm no supporter of Joel by any means. But I don't think his not wanting to be the butt of Midge's jokes all his life wrong.  I would have trouble being portrayed as a joke - and at my worst - to strangers by the most important person in my life. I have actually experienced that (with an ex who loved to be the life of the party), so I can sympathize with Joel on that point.

I think he's actually showing some maturity and understanding of  himself. And in telling Midge that she's a great talent and that she needs to go and to disregard the societal norms, he is supporting her, in my opinion, by telling her the absolute truth - that she's better off without him because they'd both be miserable if he stayed. Sometimes a breakup is the path to freedom.

Joan Rivers did that schtick, and Phyllis Diller (I was just a little kid when she was popular, but that still shows my age).  I think it was understood that Edgar and Fang were fictionalized versions of their respective husbands.  Midge's situation with Joel is a little bit different in that beyond the actual breakdown of their marriage due to his behavior, she is also succeeding at something that he originally tried and did not do well with.  Joel is mature about this, too bad he wasn't that version of himself when he decided to leave Midge. 

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I like Zachary Levi's character a lot so far, he is a lot different than Joel, but he still feels like he fits into this world. But, Lenny Bruce! He and Midge are so much fun together, and they have so much chemistry! I mean, yeah that isnt going to work out (because history) but its nice to think about. On the other hand, that adds proof to the assholes that think Lenny only supports Midge because they're sleeping together, and not because he admires her talent, so I can also really enjoy their platonic friendship.

So, did Abe deliberately find Midge, or did he just happen upon her show? He doesent seem to be the kind of man who goes to Blue comedy shows (or any comedy shows) but maybe he just just stopping by for a drink, and he heard her voice? Or something? Oh, that is going to be a LONG drive back. 

The marriage fell apart because of Joel and his affair, and keeping secrets, but thats a bit of a longer story for a first date. Or, kind of date. Plus, she is trying to get along with Joel more, so I can see her not wanting to get into the whole thing so quickly. 

Loved seeing Midges brother and her sister in law again, and her sister in laws constant attempts at assimilating further into Jewish culture. 

Edited by tennisgurl
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On 12/11/2018 at 1:19 PM, rollacoaster said:

No, a different scene, the one where she has paged Midge and she comes to the employee cafeteria. They both seem to nibble off of freshly fixed plates, but didn't take either plate. 

 

On 12/10/2018 at 4:56 PM, rollacoaster said:

Ok, so, in the employee cafeteria, Susie nibbled off two plates, but didn't take either one to eat. What was that about? That really bugged me. I'm surprised she didn't take one to eat and one to save for later.

What gave you the impression that Susie is supposed to be a caring or considerate person?  Especially when it comes to rich people.  If they get her germs she'd likely find it hilarious.

Midge might... but we can use Midge's elevated societal position to explain her doing it as her not understanding how food service works.

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We were also very confused about Abe just showing up at the Concord. How far away is it from his place? Was he still drunk and just decided to head out somewhere else? He was supposedly escaping Moishe's low-class humor...so why go see a "blue" comedian? Unless he just wandered in unknowingly.

Or...maybe he was really expecting Mamie Eisenhower! lol

And how could the Maisels (as in Joel's parents) afford the resort? How much did it cost? Oh, wait. Maybe they paid with some of that $$ they have hidden all over Manhattan.

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1 hour ago, WendyM said:

And how could the Maisels (as in Joel's parents) afford the resort?

The Maisels are rich, just not refined. Moishe bought Joel and Midge's apartment with cash, I'm guessing, since he doesn't deal with banks; the value of each dollar stashed away is more than 9-1, in 2018. 

 

2 hours ago, WendyM said:

We were also very confused about Abe just showing up at the Concord. How far away is it from his place?

Steiner's most resembles Grossinger's, which was less than 14 miles from The Concord, or Kutsher's, less than 4.  

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3 minutes ago, Pallas said:

The Maisels are rich, just not refined. Moishe bought Joel and Midge's apartment with cash, I'm guessing, since he doesn't deal with banks; the value of each dollar stashed away is more than 9-1, in 2018. 

 

Steiner's most resembles Grossinger's, which was less than 14 miles from The Concord, or Kutsher's, less than 4.  

