Michael Moore’s newest film is coming out this week in the U.S. (and two weeks later in Germany). It means I can’t go to any theatre showing it for at least a month. Maybe two. Because people always confuse me with Michael Moore.
When I started doing comedy, I came off the stage one night and a German comedian told me the horrible news:
“You know who you look like?”
“Well, when I was a kid, people said Michael J. Fox but …”
“No. That American author, Michael Moore.”
In Germany, Michael Moore is an author first and a filmmaker second. In America, people don’t even know he writes books.
But from that moment on, for about three years, I had my opening line: No, I’m not Michael Moore. Several people were always visibly disappointed. One time a woman left. It may have been because of my opening line. It may have also been because she had to pee. You decide.
Michael Moore, really
I had almost forgotten about it until we went out to lunch here in Portland after we’d lived here for a few months. It was a small Japanese place teeming with just my wife and I. We were getting pretty good service. The aging waitress served us sometimes. The aging cook served us other times. They smiled a lot and I would say they were a couple but I don’t want to make any presumptions.
Maybe they weren’t a couple then but are now. Who knows?
In any case, halfway through our meal and apropos of nothing (do we say that in English?), the cook smiled nervously and said, “Of course! We know the gentleman!” Which seemed weird.
My wife looked at me and shrugged but I immediately knew what was up: He thought I was Michael Moore. It was in that part of Portland where, if Michael Moore were in Portland, he would be. There is actually a Hollywood in Portland (I live there) and stars sometimes show up there but it’s not the kind of place they’d go to lunch.
From here on out I’m just going to call Michael Moore “Michael” because, if you’re someone’s doppelgänger, you get to call them by their first name. It’s in the rule book. I looked. Anyway, like anytime someone makes the Michael mistake, I got really nervous. Because now I’m the buffoon who gets to point out that I am not, in fact, Michael. And everyone is embarrassed.
Also, it’s not so flattering to be confused for arguably one of the more frumpy directors. At least it’s not George Lucas, I guess. But even Werner Herzog would be an improvement.
When I tell people how I get mistaken for Michael they always say the same thing: “But you’re not that fat!” I know but apparently it doesn’t matter. I’m overweight enough.
Two weeks later we were at a friend’s birthday party. A woman I’d never met sat down next to me. “I’m Drew,” I said.
“I’m Alexandra,” she said and then asked me my last name.
She seemed disappointed when I told her.
“I thought it would be Moore,” she said.
Which, again, seemed weird.
It can be worse
If it’s this bad when Michael isn’t in the spotlight, imagine how it is when he is. Maybe I should sign autographs.
The Berlinale – Berlin’s film fest – starts this week too. I pretty much quit going because of the Michael thing. During the Berlinale, the town is full of movie wannabes and they all seem to want something from me. Or, actually, Michael.
Waiting to get into a Casey Affleck film a woman once got all nervous standing next to me.
“And you’re going to see this film because …” Her hands were shaking and she had a goofy smirk.
Which seemed weird.
“Because my friend here got me tickets,” I said because it was true. My friend looks like himself. She slinked off. I still don’t know if she realized her mistake. Or thinks Michael just goes to any film his friends get him tickets for.
Afterward we went to a fave bar around the corner and as soon as I walked in it felt like a Western where the music stops playing and everyone looks up at the hero as he enters, unwanted. Or like when Eddie Murphy’s Reggie Hammond walks into the honky tonk bar in 48 Hours.
We weren’t a new sheriff in town. We just wanted a beer. We slunk to the back and hid until everyone had forgotten.
You should probably go see Michael Moore’s new film.