First of all, let me say that in telling this story I am not attempting to "name drop." I'm not friends or even close acquaintances with any of the famous people in this story. I was merely involved in a bizarre occurrence in which two celebrities were also involved. We did not exchange contact information, and they both have probably forgotten that any of this ever happened. So, with that said...
A few months ago I was sitting in a small gathering space in Laguna Beach. I was there to spend two days listening to Rob Bell discuss all kinds of things from creativity to doubt and faith. I spent the entire first morning and afternoon soaking up every word, not at all wishing that I was outside enjoying the beautiful Orange County weather. What was happening right here in this space was too good to miss.
Part of the format for the event was open Q&A. There were only about 100 people at the event, so the smallness allowed for a bit of intimacy between us the listeners and Rob Bell. At one point, I raised my hand to ask a question. I began my question by saying, "I heard you talk a bit about this when you were on Pete Holmes' podcast."
Before I could finish my question, Rob Bell interrupted me and said, "Do you like Pete Holmes?" I said that I did.
Pete Holmes, by the way, is an incredibly funny standup comedian who has his own podcast called "You Made it Weird" (he has also recently launched a television show on TBS called, appropriately enough, The Pete Holmes Show; he is also Batman in many of the CollegeHumor.com spoof videos). So, yes, I told Rob Bell. I do like Pete Holmes.
"Have you ever met Pete Holmes?" Bell asked.
That was a strange question, but I went along with it. "No, I've never met him," I said. "But I did see him do a show in Dallas a few weeks ago, and he blew the roof off the place."
Rob Bell smirked. "He blew the roof off the place, huh?" I began feeling like he was toying with me. "If you could meet Pete Holmes, what would you say to him?" He asked.
"Um..." I began to think. I had no idea how to answer this question. I really thought he was asking. But then, as I was trying to think of something clever to say, I asked a question. "Why? Is he here?"
Rob Bell began to laugh and pointed right over my head. "He's in the balcony!"
At that, every eye in the room turned toward the space right above me and began to laugh. I yelled out "Pierce!" hoping Pete Holmes would hear me.
("Pierce" by the way is one of Pete Holmes' staple bits. You can hear it on both of his albums, and you will laugh)
I heard someone else in the room also yelled "Pierce," and I couldn't tell if it was Pete or not.
After all the shenanigans were through, Rob Bell was kind enough to return to my original question. However, there was a part of my brain that continued to wonder, "Did Pete Holmes yell 'Pierce' at me?"
Later that evening, I was standing in the hallway, and Pete Holmes walked right past me. I stopped him and said, "Hey, Pete. I'm the guy who name-checked you before."
"Oh wow!" he said. "That was crazy. You totally knew I was up there, didn't you?"
"No!" I said. "I had no idea! If I had been sitting anywhere else in the room, I would have seen you, but you were literally right above me." I shifted gears. "Hey, Pete. I need to ask you a question. When Rob said you were in the balcony, I yelled 'Pierce.' Now I need to know: Did you yell it back?"
He chuckled. "No. Some other guy yelled it, but I didn't."
"Well, here's the thing," I said. "For this story to be any good, I really needed you to have yelled 'Pierce' back at me."
He laughed, shook his head, and said the one word I needed to hear: "Pierce!"
It was magical.
"Thanks man," I said. I told him I was a big fan of his work, which he probably already knew at that point. He was even kind enough to stand for a picture before fleeing the building.
So that was a pretty weird thing that happened. Thanks, Rob Bell, for orchestrating one of the strangest moments of my entire life.