Ahhh, thank you for this! I pictured everything much further apart. And I know that geography and economics aren't the point of ASP's shows--my mind just doesn't shut off like it should!

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This was my favorite episode of season 2 so far.  Midge’s routine was funny, as was Bruce’s.  We saw them interact which is always entertaining.  I also enjoyed Midge’s time with Benjamin.  They seemed to get along well mainly because he doesn’t seem phased by her personality, unlike many others.  He seemed to appreciate her humor when she did the radio routine in the car on the way back to NYC.  I thought it was clever to have Susie run into someone else pretending to work at Steiner’s.

On a side note I spent several vacations in the Catskills as a kid at the Homowack and Kutshers.  It was whacky like the show is showing. 

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Re working on bits: yes. Midge worked more on Joel's act - keeping notes of what worked, reviewing what didn't, etc - than she does on her own. I don't buy the effortless genius thing. It would be more reasonable if you saw her figuring out new lines while working the coat closet at Altman's. (Which no one I ever knew called "B. Altman" even though that was the official name.)

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They did show the progression of her jokes in one episode, though. I can't remember if it was this season or last. I'm not sure that I want to see her honing jokes on a regular basis; I'd get tired of hearing the joke(s) being repeated.

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There's a documentary about Tig Notaro that shows her progressively working on pieces and improving them. It's not boring...nor is THE BIG SICK, which shows Kumail Nanjiani gradually improving his act and becoming progressively more honest and open.

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3 hours ago, wendyg said:

There's a documentary about Tig Notaro that shows her progressively working on pieces and improving them. It's not boring...nor is THE BIG SICK, which shows Kumail Nanjiani gradually improving his act and becoming progressively more honest and open.

Both of those are interesting, indeed. But to be fair, those are a couple hours in length at most - not 10 hours of content. I do think there should be a little more of her refining her act - and very much liked the episode where they showed a lot of it. But I can see where it might get old if there was a good deal of it in every episode.

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The show reminds me of those old screwball comedies,  but in more depth and color, so I'm trying not to nit-pick, but two things were kind of jarring here.  One was Abe just showing up at her gig, alone.   Didn't buy that at all, but the subject of family in the audience and how it can knock someone off their game is a good one.   

Two, what's wrong with this picture?  Even little children who know nothing of fashion would never wear something like this.  My father in his worst golf clothes would never wear checks with floral prints.  

mrs2_5a.thumb.jpg.45527cadc964bf2b32205020e6439490.jpg

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I hope I never forget the (I guess) drone shots of Benjamin and Midge driving back to NYC in that convertible.  Amazing!

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Zachary Levi is usually so charming and affable it was kind of nice seeing him so serious. It fits with someone who would be top of his class at Johns Hopkins. And it's nice to see Midge have to work to win him over.

I wonder if Tony recommended that other actor from The Band's Visit.

LOL that they're on a date to see a play about Lizzie Borden. Oh, wow, I wasn't expecting it to be so bad they left at intermission.

Aw, the little smiles. So cute. I know it's not going to last because he doesn't have time to stick around but I do appreciate having another love interest for as long as it lasts. LOL, I love Lenny basically playing the part of her girlfriend. A bit convenient but there are worse ways to recycle actors. 

A third location! Now that's a good date. Also, Zach is looking pretty big. I wonder if this is around the same time he was bulking up for that superhero movie. His line delivery is so good. It's a shame he can't stick around.

Finally her parents find out!

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We were also very confused about Abe just showing up at the Concord. How far away is it from his place? Was he still drunk and just decided to head out somewhere else? He was supposedly escaping Moishe's low-class humor...so why go see a "blue" comedian? Unless he just wandered in unknowingly.

I don't know if they kept all their details consistent. I can buy that vacation Abe is totally different and will wear a costume instead of a suit. But his complaint the first night in Paris was that he wanted to have dinner at 6pm or something and not 9pm. Maybe he went to the other resort for dinner but why would he go so late... late enough to catch Midge's show? The implication was that they went to dinner early and Joel wasn't there long before he left and saw Abe leaving the cabin. So how many hours did he kill between leaving the cabin and getting to the other resort for the late show? It doesn't make sense.

