I’m not going to pretend that I’m just a regular person with a working knowledge of Jeff Goldblum’s mainstream oeuvre who happened to be lucky enough to catch the actor playing some jazz music with his band on Tuesday night. I should be honest with you, reader, because me seeing Jeff Goldblum play some jazz music with his band on Tuesday night is proof of the principle that I maybe just invented that if you put something out there into The Universe hard enough, The Universe will reward you for being a total freak. In my case, The Universe was rewarding me for being shamelessly outspoken about my deep, carnal lust for Jeff Goldblum.
(Above: From left to right: guitarist John Storie, DO I NEED TO TELL YOU WHO THAT IS, vocalist Hilary Gardner. Photo credit Astrid Stawiarz for Café Carlyle.)
Let me take you back: the year is 1994. I’m seven years old, and I’m finally allowed to see Jurassic Park, now that it’s been released on video and I’m old enough to handle the “intense science fiction terror” that garnered it a PG-13 rating. Before I watched Jurassic Park, I was a kid who was obsessed with dinosaurs. After I watched Jurassic Park, I was a woman who was obsessed with Jeff Goldblum. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, because I was, after all, definitely still a child. But there was something about Dr. Ian Malcolm, in his black leather jacket and glasses, equal parts swaggering machismo, crazy genius, and comic relief, which set off a series of confusing feelings in me. Years later, when I was old enough to understand some of those feelings, I would rewind my battered copy of the VHS to rewatch the scene where he explains chaos theory to Laura Dern’s hand. Oh, but I were that hand! His laugh was a symphony. I was enthralled.
I was also not alone. Somewhat recently, while discussing our nascent sexuality, several girlfriends of mine admitted that some iteration of Jeff Goldblum was also present at their libidinal awakenings. It became a thing I studied (albeit very casually and not at all academically): what our early love for Jeff Goldblum meant for us later, the ways it manifested itself in our adult woman lives, why my “type” has always been “Has Glasses, Is Tall, Maybe Kind of a Genius, Definitely Kind of a Weirdo.”
Anyway, all of this is important, I think, because it got me to where I was on Tuesday, which was the swank Café Carlyle at The Carlyle Hotel, surrounded by blue-blooded Upper East Side royalty, jazz aficionados, and a smattering of celebrities. You see, I recently learned that Jeff Goldblum played piano with a jazz band every week in his hometown of Los Angeles. According to this NPR story that multiple friends shared with me because they are such good friends, he’s been doing this for years. Swoon. So when the band decided to take their show to the East Coast for a five night engagement at The Carlyle, I knew I had to see it. Luckily, the BUST editors remembered how much I love Jeff Goldblum and asked if I’d like to review his show for this blog. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!” was my initial thought; “OH BOY, WOULD I!!!” was my tempered response.
I’ll skip the part where I had a minor existential crisis over what to wear and set the scene: the small, dim room was packed; I was seated at the bar. The woman sitting to my left at the bar told me she liked my “Goth look,” and it turns out that she was a super cool burlesque performer who had been featured in a fashion spread in BUST many years ago. The woman sitting to my right at the bar asked to have her seat changed multiple times, and eventually left. I tried not to take it personally. I enjoyed a delicious dinner, a mini cheesecake, and many glasses of water, which I regretted once I realized how hard it was to get in and out of the bodysuit I wore under my dress every time I had to pee.
On my way back from my final bathroom trip, I literally ran into Jeff Goldblum in the hallway. His legs are longer than my entire body, maybe. “Oh hi, Mr. Goldblum, I am really looking forward to the show tonight,” I did not say. Instead, I made a sound like a dog makes when you step on its tail and he kept walking, clearly on a mission. A few minutes later, the unmistakable dulcet tones of Jeff Goldblum’s voice were heard in the café. It took me a moment to locate Jeff Goldblum, who had entered through a back entrance and was walking around with a cordless microphone, dripping honeyed Goldblumisms all over the room. At this point, I got up from my seat, offering it to a standing woman so that I could take her place, which had a better view.
