A Chance Meeting

Ever have one of those moments that you know is significant but you’re not sure why? Sarah and I had one of those this weekend when we met Jonas.

A bit of a warning: This blog may contain a rabbit trail or two that may or may not seem pertinent, but hang with me. It’s all relative to the story. Kinda like Memento. At the beginning you’re like “What the freak is going on here?” but then you find out…well…you’ll see.

Sarah and I walked down to the Fulton Opera House this weekend to catch a production of “Glorious.” It’s a play based on a true story about a famous singer who actually couldn’t sing at all. Call it Spinal Tap for the opera community. There were only three people in the cast and they all did a phenomenal job. They had us laughing from Joke One and kept us the entire length of the play right down to the very touching final monologue.

During the intermission, I was reading the actors’ bios in the playbill. The lead actor was named Jonas Cohen and…wait a second…he had listed in his credits the fact he had just finished a production of “Love Jerry” in New York. I know it’s a small world and they say the theater world is even smaller, but…

About four months ago I wrote a blog about “Love Jerry.” My friend JT, whom I worked with at the National Comedy Theatre, was at the time trying to get this new musical off the ground and…wow…could this be a cool connection? With five minutes left to go in intermisison I broke the rules, pulled out my cell phone, and furiously sent a text to JT.

"Am watching a play with an actor in it named jonas cohen.
do you know him???"

A few minutes later I received JT’s response.

"I just did a show with him.
He's a great guy."

Wow! How randomly cool is this? And if JT says Jonas is a cool guy then it must be true because JT is himself pretty darn cool.

After the show, Sarah and I kinda lingered around in the theater to see if the actors were going to come out but then I realized this wasn’t a high school musical and they would probably leave through the stage door on the side. Oh well. I figured I would send JT a message when I got home telling him to tell Jonas he did a great job.

Sarah had to take a bathroom break before we left so I lingered in the lobby, doing the “nod and smile” to all of the people who walked by. I eavesdropped on a conversation between three people who had met before and were trying to figure out where and when. I watched a stagehand run up and down the lobby stairs. I watched the ushers take off their bow ties, say goodbye to one another, and take off to enjoy their Saturday afternoon. I found the four ladies who were seated directly behind us during the play. They had serious “smoker’s laugh” and I kept an eye on them in case one of their lungs fell out.

Finally Sarah and I were ready for our walk home (another thing I love about living in the city; we’re only about five blocks away and in the height of the leaves changing color, it’s a really nice walk). As we left the theater I saw a guy approaching us from the alley. I quickly turned to Sarah.

“Hey, is that the guy from the play?”


Sarah had barely answered me when Jonas was standing right beside us. Sarah and I greeted him with “great job” and “well done” and he politely thanked us and smiled. I then asked him if he knew JT Arbogast and the poor guy looked like he was slapped in the face.

“Yeah.” He looked surprised and I guess in hindsight it may have been the last thing he expected a stagedoor fan to ask (even though we weren’t technically at the stage door, we were nonetheless fans).

I went on to introduce myself and Sarah, told him how I knew JT, and we were all instant friends. Apparently, Jonas also knew about the “All Friends Of JT Must Be Cool” rule. Jonas asked where we lived and then asked if he could walk with us, as the apartment he was staying at was on the way, only a block and a half from our place. How cool is that!

During our short 2-1/2 block walk the three of us chatted about anything and everything as if we were old friends. The more we talked, the more we found we had in common, and the more we were all blown away by this seemingly random meeting.

As we arrived at his apartment and parted ways, exchanging emails and friendy guy-hugs, Jonas commented that sometimes you meet people and you feel there’s a reason behind it, that it wasn’t just a coincidence, and I agree. The funny thing is…I don’t know what that reason is.

I don’t know. Maybe Sarah and I were there to inspire him and bring him a smile. Or vice versa. Or something else that hasn’t happened yet. For all I know he’s Lorne Michaels’ nephew and next year I’ll be live from New York on Saturday Night.

As a comedian, I appreciate good timing, and if we hadn’t gone to the theater that day…if JT hadn’t been able to respond to the text message…if Sarah didn’t have to wait in line at the restroom…well, it just all timed out perfectly.

I know, I know, it’s also possible that I’m reading more into this than is actually there. But if I learned anything from M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, it’s that there are no coincidences.

But what if it was all just a coincidence? Well, that’s OK, too. The point is, we made a new friend when we least expected it, and it made for a really cool Saturday afternoon story. And I can’t complain about that, ya know?


One comment

  1. I really find this stuff interesting–I really want to see more movies that would revolve around this plot–if you know of any please email me and let me know–like 6 degrees of separation or ??? but that idea of maybe their are “no coincidences” has always intrigued me–how about you? Thanks Ed for some more stimulating thoughts….

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