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I like that Midge has a peer/mentor relationship with Lenny Bruce.  As written here, he easily treats her talent as something that must be pursued, is never to take a backseat and is in no way threatening to his own.  It's a nice portrayal of creative generosity and effortless equality but I don't think it's meant to be romantic as much as good chemistry between the actors.  

Speaking of which, jeez, way to nail the chemistry on Dr. Love Interest in terms of casting.  Way to ensure audience investment.  I'm not much for commenting on someone's looks, but yeah, that was designed to get people's attention.  Popping into the Catskills from Mount Olympus or something.   But also, nice writing and good setup for why these two people that dislike each other (*groan for the cliches*) start to like one another in an interesting enough setting.  Plus, I love that Dr. Love Interest (no clue what Levi's character is named...Benjamin maybe?) had zero interest in Midge's looks when they were just her looks.  I like that he's written to be intrigued by substance.  Also, way to make me feel sympathy for Joel, who did get himself into this mess entirely of his own accord, but that scene where Joel and Ben are watching the fireworks (*groan for the plot anvil and on the nose symbolism*).  The actor who plays Joel is a really nice looking guy in his own right, not my type, but jeez.  

This is likely a weird observation, but I adore Astrid.  The actor makes her so sweet and well-intentioned, even as she stinks to the sky of fertility goo and completely cops to having a not-so-fresh odor emanating from beneath her voluminous skirts and I love Midge's brother, who is always incredibly kind about his wife's insecurities.  I think that's a valuable story to include though.  Astrid's terror that she'll be left because she's likely infertile is played for laughs here but it was such a real thing for women.  Plus, she has the lead-footed zeal of a convert in, again, such a darling way and it could have been awful

And I didn't have a problem with Abe getting the heck off the resort and catching a show at a nearby one.  They'd taken the time to outline that Abe does things differently in the Catskills and he's also been expanding his horizons.  He also wouldn't really have stood out that much as I'm pretty sure Hawaiian nights were going to be a mainstay of the time period.  That was exotic and ethnic but still suitably xenophobic for the times. 

Anyway, they set it up so everyone in the audience knew he was going to be there and they still managed to deliver a nice surprise in the form of what happened.  Rachel Brosnahan is really gifted.  Amy Sherman-Paladino must have sacrificed many hats to a conjuring bonfire to find the person who isn't Lauren Graham but can still deliver ASP's dialogue.  Even Sutton Foster didn't quite have the right banter vibe but then, Bunheads was just doomed from the start since they had five bucks and a pack of Bubbalicious for a budget.  

I know we're actually just watching the gender-swap for ASP's dad when it comes to some of this but it's Rachel Brosnahan who pulls it off for her.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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2 hours ago, stillshimpy said:

I like that Midge has a peer/mentor relationship with Lenny Bruce.  As written here, he easily treats her talent as something that must be pursued, is never to take a backseat and is in no way threatening to his own.  It's a nice portrayal of creative generosity and effortless equality but I don't think it's meant to be romantic as much as good chemistry between the actors.  

Reading your still eloquent prose, @stillshimpy, I can see how a romance between Midge and Lenny would destroy the mentor-mentee thing of beauty--which makes me wish he'd been an older character, like maybe an Uncle Milty (Milton Berle). But I can also see a story line working in which our vicarious desires to see Midge and Lenny hook up are fulfilled, and their mentoring relationship is trashed--and that is the point.

Edited by shapeshifter
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You may be right, @shapeshifter because Lenny Bruce was not known to be faithful to his wife...and they divorced in 1957.  However, he's only about six years away from a fatal drug overdose, so I think it's more likely that Midge will deal with the loss of her comedian friend in that manner.  

It looks like Dr. Love Interest and Joel will be the ones to joust for Midge if it comes to that.  I think, but I cannot swear to this, it's just a sense I have, that ASP has great admiration for Lenny Bruce.  If it was a fictional character, I'd put money on your speculation.  He's kind of one of the comic gods though.  

But yeah, even with that, yes, I can see the "night of drinks after a show leads to..."  but I think not, simply because ASP is trying to write something of a unicorn-character here and comedy is her profession, so I don't know.  

I'm looking forward to finding out if you're right, and thank you, it's good to see your screen name again :) 

Edited by stillshimpy
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