Jeff Goldblum warmed up the room with some jokey trivia, including a True/False quiz about his film career. Ask something about Transylvania 6-5000! I hoped with all my heart, but he did not. Throughout the night, he tested the audience on movie quotes, opening lines in literature, and music, and it turns out that Jeff Goldblum fans are very smart, because of course they are, they’re Jeff Goldblum fans. Apart from a few stumpers (including the opening line of Jane Eyre, which I totally would have yelled the answer to had I been able to breathe), the audience (including Al Roker and his wife on their anniversary date and Edward Norton brazenly not wearing a jacket) were as sharp as Jeff Goldblum’s wingtip brogues, which he tapped in time to the music.
Oh, right, the music: it was a nice variety of jazz tunes, including a couple of numbers featuring lovely guest vocalist Hilary Gardner. Jeff Goldblum appears to be having the most fun anyone’s ever had when he’s playing piano, bopping and mugging in a way that gives Este Haim’s bass face some serious competition. His band seems like they just happen to be a bunch of very talented and technically proficient dudes having a blast jamming with their friend who just happens to be Jeff Goldblum. A few times, Jeff Goldblum slipped in a few seconds of the Jurassic Park theme; at one point, he quoted Beyonce. At all times, the notes I scrawled in my notebook were mostly illegible and totally insane.
I was momentarily distracted by the woman sitting in front of me, who also happened to be the woman sitting across from Edward Norton, who, during the set, showed her friend a Facebook photo of some shirtless guy holding a baby. Does she not realize she is sitting across from Edward Norton’s bare arms and that Jeff Goldblum is playing ‘Autumn in New York’ a few feet away and this is the most beautiful and perfect moment of my entire life? I wondered.
Overall, the whole set was thoroughly enjoyable, and the best part was Jeff Goldblum’s wacky stage banter, including the scripted responses to hecklers which he pulled out of his pockets to test a few times. A running joke throughout the night was what he might name his offspring should he and his fiancée procreate. (I say this with no only a little jealousy: please do.)
Classic Goldblum, Goldbluming all over the place. Photo credit Astrid Stawiarz for Café Carlyle.
After the show, The Carlyle’s entertainment manager, who is a very nice guy also named Jeff, invited me to a sort of after party with Jeff Goldblum and the band. It was at this point that my night transitioned from “pleasant experience I am honored to have been a part of” to “omg dream coming true HELP I CAN’T FEEL MY FACE.” I joined the other pressfolk in a room where we all took pictures of Jeff Goldblum, and then I asked Other Jeff if I could ask for a photo with Jeff Goldblum and he was all, “Duh, of course, just go for it” and pushed me toward Jeff Goldblum and the next thing I knew, Jeff Goldblum was holding me very close as cameras flashed around us. “Is this a wedding?” a guy wandering out of the elevators asked. “I wish!” I replied, though my internal monologue was basically just a long scream. I reminded Jeff Goldblum of the time I kind of met him three years ago when I was working in a coat check and he handed me his coat and I gave him a static electricity shock and said “The sparks are literally flying between us!” and he laughed that weird Goldblumy laugh and I had to go sit in the corner and breathe into my knees for a few minutes. “I bet I loved that!” he said, laughing some more. I think he could feel my soul trying violently to escape my body, because he noted that I was “shaking like a leaf.” His hands are very strong but also soft and maybe not made of skin, but of something better.
Okay, so all the photos taken with my phone are kind of blurry and not that great, but I think it’s obvious that this is happiest I have ever been in my entire life.
I followed him and his band to another room, where we chatted about the differences between the LA show and this one, and his guitarist showed me photos of Jeff Goldblum’s shower, which is crazy, because of course it is. Apparently Jeff Goldblum also makes sculptures (such a talent!) and fills his shower with them. Also, he totally has the painting of himself as Alistair Hennessey from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou hanging up in his home, because of course he does.
As he left to retire for the evening (such vigorous piano playing makes one very tired, I imagine), Jeff Goldblum thanked me for coming and blew me a kiss. I felt utterly wrecked, but proud and full of ineffable hope, like most of the world at the end of Independence Day. I dragged my internal organs to the train and made it home somehow, because life finds a way. Thanks, Universe. I’m still smiling.
Photo credit Astrid Stawiarz for Café Carlyle, Bridgette Miller, Noiselesschatter.com.