He’s probably the only person who’s ever received a standing ovation on Broadway for simply taking a bow – in a Robin Hood costume.
That’s what Joel Friedlander, a Wilmington attorney, did after winning a live auction at Night of Too Many Stars, a celebrity-studded fundraiser in New York City televised by Comedy Central to support autism programs and services.
When comedian Louis C.K. described the live auction item – taking a bow and getting a standing ovation an hour later during the curtain call for It’s Only a Play – Friedlander said he began bidding at the encouragement of his wife, Julie.
Friedlander, who bested several other bidders, was surprised when he won and found himself shaking hands with the famous comedian.
To the amusement of the live auction audience, Louis C.K. pulled out a rack of costume options, asking Friedlander to pick his favorite. He got some hearty laughs of his own when Louis C.K. suggested a flowy white robe with gold trim. “Is that blue and black?” Friedlander quipped, referring to the dress that recently broke the Internet and had everyone guessing which colors it really was.
Louis C.K. somehow didn’t know about the optical illusion dress. “I explained it to him, and we were looking at those pictures in the car,” Friedlander said, referring to their car ride to the Broadway theater.
Friedlander, now suited up as Robin Hood, and Louis C.K. first drove to Times Square, where Friedlander checked in via video with fundraiser host, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, and practiced his bow. Then the duo headed toward the Bernard Jacobs Theatre where Matthew Broderick and Martin Short were starring in the hit comedy.
Friedlander, who wasn’t familiar with Louis C.K.’s brash reputation, said he enjoyed the lengthy car conversation and called him a “very pleasant, personable, professional nice guy.”
When it was time to go backstage, Friedlander asked the professionals for advice on properly bowing. “One of the actor’s understudies of the show was showing me how to do bows, and the wardrobe person was explaining the philosophy of the bow and what it’s about,” he said.
One of the actors onstage, he said, got a glimpse of Louis C.K. and Robin Hood in the wings and began laughing. (Luckily, his back faced the audience.)
All of the actors were in on Friedlander’s plans to crash the curtain call, and after bowing together, pointed stage left, where he made his big entrance.
As Louis C.K. predicted, the crowd gave him thunderous applause. He joined Friedlander onstage, stuffing a colorful bouquet of flowers into his arms as he continued bowing, and explained to the confused (but clapping) audience why they were ‘crashing’ the final bow.
“One thing you didn’t really see on TV was the expression of the audience’s faces,” Friedlander said. “They were so bewildered and befuddled. I look like I’m an imposter, but I’m not an imposter because the cast is fine with me being there.” In fact, two-time Tony Award winner Katie Finneran gave him a peck on the cheek!
Thinking it couldn’t get any better, Friedlander soon walked off stage and returned to the fundraiser. When Friedlander hopped on a shuttle bus for the fundraiser after-party, he was greeted with a standing ovation. And the next day, he gained a new client who overheard another lawyer complimenting him when he won the auction.
Friedlander said he enjoyed the goofiness for a good cause. His sister-in-law, he said, is on the production staff for the fundraiser and one of his cousins has autism. “It was fun all around,” he said. “It was a worthy cause I’m glad to support.”